After a few days in Toronto, there is nothing nicer than getting on the road and out of the city. You don’t have to drive far though which is nice when you’re on holidays, a couple of hours is fine, longer than that it can get tiresome.
Leaving Toronto on the QEW head for Niagara on the Lake…
Niagara on the Lake is a great base to explore this area from the falls to the wineries and boutique vineyards in Beamsville.
Oban Inn – a great location right in Niagara on the Lake, with a small swimming pool and next to the Niagara on the Lake Golf Course. It has a restaurant and spa and really nice guestrooms.
Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Hotel – this is slightly outside the village itself, but is right next to Peller Estate. Its a Georgian building with beautiful gardens and vineyards around it. Guestrooms are nice but more on the ‘chintzy’ side than Oban.
White Oaks Resort & Spa – this is not in Niagara on the Lake at all really but we have stayed here before. Its off the main motorway route from Toronto into Niagara on the Lake and is about a 15 min drive onto Niagara on the Lake. Its a hotel as opposed to an Inn like the previous ones with all the modern amenities this offers, gym, dining, conference facilities etc.
There’s also lots of cottage and house rentals in Niagara on the Lake and the surrounding areas along with plenty of other B&Bs, hotels and inns.
A lovely place to stop for lunch on the way to or from Niagara on the Lake from Toronto is Vineland. A gorgeous terrace, surrounded by vineyards and countryside, whats not to like!
Niagara on the Lake itself is a quaint village but has all the amenities you will need including an all year round Christmas shop called Just Christmas – I always visit and always buy something, no matter what time of year, you can always do with a christmas tree ornament! There are nice cafes, restaurants, galleries, jewelry stores, gourmet food shops, along with the ‘touristy stuff’ shops.
Renting bicycles is a great way to get around this area in the warmer months, as its relatively flat, with lovely scenery.
There are so many vineyards and wineries you can visit. One of the biggest misconceptions outside of Canada about Canadian wine, particularly in Europe is that they just produce ice wine / dessert wines and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not a lot of their wine is exported, although I’ve had a Canadian red wine at the Cliff House Hotel in Ireland! There is some beautiful Chardonnays to be found, along with lighter reds, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and some spectacular sparkling. Here are some of my favourites nearby to the village of Niagara on the Lake …including the ones you have lunch and dinner at…and generally eat and drink your way around!
This is one of the more commercial vineyards, its big and normally quite busy… the tours are good, a wander around the wine shop, but the restaurant is the reason to visit…Beautiful food and setting. Its a special place for us, we’ve celebrated engagement, anniversary, birthdays here and anytime I’m in Niagara on the Lake I will always be eating at least once at Peller.
Possibly my favourite.. we often go for lunch but have been for dinner a few times too. On one of my 1st visits to Toronto, we just did a day trip to Niagara on the Lake and stopped here for lunch. This was in the early days of dating my now husband, so again its somewhere we love and have happy memories of. The dining room has amazing views out over the vines and it feels like an intimate restaurant. Great tours and tastings here also.
A distinctive long blue wall welcomes you to Southbrook… when we visited the food menu was pizza with matched wines. Think it has changed a bit since then but still worth visiting for lunch on the terrace, pick up some wine in the shop while you’re there too.
The most famous of the icewine makers… if you want to learn more about icewine, definitely do it here, its the home!
Another of the big wineries around Niagara, worth visiting. They also put on events, concerts and picnics here through the Summer months. Try and time your visit for one of those!
If you’re staying in the village or nearby, go for dinner on the patio at the Niagara on the Lake Golf Club, its by the lake edge, casual easy food and the nicest setting…it’s beside the Oban Inn also so it’s a handy spot for there also. Famous as the oldest golf cub in North America. At the weekends in the Summer there is live music on the patio too.
Visit the Falls… (just don’t stay in hotels there!)… Niagara Falls is beautiful, and a must visit if in the area. Spend a couple of hours, take the boat trip and so on… the town around the falls just isn’t great so I wouldn’t hang around, I’d hightail it back to the NOTL region instead…
In the wider environs, around Beamsville, Jordan Village, there are lots of boutique vineyards, well worth a visit too… these are our favourites…these tend to be smaller wineries where you can talk to the owners and winemakers…so they are a little more personal and when you leave with your bottle of wine, you feel like you are part of something so get out and explore. These are just a handful, there’s many more!
Hidden Bench – in a gorgeous setting
Tawse Winery – host great events in the Summer months too!
Megalomaniac – possibly the best name ever for a winery!
Fielding Estate Winery – on the Beamsville Bench with great tours, and a wonderful shop where you can taste and buy!
All this talk of wine… I think I need a glass! Happy Sunday…This is really just a flavour and a taste of the Niagara on the Lake region that I love so much, can’t recommend visiting enough!