I would like to tell you about one of my favorite small towns in Ontario – Niagara-on-the-Lake, located south of Toronto, about 170 km from Toronto center. It is not a garden, but I consider it garden related since it always has an abundance of impressive floral arrangements during the warmer part of the year, so you might be interested in seeing some of them as an inspiration. In this article I will show you several of them, as well as a few views on some quite elaborate private gardens.
How to Get There.
It takes about 2-4 hours to drive there from Toronto, depending on the weather and traffic. You drive along the highway going via Hamilton and St. Catharines . If you go there during a weekend and particularly on a long weekend, I recommend you leave from Toronto early in the morning, before 9 am or sooner, to avoid high traffic.
You can either drive there directly turning toward Niagara-on-the-Lake after St. Catherine’s, or visit Niagara first and then come there to relax and enjoy this very picturesque historic town with many interesting boutique stores, restaurants, cafes and Shaw Festival run in 3 local theaters.
It is only about 20-30 minutes drive from Niagara Falls and if you go from there, I recommend you drive on a very scenic road along Niagara River – Niagara Parkway and then follow Queen’ Parade till you arrive to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Following this road you will come to Picton Street and o the left you will see Shaw Festival Theater. Then very soon you will reach Queen Street, which is the main street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We always like to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake when going to Niagara and sometimes we even just come only to see this interesting small town and the surrounding area with many wineries, walking and biking trails and nearby Niagara Park’s Botanical Garden, I have written about in my 2 previous articles. I will add links to them below this post.
The atmosphere of this town is quite different from the nearby Niagara City. You will be happy to find a break here from the huge crowds of Niagara’s, its casinos and other often noisy attractions created for millions of tourist who visit it each year. In contrary, Niagara-on-the-Lake can charm you with its elegance, well refined beauty and sophisticated style. The life goes here at much more relaxed pace. Instead of casinos, various play-terror houses and popular fast food chains, you will find here many unique stores and dining places and you can even attend theater spectacles at one of the local theaters (it is best to book tickets well in advance).
Once you arrive there, it might be hard to find a parking spot on the main, Queen Street, but try to find it on one of the parallel streets. Then just take a walk along Queen Street and many other smaller streets you will find interesting. I like to visit many small boutiques, relax in local cafes or just scroll along the nearby shore of Lake Ontario from which in good weather you can see Toronto.
Niagara River joins Lake Ontario in Niagara-on-the-Lake and creates many scenic views and tourists attractions on the way from Niagara Falls. The border between Canada and USA runs along the river from Buffalo to Niagara-on-the-Lake, so if you would like to visit USA and already have all the necessary paperwork, you can easily do it going to the border crossing in Niagara and crossing trough the bridge over Niagara River.
Because of this very close proximity to the USA-Canada border, many Americans come to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake to relax, enjoy many tourist attractions, dining and shopping at a lower price since the value of Canadian dollar is usually much lower compering to American’s dollar.
When visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake I am always impressed with the abundance and beauty of multiple floral arrangements on Queen Street, as well as in some private gardens in the area. This is also a trendy, elegant area with many huge villas and gardens popular with affluential people and retirees.
You will also find there plenty of accommodation if you would like to stay there for a few days or overnight, including many stylish Bed and Breakfast. It is best to book in advance since they tend to get quite full during the warmer part of the year.
When to Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It is hard to say when it is the best time to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, but certainly during the warmer part of the year because you will be able then to admire many flowers, blooming shrubs and trees, particularly if you come in Spring. This area is also famous for its surrounding beautiful orchards in which many fruits of Ontario are grown. They look especially impressive when in full bloom and then in the late Summer and Fall when heavy with fruits. You will be even able to buy fruits from the local growers, who often have stands along the roads, but the prices could be actually higher than if you buy the produce at local or Toronto’s supermarkets. I am not sure why.
I think warmer part of the year is also better for taking one of the tours to the nearby wineries. There are more than 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake area, so plenty to choose from. The special micro-climate of this region with milder Winters create perfect conditions for growing top quality grapes and producing some of the best wines in the world. This area is also famous for its Ice Wine, which I think was first created here. This wine is very sweet and delicious, but often rather expensive. The grapes for making it have to be specially harvested very late in the season,, after the frost. The freezing temperatures actually makes them more sweet. You could learn much more about ice wine and other Ontario’s wines during the wine tour, if you take one.
You can also take a ride in horse carriage along the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
If you like ice creams, there is plenty to choose from in Niagara-on-the-Lake since there are several stores selling them. Also for this reason, going there during Spring, Summer or early Fall seems like a better choice than visiting during Winter.
Besides, Shaw Festival is running only during the warmer months.
During this time you can also visit very interesting and beautiful Niagara Park’s Botanical Gardens.
As I have mentioned, I have written 2 articles about this park and you can find links to them under this post.
Here below are some more pictures from Niagara-on-the-Lake taken during July and August.
Here are a couple of views on private gardens taken while walking along some other streets in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was often impressed how beautiful and well maintained they were.
There were many more impressive gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake but often hard to see or photograph behind the fences. I have also noticed this beautiful entrance to one of the houses.
For those of you who like roses, I also recommend you visit the nearby nursery Palatine Fruit and Roses. They have amazing selection of many quite unique roses and some fruit trees. Make sure you check out the opening hours first. You can also order roses from them via the Internet, but roses sell fast, so place your order well in advance.
I hope I have encouraged you to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is certainly one of the highlight of visiting Ontario and Niagara region in Canada.
What Has Inspired Me to Write this Article – the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – “Tour Guide”.
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My Other Blog – Light Vision.
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Other Articles You Might Also Like to Read.
- Visiting Niagara Park’s Botanical Gardens, Part 1.
- Visiting Niagara Park’s Botanical Gardens, Part 2.
- Villa Garzoni Gardens, Italy – Part One – Meet some Cheeky Fantasy Animals
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- Roses Blooming in our garden – Part 1.
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- How to Prepare Roses for Winter.
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- A Beautiful Italian Garden For You to Visit – “Giardino Sigurtà” in Valeggio sul Mincio, Northern Italy.