FAQ's About Visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake


What else is there to do around Niagara-on-the-Lake, besides buy fruit?

The Niagara Region is a bustling area in the heart of southern Ontario's Festival Country. There's so much to do within the immediate area and within an hour drive. Many of these attractions aren't very well advertised. Some attractions are listed below, and their finer points are expanded upon in other areas of this FAQ- click on the links for more information.

Attractions in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Attractions in the Immediate Region

(Within a 20-minute drive of downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.)

Attractions in the Surrounding Area

(Within an hour drive of Niagara-on-the-Lake)

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Can you recommend hotels or b&b's in Niagara?

Finding lodging right in Niagara can be a bit of a challenge during the summer.

The two links below offer information on hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and regional Bed and Breakfasts. If you can't get a room in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you might try an Internet search for St. Catharines hotels. Most places in St. Catharines are less than twenty minutes away from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Open a window to the Rooms Plus travel guide listing of Niagara-on-the-Lake hotels.

Or open a window to a regional listing of Bed and Breakfast links.

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Shaw Festival

The Shaw Festival presents plays that were written by Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries.

The festival itself is located in three theatres scattered about downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most years productions run daily from late April until early November.

Open a window to the Festival homepage for more information.

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Wineries

In recent years Niagara has been gaining a well-deserved reputation for excellent wines.

Scattered throughout Niagara-on-the-Lake are numerous wineries. Several of them are located on the Lakeshore Tours drive. (See that section of our website.)

The wine route which meanders through the region (and right in front of Quiet Acres) passes all the wineries.

Open a window to the Wine Route homepage for more information.

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Bicycle Trails

Recreational cycling in Niagara got a real boost in the late 1980's when the Niagara Parks Commission paved a bicycle path along the Niagara River from its start at Lake Erie to its mouth at Niagara-on-the-Lake on the south shore of Lake Ontario. For most of the route, The Niagara River Recreation Trail  is separate from the road, and very close to the water.

In the mid-1990's Niagara's contribution to The Waterfront Trail was begun. The Waterfront Trail is part of a bicycle route which will eventually encircle Lake Ontario. The "Waterfront Trail" portion is in Canadian territory and will, when completed, stretch from Niagara-on-the-Lake, around Lake Ontario, past Kingston, to Gananoque. Ontario's Waterfront Trail will also form part of the Trans-Canada trail. The trail is not yet completed in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Of the portions that are completed, most are on the paved shoulders of Lakeshore Road. (The trail passes right in front of Quiet Acres market.)

A third major recreational bicycle trail was also started in the mid-1990's along the Welland Canal in St. Catharines. When this Welland Canal Parkway is completed, it will stretch from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Visionaries see the eventual circular connection of the three trails by the addition of a link along the north shore of Lake Erie.

For more information, open a window to the:

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The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake is an historic and beautiful town. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved towns in Upper Canada.

Historically Niagara-on-the-Lake was an important centre of commerce and power. When it became the first capital of Upper Canada in the eighteenth century it was arguably the most strategically important centre in British North America.

In later years, particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was an important vacation destination for summer get-aways.

The get-away and vacation destination idea lives on today; based on per-capita local population, Niagara-on-the-Lake delights nearly forty times the visitors that Toronto does. 1

Open a window to Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Chamber of Commerce homepage for more information.

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Fort George

Fort George played a key role in defending British territory from American invasions in the war of 1812.

The Fort is located at a comfortable walking distance from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It was reconstructed in the 1930's and serves as a museum/showpiece/educational centre today.

Parks Canada operates the Fort today. Often great events go on within its timber walls, like the Victoria Day outdoor concert and fireworks.

Open a window to the Fort George homepage for more information.

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Avondale Dairy

Avondale Dairy has been operating on Stewart Road near Carleton Street for years. Twenty years ago there used to be cows in the fields surrounding the dairy, but they've moved them back behind the barns today.

