Canada wine grapes image from Flickr’s Creative Commons by James G. Milles
Canada wine grapes image from Flickr’s Creative Commons by James G. Milles

Most people visit Niagara Falls to see the stunning waterfalls, but if you’re looking to extend your adventure in Ontario, consider visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. This small town, about 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls on the shores of Lake Ontario, offers first-rate cultural and historical delights. Brave visitors will enjoy ghost tours in what’s known as Canada’s most haunted town; for a more relaxed outing, tour some of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s many fine wineries!

Enjoy the outdoors on some of the area’s walking and biking trails, or soak up some culture at the Niagara Pumphouse Art Center. If you like theater, you’ll enjoy the Shaw Festival, which takes place from April to October in Niagara-on-the-Lake each year; Shakespeare buffs shouldn’t miss the Stratford Festival, which occurs in nearby Stratford from April to November.

Get a Taste of Canada at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Wineries

Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to dozens of wineries, so if you’re a wine fancier, don’t miss your chance to take a tasting tour here! There are a number of companies in Niagara-on-the-Lake that offer winery tour packages covering three, four, five or more area wineries. Do some comparison shopping to find a tour you’ll enjoy!

The area is known for its ice wine; 80 percent of the world’s supply of this delicious dessert wine comes from Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries. Check out the Ice House Winery on the Niagara Parkway.

Are You Brave Enough to Take a Ghost Tour?

More than 80 percent of the businesses and homes in Niagara-on-the-Lake report some form of paranormal activity within their walls, making this town Canada’s most haunted! Indeed, Niagara-on-the-Lake has an unusually violent history. The town passed into British hands in 1781, but was invaded by American forces during the War of 1812. When they retreated seven months later, they burned down almost the entire town.

On a ghost walk of Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll learn the true stories of people who have lived — and died — here over the past 200 years. Haunted locations here include the Angel Inn, the Brockamour house, the Prince of Wales Hotel, Fort Mississauga, the Courthouse and the Willowbank Mansion.

Soak Up Some Culture at the Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre

The Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre is home to classes, workshops and exhibitions in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Pumphouse building, constructed in 1891 on the Niagara River, supplied the town with its drinking water until 1983. The building was renovated and reopened as the Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre in 1994.

In addition to a gallery showcasing the works of local artists and quality art education opportunities, the Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre offers amazing views of Fort Mississauga. Bring a picnic lunch and eat at the gazebo outside.

Spend an Evening at the Theater

The Shaw Festival, founded in 1962 to promote the works of George Bernard Shaw and contemporaneous playwrights, takes place in Niagara-on-the-Lake from April to October of each year. The Shaw Festival is one of Canada’s biggest theater festivals, drawing in audiences from all over the world.

In nearby Stratford, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival runs from April to November and showcases the works of William Shakespeare, but that’s not all: The Stratford Festival produces works of all types, from classical Greek plays to modern works. Shakespeare’s plays make up about one-third of those produced by the Stratford Festival.

The Stratford Festival, which was founded in 1953, is another of Canada’s biggest arts festivals; it, too, draws international tourists, especially from Britain and America.

Get Out in the Fresh Air

Outdoorsy types will love the many opportunities for hiking and biking around Niagara-on-the-Lake, particularly along the Niagara Parkway. The Niagara Parkway is the scenic two-lane road that runs from Fort Erie, through the Niagara Falls area to Niagara-on-the-Lake; along 33 miles (53 km) of this road, you’ll find the Niagara River Recreation Trail, a path for cyclist and walkers. Hiking tours leave from the Nature Centre, on the Niagara Parkway, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. each day.

There’s more to the Niagara Falls region than the waterfalls. Take a trip just 20 minutes north to the picturesque lakeside town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, where you’ll find dozens of wineries, ghost tours, hiking, biking, art instruction classes and workshops along with some of the finest works by local artists. Take a nature walk along the Niagara River Recreation Trail, or take part in one of Canada’s two biggest arts festivals, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.

About the Author: Contributing blogger Tim Stevens has visited the Niagara region countless times during his 15-year career as a travel writer. He recommends this Niagara Falls deals website for travelers who want to visit Ontario on the cheap.