Where Niagara Falls is known as a place for fun, games and honeymoons, its neighbour to the north, Niagara-on-the-Lake, has positioned itself as a quaint, quiet destination. It makes an interesting half-day or full-day trip, depending on your interests, from Niagara Falls.
Highlights include visiting some of the many vineyards around the old town, shopping on picturesque Queen Street, shooting a round of golf, and brushing up on history and the War of 1812 at the Fort George national historic site.
Played an important role in the defense of Upper Canada during the war of 1812. The fort was reconstructed by the Niagara Parks Comission between 1937 and 1940.
Staff in period costume and uniform re-enact typical daily life in the garrison prior to the War of 1812, when Fort George was occupied by the British Army. In 1813, it was captured, destroyed and refortified by American troops, only to be retaken by the British. Fort George fell to ruin in the 1820s but was reconstructed as a national historic site in the 1930s. See the tools of the trade of the 1800s, including muskets, cannons, fifes and drums, as well as mock battles and regimental bands. Daily 10-5
(Note: I have more photos about this fort in my travelogue)
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a pleasant 20-30 minute drive from Niagara Falls, we enjoyed a leisurely drive along River Road/Niagara Parkway to get there. It was well marked, we did not need a map to find the town. Along the way you can stop off at the scenic lookout over the Whirlpool Rapids, see the Niagara Power Project, the Floral Clock or stop by one of the many wineries and country stores along the route or Fort George.
Once you have reached Niagara-on-the-Lake, find a place to park either on the street or in one of the many lots (all pay to park), the town is compact enough that you can walk through it easily. Now we're not big wine drinkers, nor are we keen on the idea of spending our time shopping particularly on a sunny summer day so I wouldn't put NOTL at the top of my list of places to visit. But if you enjoy poking around in art galleries, bakeries, chocolate/fudge shops and gift shops then NOTL might very well be your kind of place.
Take a nice drive outside of the craziness of Niagara Falls, the freaktown, to the Niagara wine region. You'll find loads of wineries that offer wine tasting and tours.
We went to Inniskillin winery and drank lots of nice Reisling!!
I think sometimes it's easy to forget that this area did have occupants prior to the Revolutionary War. Everyone thinks of Boston & Philadelphia and not the Great lakes. It isn't far from the falls- basically at the mouth of the Niagara River where it empties into Lake Ontario A visit to Niagara on the Lake is a reminder of the importance of this area in the early formation of the country. You can see the remainder of the Fort, walk around the town and the drive from the Falls is pretty.
After you see the falls, the best thing to do is get out into the surrounding countryside and visit the small towns, wineries, orchards, and beaches in the area. Take a drive up north on the Niagara Parkway towards the pretty, flower filled town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Its a short, scenic drive and there are spots to pull your car over to view the river. Or better yet, ride a bike. Once you get to the Niagara-on-the-Lake area you will find wine route signs posted. Stop at a fruit or veggie stand for a healthy snack or have a relaxing lunch outside of Niagara Falls. There are many art galleries and shops to visit. NOTL is also home to the Shaw festival.
Once you've seen the Falls from every angle possible, there's really no reason to stay in the city of Niagara Falls. Instead, I highly recommend a drive to Niagara On the Lake, a small town on Lake Ontario. Actually the town itself is little more than a collection of boutique shops and overpriced restaurants, but it's the drive up there and back that makes it worth the trip.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a small village about 20 minutes away from the Falls, on the shore of Lake Ontario. It is charming and a wonderful place to window shop and stroll. I bet it is gorgeous at Christmas.
And another VT member, CdnJane, mentioned Greaves Jams or Jellies as a must buy when at Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is on my list for the next time I visit because I didn't get it and I bet it is "slow food," a movement I am very interested in following.
"The SS Pumper", North America's only wood fired, steam screw vessel in her new home at the historic Navy Hall, situated at Fort George on the Niagara River, where the picturesque town of Niagara on the Lake beckons you, your friends and family to take a voyage back in time. Come aboard and smell the hardwood burning, feel the passion as the water boils and generates steam from the antique boiler, listen to the gentle rhythmic pumping of the Doty steam engine as it quietly propels you along on your scenic journey up the mighty Niagara River. She has steamed almost a hundred years now, may she sail another 100!!
Niagara-on-the-lake showed us a very, very beautiful town, where time seems to have stopped.
When we were there, it was submerged by flowers. Is it always like that or, we were just lucky?
Quaint town with wonderful shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking through the commons and along the shore.
Tour buses go to Niagara on the Lake (population 12,494), a town at the Lake Ontario (northern) end of the Niagara River
which was erected as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War and provides the focal point of the main street.