Beatrice Foods Inc. now owns much of the operation, but the dairy bar is still locally owned and operated. Stop in for great ice cream anytime. Most summer evenings they're opened until 11:00 p.m.

It was difficult to find information on the Internet about Avondale Dairy. The link below provides a little more information. If you can't find the dairy, stop by Quiet Acres and we'll give you directions!

Open a window to the Niagara-on-the-Net page for Avondale Dairy.

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Brock's Monument/Queenston Heights Park

Queenston Heights Park, operated by Parks Canada, provides one of the most spectacular views of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

You can climb a narrow stairwell up Brock's Monument most days between the beginning of May and the end of October or picnic in the park or under one of the pavilions anytime.

If you happen to be traversing the Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment, you'll start or finish at Queenston Heights Park.

Open a window to the Queenston Heights Park homepage for more information.

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Laura Secord Homestead

You might know Laura Secord for chocolates and ice cream, or you might know her for the important role she played during the war of 1812.

Her restored home is located in Queenston, just below Brock's Monument. Her home is opened for tours most days between the beginning of May and the beginning of September.

Open a window to the Laura Secord Homestead page for more information.

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Golf in Niagara-on-the-Lake

There are four golf courses in Niagara-on-the-Lake: Peachtree, Queenston, St. Davids, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Peachtree is the newest course; it is located just a little out of downtown.

As the name implies, the Queenston Golf Course is located in the area of Niagara-on-the-Lake near Queenston.

The St. David's Golf course is located just a little east of St. Davids, below the Niagara Escarpment.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake course is located right in town, where the mouth of the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario.

Contact information is available at the external site below.

Open a window to Tourism Niagara's information on the four golf courses.

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Pick-Your-Own Fruit in Niagara

Pick-Your-Own (or U-Pick) fruit operations are not very common in Niagara-on-the-Lake; or at least there are very few growers who offer Pick-your-Own on a regular basis.

Pick-your-Own is most common early in the season (for strawberries and cherries in particular). At Quiet Acres we do not offer Pick-your-Own.

If you drive around the area, you'll often see signs out sporadically advertising Pick-your-Own.

That said, there is at least one farm in Niagara, Fruithaven owned by John and Debbie Federkow, that concentrates on Pick-your-Own.

Open a window to the Ontario Rural Routes information on Fruithaven Farms.

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Niagara's Summer Peach Festival

Every August, usually on the second weekend, Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrates a cornerstone of the local agricultural industry by holding a Peach Festival.

The main street is partially transformed into a walking street for the event, and peaches are everywhere. If you come for the day, you can also see a parade, the crowning of the Peach Queen, as well as old steam tractors and farm machinery. There is also the opportunity to take a tour out to local orchards and packing sheds.

This is one event that is really gaining in popularity, though it's a bit of a secret to those outside the region. (Many visitors delightfully "stumble in" to the festivities.)

The date always seems to change. Contact the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce at (905) 468-4263, or contact us at Quiet Acres in July or early August for this year's date.

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The City of Niagara Falls

About thirteen million people visit Niagara Falls every year. Thirteen million people can't be wrong!

Business in the Falls is geared towards visitors. There is a host of activities and attractions, especially in the summer.

There's lots of information on the Falls available at various sites. The link below offers an "official" starting point.

Open a window to the official city of Niagara Falls website.

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Casino Niagara

After spending its first few years at a temporary location, Casino Niagara is now at a permanent location within a ten-minute walk from the brink of the Falls.

There are many websites devoted to Casino Niagara. Most web searches return the non-official ones.

Open a window to the official Casino Niagara website for more information.

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The Gorge (Niagara Glen)

Hiking in the Niagara Glen is a fantastic experience. The contrast from manicured park land to awesome nature takes less than five minutes and an initial descent of sixty or seventy feet.

A gorge, being a deep narrow passage or steep rocky ravine, is a perfect description of the Niagara Glen... a glen, being a valley, seems far too tame.

