20+ Lovely Things to Do in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

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Check Out These Awesome Things to Do in Niagara on the Lake!

Looking to explore the Niagara Region of Ontario? Great idea! You can visit Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake if you head to this area of southern Ontario.

Niagara on the Lake is such a pretty region to explore – and the historic old town centre is also a worthy place to see in Ontario! You can even visit on a day trip from Toronto since there is a lot to see and do if you are into nature, wine, food, and history!

Having been to “NOTL” – as they call it – a few times now over the years, we always have a nice time when we visit. We’ve stayed at Pillar and Post Inn & Spa when visiting, but there are lots of other great accommodations to suit all types of travellers.

So, in this guide, we cover the top things to do in Niagara on the Lake that we loved and a few other great ideas for things to keep you busy. Let’s get you exploring this famous region!

Niagara-on-the-Lake Quick Guide

Best Time to Visit: Fall for wine and beautiful colours, winter for Ice Wine Festival. Summer has lovely, hot weather but also busy crowds.

Getting Around: A car is the best way to get around the region. Renting bikes at Zoom Leisure is a good idea. A wine tour is a great option, as is the seasonal WEGO shuttle.

Top Things to Do: Classic Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Tour, Niagara River Jet Boat Tour, Explore the Historic Old Town, Winery Biking Tour

Where to Stay: Prince of Wales Hotel for historic luxury, 124 on Queen Hotel & Spa for location & spa amenities, or Old Town Country Landing for a quaint bed and breakfast.

Things to Do in Niagara on the Lake

Now that we have covered a few of the basics, here are a number of things that you can do, see, and eat in Niagara on the Lake (both the region and the town itself).

As per usual in these posts, we generally start in the heart of the action and work our way geographically further out.

You should also keep in mind that technically some of these attractions are located in a very small town called Queenston which is very much in the great Niagara on the Lake region itself.

We drove through Queenston because of all the historic attractions and it’s not too far from wineries and downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Explore Historic Downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake

Navigation Location: 43°15’17.3″N 79°04’15.5″W

red brick clock tower on middle of town street with cars parked on the sides.
The Memorial Clock Tower is easy to spot!

One of the first things you should do when you arrive in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is to explore it! The historic town – said to be the prettiest in Canada – is full of things to see.

A good starting point is to snap a photo of the Memorial Clock Tower of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This cenotaph is a key fixture in the heart of “downtown” and is surrounded by shops, pubs, restaurants, accommodations, and more.

It can get busy wandering down Queen Street in the warm season but it’s still lovely to stretch your legs and do a bit of window shopping.

If you get thirsty, you can also go for a pint or traditional pub food at the oldest inn in the town – The Olde Angel Inn. You can even stay there, too!

Here are a number of other things to check out in just downtown Niagara on the Lake.

Visit the Royal George Theatre

Navigation Address: 85 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

red and white theatre building on main street in niagara on the lake.
The Royal George standing proudly on Queen Street.

If you are looking for theatre, you have come to the right place. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to a number of performance venues that have rotating theatre, comedy, and other performances.

The historic Royal George is one such place to go and watch!

The other theatre to check out is the very popular SHAW Festival Theatre. This much bigger place renowned for its live theatre is located just behind the intersection of Queen Street and Picton Street very close to where the tour buses drop people off.

You can check out the website for the Shaw Festival Theatre here.

Eat Ice Cream at COWS

Navigation Address: 44 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

two ice cream cones in hand from cows in niagara on the lake.
The ice cream was EXCELLENT at Cows!

We had heard about there being good ice cream in Niagara-on-the-Lake and COWS was the spot to find it. Yes, there was a bit of a lineup but we would say that it was worth it.

There are numerous flavours to choose from and loads of staff working to get people moving relatively quickly. If you want good ice cream, go to COWS. You can scan the Cows website for flavours here.

Explore the Niagara Apothecary

Navigation Address: 5 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

old apothecary museum with man on sidewalk in front.
Head inside for a little wander into the past!

