Today we celebrate our 13th anniversary. Since someone in my life prefers not to be discussed on the blog, I’m not going to say exactly with whom I am celebrating. But in honour of the occasion, that person and I hit the road yesterday and headed to beautiful Port Carling, Ontario.

Why Port Carling? The history! The shops! The water!

No, it was because I read online that there are tons of Hollywood stars vacationing in Muskoka these days, and Port Carling seemed to me like a destination-worthy Muskoka town.

We started our day at Ella’s diner for a late breakfast, which was delicious – for a picky eater, I enjoy almost all breakfast foods, and the ambiance was just what we were looking for.

After we did a bit of shopping (you can really just leave your car in one spot and walk everywhere from there) and checked out the wall of photos (up close, you can see these are all individual photos honouring the history of Port Carling):

Next up: boarding the Peerless II (from Sunset Cruises) and taking a tour of Lake Rosseau. So much amazing historical information was shared, as well as the names of some of the past and present “cottage” residents, on the mainland or one of the many privately owned islands:  Lots of Canadian corporate money is in Muskoka: Seagram, Wood and Gundy, Maclean, and Rogers for example. (The Rogers land boasts two helipads and one of the largest residences in the area at over 17 000 square feet.)

Some of the celebrities on this lake alone (which connects at Port Carling to Lake Joseph and Lake Muskoka, also hugely popular) are Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Martin Short and several NHL stars. Interesting note about Steve Yzerman: when he purchased his cottage property, he had his architect design the building to replicate the original cottage on the land, built by Timothy Eaton.

Another tidbit: we passed Windermere House, which was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire during the filming of the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight (with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson) back in the 90’s.

While the weather didn’t cooperate very well and it was a bit chilly, I was interested enough in the cruise to stay on the top deck for almost the entire time, and if you know me, that really says something. It’s funny that I’m not at all outdoorsy, yet I really do enjoy being out on a boat, and this was no exception. It’s a great way to get an overview of the area with commentary from someone who knows.

Here’s a shot of a Catholic church where many couples choose to take their vows:

After the cruise: more shopping!

In Port Carling you can find a large selection of antiques and collectibles, plus tons of furnishings and accessories to fill a cottage or cottage-y home. At one shop I admired a ceramic jewelry tray with a quote from Coco Chanel: “A girl needs to be two things: classy and fabulous”, until practicality defeated whimsy and I walked away without it. (In case you’re thinking I should have just splurged, I will remind you that this month we have renovated a bathroom and two bedrooms. It’s time to curb the splurge.)

Any respectable tourist town wouldn’t be complete without a festive Christmas shop, ‘Tis the Season (also the place to buy fudge), and a great bakery, Abbey’s Bake House, offering delicacies such as Maple Bacon Butter Tarts, and brilliant signage:

And can I please get a moment of silence for this extra large chocolate chip cookie with a brownie baked into the middle (this, I could splurge for)?

Thank you.

At one store, we even bought each other our anniversary gifts…some nighttime attire, if you know what I mean. No, no, you totally don’t know what I mean: it was Montreal Canadiens t-shirts and track pants for lounging around in the evenings. Hey, there’s no judging what others may find romantic.

To end our day we dined at a chain restaurant which – you may not believe – I have never visited before: Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill. Since it was so cool and drizzly, we ate inside, but there’s a whole section of patio right on the water which would have been perfect on a nicer day.

I couldn’t think of a more relaxing way to celebrate this special occasion with that person who will not be named or shown in photographs here.

Disclosure: We were provided with one free boat cruise for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

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