Little-Known Gems in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Two elderly male cyclists in summer

While many are familiar with Old Town, the truth is that many little-known gems in Niagara-on-the-Lake are found in four other communities that make up Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Sure, the charm of Old Town is a crowd-pleaser with its lifestyle and numerous shops, art galleries, historical sites, live stage productions and restaurants. What’s not to love?

However, it’s only a small piece of what makes up a larger area bordered by Welland Canal to the west, Lake Ontario to the north, the Niagara River to the east and the Niagara Escarpment to the south — an area called Niagara-on-the-Lake. Within these borders, you will find the four communities of Queenston, St. David’s, Virgil and Glendale. And each one is home to many little-known gems.

Brock Monument at Queenston Heights

Queenston Gems
From Old Town, follow the Niagara Parkway along the Niagara River for about 10 kilometres to reach Queenston village. Nestled under the watchful gaze of the 56-metre-high Brock Monument erected at Queenston Heights on the Niagara Escarpment, it is the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail as well as the starting point for the Laura Secord Trail. Feeling energetic? Climb 235 steps to the top of the Brock Monument for a spectacular view of the Niagara Frontier.

The compact, riverside community of Queenston is home to the RiverBrink Art Museum, a unique collection of more than 1,400 artifacts and artworks by international artists. It’s also where you find the Laura Secord Homestead and the Mackenzie Printery, which houses the oldest printing press in Canada and one of seven wooden presses remaining in the world!

Whirlpool Jet Boat

Thrill-seekers want to check out the Whirlpool Jet Boat tours that operate out of Queenston from May through October. Wet or dry, it’s your choice. Either way, be ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

Avid golfers tee up year-round (weather permitting) at one of two 9-hole par 35 courses featured at the Queenston St. David’s Golf Course tucked under the Niagara Escarpment.

St. David’s Gems
Situated at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, the township of St. David’s offers sweeping views of the Niagara Valley and Lake Ontario as well as culinary adventures to excite your taste buds.

Glass of Sparkling Wine

Wine lovers, rejoice! St. David’s is a great place to tour a few local wineries, starting with Ravine Vineyard Estate. This fifth-generation family farm is home to organic vineyards and an award-winning restaurant. A little further down the road, Château des Charmes features more than 40 vintages and winery tours in English and French. Also in St. David’s Bench, you will find the Colaneri Estate Winer, where you can order and enjoy pizza with your wine. More tasting experiences await you nearby at the Queenston Mile Vineyard.

Perhaps someone in your group prefers a cold brew to a glass of wine. Enjoy the best of both worlds with a hearty meal at The Grist, open Wednesday through Sunday. Once a packing shed, this valuable piece of St. David’s history was rehabilitated and transformed into a brewery and relaxed eatery.

Chocolate from CFX Niagara

Any chocolate lovers in the house? Make your way to the chocolate factory. Using artisanal chocolate panning and molding techniques, CFX Niagara provides an incredible assortment of products to delight even the most discriminating palate. They offer free daily tours and there’s a large retail store filled with tempting treats to take home.

Glendale Gems
This bedroom community of Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t as sleepy as you might think. It’s the hub of culinary learning and experimentation.

As a gateway to the Niagara wine region, the Wine Visitor + Education Centre features informative displays, tours and an information centre to assist you in your exploration of Niagara’s wine country.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, students at the Niagara College School of Culinary Arts and School of Wine, Beer and Spirits put into practice all they’ve learned at the NC Culinary Arts Café located on campus. You’re welcome to tour the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Brewery, Distillery and Cidery as well where you can sample their award-winning products through a variety of customized experiences.

Shoots at Outlet Collection at Niagara

In need of some retail therapy? Across the road, the Outlet Collection at Niagara combines 100+ brand-name fashion and lifestyle retailers — all at outlet prices you cannot resist.

All this tasting, dining and touring can wear a body out. Look no further than the serene world at The Spa located across from the Outlets at the White Oaks Resort & Spa where you’ll also find dining options at LIV Restaurant and Play Bar + Grill as well as an amazing fitness centre and racquet courts at The Club.

Virgil Gems
Locals may think of Virgil as the business centre of Niagara-on-the-Lake, but there is more to this community than meets the eye.

Situated in the heart of Virgil, Antiques on Creek is made up of a consortium of dealers, where you can explore vast displays of local and international treasures. There’s no end to the one-of-a-kind finds you’ll discover here.

Antiques on Creek

Just up the road are the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre and Centennial Sports Park where numerous public events are held. From picket ball events and the annual Virgil Stampede on Victoria Day Weekend to public skating and hockey and baseball tournaments, there’s something for everyone to enjoy year-round.

