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North America > Canada > Ontario > Niagara Peninsula > Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake

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Niagara-on-the-Lake is a town of 17,500 people (2016) in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. It sits on the shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. It is a frequent destination for daytrippers from Niagara Falls, and a destination in its own right. It is situated in the middle of a thriving grape and fruit growing area featuring numerous wineries. There has been a recent growth in craft breweries. The town name is often abbreviated NOTL.

Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Understand[edit]

Niagara-on-the-Lake is important in the history of Canada: it served as the first capital of the Province of Upper Canada, the predecessor of Ontario, called Newark from 1792 to 1797. During the War of 1812, the town, the two former villages of St. David's and Queenston, and Fort George were the site of numerous battles following the American invasion of Upper Canada and the town was razed. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to the oldest Anglican and Catholic churches in Ontario, and the oldest surviving golf course in North America.

Today, Niagara-on-the-Lake draws tourists with its quaint colonial-style buildings, the Shaw Festival, Fort George, wineries, an outlet mall on the highway, and its proximity to Niagara Falls. The Niagara Region has the second-highest percentage of seniors in Ontario.

Visitor Information, 26 Queen Street (in the lower level of the Court House building), +1 905 468-1950. Open daily.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF IATA) in Buffalo, New York, is about an hour's drive away—assuming you don't encounter any delays at the international border.

  • Buffalo Airport Shuttle (716-685-2550, toll-free 877-750-2550) offers service from the Buffalo-Niagara airport to Niagara-on-the-Lake. A group of up to 4 can expect to pay approximately $95 each way and the drivers often have great tips on where to go and what to avoid.
  • BUF Buffalo Airport Taxi Service (716-292-4425) Provides service from the Buffalo-Niagara airport to Niagara-on-the-Lake. A group of up to 6 can expect to pay approximately $80 each way.

Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG IATA) is also across the border in Niagara Falls, New York, but less than a 45-minute drive (not counting border delays).

Hamilton John C. Munro International Airport (YHM IATA) in Hamilton is about a 75-minute drive away.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA) in Mississauga is about a 1 1/2-hour drive away.

By car[edit]

Niagara-on-the-Lake is approximately 1½ hours from Toronto (depending on traffic) and 45 minutes from Buffalo.

From Toronto Airport: Take the QEW east (QEW Niagara). Once you pass St. Catharines, exit at Niagara Stone Road (Niagara Regional Road 55). Go north for 20 minutes.

From Niagara Falls (Ontario) follow the scenic Niagara Parkway north along the Niagara River.

By bus[edit]

Daily bus service is available from cities throughout Ontario from bus companies such as King Transportation, or bus tours companies such as eTours and Niagara Tours.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Shuttle offers hourly shuttle bus service between Floral Clock (connection with WEGO Transportation Services in Niagara Falls) and Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake). There are intermediate stops at McFarland House, Laura Secord Homestead and Queenston Heights Park.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

By taxi[edit]

See[edit]

  • 1 Niagara Apothecary, 5 Queen St (at King St). Mother's Day to Labour Day daily Noon-6PM; weekends to Canadian Thanksgiving Day. Museum featuring a restored 1869 pharmacy. Niagara Apothecary on Wikipedia
  • 2 St. Mark's Anglican Church, 41 Byron St. St. Mark's is the oldest Anglican Church in Ontario with construction begun in 1800. It's roof was destroyed in 1813 during the War of 1812, and was subsequently replaced.
  • 3 Fort George, 26 Queen St, +1-905-468-4257. A reconstructed British fort which featured prominently in the War of 1812. Open April to November. Ghost tours offered some evenings. Fort George (Q912646) on Wikidata Fort George, Ontario on Wikipedia
  • 4 McFarland House, 15927 Niagara Parkway. Preserved 1800 house features guided tours by costumed interpreters, and (in summer) afternoon tea with scones and desserts.
  • 5 Living Water Wayside Chapel, 15796 Niagara Pkwy. Reputed to be the world's smallest church, according to several internet sites.

Queenston[edit]

The community of Queenston is located within Niagara-on-the-Lake near its boundary with Niagara Falls. The sites listed below are within 2KM of that boundary with the Floral Clock being approximately on that boundary.

