Known as one of Ontario’s most beautiful towns, Niagara-on-the-Lake is an ideal destination for wine lovers and anyone looking for a slow-paced, scenic vacation. Located just over the US–Canadian border on the shores of Lake Ontario, this picturesque spot is an easy weekend getaway or day trip from Buffalo in New York, Toronto, or Niagara Falls.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is famous for its wine, art, and music culture. The town is home to dozens of wineries, ranging from small boutiques to large estates, each with its own personality. Visitors can sample the area’s wide variety of world-class wines on a small-group wine tasting tour, enjoy a gourmet meal at one of the area’s restaurants, or opt for a private food and wine-tasting excursion with an expert tour guide. A bike tour of the area is a good option for travelers who want to get some exercise, take in the surroundings, and sample local wine along the way. Fans of the performing arts can visit one of the town’s many theaters, such as the Shaw Festival Theatre, Court House Theatre, and Royal George Theatre, while art aficionados can stop by galleries including the Angie Strauss Gallery and the Romance Collection Gallery. For an overview of Niagara highlights, take a day trip from Toronto and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake along with popular attractions such as Whirlpool Rapids, Queenston Heights, and the historic Fort George. It’s also possible to combine a visit with a ride aboard the Hornblower Niagara cruise ship for amazing views of all three falls.
Things to Know Before you Go
- The Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center is located on Queen Street, two blocks from the waterfront.
- Limited parking is available in the town’s Heritage District; drivers with handicap permits may use any municipal parking space without a fee, except in dedicated 15-minute and “no parking” zones.
- Book a guided wine-tasting tour with included transport to avoid worrying about drinking and driving.
How to Get There
Niagara-on-the-Lake lies on the southwest shore of Lake Ontario in Canada, roughly 30 minutes from Niagara Falls via the Niagara Parkway. If you’re flying in, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport is about 45 minutes away and offers shuttle service for a fee. Many full-day tours from Niagara and Toronto offer hotel pick-up.
When to Get There
While Niagara-on-the-Lake is beautiful at all times of year, the best time to visit is during late spring, summer, and early fall. Summer is the busiest season, while autumn visitors can admire vivid fall foliage and see wineries in action during the grape harvest.
Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts numerous festivals throughout the year. In summer, Music Niagara puts on over 30 piano, jazz, and opera acts around town, while the Peach Festival celebrates the sweet local fruit. Wine festivals include the New Vintage Festival in June, the Niagara Wine Festival in September, the Icewine Festival in January, and the Days of Chocolate and Wine Festival in February. From April through November, the Shaw Festival delights audiences with performances of works by George Bernard Shaw and other playwrights from his time.