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15 Amazing Things to Do in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Kids 2024

Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of our favourite places to visit in Southern Ontario.

This gorgeous little town located in the Niagara region is full of charm, quaint shops, amazing wineries, and wonderful family-run businesses.

And no matter what time of the year you visit, you are sure to find many amazing things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake with kids.

How to Get to Niagara-on-the-Lake

Only about an hour and a half from Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a pretty easy drive. You would need to head west on the Gardiner Expressway until you get on the Niagara-bound Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). Take the QEW until you hit Regional Rd 89 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Once you are in the area, there are so many great places to visit. There are also a ton of awesome things to do, all within a short drive from one another.

🚗 Need to rent a car? Find the best deals at RentalCars here.

Is Niagara-on-the-Lake Walkable?

If you are planning to spend the day in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, you will not need your car! In fact, we usually park for the better part of the day. The car is only needed for destinations (like wineries or roadside stands) that are just outside of the town.

Can You Find Parking in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

There are plenty of places to park in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake. You will find metered spots along the main roads, as well as a paid parking lot right behind the courthouse.

Insider Tip: You will find several free parking spots at Simcoe Park, along Byron Street. But heads up – they fill up really fast!

The street parking and paid lot are extremely close to the shops and restaurants, making it really convenient for families.

15 Things to Do in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Kids

1. Enjoy Some Local Wine

You cannot visit the Niagara region without sampling some of its local wines! Many wineries offer a variety of facility tours and tasting flights that give you the opportunity to try their offerings. You can even do guided bicycle tours that take you from one winery to the next!

Of course, if you are travelling with kids in tow, it is best to research which wineries welcome children on their tours. Many will offer the kids juices to sample along with crackers and cheese, while the adults taste the wine.

🍷 Find the perfect guided wine tour here.

One of our favourite wineries is Cave Spring, located in Jordan, Ontario. Only a 25-minute drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake, this quaint little town has plenty of charm.

Here, you will find The Inn on the Twenty Restaurant (amazing food!), Cave Spring (which is where our absolute favourite Dolomite comes from), as well as a few other boutiques, restaurants, and shops to explore along the main street.

We chose to try a wine flight, while the kids sat nearby. The experience was wonderful, and not as time-consuming as a tour.

Because the wine we enjoy can only be purchased on-site, and cannot be found at the LCBO, we usually end up purchasing several bottles when we are in town.

2. Buy Local at a Roadside Stand

It doesn’t matter what time of the year you head to Niagara-on-the-Lake, you will usually find several charming roadside stands! The stands feature farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade jams and preserves, pies, free-range eggs, wreaths, crafts, and any number of other finds!

The Niagara Region produces 90% of Ontario’s fruit, and is known around the world as the ‘fruit belt‘. Here, you will find an abundance of amazing peaches, pears, sweet and sour cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines, apples, tomatoes, and grapes.

So purchasing produce from the Niagara-on-the-Lake roadside stands, not only guarantees that you are supporting local farmers, but that you are getting the best produce in the province!

3. Stay at a Vintage Hotel

Explore Niagara-on-the-Lake by day, and pamper yourself at night by staying in a luxurious vintage hotel. With 4 choices right in the heart of town and 2 in nearby Jordan, you are sure to find one that tickles your fancy.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Queen’s Landing. Our suite had an awesome fireplace as well as a view of the lake. We also enjoyed an included breakfast the next morning in the dining room.

Of course, you can’t overlook the convenience of staying at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Located right in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, directly across the street from Simcoe Park, and adjacent to all the unique shops, you can’t ask for a better location.

Whichever of the vintage hotels you choose, they all offer luxurious rooms, fantastic dining experiences, spa treatments, and a wonderful ambiance! Treat yourself to some old-world charm!

🏨 Find the best deals on all Niagara-on-the-Lake hotels here.

4. Go for a Carriage Ride

Looking to see the town in style, and learn a few things along the way? We would then recommend taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through Niagara-on-the-Lake. The carriages depart from outside the Prince of Wales Hotel, located in the center of the downtown area.

The Sentineal Carriages can be booked for different lengths of time. You can choose rides from 15 minutes up to 1 hour; making it easy to book around your schedule and budget. Reservations can be made ahead of time, or they can also do walk-ups depending on availability.

This experience should definitely be on your list of things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake, whether you are just a couple, or travelling with kids. The drivers are knowledgeable about the history of the town, so it’s a great way to sit back and soak up some local history!

5. Shop ’til You Drop in Downtown Niagara-On-The-Lake

When visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake with kids, you don’t want to miss out on the downtown area. Give yourself plenty of time to browse in the awesome little shops.

There are some amazing clothing boutiques, toy stores, ice cream shops, housewares, restaurants, and other specialty shops, just to name a few! And the best part is, most of these shops are family-owned and run.

Downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake is also very family-friendly. Just behind the main street and courthouse, you will find large, clean public washroom facilities with all the amenities.

