Lake Simcoe has been the close-but-not-too-close getaway for urban Toronto dwellers since before cars were around to drive people the 50 miles north from the city.
Of all the rental cottages, inns and resorts around the lake, The Briars is the most charming and historic. It started life in 1840 as a mansion in the country, and was transformed into a resort in 1942 when it linked up with the private nine-hole Stanley Thompson-designed course in Jackson's Point. Thompson protege Robbie Robinson added a second nine in 1971, and it works seamlessly into Thompson's original, winding through mature trees and across the Black River. The combined course is a manageable 6,285 yards from the tips, with wide fairway targets but enough greenside water to make you pay attention.
The resort is made up of the original manor house inn, plus a variety of lakeside and forest cottages that can be rented by families and groups. If you have the flexibility to stay midweek, you can book a golf package that includes an inn or one-bedroom cottage room, a round of golf and a $25 food voucher for rates starting at $129 per night per person -- or about $100 in U.S. dollars. For rates starting at $449 per person ($350 U.S.), you can book a deluxe two-day package that includes two nights accommodation, two rounds of golf, breakfast and dinner.
When you aren't playing golf, the resort offers complimentary cruises on the 280-square mile lake, tennis, kayaking and a full service spa. It's an easy hour drive up the 404 from Toronto to Jackson's Point, and even Buffalo, Detroit and Rochester are within reasonable road-trip range. Follow @RudyWriter