Carved out from Niagara Falls thousands of years ago as it eroded deeper south through the Niagara Escarpment, the area of public access to the Gorge today is a rocky forested wonderland. The huge boulders left from eons of water eroding away smaller stones around them are breathtaking.

It's possible to hike right down to the river within twenty minutes, and you could easily spend a couple hours wandering about the marked trails, or a half day fishing. (Eating the fish might be a mistake though!) Access is free. The Gorge is a real gem.

Open a window to the Niagara Glen website for more information.

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Butterfly Conservatory

One of the newer attractions operated by Niagara Parks is the Butterfly Conservatory on the Niagara Parkway between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls.

A conservatory in English is a greenhouse where plants are arranged aesthetically for display. A Butterfly Conservatory could be thought of as a greenhouse where living butterflies are "arranged" aesthetically for display. But the Butterfly Conservatory is more than this.

It can be a great educational experience if approached with the right attitude; or it can be a fun romp through an aesthetically-pleasing greenhouse full of plants and butterflies.

The Butterfly Conservatory is especially nice to visit on cold winter days, when its tropical atmosphere contrasts starkly with Niagara's sometimes-blustery weather.

If you're really in to butterflies, or you like to collect souvenirs, the Conservatory gift shop offers some unique finds.

Open a window to the Butterfly Conservatory website for more information.

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Port Dalhousie

Port Dalhousie is one of the off-the-beaten track gems that make the Niagara Region so wonderful.

If you visit on a warm summer day, you might question whether it really is off the beaten track or not, because it is sometimes swarming with visitors. This popularity, in the absence of heavy promotion, suggests many return visits and something very worthwhile. It also suggests that it might be a hangout for locals, which it certainly is. If you want to people-watch Niagara Region residents, Port Dalhousie is a good place to be.

In yesteryears, "Port" (as it's known to many residents) was a bustling independent village-cum-tourist-destination. With a sandy beach and an amusement park, its proximity to Toronto (by taking a ferry for a $1.00 across Lake Ontario) made it a nice weekend day-trip destination.

Excepting the five-cent carousel, the amusement park has been mostly dismantled, but the sandy beach is still there, as is a long pier, and a "happening" night life for the local "younger crowd."

Port Dalhousie became part of St. Catharines when the city amalgamated in 1961. It still retains its own character with a comfortable balance between the historical and the modern.

There is not a whole lot of information about Port Dalhousie per se on the Internet. The link below opens to a local zine.

Open a window to the Dalhousie Peer website for more information.

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The Five-Cent Carousel in Port Dalhousie

The five-cent carousel in Port Dalhousie is the last remaining vestige of what was a large beachfront amusement park in the early 20th century.

The carousel is run by the city of St. Catharines today, and is relatively well kept.

Rides, which last about four minutes, really are only five cents. You can ride around and around for a whole day for about $6.00. There's much more to Port Dalhousie than the carousel (located near the western-end of the beach), but if you're in "Port," be sure to go for at least one ride.

There is very little information about the carousel on the Internet. The link below opens to a carousel page on the City of St. Catharines website.

Open a window to the Carousel Page on the city of St. Catharines website for more information.

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Happy Rolph's Bird Sanctuary

Happy Rolph's is awfully close to Quiet Acres. It's located just north of Lakeshore Road, on the west side of Read Road, which makes it technically fall in St. Catharines.

I've always found the carefree "Happy Rolph's" a pleasant contrast to the conservative-sounding "Bird Sanctuary."

So what is this Happy Rolph's place anyway? It's a unique bit-of-this and bit-of-that. To start, it is run by the city of St. Catharines and admittance is free. There's a small petting zoo with a barn yard population that's constantly in flux. Because the animals aren't owned by the city, they tend to come and go. Usually there are goats, horses, pigs and sheep as well as sundry collection of chickens and rabbits.

Beyond the petting zoo is a stream, alongside which is a path to Lake Ontario. The stream provides sanctuary for birds like ducks, geese, and swans. There's a bit of a park at the lakeside, which could make a nice picnic area.

