The Niagara Region is a peninsula, located in south-western Ontario, surrounded by Lakes Ontario, Erie and the Niagara River. Four international bridges connect the Niagara Region to New York State, USA. The Niagara Escarpment is the most prominent topographic feature of southern Ontario. More than 18 million visitors from all over the world visit the Niagara Region every year. Niagara Falls counts for one of the most visited attractions of the Niagara Region, but besides the falls there are many other attractions worthwhile a visit.
Niagara is a four-season destination. History enthusiasts keep busy visiting 20 different historical museums, two reconstructed forts and the historic charm of Niagara on the Lake. Anglers will enjoy fishing on Lakes Ontario and Erie, while golf pros tee off at one of the region’s 40 golf courses.
The Niagara Parkway is a 56 km (35 mi) long two-lane road along the Niagara River, from Niagara on the Lake past the Falls to Fort Erie. It is a great way of exploring the region by car, cycling, jogging or walking. A paved recreational trail runs parallel to the parkway offering a flat terrain with beautiful riverside scenery. Along the way visitors find many attractions, including the Laura Second Homestead, the Samuel Weir Collection and Library of Art, the Mackenzie House Printery and the Queenston Heights Park.
From Toronto, Mississauga and Hamilton the Niagara Region is easily accessible via the Queen Elisabeth Way (QEW), which passes through St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Fort Erie.
Toronto to Niagara Falls 130 km (81 mi)
Windsor to Niagara Falls 380 km (236 mi)
Ottawa to Niagara Falls 530 km (329 mi)
Thunder Bay to Niagara Falls 1490 km (925 mi)
Kitchener-Waterloo to Niagara Falls 130 km (81 mi)
Getting around the Niagara Region
Cycling is a great way of exploring the natural beauty of the Niagara Region with an increasing number of maintained and signposted cycling trails available. Visit the regional tourism authorities for Cycling Niagara, a cycle trail map.
An escarpment describes a steep rock face or cliff of great length. The Niagara Escarpment runs for 725 km (553 mi) and passes through Canada’s most heavily developed region. The escarpment begins at the town of Queenston on the Niagara River, passing through or beside Hamilton, Collingwood and Owen Sound to finally reach Tobermory and Manitoulin Island. The escarpment marks a maximum height of 335 metres (1116 ft). The area is well known for its rich agricultural heritage, including vineyards, orchards and cattle ranches. The Niagara Escarpment is home to a number of spectacular waterfalls, including the world-renowned Niagara Falls.
In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO. Today, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve includes 190,270 ha, (470,965 acres) including parts of Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Niagara on the Lake
The village of Niagara on the Lake is situated about 20 km downstream of the Niagara Falls. It is a small, attractive town, often referred to as Ontario’s loveliest town. Niagara on the Lake is also home to the well-known Shaw Festival and is considered one of the best-preserved 19th century towns in North America.
The site of today’s Niagara on the Lake, then called Newark, became the first capital of the newly created colony of Upper Canada in 1792. Almost the entire town was erased by the burning of the town by the Americans during the war of 1812. Rebuilding of Niagara on the Lake made the town an active commercial centre with busy shipping and shipbuilding industry.
Visitors to Niagara on the Lake enjoy historic sites, such as Fort George, the Historical Society Museum, and the McFarland House, as well as some world famous Niagara wineries. A short scenic drive along the Niagara Parkway brings you to the Niagara Falls. Be sure to ask for the Historic Guide that outlines the town’s history and a self-guided walking tour.
The Shaw Festival
Location: The Shaw Festival plays in three different theatres, all within walking distance of the town centre.
The Shaw Festival is the world’s only festival to exclusively produce the plays of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. The Festival runs from April to October serving an international audience of 350,000 people in its three theatres – the Court House Theatre, the Festival Theatre and the Royal George Theatre. The Shaw Festival was founded in 1962.
For more information call: 905-468-2172 or toll-free 1-800-511-7429.
Fort George National Historic Site of Canada
Location: Just out of town towards Niagara Falls.
Fort George is a British Fort dating from 1797. The Fort played an important role during the War of 1812 and changed hands between the British and American forces a couple of times. Fort George has been restored to its state on the eve of the war. Various costumed workers recreate lifestyle of the period.
For more information call: (905) 468-4257
Location: In McFarland Park, 2 km south of town on Niagara Parkway.
McFarland House is a beautiful Georgian-style house that was the home of McFarland and his descendants for 150 years. Built around 1800 and restored in 1959, McFarland House now is furnished with pre-1840 articles. Explore the period herb garden. Sample fine refreshments, home baking or sip a glass of Niagara wine at the McFarland Tea Garden. Guided tours of the house are available during the summer months, between Victoria Day and Labour Day.