On the main drag, you’ll pass by the old Niagara Apothecary. This actual Canadian Confederation-era pharmacy from 1869 is now a restored and super-detailed museum.

Inside, it showcases what a pharmacy would have looked like “back in the day” from the fine wood paneling to the products used and sold.

We always find this kind of thing super interesting. We visited the German Pharmacy Museum in Heidelberg, Germany and it was fascinating, too.

The Apothecary is a neat way to jump into history right on the main street and get a glimpse of this industry (and the town) in the past.

Visit the Wineries and/or Go on a Wine Tour

Navigation Address: Various Locations Around the Region

metallic winery building with green grass and trees in front.
We liked Stratus – but also many, many others!

Of course, one of the top reasons to visit Niagara on the Lake is for the wineries. The good news is there are many to choose from.

The bad news is that you have to choose which ones you want to see since they aren’t that close to downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We aren’t going to go too in-depth into the wineries here in this post since we have a whole post on some of the great wineries in Niagara on the Lake.

That said, we have a few we really liked visiting like Peller Estates, Stratus, Ravine, Reif Estate Winery, and Inniskillin. There is a huge mix of larger operations and smaller, more family-run wineries so you can get a good mix when you visit.

It’s typical to drive to most of the wineries since they are generally spread far apart but you can also rent a bike if you want.

There are also private shuttles or tours offered by different accommodations and providers if that interests you. We did this classic wine tour of the region and – in our opinion – it was the best way to get around (see below).

wine glasses on counter with bottles behind.
Inniskillin is famous for its ice wine – this is from us on tour there!

As we said, a safe, great way to check out a number of the region’s wineries (without the hassle of navigating yourself) is to go on a Niagara on the Lake wine tour.

We did a whole Niagara on the Lake wine tour that visited four wineries, and a chocolate place (mentioned below), and included a stop for lunch in the town of Niagara on the Lake. It was a great experience!

As you can see above, there are multiple wine tours you can choose from that are run by several different providers.

Get Wet on a Jet Boat River Rapids Tour

Navigation Address: 55 River Frontage Road, Queenston, ON L0S 1L0

If you want to get wild while in Niagara-on-the-Lake and you’re looking to get out on the water, then you should definitely look into booking one of the river rapid jet boat tours.

These powerful boats take you up the Niagara River to play in the water and get an experience you just can’t get while on land.

Check Here for your Niagara Jet Boat (Wet Boat) Tickets!

These boats head for the Niagara River and enter the Devil’s Hole – or Class Five Rapids! This tour is also in an open-top boat so you should bring a change of clothes and a towel if you know you want to go!

There are other Jet boat tours that have glass domes. This means you can go on the jet boat but stay completely dry. Which one you choose is up to you.

Just remember: These noted above leave from the docks at the Queenston Waterfront – not the harbour near NOTL’s old town.

Visit a Brewery or Distillery

Navigation Address: Various Locations Around the Region

red brick brewery seen through trees with sidewalk in front.
The Exchange Brewery is right on Queen Street!

For all the publicity the region gets for the wineries, you can’t forget about the number of breweries and distilleries popping up all over the place, too.

We like wine but Eric is also a whiskey and beer fan so these kinds of places also call to him, too!

For breweries in the Niagara on the Lake region, check out The Exchange Brewery right on the main street in the town, or the unmissable red barn at Niagara Oast House Brewers for another popular brewery.

red and grey building with stone wall outside winery.
Wayne Gretzky’s is a popular stop in the region!

If harder spirits are more your thing, then you should visit Wayne Gretzky Estates serving up wine but also a popular whiskey No99 which is pretty good! They make a mean cocktail onsite at the Whisky Bar Patio!

orange pedal pub bike parked on street in niagara on the lake.

We’re including this because it looks amazing – but you can also do the Pedal Pub tour.

We’ve never done this but Eric saw it and wants to do it the next time we visit. Perfect for a fun day out and a little tour of the region! You can learn more about Pedal Pub NOTL and book a ride here.

