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A Niagara-on-the-Lake vacation guide

Inniskillin Winery

A Niagara-on-the-Lake vacation guide

Close to Toronto and Niagara FallsExternal Link Title, pretty Niagara-on-the-LakeExternal Link Title warrants a trip all itself. This is Ontario's wine central, a fertile region of award-winning whites, reds, and world leader in Icewine production.


Niagara-on-the-Lake is easygoing, charming, and inviting. You'll want to reserve plenty of time to sit on your B&B veranda after days filled with touring and tasting. Here's your guide to enjoying it.


Slow wine touring

Explore the area's 35 wineries the leisurely way: By bicycle. Grape Escapes Wine ToursExternal Link Title takes you all over the Niagara Peninsula and through the gastro-paradise of Prince Edward County. Pedal between places or ride in a passenger van if your legs need a break. Favorites include the cycle-and-lunchExternal Link Title and half-day tasting paired with artisan cheesesExternal Link Title. Cheers!

Boat to the iconic falls

It would be just plain wrong not to visit the fabled Niagara Falls 25 minutes away. Here's the fun way to do it: Take a Hornblower boat tourExternal Link Title -- catamaran or smaller jet-boat -- right into the spraying mist and roaring rush of the falls' base 165 feet below.

Cycle sightseeing

Green, rural, and relatively flat with gentle, rolling hills, the Niagara-on-the-Lake area is ideal for two wheelers. Check out popular biking routes, plan your cycle tour, and find anything related at the Niagara Cycling Tourism CentreExternal Link Title. The most popular are the paved Greater Niagara Circle RouteExternal Link Title, or portions of the 87-mile pathway, and 35-mile Niagara River Recreation TrailExternal Link Title. This riverside ride has it all: Views, restaurants, historic sites, attractions, and of course, wine tasting stops.


The historical town

A highlight is the lovely 19th century villageExternal Link Title. Well-preserved brick heritage buildings and turreted Victorians with ornate facades complement the leafy streets, well-manicured gardens, and overflowing flower baskets. The first capital city of Upper Canada (known today as Ontario), the town's history dates back to 1781 and Niagara-on-the-Lake also played a leading role in the War of 1812External Link Title. Stroll the graceful avenues, take a horse-drawn carriage rideExternal Link Title, or set out on an Old Town walking tour.

Theater: The Shaw Festival

Internationally renowned, the Shaw FestivalExternal Link Title puts on theater performances by playwright George Bernard Shaw and others from the late 1800s in three venues from April to November each year. The world's leading directors -- both resident and visiting -- stage the acclaimed productions. Artistic director Tim CarrollExternal Link Title, a Brit who took the helm in 2016, has injected new excitement -- and more Canadian plays and contemporary North American theater -- into the long-running festival. Plays vary by season, but the line-up usually includes one masterpiece -- such as Shaw's revered Saint Joan, one adaptation of a famous work -- for example, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and one musical.


The Niagara PeninsulaExternal Link Title is home to globally recognized vintners, such as Icewine pioneer InniskillinExternal Link Title and Peller EstatesExternal Link Title, but also boutique labels like Small Talk VineyardsExternal Link Title, many whose wines you can only sample in Canada. Visit as many as you can. Most wineries offer tours and tastingsExternal Link Title -- from small-batch to rare vintages -- plus seminars on winemaking and growing. They also make a picturesque spot for a gourmet picnic.


Niagara Icewine Festival

Trip Advisor ranks Niagara-on-the-Lake Canada's #11 food and wine destinationExternal Link Title. Time to indulge! Visit during January's annual Icewine FestivalExternal Link Title -- in winter, when the frozen grapes are harvested -- to eat and drink to your heart's content during the 17-day extravaganza of grand tastings, chef's longtable and winemakers' dinners, VIP parties, and classes. How often do you get to toast the season at an ice bar?

British-style afternoon tea

Lavish afternoon teaExternal Link Title in the ornate Prince of Wales HotelExternal Link Title drawing room with all the trappings is a requisite ritual in town. Picture decadent Devonshire cream, warm scones, candelabras, fine china, and silver. Don't miss the Icewine jelly and Himalayan Vintage Black tea.

Hit the town

It may be a village, but this one boasts cosmopolitan top-notch dining. Try Ravine Vineyard RestaurantExternal Link Title set in an historic farmhouse. The seasonal farm-to-table menu spotlights Niagara producers, and you won't want to miss the outstanding house charcuterie. Splurge at manor house Charles HotelExternal Link Title with a meal-to-remember under the sparkling chandeliers to the tune of live big-band entertainment. Foodies praise the high-caliber kitchen, noting the fresh diver scallops and succulent short ribs. Tuck into anything, really, at celebrated locals' hot spot BackhouseExternal Link Title, a celebration of everything homegrown and sustainable.


Prince of Wales Hotel

It's hard to imagine anything with more vintage appeal than this stately 1864 hotelExternal Link Title: swanky, elegant, and meticulously appointed with handsome period antiques. Enjoy feeling like English nobility for a while.

Lakelands Bed and Breakfast

Theater, shopping and galleries, biking, walking, and wine country are minutes away from this cheery, garden B&BExternal Link Title. In modern designer style, this intimate place is tranquil and centrally located. Guests rave about the bright and spacious rooms and sunny breakfast area.

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard

If you're imagining reclining in a gazebo with a view of vineyards, this 17-acre Georgian manor estateExternal Link Title is for you. Stroll the gardens and vines, sip a glass of local red on your balcony, or just sit and watch the sunset.


Niagara-on-the-Lake makes a well-rounded vacation getaway, in any season. Just be sure to leave room in your suitcase for all the wine.

Start planning your vacation now at the Visit Niagara website.