For more information call: 905-468-3322
Niagara Historical Society & Museum
Location: At 43 Castlereagh Street
The Historical Museum was founded in 1895 and is the oldest local museum of Ontario. The museum houses one of the finest collections of early Canadian artefacts and archives, including some Native Indian artefacts and relicts of the War of 1812 era. The Museum features a gallery dedicated to 10,000 years of the town's history, a War of 1812 gallery, the Carnochan gallery and a temporary exhibition gallery.
For more information call: 905-468-3912
Thanks to the roaring falls, Niagara Falls is one of Canada’s most visited tourist destinations with approx. 12 million visitors per year. The Falls span the Niagara River between Ontario and upper New York State, USA. On the Canadian site, the Horseshoe Falls plunges 52 metres (170 feet) into the Maid of the Mist Pool. On the American site, the American Falls is 55 metres (180 feet) high. The Falls are impressive to view by day and by night, when colourful lights flicker across the misty foam.
Less than 10 per cent of the water flows over the American Falls with the balance flowing over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Originally 6060 cubic metres (202,000 cubic feet) per second or 2.09 trillion litres per hour (5.5 billion gallons) flowed over Niagara Falls. Today, half of this massive amount of water is diverted for power by the United States and Canada, making Niagara Falls to the world’s largest producer of electric power. Believe it or not, very occasionally the Falls stop altogether! The first recorded instance of this occurred in 1848, when an ice jam had completely cut off the flow of water.
There is a free observation deck at the souvenir shop by the falls. If you want to see the Falls from various perspectives, try a boat trip with the Maid of the Mist, which operates since 1846.
Maid of the Mist Boats Tour
Location: At the Niagara Falls
The Maid of the Mist takes visitors up to the Niagara Falls for a view from the bottom. Visit the base of the American Falls and then go to the basin of the magnificent Canadian Horseshoe Falls aboard a diesel-engined boat.
For more information call: 905-358-0311
St Catharines, located between Hamilton and the Niagara River, is the major town of the Niagara Region. Often referred to as Ontario’s Garden City St Catharines offers a rich heritage, a vibrant culture and spectacular natural beauty. Wine lovers will find vineyards, wineries, and orchards travelling the Niagara Wine Route. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a wide array of green spaces, trails and parks.
Explore the region’s history while visiting the picturesque front village of Port Dalhousie (pronounced ‘dal-oo-zey’). Port Dalhousie is an old harbour area featuring 19th century architecture including lighthouses, shops and restaurants along the restored waterfront.
Shop until you drop in the town’s historic Downtown Mercantile District with exclusive boutiques and assorted shops. St Catharines has something to offer for everyone year-round. Besides the well known Niagara Grape and Wine Festival that is held in late September with concerts, wine and cheese parties and a parade, St Catharines features many entertainment venues. Theatres, art galleries, Jazz, performing arts, free summer evening concerts in Montebello Park and Lakeside Park and many more cultural events await you at St. Catharines.
Location: On Lake Ontario's waterfront of St. Catharines.
Picturesque, historic harbourfront village on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. Port Dalhousie is the terminus of the first three Welland Canals and for almost 100 years home to the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. View beautifully refurbished historic buildings featuring galleries, boutiques, restaurants and boat cruises. Enjoy live theatre presentations.
For more information call: 905-935-7555
Location: From Toronto or Buffalo, follow the QEW, exit at Glendale Avenue and follow the signs.
Welland Canals, originally constructed in 1829 to link Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, is now part of the St. Lawrence Seaway and 3,780 km (2,350 mi) of international waterway. A system of eight locks offers ships a safe detour around Niagara Falls. The Welland Canal is 8.2 m (27 ft) deep and 42 km (26 mi) long and marks one of the longest locks in the world (Lock #8). Enjoy watching ships longer than two football fields and weighing more than 30,000 tonnes being lifted up and over the cliff face of the Niagara Escarpment.
For more information call: 905-688-5601 or toll-free 1-800-305-5134
Vineyards and Wine Tours of the Niagara Region
The Niagara Region, in particular the triangle between St Catharines, Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls, is recognized as one of the finest wine-grape growing regions of the world. The moderate microclimate of Niagara, which is created by the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario, shelters the vineyards year-round making Niagara one of the most important wine producing regions of Canada.
The Niagara Wine Route connecting more than 30 different vineyards guides visitors through the picturesque wine-producing areas of Niagara. Many wine producers offer visitors a look around and a taste. Enjoy Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. If you are looking for something real special you should try some of the fantastic icewines that have gained a lot of international attention.
Local tour operators offer wine tours, mostly operating out of Niagara on the Lake.
Ask for a complete list of wineries and their location at any of the local tourist offices.
Accommodations of the Niagara Region
Andrea's Bed and Breakfast
4286 Simcoe Street
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Bed and Breakfast Wild Rose
PO Box 894, 322 Dorchester Street
Henry and Irene's Guest House ( B & B )
285 William St; P.O. Box 694
Palatine Hill B&B - Niagara-0n-The-Lake
2222 Four Mile Creek Road, R.R. #3