7 Reasons to Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake This Summer

One of the best things about living in Toronto is the awesome stuff to which you have access just outside of Toronto.

While we’ll never get tired of the magic of Muskoka, the lively charm of Collingwood, or the whiskey-soaked whimsy of Wasaga Beach, we can’t say enough about the sensational summer getaway that is Niagara-on-the-Lake.

And now, running every weekend from July 3rd to September 7th, GO Transit runs a train+bus service that gets you from Union Station to the heart of NOTL – and in only a few hours for under $40 return.

Not only does it have everything you’d want out of a relaxing day-trip or a full weekend escape, but you don’t even have to worry about driving there – or more importantly, having to drive home.

So we recently got on the GO for our own excursion to Niagara-on-the-Lake. And it wasn’t hard to come up with 7 reasons we think you’ll love it just as much as we did…

You Can Bike Everywhere
Literally everything in and around the town is easily and safely accessible by bicycle. There are bike rental companies within a grape’s throw of the central bus terminal – and even ones like Zoom Leisure that have a delivery service – or, the GO has train cars dedicated to bicycle storage, so you can easily bring your own. Given the first thing you’ll probably want to do when you get there, car keys are the last thing you’ll want to worry about. Unless of course they have a bottle opener and a cork-screw on them…

The Wineries & Breweries
There are over 35 wineries and a handful of great breweries scattered around town, making this our favourite attraction by far. A winery like Inniskillin is great for high-end Ice Wines and delicious food, Trius Winery at Hillebrand is great for their generous tasting flights and sparkling wines, and Niagara Oast House is a beer-lover’s heaven, situated in a century-old-red-barn-turned-brewery, with delicious craft concoctions, regular guest chefs, and live music on Fridays for their energetic Friday Night Pints.

The Live Entertainment
If you’re a theatre fan, The Shaw Festival has an excellent 2015 playbill with everything from Neil Simon musicals to the scripty insightfulness of the contemporary underground. And did you know that Jackson Triggs has an amphitheatre? And at that amphitheatre, acts like The Sam Roberts Band, Chantal Kreviazuk, Jan Arden, and The Arkells are playing there this year? Ya, pretty sweet.

The Spas and B&Bs
Whether you’re looking at A-1 pampering and relaxation – like Pillar and Post, White Oaks, Shaw Club, or The Oban Inn – or under-the-radar-off-the-grid intimacy and hospitality – like the Historic Davy House or Antique Slumber – the accommodations here truly make a lasting impression and do an excellent job reminding you that here, you are not supposed to be working.

The Food
It’s pretty much all good. While the wineries and their chefs do an excellent job, local spots like Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine, Zees Grill, HobNob Restaurant & Wine Bar, and Ginger will definitely sprinkle on that world-class garnish of cuisine that all good getaways should have. You’re also hard-pressed to find a bad dessert in this entire town.

The Shopping
Between The Landmark Shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake, The Heritage District and the bounty of other local vendors, you’ll find everything from jewelry, antiques, and apparel to gardening stores and art galleries. Don’t expect a line-up of swanky Yorkville brands, but do expect to kill a few hours getting your browse on.

The Casinos (at Niagara Falls)
Only a 30-minute drive away is the touristy but still very entertaining Niagara Falls hub. And as Wesley Snipes once wisely put it in Passenger 57, “When you go to Niagara, always bet on black.” Ok, we’re paraphrasing, but you get the idea. If you want to split your time between respite and roulette, and maybe balance out those weekend expenses with a little glory-cash, Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino Resort are just down the road. It’s not exactly Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it’s close enough to make a trip in that direction that much more interesting.