Ontario Tourism Blog

10 things to do in Niagara on the lake

By Shari & Elisa Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Niagara-on-the-Lake has a special flair: it is small, but gorgeous, with tons of character. Rich in history and known as one of the prettiest towns in Canada, here are a few places to start discovering the town:

1. WineriesNOL1

Check out the famous wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, winners of multiple international awards and more. The close-knit community of wineries in the area is quite an experience – every winery has its own personality and quirks. Make sure you taste the wine at the wineries’ tasting bars before purchasing wine so that you can determine what appeals to you.  Don’t forget to ask about ice wine – the region is known for it worldwide. Many wineries offer guided tours of the vineyard and barrels so you can see how the delicate flavours are produced.

For a complete list of wineries in the Niagara region: http://www.summerfunguide.ca/niagara-region/wineries-microbreweries.html

Picture courtesy of: http://www.niagarawinefestival.com

2. Shaw Festival

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One of the largest theatre festivals in North America, the Shaw Festival is a must-see attraction. What started as a tribute to George Bernard Shaw has become so much more. It is truly professional theatre at its best. While its season features multiple Shaw plays, it also offers Shaw contemporaries the stage as well. With four distinct theatres, where every seat is a good one, and an unmatched cultural atmosphere, the Shaw productions are well-reviewed and well worth a day, or a few days, in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

3. Bed & Breakfasts

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In a place so rich with personality, a perfect way to absorb as much of it as possible is to spend the night at a bed & breakfast. Fully immerse yourself in the intimate environment of Niagara-on-the-Lake by spending the night at a B&B and enjoying the gourmet, homemade (often decadent), breakfast feasts that go along with it. What makes these accommodations so special is that each one has its own unique atmosphere and warmth and many are in historic homes.

4. The Main Strip

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Walk the main strip on Queen Street, right near Lake Ontario, to find quaint shops and restaurants. Try some homemade fudge, shop for antiquities, leather, unique Christmas decorations (open all year), kitchen finds and much more. Come to the strip for dinner before the show and you won’t be disappointed. Whatever entices you – fine dining, less-sophisticated eateries, or watering holes –you can find it on the main strip. At the east end of the street, Simcoe Park is a picturesque place to go for a walk and take in the scenery. The strip is truly the heart of the town and is especially active during the Shaw Festival

5. Activities in the Parks

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Niagara-on-the-Lake parks are as diverse as its wineries and B&Bs. Simcoe Park (see above) is a special place for a picnic. Pick up some homemade bread, artisanal cheese, meats and a fine bottle of Niagara-on-the-Lake wine on Queen St. and relax under the trees at Simcoe Park. Centennial Park is perfect for the fitness junkie, with baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and tennis courts. Try Nelson Park to find the start of the Waterfront Trail, another special place to see the lake. Walk by Queen’s Royal Park and you might just catch a wedding

6. Bike along the lake

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Nature looks different depending on how you interact with it. So sitting by the lake versus walking by the lake versus biking by the lake all offer different views. Try biking to get the endorphins going for that exercise high, which, combined with the spectacular view, is a rewarding undertaking. Go with friends or family to share in the moment.

7. The Niagara Historical Society

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Niagara-on-the-Lake has an extensive history as a military town. Canadian troops training in the town initially made the residents uneasy, but they eventually embraced the soldiers, who would become active members of the community, playing games and sports when they were off duty. The Niagara Historical Society & Museum is a great place to start looking into the town’s past.

8. Tours

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Take a tour, or go off on your own. Rent an ebike, a rapidly growing method of transportation (and an environmentally friendly one at that), to scoot around town in style. Or go for a walk to discover the rest of the historical sites. Start at one end of Simcoe Park, then go all the way around to end up at Queen’s Royal Park. You’ll pass many historical sites, highlighted by timeworn churches.

9. Try your luck at the Casino

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A picturesque 20-minute drive will bring you to the renowned casino in Niagara Falls. It is a different experience from the town, contrasting the town’s peaceful quaintness against the adrenaline rush of casino games.  Enjoy the games, food, attractions, entertainment and excitement at one of the most famous attractions in the Niagara Region. Adults only, of course.

For more attractions in the Niagara region: http://www.summerfunguide.ca/niagara-region/attractions.html

10. Summer Festivals

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The special festivals in Niagara-on-the-Lake are a draw and are known for being more intimate than festivals you would find in larger cities. There are wine festivals, artisanal food festivals and fascinating cultural festivals. Perhaps the most unique are festivals that offer the opportunity to jump into the town’s history with special summer events devoted to celebrating Niagara-on-the-Lake’s rich past

For more festivals in the Niagara Region, see: http://www.summerfunguide.ca/niagara-region/festivals-events-shows.html

Whatever you decide to do, a good time is guaranteed n Niagara-on-the-Lake! Take a few days off and explore the region. You’ll be glad you did.

 

By Kevin Jacobs, June 2014   email: kevintedjacobs at gmail.com

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