6. Have a Picnic in the Park

Simcoe Park is located a few minutes from the main downtown area. Here, you will find a playground, public washrooms, gorgeous flowers, plenty of green space, a splash pad, and picnic tables. This is the perfect place for a picnic, or to give the kids time to run off some energy between shopping trips.

Parking is located along the perimeter of the park, making it really convenient to grab your cooler or picnic basket.

7. Stop to Enjoy the View

Just a few minute’s walk from the downtown area, off Ricardo Street, you will find the gazebo at Queen’s Royal Park. Not only is it a magnet for thousands of visitors each year, but the gazebo is rented out for countless wedding ceremonies as well.

And with a crystal clear view of the Niagara River, Fort Niagara in Youngstown, Lake Ontario, and even the Toronto skyline, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a stroll, or just to people-watch.

Fun Fact: The gazebo was originally built as a prop for the movie The Dead Zone, a 1982 David Cronenberg film that starred Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen. When the movie was done shooting, the gazebo was donated to the town and has been well-maintained ever since.

8. Enjoy Christmas All Year Round at Just Christmas

One of the most unique shops in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake is Just Christmas – the Christmas emporium! It’s definitely one of those stores that you need to visit at least once!

But if you are a fan of all things Christmas, you may want to plan to stay a while! There, you can find every possible theme of ornaments and decorations, plus a huge selection of ornaments you can personalize.

It is definitely a tradition for us to buy at least one trinket whenever we visit!

❄️ If you are looking for more things to do in Niagara Falls around Christmas, click here.

9. Have Dinner in a Haunted Inn

One of our favourite places to eat when visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake with kids is The Olde Angel Inn. Established in 1789, this small English-style pub is the oldest operating inn in Ontario.

We enjoyed The Angel Inn’s famous fish and chips, as well as an awesome beer from their draft ale menu. The kids, on the other hand, love their chicken wings.

The Story of Captain Colin Swayze

But I think one of the best parts of dinner, was listening to the ghost stories told to us by our awesome server! Did you know that the Inn is said to be haunted by Captain Colin Swayze, a British Captain from the war of 1812?

Our server mentioned several things she has seen, or that have happened to her over the years… some definitely on the creepy side! The kids were definitely fascinated… although they did not want to go to the bathroom alone after that. LOL!

And just to be clear – we have been dining at the Angel Inn with our kids for years, and have never come across any scary or unexplained phenomenon. In fact, having dinner at the Inn is at the top of the kids’ list of things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake, every time we visit!

10. Go for a Bike Ride

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a great place to go for a bike ride with the family! There are many wonderful trails in the area, with picnic tables, amazing views of the Niagara River, as well as a variety of historic sites.

Don’t have a bike or a way of transporting yours from home? Not a problem! There are several options you can choose from!

There are several Zoom bike share locations in and around town, where you can rent a bike by the day or half-day. These bikes are well-maintained, and a great option for an impromptu family ride.

You can also choose to take a guided bike tour. These are usually wine or beer tours and require advanced reservations. They are a great option if you want to learn about the history of the area while sampling some of the best wine and beer in the region.

🍷 Purchase your tickets for a guided Wine and Cheese Bicycle Tour here.

11. Take a Ghost Tour

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming, quaint town, but it’s also a town that is steeped in a not-so-charming history. The area was actually central to the War of 1812 — a war between Britain and France.

The war brought violence and death to the region, which probably explains much of the spooky happenings occurring throughout the town and the surrounding areas. As a result, Niagara-on-the-Lake holds the reputation of “Canada’s most haunted town.” 

There are a variety of ghost tours offered in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Some are specific to a location, such as the Fort George tour. This tour takes 1.5 to 2 hours and is a candlelight walk through the historic fort.

Other tours will take you across several locations in the downtown area. They cover the mystery of the Apothecary, the theatre ghost, the Olde Angel Inn, the Prince of Wales Hotel, and the tale of the Watcher.

You can check which ghost tours are appropriate for kids before booking, as some may be a little too scary for Littles.

👟 Looking for other Niagara-on-the-Lake tours? See the full list here.

12. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Cows Ice Cream Shop

One of our favourite things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake is heading over to Cows. Cows is one of the most iconic shops in the downtown area.

Grab a cone, a milkshake, some cool merchandise, or some hilarious cow-themed shirts! No matter what you decide on, it will be Mooo-rrific!

Things to Do Near Niagara-on-the-Lake

The following activities are just a short drive outside the old town and are definitely worth adding to your Niagara-on-the-Lake itinerary.

13. Go for a Hike

If you enjoy hiking, then stopping at Balls Falls for a hike (or stroll) through the conservation area is a definite must. Located just 35 minutes from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, Balls Falls is the perfect place to spend some outdoor time with family.

Just pick up a map from the Visitor’s Center, and you can then venture out on the Village Trail to see the Lower Falls.

The small 19th-century hamlet features the original Ball home, a church, and a blacksmith shop, among other buildings. They were not open for viewing when we visited, but were awesome from a photography standpoint.

Behind the village is the Lower Falls. From there, you will need to head back to the Conservation Area in order to get back on the trail system.