  • 6 Laura Secord Homestead, 29 Queenston St. The homestead dates from before the War of 1812. During that war, Laura Secord became a heroine by walking 32 kilometres (20 mi) to warn the British of an impending American invasion. Costumed interpreters provide historical information. The site also offers souvenirs and refreshments for sale. Laura Secord on Wikipedia
  • 7 Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, 1 Queenston St. William Lyon Mackenzie (newspaper publisher, rebellion leader and Toronto’s first mayor) lived in this house 1858-1861. In 1936, the house was converted into a museum displaying heritage printing machinery. William Lyon Mackenzie on Wikipedia
  • 8 Queenston Heights Park, 14184 Niagara Pkwy (near the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge). This park includes the Brock and Laura Secord Monuments, dedicated to Isaac Brock and Laura Secord who played a role in the War of 1812; the Battle of Queenston Heights took place here. The park is also an end point of the Bruce Trail, which winds it way northward over 800 km (497 mi) to Tobermory. Queenston Heights (Q7271089) on Wikidata Queenston Heights on Wikipedia
  • 9 Floral clock, 14004 Niagara Pkwy (near the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge). A clock made entirely of flowers. Admission and parking are free.

Do[edit]

Festivals[edit]

  • Shaw Festival, +1 905-468-2172, toll-free: +1-800-511-7429. Named after playwright George Bernard Shaw, this theater festival runs from April to November and features plays by Shaw, playwrights who lived during Shaw's lifetime, or plays about his era (1856-1950). Three main theaters plus the Studio Theatre comprise the festival venues, and all are within walking distance of downtown. The season opens in April.
    • 1 Shaw Festival Theatre, 10 Queen's Parade. Seats 869.
    • Studio Theatre, 10 Queen's Parade (beside the Shaw Festival Theatre). Seats 200. Doubles as a rehearsal hall.
    • 2 Court House Theatre, 26 Queen St. Seats 327. The flagship theatre.
    • 3 Royal George Theatre, 85 Queen St. Seats 328.
  • Music Niagara, toll-free: +1-800-511-7429. Summer music festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake featuring internationally renowned musicians of classical, jazz, opera, and more. From brilliant pianists (Andre Laplante, Dick Hyman), engaging ensembles (Swiss Piano Trio, Métis Fiddler Quartet), terrific instrumentalists (Paul Pacanowski, Julie Spring), and tremendous vocalists (Brett Polegato, Krisztina Szabo), hear great music round the clock in intimate venues including wineries, churches, and bistros. The season runs from mid-July to early August. $10-60.
  • Niagara Wine Festival. There is also an Icewine Festival in January and a New Vintage Festival in June of each year. Festivals include winery tours and tastings, cuisine, and entertainment.
  • Peach Festival, Queen St. 9AM-?. First Saturday in August to celebrate peaches. It starts at 9AM sharp and the day is full of jams and pies and peaches.
  • 4 Art by the Lighthouse (Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre), 247 Ricardo St (on the river, between Navy Hall and the marina), +1 905 468-5455. 30 Jul - 1 Aug 2011: Sa Su 10AM-6PM, M 10AM-4PM. Art by the Lighthouse is a juried fine art show held on the grounds of the Niagara Pumphouse Visual Art Centre, accompanied by live music. Running concurrently; a free gallery exhibit of Robert Uhre and Katherine McDonald inside the Pumphouse Gallery. Free.

Outdoor activities[edit]

  • Great Lakes Pyrate Lore & Harbour Walks (Historical NOTL Walking Tour), 26 Queen St (Lower Level), +1 905 381-0396. Join Pyrates in an historical walk through the town as they regale ye with true tales of Pyrates that used Niagara-on-the-Lake as a base of operations! Sunken ships, daring raids, men "put on account", merchant ships and sunken wrecks that sit at the bottom of Lake Ontario. Learn the secrets of Fort Mississauga & Fort Niagara, and what role Pyrates may have played in the disappearance of a notorious NOTL resident. $10.
  • Haunted Hamilton presents a Lanternlit Ghost Walk of Niagara-on-the-Lake, +1 905-529-4327. Prepare yourself to stroll back through history and hear tales of haunted pubs, inns, forts and homes where restless spirits of the past are still said to linger. Regular walks offered March to December start at the Angel Inn on Regent at 8:30PM.
  • Bike the scenic bike paths along the Niagara River.
  • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride or sleigh ride through the old town.
  • 5 Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, 61 Melville St. Powerful jet-boats speed upriver, making their way into the breathtaking stonewalled canyon that is the Niagara Gorge. The anticipation builds as the boats splash into the whitewater of Devil's Hole Rapids. April - October.

Spas[edit]

  • Spa at The Oban Inn, 160 Front St, toll-free: +1-866-359-6226. 9AM-8PM. Intimate boutique spa located in the Oban Inn overlooking Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course and Lake Ontario offering personalized massage, body treatments and aesthetics. Open daily, year-round. Outdoor pool, whirlpool and fitness room.
  • [dead link] The Shaw Spa, 92 Picton St, +1 905-468-5711, toll-free: +1-800-511-7070. A unique variety of treatments including ones specializing in vinotherapy, chocotherapy, and bio-maple
  • 100 Fountain Spa, 48 John Street E (at the Pillar and Post hotel), toll-free: +1-888-669-5566.

