With spring in the air many Canadians are already beginning to plan their summer vacations. Luxurious, exotic locations beckon and thankfully there are plenty of equally indulgent destinations close to home. Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the North America’s most popular and beloved weekend getaways.
Beginning Victoria Day weekend it will be even easier to get out of the city and into the country air. GO Transit train service to Niagara Falls begins May 19th and offers weekend trippers quick access to Ontario’s wine country from downtown Toronto all summer long. The village of Niagara-on-the-Lake is a quick shuttle ride from Niagara Falls and feels a world away from the bustling city.
Twenty minutes away from that great booming wonder-of-the-world, Niagara Falls, sits Niagara-on-the-Lake, population 15,000. A destination for foodies and culturites; the flower and tree-lined avenues attract approximately three million visitors annually. First settled by Europeans in the late eighteenth-century, the former capital of the Province of Upper Canada has been fought over, invaded, and burned to the ground at various points in its 200-year history. Thanks to a particular combination of astounding natural beauty and strategic positioning, it has driven armies to ruin and is inextricably linked to the history of North America.
There is a lot to see and do in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From architecture and winery tours, to world-class dining and music festivals this enclave of history and culture appeals to a visitors of many ages and stages. For a weekend of simple pleasures in the country, here are our picks for what not to miss:
World renowned theatre at the Shaw Festival — The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to the internationally acclaimed Shaw Festival Theatre. From April to October the company presents plays by its namesake Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries, as well as modern and contemporary playwrights. Theatre at the Shaw Festival is richly entertaining and deeply thought provoking. It is also filled with music and lots of fun. This year the festival will present 10 plays, on four stages, featuring 65 actors. The 2014 season lineup includes the glittering musical Cabaret, lough-out-loud comedy The Philadelphia Story, and the thought provoking drama The Mountaintop.
Wine tours — In addition to exceptional cuisine at local restaurants, Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries produce award-winning wines and open their doors for wine tours and tastings regularly. Peller Estates offers private tours and tastings, and lunch or dinner in the Winery Restaurant. Vouchers for wine tasting can be purchased with Shaw Festival tickets, call ahead to reserve.
Boutique hotels — Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to an impressive array of five-star and four-diamond hotels. Hotels like the Prince of Wales and Pillar and Post are housed in impeccably preserved Victorian buildings and offer luxurious accommodation, plus full service spas and fitness facilities. If five-star luxury isn’t in your budget, the town features a range of accommodations suitable for any price point.
Local art galleries — Spend an afternoon wandering the flower-lined streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake and perusing one of the many galleries scattered throughout town. From Inuit artists to local landscape painters, Niagara art galleries appeal to collectors and browsers alike.