Feeling hungry? Brick & Barley is a family-owned bistro located right next door to the Arena. Nearby, the Silversmith Brewing Company is housed in an old church built in 1894. It’s a great place to enjoy an ice-cold beer or a glass of cider along with some pub favourites. For finer dining, look no further than the Twisted Vine across the street, where authentic Italian fare is on the menu.

Virgil is also where a number of winery, brewery, distillery and cider tour companies have set up shop. Ranging from cycling tours and e-bike rentals to chauffeur-driven van and private limousine tours, your options are seemingly endless. Some offer pick-up and drop-off service at your accommodation.

Of course, you can always visit a few wineries in Virgil on your own. Trius Winery and its sister-winery, Wayne Gretzky Estates next door, both feature wine-tasting and dining experiences. Up the road toward Old Town, Pillitteri Estates Winery serves up salads and wood-oven pizza to complement its wine selections at its outdoor BarrelHead venue during the warmer months.

Niagara Image Gallery

Art lovers flock to admire the art collection, which includes works by Trish Romance, Tanya Jean Peterson, Jordan Morrison and Alex Colville, at the Niagara Image Gallery. Another is the Ronald Boaks Fine Arts gallery located at 1823 Niagara Stone Road.

Be sure to drop into the Regal Florist and Garden Centre, a local favourite for garden furniture and decor, flowering plants and bouquets as well as giftware and ladies’ fashions and accessories. If need be, gentlemen can opt to hang out at the Penner Home Hardware Building Centre next door.

Accommodation Gems
With so much to discover and experience, you may want to spend a few days in Niagara-on-the-Lake to sample it all. Whether you want to be at the centre of the action or prefer a peaceful, restful stay in the countryside, STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake has you covered at prices you can afford. Check out their wide selection of bed and breakfasts, apartments, cottages and villas online.

If you are heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the upcoming Solar Eclipse on April 8, a number of wineries and touring companies have organized events, some of which are linked below. Please take time to read the safety guidelines posted here.

More Reasons to Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake Year-Round
To help you plan your next escape to Niagara-on-the-Lake, here are a few events slated for 2024:
April 2 to 28: Coming of Age exhibit at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre
April 6: Shaw Festival 2024 Season begins
April 8: Solar Eclipse Events at Wayne Gretzky Estates, Niagara Cycling Tours, Queenston Mile Vineyard, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Konzelmann Estate Winery, Bella Terra Vineyards, Marynissen Estates
April 20: Pendant-Making Workshop at RiverBrink Art Museum
Until April 29: Strike a Pose: The Art of Self-Obsession at the NOTL Museum
April 29 – June 3: TD Niagara Jazz Fest Shows at The Hare Wine Co.
May 5: Mom Market Niagara at Jackson-Triggs Estate Winery
June 1: Earring Making Workshop at RiverBrink Art Museum
June 7: White Effect Dinner
June 15: Shaw Garden Tour
June 15: St. Andrew’s Strawberry Festival
June 16 – August 16: Music Niagara Festival 2024
June 21 to 29: TD Niagara Summer Jazz Festival
June 29, 30 & July 1: Artistry by the Lake
July 6: St. Mark’s Cherry Festival
July 14: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Jackson-Triggs Estate Winery
August 10: Peach Festival
August 11: Shades of Rose Dinner
August 18 to 25: 2024 World Rowing Championships in St. Catharines
October 4: Shaw Guild Autumn Soirée
October 5: Mom Market Niagara at Jacksonn-Triggs Estate Winery
October 5 & 6: NOTL Beer/Harvest Festival
December 6: Candlelight Stroll
December 6 & 7: Rotary Club House Tour
December 14: Christmas Parade

Helpful Tips
Lost & Found: Did you lose something while you were in Niagara-on-the-Lake? Contact the lost and found centre at the NOTL Chamber of Commerce located at 26 Queen Street in the lower level of the building. Or call 1-905-468-1950 or email for more information.

Drive Safely: As part of Niagara Region’s Vision Zero program, an automated speed enforcement camera was installed on Old Stone Road in Virgil near Crossroads Public School. Please pay attention to the speed limits posted throughout Niagara-on-the-Lake as more cameras are planned.

Metered Parking: General information on metered parking in Niagara-on-the-Lake is found here. Your STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts feature complimentary on-site parking for guests and are happy to advise you on where to park for free in and around Old Town.

Accessible Parking: Several accessible parking spaces are located throughout the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, both on the street and in municipal parking lots. All vehicles parking in the accessible zone must display an original and current accessible permit. Any vehicle found parked in an accessible zone without the valid accessible permit will be ticketed $400. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has approved the use of accessible parking permits in the following areas only:

  • Designated accessible zones/spaces; and
  • At any meter free of charge, including municipal lots governed by pay-and-display parking meters. In these locations, a pay-and-display permit is not required if the vehicle is displaying a valid accessible permit.