As we mentioned, there are some guided beverage tours that do make a point of visiting breweries, and cideries, or even prioritizing sampling local whiskey (like at Gretzkys) in addition to wine.

Discover Fort George National Historic Site

Navigation Address: 51 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

small entrance building to old fort with grass around.
The entrance to Fort George!

As you will continue to see in this post, you can’t come to the region without being tempted to learn a little bit of Canadian history.

As such, one of the most popular historic sites to check out is Fort George. Originally it was built in the very late 1700s and played a significant role in the War of 1812.

Today, it’s a living museum meaning you can do a tour of the grounds as costumed people play their roles and re-enact various parts of life in the restored grounds and buildings.

Our Tip: A Private Historical Tour might be for you if you want to dive into the region’s rich history!

They have programs for kids and the grounds are large and green making it lovely to just enjoy on a walk. You can read more information about visiting Fort George here.

If you are interested in experiencing the Fort’s spookier side, you can do a Ghost Tour of Fort George. We didn’t do one but they are well-rated and so we want to do one the next time we visit the town.

Wander Butler’s Barracks National Historic Site

Navigation Address: 440 King St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Once you’re done exploring Fort George, you can stay within the topic of “military history” by exploring the nearby Butler’s Barracks.

Named after Colonel John Butler, they were built by the British to replace destroyed ones after the War of 1812.

Today, the remaining buildings (and the area surrounding them) are of great historical importance because they offer a unique glimpse into military life during this critical period in this critical location: the Niagara on the Lake area was of vital strategic importance!

So go have a wander around – you’ll get transported back in time (again).

Go on a Haunted Ghost Walk in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Navigation Address: 126 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

old courthouse building and clock tower across town street with green tree branch above.
There’s plenty of spooky history to go around NOTL!

Sticking with the theme of history, such a place with a rich backstory and a few battles isn’t without a number of ghost stories to follow it up.

That’s why – if you are interested in exploring the spooky (and even dark) past of the town- you can head out on a tour with The Ghost Walks.

Their building is located right on the main street in Niagara on the Lake so they are easy to find. We’re told that they have passionate tour guides who do an amazing job so we’re keen to go on a walk the next time we visit!

See Fort Mississauga National Historic Site

Navigation Address: 223 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Another historic site in Niagara-on-the-Lake (because there are just so many…) is Fort Mississauga.

Located basically within the grounds of what is now the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, this brick defensive tower was built between 1814-1816 to counter the American Fort Niagara on the other side of the river (shown below in this post).

Today, you can visit the site which is known for its square tower located inside a star-shaped ground fortification.

This is unique (even by the military standards of back then) and so it’s been deemed historically important! It’s right on the shoreline so you get great views across the water.

Relax in the Queen’s Royal Park

Navigation Address: 16 Front St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

white gazebo in green park by shoreline.
The picturesque white gazebo awaits you!

If you are looking to relax by the waterfront of Lake Ontario, a great place to do it is in Queen’s Royal Park.

Located right at the water just a short walk from “downtown” Niagara-on-the-Lake, this little green space is beautiful and perfect for a rest or a picnic.

There’s a cute little gazebo that is famous for some reason – it’s pretty photogenic which is likely why.

You also get great views of New York State across the river and can see out over the lake towards Toronto on a clear day.

Explore the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Navigation Address: 43 Castlereagh St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Of course, no stop to Niagara-on-the-Lake – especially if you came for the history of the area – would be complete without a stop at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum.

Opened back in 1907, this museum has thousands of objects, books, photos, and more that tell the story of the town – as far back as 9000 years!

Of course, most of the history is centered around more recent times and the obvious linkages to Canadian/British military history.

Nevertheless, the collection is housed in a heritage building that has been largely unchanged (except expanded) since the early 1900s.

The museum also does a number of interactive sessions if you are visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake with kids as well as fairs and live events (like walking tours) so be sure to check the Niagara on the Lake Museum website before you visit if you are interested in their events!

