The city's waterfront features dining, water play, skating and model boating. Downtown, next to the lake, are many homes owned by middle to upper-class families, and many expensive homes of millionaires living in Burlington. Enjoy unique shopping, exquisite dining, the world-renowned Royal Botanical Gardens, museums, art galleries, golf courses, scenic hiking and biking trails and lively festivals such as Sound of Music and Canada's Largest Ribfest.
Before pioneer settlement in the 19th century, the area was covered by the primeval forest that stretched between the provincial capital of (York now Toronto) and the town of Hamilton, and was home to various First Nations peoples. In 1792, John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, named the western end of Lake Ontario "Burlington Bay" after the town of Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. By the time land beside the bay was deeded to Captain Joseph Brant at the turn of the 19th century, the name "Burlington" was already in common use. With the completion of the local survey after the War of 1812, the land was opened for settlement. Early farmers prospered in the Burlington area because of the fertile soil and moderate temperatures. Produce from the farms was shipped out via the bustling docks of the lakeside villages of Port Nelson and Wellington Square, and to Brown's Wharf in the nearby village of Port Flamborough (which was to become Aldershot). Lumber taken from the surrounding forests also competed for space on the busy docks. However, in the latter half of the 19th century, increased wheat production from Western Canada convinced local farmers to switch to fruit and vegetable production.
In 1874, Wellington Square and Port Nelson were incorporated into the Village of Burlington. However, the arrival of large steamships on the Great Lakes made the small docks of the local ports obsolete, and the increased use of railway to ship goods marked the end of the commercial wharves.
As more settlers arrived and cleared the land, cash crops replaced subsistence farming. Gradually, mixed farming and market gardens became the dominant form of agriculture, and in the early 20th century the area was declared the Garden of Canada. The first peaches grown in Canada were cultivated in the Grindstone Creek watershed in the city's south-west part. Today over forty percent of the Grindstone Creek watershed is still devoted to farms, orchards and nurseries.
Following the Second World War, cheap electricity from nearby Niagara Falls and better transportation access due to the new (1939) Queen Elizabeth Way encouraged light industry and families to move to Burlington. The population skyrocketed as new homes were built.
The climate is moderated by its proximity to Lake Ontario. Monthly mean temperatures range from 22.3 °C (72.1 °F) in July to −4.2 °C (24.4 °F) in January. The average annual precipitation is 878 millimetres (34.6 in) of rain and 109 centimetres (43 in) of snow.
Although it shares the temperate climate found in Southern Ontario, its proximity to Lake Ontario moderates winter temperatures and it also benefits from a sheltering effect of the Niagara Escarpment, allowing the most northerly tracts of Carolinian forest to thrive on the Escarpment that runs through western sections of city.
- The Hamilton International Airport is the local airport which is just 30 minutes from Burlington. it is serviced by WestJet.
- Mississauga's Toronto Pearson International Airport is located a short driving distance from Burlington, around 45 or more minutes.
- Niagara Falls International Airport and Buffalo Niagara International Airport are each located about an hour's drive away, across the international border in, respectively, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga (a Buffalo suburb). If you're coming from the U.S., flying into one of these airports usually presents considerable savings over arriving in Toronto (or even Hamilton).
- Burlington is easily accessible by highways 403, 407, and QEW.
- GO Transit, ☏ , toll-free: . GO Transit operates regular train service to and from Toronto, and supports the Presto card for fare payment.
- VIA Rail. Operates regular train service from Aldershot station which is located at the border with Hamilton. Service is available to London, Windsor, and Niagara Falls. Trains also travel to Toronto which allows for connections to Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
Burlington has three railway stations:
- 1 Aldershot GO Station, 1199 Waterdown Rd. Served by GO Transit trains & buses, Via Rail trains
- 2 Burlington GO Station, 2101 Fairview St. Burlington GO station, serving GO Transit trains, lies about 2KM north of downtown Burlington. Connecting GO Transit buses loop on the south side of the station, while connecting Burlington Transit buses loop on its north side.
