By: Ayesha Munir
When in the Niagara region, a visit to Canada’s well-preserved 19th-century village and the heart of Ontario Wine Country is a must. Yes! You guess it right, we’re talking about Niagara-on-the-Lake dubbed as the prettiest town in Ontario, Canada. The district is famous for historic sites commemorating the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. But history isn’t the only lure here. You’ll find plenty of other things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake ranging from shopping & dining to entertainment & nature-communing. The best part is that the town is small and easily navigable – on foot, by bicycle, or by car – making it a perfect staycation or daycation during your Niagara visit.
To ensure that you don’t miss out on iconic experiences in this pretty town, we’ve rounded up a list of 14 things that you should do as you visit Niagara on the Lake.
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If you’ve got a flare for historical buildings, then this historical roadway should be your first thing to do in Niagara on the Lake. From Courthouse Building Dating from 1846 to Ontario's First Pharmacy, you’d be amazed to know the stories of these 19th-century buildings. As you stroll through its wide sidewalks adorned with incredible floral displays, you’d feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
(Credit: Fort George National Historic Site, Parks Canada / Instagram)
For a one-of-its-kind history experience of the War of 1812, head to the Fort George National Historic Site. This historic site features a military post that defended Upper Canada against American attacks during the war. Here, costumed people playing their war roles and re-enacting various parts of life would make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Don’t miss out on the Ghost Tour of Fort George if you’ve got a flare for horror-themed adventures.
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Your visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake featuring the 19th Century buildings & life is incomplete without a ride on a Horse-Drawn Carriage. Hop on one of the Horse-Drawn Carriages waiting outside the Prince of Wales hotel on King Street and tour the town with the canter of horses serving as the background music for you.
(Credit: Niagara Parks / Facebook)
Niagara Parkways section that runs through the Niagara-on-the-Lake has next-level natural beauty. Drive or bike this part of Niagara Parkway for ever-so-scenic farmland views that you can find only here. The best way to take in this beauty is to explore it at a slower pace. Stop by the farm stands selling fresh harvests and grab your favorite fruits of the season. Keep an eye out for the vineyards, hop off your car/bicycle, and pose for some candid shots amid these vineyard’s immaculate symmetric rows!
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Your time in Niagara-on-the-Lake should not go without some sweeping views of Toronto Skyline across Lake Ontario. To experience this, there’s no better place in the town than Queen’s Royal Park. Take a leisure walk through the park, sit back, and take in the beauty of the Toronto skyline coupled with a bit of people-watching. On a clear day, your skyline view would feature the tall downtown buildings of Toronto and the CN Tower. Not only this, but you’d be able to spot the Old Fort Niagara across the Niagara River, on the United States side.
(Credit: Shaw Festival / Facebook)
If you’ve got a fondness for Bernard Shaw’s theatre plays, then you’d be glad to spend some time at Shaw Festival, a theatre area that has been amusing its audience since 1962. Every season, more than 14 productions are showcased. Not only this, but you can also enjoy backstage tours and meet the actors bringing Shaw’s iconic plays to life.
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Another happening spot in Niagara-on-the-Lake that should definitely be on the theme is Queenston Heights Park, a combination of leisure and history in one scenic location. Stroll through its paved walkways sidelined with lush green grass. Have a seat on its patio, and take in the picturesque beauty & vibes of Ontario. Don’t forget to pay tribute to the Brock's Monument, a towering memorial commemorating the services of Sir Isaac Brock in defending Canada during the war of 1812.
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Niagara-on-the-Lake is saturated with sites and memorials that pay tribute to key figures of the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. One such worth-visiting site is Butler's Barracks National Historic Site, a historic military complex that consists of five wooden buildings. The site is named after Colonel John Butler, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Explore each of these buildings in greater detail and experience what military life looked like two centuries ago!
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Continue your history lesson at Niagara-on-the-Lake at Fort Mississauga National Historic Site, the former site of the first lighthouse in Upper Canada. Explore this squared brick defensive tower built inside a star-shaped ground fortification. Take a stroll through golfing greens on its landward side. Perch on its lush green grass underneath the shady trees, and treat yourself to the great views from across the Niagara River.
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Your history lesson in Niagara-on-the-Lake would be incomplete without a visit to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, a site featuring the finest collections of early Canadian artifacts including objects, books, photos, and virtual exhibitions, as old as 9,000 years! As you navigate through this collection, you’d feel like being a time capsule taking you back to the old times.
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Ever heard of a pharmacy-turned-museum? Niagara-on-the-Lake has it! Niagara Apothecary is an actual Canadian Confederation-era pharmacy from 1869 transformed into a museum. With its eclectic mid-Victorian commercial architecture, this museum showcases what a pharmacy looked like back in time, along with the products sold and used. Tap into this unique museum, and have up & close experience with the promotion displays of remedies then used by the companies to market their products.
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Time for some creamy & flavorful ice cream? COWS is the ideal spot to find it! You’d probably find a lineup here, but the staff works efficiently to keep the line moving. Grab your favorite ice cream scooped into a freshly baked waffle cone. Give a final touch with a dip of chocolate and sprinkles on it, and explore Niagara-on-the-Lake while licking some of the yummiest ice creams in the town!
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Craving for a nature-filled botanical experience? Head to Simcoe Park and you’d be delighted to see its beauty brimming with fresh & unique plants and shady trees providing a pleasant escape from the summer heat. Don’t forget to visit the statue of Lord Simcoe implanted on the eastern edge of the park as a tribute to his services as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.
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To see it in Niagara-one-the-Lake all at a slower pace, there’s no better way than taking a stroll through the historic downtown. Start your excursion from the Memorial Clock Tower in the heart of downtown, explore the adjoining shops & hunt for perfect souvenirs here, watch people at the bustling Queen Street, and treat yourself to some authentic Ontario tastes at a restaurant.
To put it all together, Niagara-on-the-Lake has its own kind of things to do (provided that you experience it the right way!) during your stay in Niagara. So! What are you waiting for? Plan your Niagara-on-the-Lake excursion now, and brace yourself for a memorable experience.