When I am out and about doing things I am always talking to people. As a local resident of Niagara one of my favourite topics of discussion has been their favourite place to visit in the Niagara area. I am always surprised how many places there are to visit in this area. What are Niagara’s favourite spots? Here are a few suggested by local people. Enjoy.
The Niagara Parkway is a road that follows the Canadian side of the Niagara River from the Fort Erie in the south downstream, via Niagara Falls, to Niagara-on-the-Lake on the coast of Lake Ontario. Fortunately most traffic in the area uses routes like the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) leaving the parkway as a lazy way to see the sights along the river. I have travelled every inch of the Parkway and enjoy it every time I take a drive along it. There is always something new to see.
Arguably the most scenic part is south of Chippawa, starting at the Legends golf course and heading in the direction of Fort Erie. Along this section it is possible to find the Willoughby Historical Museum, Black Creek, Miller’s Creek Marina, and other places of interest. Every parking place seems to have a point of interest. One of the joys of this area is the fact that occasionally you will encounter a duck family marching single file across the road, for which everyone stops.
North of Chippawa this parkway becomes intertwined with the Niagara Falls tourist area. The beauty of Duffrin islands is worth parking for and walking around. The road then passes two old power-station buildings which are a part of the industrial heritage of the area. It passes the Table Rock visitor centre, past the waterfalls, underneath the Fallsview Casino. Going through Queen Victoria Park the wonderful green gardens along the edge of the falls that are always kept in immaculate condition all year round.
North of Clifton Hill the road becomes River Road, with its parade of bed and breakfast properties, past the temple of the Ten Thousand Buddhas, the White Water walk, the Aerocar. At Great Wolf Lodge the greenery of the Parkway returns as the road heads north through Niagara Glen and the Whirlpool Golf Course. It passes the Adam Beck power station, Floral Clock, then north through Queenston and on to Niagara on the Lake, past a collection of wineries, and Gracewood Estates. Truth is apart from tying all these favourite places together the Niagara Parkway is at the heart of this region’s beauty. Not surprising it is favoured by local people, we are proud of it.
Niagara on the Lake
The city has so much to offer, from Fort George to the shopping and wineries, all are popular for local people. Not to mention the Shaw Festival events that happen every year between April and November (if theatre is your thing).
The main-strip of the old town is interesting! The shops are all boutiques, with original offerings, such as hats, fashions, china, and the Christmas shop. Plan on visiting the Avondale Dairy Bar for an array of flavours of handmade ice cream. There are many antique stores around the town.
There’s a beach as well on the shores of Lake Ontario and a haunted ghost walk tour at night. Niagara on the Lake (as the first capital of the land now called Canada) has a rich history.
We are lucky to have such a quaint place locally and of course we do also enjoy our outings in the area.
Everyone loves the wineries in this area, they offer some of the finest wines from Ontario. In a way this is the hidden gem of the area. Not many people know about Canadian wine, but local wines have won wide praise and even some prestigious European awards. Definitely a local favourite as well as a favourite for most Canadian and American visitors who are aware of the vintner history of the region. Touring passes for the wineries are the most cost-effective way to visit.
Favourites in Niagara Falls
Of course local people do talk about Niagara’s favourite spots. Queen Victoria Park and the Falls may feature heavily, Oaks garden theatre is popular, as are many others. The Butterfly Conservatory has some unique spices and is well worth a visit. Locals also spend time on Duffrin Islands, one advantage this has is that parking is free (unlike at Table Rock or Clifton Hill).
At Niagara Glen taking the fisherman’s trail down the gorge is something a lot of people love (and you don’t have to fish to enjoy the beauty), here is an old hidden trail. There are many nature trails around the glen and much to see here. This is a popular place for bike riding. What I like is the ability to park then go for a ride and walk. Opposite is the Whirlpool golf course, which has an excellent restaurant.
The Drummond Hill Cemetery is of historic importance, located on the site of the bloodiest battle of the War of 1812. The battle took place on 25 July 1814 and there were more than 1,700 casualties that day, including 258 dead. Across the street is Redmond Heights, an historic park to remember the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, now open to the public.
Rosemary Labato told me, “I love sitting on one of the walls under the lights that shine on the falls at night.” I love the lights as they play on the water, and the colour changes. Maybe if you go, you will find Rosemary there as well one evening.
Queenston Heights, which is the starting point of the Bruce Trail is another favourite. Here is the Brock monument commemorating the bravery of one of our local heroes during the War of 1812. The park here is very pretty. The Bruce Trail starts at this point and heads it way along the Niagara Escarpment and towards Tobermory, Ontario 885 kilometres away.
Jet Boats are well liked and are boarded either in Queenston or Niagara on the Lake. Take this ride and you will get wet, but you will enjoy it on a hot summer’s day.
Balls Falls Conservation Area is another popular area. Set in the Twenty Valley in Jordan, where there are plenty of walking trails to enjoy. Jordan Village is also another fascinating place, where you will find art, good restaurants etc. There are also good local wineries, which you can find out about through the Jordan Village Merchants Association.
Crystal Beach is a source of fond memories for many local people. The village used to boast one of north Americas best roller-coasters, The Comet. This popular ride is now available at the Great Escape Amusement Park in Lake George, New York. Crystal Beach is still a popular spot to overlook Lake Erie. The roads are narrow in the town but the atmosphere is worthy of a visit.
Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie offers 1,500 feet of sandy beach on Lake Ontario. With carousels, concessions and great playgrounds is another local favourite in the northern part of the City of St Catharines. Locals love the merry-go-round and simply enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this area.
Short Hills Provincial Park is a great place for hiking, biking and to ride horses. There are many managed trails that offer superb views of the countryside. It occupies an area of more than 600 hectares, but some of the land here is also private farm land, so please respect local farmers. St. John’s pond is another area close by with great walking trails.
The Welland Ship Canal is another source of inspiration. There are not man placed in the world you can see ships gently sailing over the land. They can also be a great place to fish, if that is your pleasure.
One of my favourite places to visit are the multitude of fruit stands and farm shops that exist across the region.