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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

7 Must-Have Experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

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If you’re planning on taking a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll find a lot of great activities in the area that are suitable for a wide range of people. Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the prettiest towns in Canada, and is home to some of the most important historical sites in the country, such as Fort George. While a lot of people come to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the wineries or for a relaxing getaway, there are many unique experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake that are worth adding to any itinerary.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is located a short drive along the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, so it’s easily accessible and is the perfect option for a day trip if you want to escape the craziness that comes with the Falls. We spent two nights in Niagara-on-the-Lake exploring the various historical sites in the region, visiting local eateries, and of course stopping at a couple of wineries too. Whether you visit Niagara-on-the-Lake in the winter, or plan on enjoying it when everything is in full bloom in the summertime, there are a lot of things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here’s a look at my top picks for some must-have experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake that you’re sure to love.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

If you don’t do well on boats, this may not be for you, but Whirlpool Jet is a fantastic experience in Niagara-on-the-Lake that allows you to get up close and personal with the Niagara River - and for only $73.95 CAD! This is a great activity for thrill seekers, as you crash through whitewater rapids and enter the whirlpool at speeds of 80km/h. The knowledgeable guide will share the history of the Niagara area, show you points of interest along the route, and let you know how the jet boat works. Be prepared to get completely soaked during this 45 minute adventure, but if you’d really rather stay nice and dry then you can pick up the covered jet boat that leaves Queenston every day at 4:30pm. Whichever boat you choose, this is one of the best things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake other than wineries, and is a once in a lifetime experience too.

Go antique shopping

Large red and green barn used as an antiques shop.
Antiques shop in NOTL

As you make your way through Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll probably notice that there are a lot of antique shops in the various towns as well as dotted around the countryside. These antique shops in Niagara-on-the-Lake are a treasure trove, and you can find some great items in them for a reasonable price. One of my favourite antique shops is located next to NEOB Lavender Boutique, and is inside a large barn so there are plenty of treasures to look at.

Budapest Bakeshop

I first tried chimney cakes when I visited Prague, so I was really excited to find some in Niagara-on-the-Lake as well. Budapest Bakeshop is located along Queen Street, in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s old town, and is family owned and operated. They serve up a fantastic selection of freshly made traditional Hungarian chimney cakes, which are a mixture of sweet and savoury flavours. Chimney cakes date back over 300 years and their popularity continues to grow, so you can imagine how busy Budapest Bakeshop gets! We tried their Nutella and Walnut chimney cake, and took a couple of sandwiches to go as well. The chimney cake sandwiches are amazing so I would recommend getting one for lunch! This is one of the best places to eat in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and is a great experience if you’ve never had a chimney cake before.

Shop on Queen Street

A vintage hat shop in old town NOTL.
BeauChapeau Hat Shop

No trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake is complete without exploring the streets of the old town. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s old town is rich in history, and was rebuilt after the War of 1812. The buildings along Queen Street are still very traditional, so it makes you feel like you’re walking through history. Many of the popular Niagara-on-the-Lake restaurants are located in the old town, and you’ll find a lot of quaint shops here too. Taking a walk around the old town is a must-have experience in Niagara-on-the-Lake, whether you’re a first-time visitor or not.

Visit some historic homes

An historic house from Victorian period in NOTL.
McFarland House

This may not come as a big shock to you, but there are a lot of historical sites in Niagara-on-the-Lake that are worth visiting. Fort George is one of the most historically significant sites in Canada, so should definitely be at the top of your list if you haven’t been before. But there are other sites that are slightly off the tourist trail, such as the Laura Secord Homestead, Butler’s Barracks, and the Mackenzie Printery that need to be on your Niagara-on-the-Lake itinerary as well. The various historical sites are some of the best places to visit in Niagara-on-the-Lake and will pleasantly surprise you.

Wine tasting on the veranda at Two Sisters Vineyards

One of the best Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries is Two Sisters Vineyard, located only a short distance from the old town. They boast a world-famous restaurant, several wine tasting experiences, and offer a tour of the winery for guests. It’s been awarded the Best Small Winery in Canada and it’s not hard to see why. We visited for their Veranda Tasting Experience which is led by a senior wine consultant. We sampled 5 wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and had stunning views from the veranda of the vineyards. The experience costs $60.00 CAD per person, and is definitely a must-have experience while in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Two Sisters Vineyard is a gorgeous complex that makes for a lovely day out and is a nice place to relax and treat yourself to some world-class wines.

Stop at a fruit and vegetable stall

Fresh farm stall selling fruit and vegetables on the side of the road.
Fruit and vegetable stall

One thing I love about visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake in the summer months is the vast amount of fruit and vegetable stalls that you’ll find everywhere. The Niagara region is very fertile, so a lot of the produce that are on sale at these stalls come from local farms and are as fresh as you can get - and the prices are good too. You’ll find everything from peaches to cherries to cucumbers at these stalls, so make sure you bring a lot of cash because you’ll no doubt want to buy everything.

There are a lot of amazing must-have experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake that vary depending on what kind of activities you like to do. Many people enjoy cycling in Niagara-on-the-Lake or going on walking trails, while others enjoy a more relaxed visit and hop between Niagara’s best wineries or treat themselves to an expensive dining experience. Whatever your preference, Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t short on things to fill your itinerary with, so it’s one region in Ontario that has a lot to offer its visitors.

Have you had any unique experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake before? We’re hoping to head back to Niagara soon, so I would love any other recommendations! For more information about our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can follow my Instagram page and check out some of my posts!


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