You might not make a day trip of going to Happy Rolph's, but it's a real friendly place to visit.

At the time of writing, there was no information about the bird sanctuary on the Internet. If you'd like to go, either follow the directions above, or stop by Quiet Acres and we'll give you directions!

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The Welland Canal

The Welland Canal is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway Commission's system to facilitate bulk water transit in the Great Lakes.

The Niagara River over the Falls provides one connection between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The other is the Welland Canal. Shipping favours the latter.

The extreme difference in elevation between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario made a multiple-lock canal system necessary. There are eight locks in all, most located in a connected series up the side of the Niagara Escarpment near Thorold. Lock 1 is relatively near Lake Ontario (and Quiet Acres), being just north of Lakeshore Road. Together these eight locks lift ships some 326 feet.

There is a visitor information center and observation deck located at Lock 3 in St. Catharines. (This is located just a little south of the QEW Garden City Skyway, on the St. Catharines side of the canal, on Government Road.)

The present-day canal is actually the fourth Welland Canal. The nineteen-year construction, interrupted by WW1 was completed in 1932. Shortly after opening, traffic on the canal was so heavy that the Government took steps to secure land to build another parallel one about two kilometers east of the newly-completed canal. This land is still owned by the government. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, it is rented out to farmers for vineyards and orchards. The reason there are no houses on the east side of Stewart Road is that the land is still owned by the government.

Open a window to the Welland Canal Page of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Commission website for more information.

Or open a window to the Welland Canal Page of Brian Seburn's website.

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The Henley Regatta

Every summer, St. Catharines hosts the Henley Regatta in Port Dalhousie. This Regatta has a fantastic reputation. It brings together crews from all over North America and around the world.

The Regatta takes place mid-summer, usually at the end of July or the beginning of August.

Open a window to the Henley Regatta homepage for more information.

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Ball's Falls Conservation Area

The Ball's Falls Conservation area is located in Jordan, about half an hour Toronto-bound from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Ball's Falls was settled by the Ball family in 1807, and remained in the family for over 150 years. The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority oversees the site today. Ball's Falls is an historical park with various outdoor activities and educational opportunities. As might be expected, there is a waterfall on the property.

Ball's Falls is open daily from early April to the end of November for birding, camping, picnicking, etc. Snowshoing and cross-country skiing are encouraged in the winter.

Open a window to the Ball's Falls page at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority website for more information.

Or open a window to a fact-based Brock University page about Ball's Falls.

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Jordan Hollow

If you travel the old number eight highway between Hamilton and St. Catharines, you'll pass through the small valley of Jordan Hollow.

For years there was a weekend flea market in the Hollow, amongst the trees. This led to the erection of signs in the Hollow that read something to the effect: "Weekday population: 0, Weekend population: 10,000!"

Ten thousand might be a little superlative, but it was rather bustling on the weekends. Since the closure of the flea market, Jordan Hollow has been undergoing changes aimed at attracting visitors based on the natural beauty of the small valley.

If you're heading back to Toronto and looking for an alternate route to the QEW, try Regional Road 81 and check out Jordan Hollow.

The village of Jordan is located adjacent to the Hollow. The link below leads to information on the village itself.

Open a window to the Jordan Village webpage.

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Toronto

International visitors (or those from further afield in Canada) are often surprised at Niagara-on-the-Lake's proximity to Toronto. Niagara-on-the-Lake's rural setting is far from being "the sticks."

There are thousands of things to do in Toronto, and thousands of websites devoted to the city. The one below is rather comprehensive.

Open a window to the Torinfo website for information about Toronto.

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Notes

1  This rough calculation is based on Niagara-on-the-Lake's population of thirteen thousand and annual three million visitors versus Toronto's metropolitan population of three million and annual twenty million visitors. (3,000,000/12,500)/(20,000,000/3,000,000)=40 (approximately) Back


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