- 3 Appleby GO Station, 5111 Fairview St. Served by GO Transit trains; more useful for residents than visitors.
By public transportation
Burlington Transit, ☏ . Burlington Transit is the transit authority for the City of Burlington. Most buses run on a 30-minute schedule, although some routes run more frequently during rush hour and/or less frequently on weekends or evenings. Cash fare: $3.50; Presto card fare: $2.70 for adults, $1.85 for seniors; GO co-fare: 70¢.
Burlington Transit bus routes 1/1X run from Burlington GO Station stopping at the Royal Botannical Gardens and continuing onto downtown Hamilton (King and James streets). Route 1X also makes a stop at Aldershot GO Station; however, route 1X has no evening, weekend or holiday service. Bus routes 3 and 5 run from Burlington GO Station to Downtown Burlington.
If transferring from GO Transit (GO) to Burlington Transit (BT) to complete a trip, you may pay the reduced GO co-fare instead of the regular BT fare. For Presto cardholders, just tap your card on both transit systems to get the reduced fare which is calculated after the transfer. With Presto, the reduced fare is also available to transfer from BT to GO. If paying cash on BT, the reduced fare is available if you show your GO ticket to the BT bus driver when you pay the fare in exact cash.
A fare allows for 2 hours of travel on Burlington Transit including changing BT buses, or transferring to connecting HSR buses in Hamilton at certain stops. If paying by cash, ask for a "transfer" to use as a receipt. For Presto users, transfer info is automatically stored on your card when you tap on. BT accepts HSR paper passes and transfers only at the following stops:
- King & James streets, Hamilton (BT Stop #679)
- King & Bay streets, Hamilton (BT Stop #827)
- Aldershot GO Station, Burlington
- Downtown BT Terminal, 430 John St, Burlington
- Plains Rd at Royal Botanical Garden, Burlington (BT Stop #698)
The best way to get around Burlington is by car. Arterial roads are spaced about 2 km (1.25 miles) apart, and generally run on a 45 degree angle to the compass points. Main roads running northeast to southwest are (from southernmost to northernmost) Lakeshore Road (former Highway 2), New Street, Plains Road/Fairview Street, the Queen Elizabeth Way/Highway 403 (a controlled-access highway), Upper Middle Road, and Dundas Street (former Highway 5). Main roads running northwest to southeast are (from easternmost to westernmost) Burloak Drive, Appleby Line, Walkers Line, Guelph Line, Brant Street, King Road, and Waterdown Road.
By bike or on foot
Burlington is a pedestrian- and cycling-friendly city, although, as the city is somewhat sprawling, walking or cycling is sometimes impractical. There are several long-distance walking and cycling trails in Burlington, including the Waterfront Trail, a 23-km-long paved trail that offers beautiful views of Burlington's waterfront. In Burlington, you may ride your bicycle on sidewalks, except in the downtown core.
- 1 Art Gallery of Burlington, 1333 Lakeshore Rd (at Nelson Ave). Canadian contemporary art, ceramics.
- 2 Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust St (at Elgin St). Performance and exhibit venue.
- 3 Ireland House Museum, 2168 Guelph Line. Tu-Fr 10AM-4PM, Su 1Pm-4PM. Heritage farmhouse of the Ireland family preserved as a museum.
- 4 Joseph Brant Museum, 1240 North Shore Blvd E. Closed for 18 months for renovation as of October 2017. A museum dedicated to Joseph Brant, a Mohawk military and political leader who sided with the British during the American Revolution.
- Royal Botanical Gardens, ☏ , toll-free: . Jan-Apr 10AM-5PM, May-Aug 10AM-8PM with some seasonal variations by park. Canada's largest botanical garden is comprised of four separate parks containing gardens and natural areas, spread out over 900 hectares. There is an RBG-run shuttle bus on summer weekends between the RBG parks. The four parks span a distance of over 3KM, and this excludes walking in each park. The admission price allows access to all four parks for the day. Here are the parks listed east to west. Adult $18, senior/student $15, child $10, family $40.