There Are Several Trails to Choose From

There are several family-friendly trails to choose from. The Cataract Trail connects from the hamlet and takes you through a wooded area to the Upper Falls.

The trail is an easy walk. It will also connect you with the Bruce Trail and the Twenty Valley Trail for a longer hiking option.

During our visit, we stopped at the Woolen Mill Ruins for some quick photos. We then made our way to the Upper Falls. After a brief look at the Falls, and time to admire the gorgeous surroundings, we made our way back to the Visitor’s Center.

The Forest Frolic Trail is the shortest hike at only 850 meters. From the Visitor’s Center, we made our way to the trailhead. On this particular hike, we found the trail markers to be missing, and the trail actually disappeared halfway through.

So we basically wandered the forest for a bit, before heading back. Not a big deal for us, but not great for someone who has mobility issues.

With so many different trails to explore, you can easily spend the day at the Balls Falls Conservation area. The Visitor’s Center has all the trail information you need, has modern washrooms, and has a place to sit indoors to have a snack.

14. Visit a Haunted Tunnel

Located just 23 minutes outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake, in the northwest corner of Niagara, you will find the Screaming Tunnel. This small limestone tunnel, which measures 16 feet high by 125 long, runs underneath what once was a Grand Trunk Railway line, which today, is now the Canadian National Railway.

Constructed in the early 1800s, it was used as a drainage tunnel so that water could be removed from the farmlands. Farmers often used this tunnel to transport goods and animals safely underneath the busy railroad above.

Today, this attraction is considered to be one of the top haunted roads in the world, as well as Niagara Falls’ most chilling legend! So, depending on the age of your children, you may or may not want to add this to your list of things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The Legends

According to local legend, over a century ago a farmhouse that was located just past the south entrance to the tunnel, caught fire one night. A young girl ran screaming from the house with her clothing engulfed in flames.

As she ran through the tunnel looking for water and a way to extinguish her garments, she collapsed and died on the tunnel floor.

A variation of this story has the girl set ablaze in the tunnel by her abusive father when he learned his wife was threatening to take the children and leave.

While there are many variations of this horrible story, they all end the same: a little girl screaming as she dies in the tunnel.

All these stories allege that if you stand in the middle of the dark tunnel at midnight and light a wooden match, the flame will go out, and a girl’s screams will be heard.

And for all you movie buffs out there, in 1982, Canadian movie director David Cronenberg chose the tunnel as the setting for a brutal murder scene in his film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone.

15. See a Shipwreck

If you are heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Toronto, you will see what looks like a pirate ship in the Jordan Harbour, just west of St. Catherines. The shipwreck, which sits just a few meters from the Niagara stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), has become quite a prominent landmark!

Built in Lauzon, Quebec in 1914, the ship named “Le Progress,” served many purposes. It was originally constructed to be a St Lawrence River Ferry. However, it was later transformed into a cargo ship, and then a floating restaurant.

In 1991, the ship was transformed once again to resemble one of the three ships that Jacques Cartier used when exploring the St. Lawrence River back in 1535. Renamed “La Grande Hermine,” the ship measures 140 feet long.

In 1997, La Grande Hermine was towed from Montreal to Jordan harbour. The intentions at the time were to turn it into a restaurant or a gambling venue. Unfortunately, the owner passed away before his dream could be brought to life.

In January 2003, La Grande Hermine was the victim of an arson fire. What’s left of the ship remains rusting, damaged, and run down. However, the shipwreck has since become a distinctive landmark and a favourite roadside attraction.

Niagara-on-the-Lake FAQs

Is it worth visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Most definitely! With a ton of historic sites, locally-owned businesses, galleries, restaurants, parks and more, there’s a reason why this gorgeous little town is so popular with tourists!

What is special about Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a wonderful town filled with old-world charm. Not only is it a foodie’s paradise, but you will also find award-winning wineries, excellent theatre productions, gorgeous architecture, incredible natural surroundings, and the friendliest of people. And let’s not forget its proximity to the incredible Niagara Falls!

How many days do you need in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

We would recommend at least two nights in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This will give you plenty of time to explore the old town, maybe catch a show, visit a couple of wineries, and even head out to see the Falls.

Do you need a car in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

No. You will only need to rent a car if you are planning to explore the Niagara region in general. If you only plan to stay in Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake, a car is unnecessary.

What is the difference between Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Niagara Falls is a city filled with flashy lights, kitschy attractions, large hotels, vibrant nightlife, and of course, the Falls!

Niagara-on-the-lake is a small town filled with history, quaint shops, boutique hotels, small businesses, gorgeous architecture, and beautiful green spaces. Niagara-on-the-Lake is surrounded by wineries and orchards, and although quite popular with tourists, still manages to maintain its small-town charm.

Can you drink tap water in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Definitely! The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake takes weekly drinking water samples throughout the system which are then tested for Chlorine, E. coli and other bacteria that may be present. This ensures that the tap water is always safe for drinking.


Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Kids

With so many things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you will find it incredibly easy to balance adult and kiddo time. This family-friendly destination keeps us coming back year after year, because of its charm and all the wonderful things it has to offer.

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