Visit the Laura Secord Homestead

Navigation Address: 29 Queenston St, Queenston, ON

red barn in parking lot for historic site at laura secord house.
The Homestead is definitely a top historic site in Canada to visit!

One more hugely important historic site that you can visit in the small town of Queenston is the Laura Secord Homestead.

If you don’t know the story of Laura Secord, she is an original heroine in Canadian history for walking a great distance (like 20 miles/32 kilometres) to warn the British of an American attack.

Today, you can visit the home where she lived between 1803-1835 and where this story begins. There are character actors that take you on a guided experience of the grounds and the buildings so you get the full experience when you visit.

You can even buy the famous chocolate brand named after her onsite.

Check Out the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum

Navigation Address: 1 Queenston St, Queenston, ON

grey limestone museum building with trees behind.
The Mackenzie Printery is another great historic site to visit!

Does thinking about paper and printing presses make you fall asleep? Well, a visit to the Mackenzie Printery and Museum might change that!

Stored in an old restored house belonging to William Lyon Mackenzie, this museum is dedicated to centuries of printing!

The museum is located in Queenston (very close to the Laura Secord Homestead) and you can actually play with the very old presses (under guidance, of course).

They even have the Louis Roy Press – which is one of less than 10 wooden presses still remaining in the world.

The gift shop sells prints that come from the actual working machines so that’s also neat!

Visit the RiverBrink Art Museum

Navigation Address: 116 Queenston St, Queenston, ON

red brick art gallery with fence in front and blue sky above.
RiverBrink is worth checking out, too!

If art is your thing, then you can head to the RiverBrink Art Museum. To be fair, there are a number of smaller galleries, art shops, and stores in the town as well as scattered throughout the area that you can explore.

However, RiverBrink is one of the more established ones with over 1,000 works by international and Canadian artists – like The Group of Seven!

They have a number of rotating exhibitions for you to check out as well.

Enjoy the McFarland House

Navigation Address: 15927 Niagara Parkway Recreational Trail, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

red brick house with white fence in front and trees around.
Another top historic site – the McFarland House!

Yet another historic site in the Niagara on the Lake region is the McFarland House. Built back in 1800 by John McFarland, this Georgian-style house is significant because it played a role in the War of 1812 as both a hospital and military headquarter.

It ALSO didn’t get burned down by the retreating Americans in 1813 – and was one of the very few buildings to not be burnt. This makes it one of the oldest original structures in the whole region!

Today, you can visit the house and do a tour. Similar to other places, there are costumed actors that make the history of the place come alive so you get the most out of your visit.

They even do scones and tea in the Conservatory Tea Room!

Stop at Walker’s Country Market

Navigation Address: 15796 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

If you are looking to embrace that Ontario farmer’s market feel, then you should definitely visit Walker’s Country Market.

Located right off the Niagara Parkway close to the tiny chapel (see below), this classic country market has everything from fresh produce to takeaway food and products like jams and baked goods.

We had a wander through as we were driving by and the place was packed! It’s been family-run since 1930 and they have fruit that is farm-grown right in the region so it’s no wonder it’s a popular stop.

They also have unique gifts if you want to bring something else home! They usually close for the winter season but you can definitely visit in the warmer months!

Visit the Living Water Wayside Chapel

Navigation Address: 15796 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

small white chapel with vineyards behind in niagara on the lake.
Look how cute this little chapel is!

Even if you aren’t religious, it’s kind of funny to step inside a very tiny chapel!

Located right beside the Walker’s Country Market (we parked and walked between the two), this tiny chapel was built in 1964 and serves as a place of worship for tourists and locals alike.

We actually stepped inside – there’s room for about 6 people which makes it pretty silly but a fun experience nonetheless. You can also sign a guestbook and/or say a prayer before getting on your way.

Relax at Queenston Heights Park w/ Brock’s Monument

Navigation Address: 14184 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

If you want a bit of green space to sit back and relax – or even have a bite to eat – then you should head for Queenston Heights Park.