- 5 RBG Centre & Hendrie Park, 680 Plains Rd W, Burlington (Burlington Transit Bus 1/1X to "RBG" stop). The main park; cafe in the RBG centre and a teahouse in Hendrie Park.
- 6 Laking Garden, 1260 Spring Gardens Rd, Burlington (1KM west of the RBG Centre).
- 7 Rock Garden, 1185 York Blvd, Waterdown (1KM west of Laking Garden, Burlington Transit Bus 1/1X to "Valley Inn" or "Rock Garden" stop). Cafe on-site.
- 8 Arboretum, 16 Old Guelph Rd, Waterdown (1⅓KM west of Rock Garden, via Old Guelph Rd). The largest of the four parks with a Nature interpretation Centre.
- 9 Freeman Station (Burlington Junction Railway Station), 3023 Fairview St (east side of Central Fire Station). Check website for dates open. The City of Burlington purchased this former railway station (built in 1906) for preservation, and had it moved from its original location.
There are 115 parks and 325 ha of parkland within the city. A complete list of parks can be found here
- 10 Spencer Smith Park (Waterfront at Downtown Burlington), 1400 Lakeshore Rd. This waterfront park features: Naval War Memorial, Brant Street Pier, Terry Fox Monument, Lady of the Lake Bronze Sculpture, Japanese Garden. It is also a venue for annual events.
- 11 The Beachway, 1100 Lakeshore Rd. Sandy beach, playground, concession stands, trails.
- 12 Central Park, 2299 New St. Park for community activities. Features: Bandshell, labyrinth, community garden, Rotary Memorial Forest, playgrounds.
- 13 Kerncliff Park, 2198 Kerns Rd. A former quarry, Kerncliff Park is located on the Niagara escarpment and features a natural stone backdrop, wooden bridge over a marsh, nature trails and views of the city and Lake Ontario.
- 14 LaSalle Park, 50 North Shore Blvd. The park features waterfront area, trails, open green space and a replica of a historic pavilion.
A great time to visit Burlington is in the summer, when numerous free festivals are held.
- 1 Discovery Landing (Spencer's at the Waterfront). A 14,200 square foot landmark building that faces out to the lake and offers prime storm and weather watching views. Designed by Baird Sampson Nuert it has given residents and visitors a unique place to discover, celebrate, play, and relax by our lake. Discovery Landing is open all day, daily and features The Observatory, Spencer's on the Waterfront, the Bite Café, and an information area to provide information on the park. Discovery Landing overlooks the Rotary Centennial Pond, a 10,000 square-foot year-round water feature. In the spring, summer and fall it is a reflective pool ideal for model sail boating and in winter it will have free ice-skating on an artificial ice surface.
- Hike the Bruce Trail. A portion of the Bruce Trail, the hiking trail that runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory runs through Burlington. The Burlington portion of the trail starts near the intersection of Highway 6 and Mountain Brow Rd., skirts the escarpment before reaching Snake Rd., and then takes a winding path that isn't always easy to follow (if you find yourself in a cemetery near a convent, you've gone the wrong way), but leads to a few beautiful waterfalls just before entering Waterdown. East of Waterdown, the trail then runs through Kerncliff Park, crosses Dundas St., then runs for several miles through rural Burlington before entering Milton.
- Canada's Largest Ribfest, Spencer Smith Park. Labour Day weekend. Music, crafts and some of the best rib makers in North America.
- Sound of Music Festival, downtown, waterfront, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Proclaimed as Canada's largest free music festival. Five day free music festival on several stages. Jazz, folk, rock, pop, country, blues, latin, celtic. Parade, carnival, marketplace, family zone and downtown streetfest. Held on Father's Day weekend in early June.
