Destinations editor Margaret Myre visited Niagara-on-the-Lake
in Ontario, a 20-minute drive -- and centuries away -- from Niagara
Falls. Her report follows:
Niagara-on-the-Lake "the prettiest little town in Canada" must at
one time have sat here at this table on the outdoor patio of the
Prince of Wales Hotel, sipping a cool drink on a hot day.
Prettiness lies all around. Baskets of flowers hang from
lampposts up and down the street; shade trees, blooms and border
plants edge the sidewalk in beds as wide as most city gardens; and
quaint shops occupy buildings as old as the town.
It is all very British, all very lovely.
The hotel, one of four properties in town owned by Vintage Inns
here, is situated at a most advantageous spot, on the corner of
King and Picton streets, an extension of Queen Street, the Old
City's main artery and center for shopping.
Across the street sprawls Simcoe Park, with its children's
playground, bandshell, picnic tables, gardens and, on this day at
least, a well-used wading pool.
The corner of King and Picton is the carriage stop for horsedrawn
buggies, which for $33 take visitors (up to four) on a tour that
shows off the town's neoclassic and Regency architecture. We passed
mansions, shops, hotels and some of the more than 200 bed and
Our carriage ride inspired an amble along Queen Street.
We didn't go the whole route, although I'm told it's an easy
walk along its length from the golf course and lakefront at one end
to Simcoe Park.
Our first stop was the Cenotaph Clock Tower, built smack in the
middle of Queen Street and recognizable to visitors as the clock in
the film classic "It's a Wonderful Life."
The clock keeps time for the keepers of Queen Street's most
unusual shops, many of them themed. There's the Viking Shop,
selling Royal Doulton, Hummels, Wedgwood and Waterford; the Silly
Old Bear Shop, dealing with all things Winnie the Pooh; the 1866
wooden apothecary; the Little Shop of Candles; the Irish shop and
Scottish shop; and stores selling fudge and ice cream.
On King Street, we found the Nutty Chocolatier, with its
tempting Belgian chocolates and truffles; a number of antique
stores are tucked away on side streets.
There also are wonderful hotels with lovely restaurants and
lounges, serving some of Niagara's finest wines.
We had Sunday brunch (call ahead for reservations) in the Tiara
dining room at the Queen's Landing Inn , a Georgian mansion
overlooking the Niagara River. The price was $12 per person, plus
tax and tip.
The garden patio outside looked so enticing, with its rose
bushes and views of the yacht club and the Niagara River, that we
decided to come back for a late lunch.
Now here's where you can have too much of a good thing. The rose
bushes -- which so appealingly adorn the fronts of public buildings
and private homes around town -- from our seats on the patio served
to block our view of the river, small complaint in light of all the
town has to offer.
Here are some of the highlights clients should not miss:
• The Shaw Festival, for 41 years Niagara-on-the-Lake's biggest
tourist draw. It runs from April 3 to Nov. 30 and features the
plays of Shaw (1856-1950) and his contemporaries.
For reservations, ticket information and group prices, call
(800) 511-SHAW or visit www.shawfest.com.
Several properties offer Shaw Festival overnight packages.
The Vintage Inns feature one night's accommodations; breakfast,
lunch and dinner; and tickets to a Shaw Festival. Rates start at
about $200 per person, double, including tax.
• Fort George, scene of a bloody battle during the War of 1812.
The fort is open seven days a week, April through October;
admission is $4 for adults and $2.50 for children ages 6 to 12.
Call (905) 468-6614.
• Wineries. Most offer public tours. Visitors can pick up the
Wine Country Vintners Shuttle ($2) on Queen Street for a narrated
tour. Or they can drive 10 minutes into Queenston Village for a
daylong bike tour with 1984 Olympic silver medalist Steve Bauer (www.stevebauer.com).
Bauer's tour is offered Saturdays and Sundays from May 1 to Oct.
31 and is priced at $78, with lunch and visits to two wineries.
Reservations are required.
For an up-to-date list of winery events, visit www.niagaraonthelake.com.
Y'all come for March Break
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario -- The Pillar and Post Inn, Spa
& Conference Centre here will serve as host of March Break, an
annual event run by Vintage Inns, owner and operator of four
Set for March 9 to 15, the annual family event for guests of the
Pillar and Post, the Queens Landing Inn, the Prince of Wales Hotel
and the Oban Inn draws about 40% of its visitors from the U.S.,
according to Allen Gelberg, director of sales and marketing for
March Break features activities for adults and children. Most
are free, and include swimming and a scavenger hunt. There is a
small charge for pizza-making, dinosaur egg-painting and a country
hayride. There also is a spa menu for kids to get their hair and
Free shuttles run between the four properties.
Nightly rates for a standard room during March Break start at
$120 at each of the hotels. Regular rates start at $175 per room.
Commission is 10% at all properties on room rates only.
160 Front St.
Phone: (905) 468-2165
Accommodations: 25 rooms
Pillar and Post Inn
King and John streets
Phone: (905) 468-2123
Accommodations: 123 rooms
Prince of Wales Hotel
6 Picton St.
Phone: (905) 468-3246
Accommodations: 110 rooms
Queen's Landing Inn
155 Byron St.
Phone: (905) 468-2195
Accommodations: 142 rooms
All Vintage Inns
Phone: (888) 669-5566