Located in the southern end of the region (technically in Queenston), this massive park is full of things to explore and is also great for a bit of a relaxing walk and some views.

From one vantage point, you can see over the mighty Niagara River as it snakes into the Niagara on the Lake region towards Lake Ontario.

Behind this point, you will see Brock’s Monument towering towards the sky. Built in the 1850s, this monument was erected to commemorate Major General Sir Isaac Brock for his role in fighting for Canada in the War of 1812!

Today, you can pop inside to find costumed men ready to tell you tales. You can also climb over 200 steps to the top for views of the surrounding area!

Our Tip: Explore this area (Queenston) on a guided bike tour with a local guide!

If heights are not your thing, you can just wander the grounds – and even grab a bite to eat at the Queenston Heights Restaurant. They are known for their seasonal patio and brunch.

Overall, we loved visiting the park. There was loads of parking, washrooms available, and picnic tables for groups everywhere. What’s not to like?

Check Out neob Lavender Boutique

Navigation Address: Address: 758 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

If you have a thing for lavender, there is a must-see stop right in the heart of the region: neob Lavender!

It’s located off the main street that cuts the region in half heading for the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. You can walk through the lavender fields and even pick your own (when the season is right).

They also have lots of other products on hand like essential oils, lotions, crafts, and other eco-friendly products to take home!

So if this sounds like it’s for you, stop by and show this local business your support. They even do tours of their greenhouse and more!

Indulge at Chocolate F/X

Navigation Address: 335 Four Mile Creek Rd, St. Davids, ON

chocolates packed on glass shelf in candy store.
There are tours and FREE chocolate samples to try!

If you have a sweet tooth, then you need to check out Chocolate F/X! Located in the south end of the region (close to Ravine Winery), this artisan chocolate-making facility/tasting room is packed with all things chocolate.

Opened back in 2005, they have a way of basically trying to coat anything in chocolate – hence the wild (but delicious) combinations you can find there!

The best part is that they offer free samples of most of their chocolates so you can sample a few before grabbing a bag (or three) to check out.

They also offer FREE guided tours multiple times per day of their chocolate-making facilities onsite (usually give them a heads up, though).

Check Out the Floral Clock

Navigation Address: 14004 Niagara Pkwy, Queenston, ON

We’re not going to show you a photo because you can find the Floral Clock mentioned in our massive guide on things to do in Niagara Falls.

That said, it’s a massive clock made of thousands of flowers, and the design changes each year so it’s neat to see.

While we’re mentioning the Floral Clock (which is located in the very south of the Niagara on the Lake Region) we can also mention other top attractions that come up, too.

A few minutes drive south of the Clock you will find the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens which are popular to visit.

However, for the purposes of this article, these attractions are now closer to Niagara Falls and not Niagara on the Lake so we left them out of this list.

BONUS: Visit Old Fort Niagara in New York

Navigation Address: 102 Morrow Plaza, Youngstown, NY 14174, United States

old fort across blue river from near shoreline.

If you are standing in Queen’s Royal Park, you’ll see another historic fort on the opposite shore. This is Old Fort Niagara located in Fort Niagara State Park in New York State, USA.

You certainly could visit the Fort – but you will need to cross into the USA to do so. The closest bridge (if you are driving) is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge across the Niagara River near the Floral Clock.

If you do plan to visit, just be sure to bring your identification (passport) and check if you need a visa to enter the USA, depending on your citizenship.

The Fort is a great place to dive into history – especially if you want to learn about the American side of the conflicts in and around 1812!

Things to Consider When Planning a Visit to Niagara on the Lake

Before you head out to explore all the things to do and see in the region, we need to make something clear: Niagara-on-the-Lake is not Niagara Falls.

For those wondering how far it is between Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake – it’s about a 25-minute drive. This distance is measured from the heart of Niagara Falls (the city and waterfalls) to Niagara on the Lake (the town at the northernmost tip of the region).

It’s basically one road (the Niagara Parkway) along the Niagara River and it’s a lovely drive! Here are some other things to consider to help you plan your visit!