Buy[edit]

The village of Niagara-on-the-Lake is well known for the little shops along Queen Street. Hats, jams, cheese, fudge and many other items are available in these stores.

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Wineries and breweries[edit]

  • Wine tours - The many wine tours of Niagara-on-the-Lake are an excellent way to spend an afternoon. Several companies downtown offer the tours - it's not strictly necessary to book, and you might want to take a look at the offerings. Choose your mode of transportation - by bike, bus or several other ways, and head off to between 3-5 wineries. Each winery offers a brief tutorial on wine-tasting, as well as a sampling of 2 or 3 of their vintages. Since you will be consuming alcohol it is strongly suggested that you consider joining a tour.
  • Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake You don't have to take a tour to visit one or two of the local wineries. As of 2018, there are 27 wineries. Most feature tasting rooms, and have their wines available for purchase.
  • Craft Breweries - Craft beers are becoming more popular in North America.

Sleep[edit]

There are a number of fine hotels, including several within walking distance of the Shaw Festival theatres and the centre of town. The town also has an extensive network of B&Bs, which provide an opportunity to mix with other tourists.

  • 1 The Charles Inn, 209 Queen St, +1 905-468-4588, toll-free: +1-866-556-8883, fax: +1 905-468-2194, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 12 rooms. Free parking. In season: $205+; Winter: $99+.
  • 2 Colonel Butler Inn (Best Western), 278 Mary St, +1 905-468-3251, toll-free: +1-866-556-8882, fax: +1 905-468-5844, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Best Western. 26 rooms. Complimentary continental breakfast 7AM-10AM. Free Internet and parking. In season: $179+; Winter: $99+.
  • 3 Harbour House Hotel, 85 Melville St, +1 905-468-4683, toll-free: +1-866-277-6677, fax: +1 905-468-0366, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 31 rooms. Expanded European-style buffet breakfast 8AM-10AM. Free Internet, parking, and shuttle service. In season: $295+; Winter: $199+.
  • 4 Olde Angel Inn, 224 Regent St, +1 905-468-3411, fax: +1 905-468-4821, . If you're obsessed with the paranormal, then you'll love this inn located in the downtown area. It is supposedly haunted by Captain Swayze, a British officer accidentally killed in the building's cellar during the War of 1812. The Olde Angel Inn on Wikipedia
  • 5 Pillar and Post Inn & Spa, 48 John St East, +1 905-468-2123, toll-free: +1-888-669-5566, fax: +1 905-468-3551. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
  • 6 Prince of Wales, 6 Picton St (On the main street), +1 905-468-3246, toll-free: +1-888-669-5566, fax: +1 905-468-5521. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Featuring elegant, Victorian-style rooms and a contemporary spa, this luxury hotel is just 2 blocks from Lake Ontario. The on-site restaurant holds a traditional English tea time every day. The 110-room hotel was built in 1864. Prince of Wales Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake on Wikipedia
  • 7 Queen's Landing, 155 Byron St, +1 905-468-2195, toll-free: +1-888-669-5566, fax: +1 905-468-2227. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Waterfront setting.
  • 8 Shaw Club Hotel & Spa, 92 Picton St, +1 905-468-5711, toll-free: +1-800-511-7070, fax: +1 905-468-4988, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 30 rooms. Continental breakfast included 8AM-10AM. Free Internet, parking, and shuttle service. In season: $185+; Winter: $99+.
  • 9 Woodbourne Inn, 214 Four Mile Creek Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, +1 289 296-9631. Woodbourne Inn is in St. Davids, 13 km from Niagara-on-the-Lake town centre.
  • 10 Cape House Bed and Breakfast, 1895 Lakeshore Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, +1 905 468-8380. This adult-only bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake is 2.5 km from the Shaw Festival Theatre. The property features individually decorated rooms with 4-poster beds and en suite bathrooms.
  • 11 The Butler House Bed and Breakfast, 67 Mary St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, +1 905 468-9696. It's on the ground floor. The Blue Room offers a beautiful Queen Bed, with high quality linens, a settee and second sitting area. The English Country décor features a beamed ceiling and Wedgewood blue walls.

Go next[edit]

  • Niagara Falls - for the Falls, of course
  • Toronto - Ontario's multicultural capital
  • Kitchener - hosting the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Munich
  • Stratford - picturesque city that hosts the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from April to November
  • New York
  • Buffalo
Routes through Niagara-on-the-Lake
END  W Ontario 405.svg E  Niagara FallsNiagara Falls, NY via I-190.svg
HamiltonSt. Catharines  W Ontario QEW.svg E  Niagara FallsFort Erie
HamiltonSt. Catharines  W Niagara Regional Road 81.svg E  END



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