Hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario: The Prettiest Town in Canada
An historic town attractively set on the south shore of Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is at the heart of Canada’s most celebrated wine region. Home also to exceptionally fine restaurants, luxurious boutique hotels, upscale shopping, and an award-winning theatre festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake is ideally suited to romantic getaways, though any one of its many charming cottages could also be the perfect base for a chill weekend with family or friends.
The play’s the thing…
Niagara-on-the-Lake is most famous among theatre buffs as the home of the Shaw Festival, an eight-month-long celebration devoted to the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries, as well as modern plays inspired by Shaw’s era or spirit. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s historic downtown, the Shaw Festival offers four performance venues, all within a comfortable walking distance of each other; the largest of these is the Festival Theatre, which, with just over 800 seats, is still pleasantly intimate by modern theatre standards. After the show, theatregoers can look forward to a pleasant stroll through streets lined by graceful heritage buildings, many of which have been tastefully renovated to house fashionable boutiques and specialty shops. And, of course, hungry travellers will be spoiled by Niagara-on-the-Lake’s fine dining scene, which includes dozens of restaurants devoted to showcasing the region’s exceptional wine and produce.
Wine and trees…
Canada’s most famous wine region, the Niagara Peninsula, shares a latitude with Bordeaux, France and Northern California. Together with fertile soils and expertise passed down through many generations, its mild climate produces exceptionally fine orchards and vineyards, each with its own personality and brand of Canadian hospitality. Thirsty travellers will find over 50 wineries between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Grimsby, Ontario, as well as a fantastic array of guided tours, tastings, and special events. Hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake are particularly busy in the fall, during the world-famous Niagara Wine Festival, while wine lovers who are also fond of snow might book ahead for the Icewine Festival, an extravagant celebration over three weekends in January. (Icewine is a dessert wine made from grapes left to freeze on the vine, for which Ontario wineries are internationally acclaimed.) And come Spring, energetic travellers can also tour the region on two wheels; the spectacularly scenic and well maintained Niagara River Recreation Trail winds past many wineries on its way from Fort Erie to Fort George.
The time-traveller’s life…
The first capital of Upper Canada in 1792, Niagara-on-the-Lake has carefully preserved its rich history for future generations. The Niagara Historical Museum, which opened in 1907, is still in operation today with a superb collection of early Canadian artefacts and archives. Niagara-on-the-Lake is also home to the McFarland House, a restored private residence that is over 200 years old, and the Niagara Apothecary, a circa 1869 pharmacy-turned-museum. Nearby Queenston offers the Laura Secord Homestead and the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, “the best hands-on museum in Canada.” However, no historical tour of the region is quite complete without a stop at Fort George. Made famous by defending Upper Canada against the Americans in the War of 1812, the military post is now one of Niagara’s most engaging historical attractions, complete with a band of Fifers and Drummers, 19th century eats cooked over an open flame, and soldiers in redcoats who will teach you how to fire a musket or take you on a spooky candlelit ghost tour.
All that jazz…
Niagara-on-the-Lake is also well known for its wide array of community festivals and public events. In addition to a regular series of Music Niagara concerts throughout the summer, music lovers can enjoy the annual Niagara Jazz Festival and a “Symphony of the Senses” performance series, part of the annual Bravo! Niagara Festival of the Arts. The Icebreakers Comedy Festival and Clocktower Comedy Festival are good for a laugh, and hip travellers might want to plan a visit during the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, a “festival of epic proportions.” Foodies are also spoiled by a full slate of festivities, ranging from the delightful cherry, peach, and strawberry festivals to a suite of elegant dinners put on by the town’s “Signature Kitchens.” One of the most popular of these is the White Effect Dinner, a moonlight picnic with live dance music.