Best Time to Visit Niagara on the Lake

vineyard rows of grapes stretching into distance with blue sky above.
The sunshine seasons really draw the crowds – and for good reason!

The best time to visit Niagara on the Lake greatly depends on what you are going there for. The most popular time to visit would be April through to the end of fall (in October) – with the summer and fall being the busiest of times.

If you are going for wine, fall is harvest time so that’s definitely an exciting time to visit. That said, there will be no shortage of wine at any time of year. NOTL makes a fantastic weekend getaway in Ontario.

Summer in the region means the best chance at the hot sun. That’s the perfect time to spend some hours at the water, too.

However, this summer heat also means that the region is packed with visitors to both the wine country and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

You can certainly visit in the winter month, too. Many of the top wineries in the region have grand indoor spaces available for tastings all year round.

Also, the region is known worldwide for producing ice wine (sweet dessert wine) and there’s a big Ice Wine Festival in January/February to check out! It’s one of the many things to check out during Ontario winter!

Getting Around Niagara on the Lake

flower beds with colourful flowers beside sidewalk in niagara on the lake.
The town of NOTL is very flat – great for walking and shopping!

When talking about the historic town, you can easily walk around the small town of Niagara on the Lake (located in the northeast of the Niagara on the Lake region).

Additionally, there is a small shuttle that does loops around the region and main town. It’s also wheelchair accessible. You can learn more about Niagara on the Lake Transit here.

As for getting around the greater region, that will take some planning. If you want to get around to the wineries and along the river, you need to drive (you can rent a car), get on a shuttle bus, do a wine tour, or rent a bike.

You can also hike using the extensive trails (check out the Heritage Trail) that snake along the River area.

The region is pretty big so it’s not always possible to simply walk from one winery to another. That said, please plan ahead and don’t drink and drive if you are doing tastings.

Another option is the WEGO. The WEGO shuttle is more for the Niagara Falls region but they extend service into the Niagara on the Lake region from around April to October (the busy season).

So, you can get around the region – from the Floral Clock to Fort George (near downtown Niagara on the Lake) using the Niagara-on-the-Lake Shuttle/#604 WEGO shuttle.

Where To Stay In Niagara on the Lake

red brick hotel on street corner in niagara on the lake.
The famous Prince of Wales will have you right in the heart of NOTL!

If you are planning to stay overnight (or for longer) in Niagara on the Lake, there are lots of great options for accommodations.

We actually wrote a detailed guide on this topic which you can find linked at the top of this post. If you want to get started looking:

Check here for Niagara on the Lake Accommodations

In short, there are a number of hotels, guesthouses, inns, cottages, and bed and breakfasts in the region.

Of note, the Prince of Wales Hotel is very centrally located in the town of Niagara on the Lake while the Riverbend Inn & Vineyard is grand with a private vineyard.

124 on Queen Hotel & Spa is also located right on the main street in the heart of the town centre.

For more of a quaint bed and breakfast, Old Town Country Landing might be for you.

You might also be interested in a waterfront cottage which you can also find. For example, check out Somerset right on the water. Just be sure to book ahead of time since the area is popular and can fill up in the summer and fall seasons!

Related Articles

If you’re heading down to Niagara on the Lake (and/or Niagara Falls), check out these other posts:

And there you have it – a variety of great things to do in Niagara on the Lake! Of course, this isn’t everything to do and see – but this list comprises most of the top attractions and then some. We loved exploring the historic region and we look forward to returning soon!

As always, Keep Exploring, eh?
– E&L

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photo of red trolley on street outside red brick hotel with text overlay 21+ Lovely Things to do in Niagara on the Lake Ontario.
Eric Wychopen is a Canadian content writer who loves to share his passion for Ontario. Originally from a small town in Simcoe County, he has almost 50 countries under his belt - but Ontario will always be home. Having travelled thousands of kilometres across the province for work and play, Eric has a wealth of knowledge about the province and is always looking for new experiences in Ontario.