- During December, you can walk through an extensive Christmas lights display downtown at Spencer Smith Park. Showing the Eiffel Tower and various large displays of lights, this is the time when you can enjoy the beauty of Christmas.
- On July 1, you can celebrate Canada Day in Spencer Smith Park and gather with dozens of others to wave the Canadian flag with pride and music.
- 1 Mapleview Shopping Centre, 900 Maple Ave. Shopping centre with more than 150 stores.
- 2 Burlington Mall, 777 Guelph Line. Shopping centre.
- 3 Burlington Downtown, Brant Street (between Baldwin St and Lakeshore Rd). Many small shops, restaurants, cafés, and boutiques in an old town setting.
- 4 Lee Valley Tools, 3060 Davidson Ct (off Guelph Line north of the QEW). Products for woodworking and gardening enthusiasts.
There are many great dining establishments in Burlington. The restaurants below are just a few of over 200 establishments.
- 1 Easterbrook's Hotdog Stand, 694 Spring Gardens Rd (near Royal Botanical Gardens), ☏ . 10AM–10PM (summer), 10AM–8PM (winter). Well-known for its footlong hotdogs (note that a "regular" hotdog here is a footlong) its ice cream and milkshakes are also good. The restaurant has been located at this location since 1930 and features a retro atmosphere.
- 2 Beaver and Bulldog (B&B Taps & Grill), 2020 Lakeshore Rd, ☏ .
- 3 Le Chinois Plus, 1250 Brant St, ☏ . Chinese restaurant.
- 4 West Plains Bistro, 133 Plains Rd, ☏ .
- 5 Earls, 900 Maple Ave (Mapleview Mall), ☏ .
- 6 Turtle Jack's Muskoka Grill, 900 Maple Ave (across from Earls at the Mapleview Mall), ☏ . 11AM-2AM. There is also another location at 4155 Fairview Street.
- 7 The Carriage House, 2101 Old Lakeshore Rd, ☏ .
- 8 The Dickens (Charles Dickens Pub), 423 Elizabeth St, ☏ .
- 9 Honey West, 399 Elizabeth St, ☏ .
- 10 Downtown Bistro & Grill (Ivanka's Downtown Bistro), 441 Elizabeth St, ☏ .
- 11 The Martini House, 437 Elizabeth St, ☏ .
- 12 Paradiso Restaurant, 2041 Pine St, ☏ .
- 13 Pepperwood Bistro, 1455 Lakeshore Rd, ☏ .
- 14 SB Prime, 380 Brant St, ☏ .
- 15 Siam Dish Thai Cuisine, 1477 Lakeshore Rd, ☏ .
- 16 Water Street Cooker, 2084 Old Lakeshore Rd, ☏ .
- 1 Comfort Inn, 3290 South Service Rd, ☏ .
- 2 Best Western, 2412 Queensway Dr, ☏ . Beside the highways to Hamilton, Niagara, and Toronto.
- 3 Creekside Bed and Breakfast, 3158 Pinemeadow Dr (Guelph Line near Upper Middle), ☏ .
- 4 Hilton Garden Inn, 985 Syscon Road East, ☏ .
- 5 Homewood Suites by Hilton, 975 Syscon Rd, ☏ .
- 6 Quality Hotel, 950 Walkers Line, ☏ .
- 7 Holiday Inn, 3063 South Service Rd, ☏ .
- Greater Toronto Area
- Niagara Peninsula which includes Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake
|Routes through Burlington|
|London ← Brantford ←||W E||→ Oakville → Toronto|
|Niagara Falls ← Grimsby ←||W E||→ Oakville → Toronto|
|Niagara Falls ← Hamilton ←||W E||→ Oakville → Toronto|
|London ← Hamilton ←||W E||→ Oakville → Brampton|
|Toronto ← Oakville ←||N S||→ Hamilton → Niagara Falls|