In North America, most buildings known as cottages are used for weekend or summer getaways by city dwellers. It is also common for the owners of cottages to rent their properties to tourists as a source of revenue. In Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands, most buildings known as cottages or vacation rentals are used for weekend or summer getaways. In Michigan, when one refers to a cottage it normally means a summer residence farther north near or on a lake.
“Cottages” in Eastern Canada are generally located next to lakes, rivers, or the ocean in forested areas. They are used as a place to spend holidays with friends and family; common activities including swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, fishing, hiking, and sailing. There are also many well-known summer colonies.
Cottage living is one of the most popular tourist draws in Ontario, Canada, parts of which have come to be known as cottage country. This term typically refers to the north and south shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario; Muskoka, Ontario; Haliburton, Ontario; and the Kawartha Lakes, Ontario; but has also been used to describe several other Canadian regions. The practice of renting cottages has become widespread in these regions, especially with rising property taxes for waterfront property.
What Eastern Canadians refer to as “cottages” (seasonal-use dwellings), are generally referred to as “cabins” in most of North America. This is most notable in the Midwest and Western United States, and Western Canada. In much of Northern Ontario, New England, and upstate New York, a summer house near a body of water is known as a camp.