Supporting Local Businesses (and Farmers) has always been important to us. But during this world-wide pandemic, it was critical now more than ever before. Niagara On The Lake is the ideal Ontario getaway that blends old-world charm and the coziness of cottage-country with modern-day luxuries. If you’re looking to shop local, think outside of Toronto! Niagara offers plenty of artisan goods, fresh produce, amazing wines, and decadent foods to keep you satisfied all winter long.
This post contains links to shops that I regularly support and am affiliated with. Read my Disclaimer for more information.
Why Niagara On The Lake?
Although Niagra On The Lake is a fun place to visit year-round, it often gets neglected by tourists once the temperatures begin to drop. Personally, this is a plus for me because there are fewer crowds! Autumn is also the perfect time to visit because this when local vineyards begin selling their famous ice wines. (Keep scrolling for my top picks for ice wine tasting!)
Nestled inside a farming community, Niagara On The Lake’s unique history offers visitors the chance to walk through some of Ontario’s oldest buildings, taste decadent local foods, and meander through picturesque cottage-country-esque streets.
Why It’s Important To Shop Local
If you’ve been following along with any of my recent YouTube videos, you would have seen the various home goods, clothing, and general delicious things we’ve been purchasing from local businesses. Your country’s economic health is directly linked to the health of local businesses. So why not think of artisan-made goods made by your neighbours? Especially as we dip into Autumn and Winter’s chilly temps, Canadians know how to bring the cozy vibes!
Of course, there are plenty of wonderful shops in Toronto to shop local. But we wanted to take a trip out to Niagra On The Lake to see what other ways we could support Ontario businesses.
Plus, our one year anniversary was worth celebrating, right? My plan was for a romantic getaway that would also allow us to support local farmers, artisans, and shops. So I booked us in for a few nights at a seclusive wing inside a Bed and Breakfast perched right on the lake, just a short walk to the heart of Niagara On The Lake. With the province still grappling with COVID, this meant that we also had to keep safety in mind. (Note: although not depicted in the photos, we did wear masks anytime we were indoors. Please make sure you respect local safety measures!)
Things to Do in Niagara On The Lake
Niagara On The Lake is the dreamiest getaway in Ontario. It’s perfect for couples trips, like honeymoons, anniversaries, and weekend getaways. For those visiting for the first time, expect rural cottage charm mixed with high-end European touches.
So what can you do while visiting Niagara On The Lake?
- Walk, stroll, or run along the lake. There are scenic views for miles and several places to stop, all within walking distance of the main shops. For breathtaking views, go during sunrise or sunset.
- Tour Colaneri Estate Winery. You will feel instantly transported to the Mediterranean! Our favourite wines are the Gewurztraminer (Mistera) and the Cabernet Sauvignon (Coraggioso Amaroso). We always, always stop at Colaneri. It’s a must. If you don’t know where to start with wines, their wine samplings and staff are very educational.
- Visit Reif Estate Winery. Visit Reif to experience some of the most unique wines (ever tried orange wine?) that you’ll come across in Niagara. They also boast the oldest vines in the region and some of my favourite ice wines. Again, a wine sampling is highly recommended not just to taste but to learn.
- Immerse yourself in the NEOB Lavender Farm. The NEOB lavender boutique is open year-round and is fully stocked with handmade face, body, and home products. Step inside to fulfill all your lavender dreams. And maybe imagine for a few moments that you’re inside a sweet country shop in the South of Provence.
- Pop into Lakeview Wines. If you’re heading to the NEOB Lavender shop, you might as well stop at Lakeview, it’s just down the street! This is not just a pitstop though, because you absolutely must try their red ice wines. Lakeview is truly my absolute favourite ice wine producer! If you have never tried ice wine before, this is the place to visit. Lakeview offers various wine samplings, including one dedicated to ice wine.
- Sample local produce and sweets. There are vegetable, fruit, and locally-made food stalls sprinkled throughout Niagara On The Lake. Keep your eyes open for fresh pies, stone fruit jams, and cider!
- Stock up at Victoria Teas and Coffees. If you enjoy decadent coffees and teas, plan to stop once (or twice) at this adorable, old-timey cafe and boutique. They make all sorts of cozy warm beverages in-house. (May I suggest bringing your own reusable cup and walking down to the water for a scenic stroll?)
- Dare to Ghost Walk. This may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, but it’s also a fun way to learn about the real history of the Niagara region! The Ghost Walk is always fully booked, so I haven’t had a chance to experience it first-hand yet. But I always see the tours walking by and discretely eavesdrop to pick up a few tidbits.
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Final Thoughts on Niagara On The Lake
Niagara On The Lake is a wonderful area to visit year-round, but I’m particularly keen on the Summer and Fall. Keep in mind that if you’re hoping to sip ice wine that it’s a seasonal item and is produced starting in autumn.
While there are lots to see in a day or two, that’s all you’ll need to see most of the sights in the lakeside town. It’s a quaint little region and perfect for those looking for a quiet getaway that’s not too secluded but still cozy and near nature. Niagara On The Lake is within driving distance to Niagara Falls and The Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s possible to visit all three areas in a three or four day trip. Check out our video below, as we managed to squeeze in all three areas!
Come With Us On Our One Year Anniversary Trip!
Watch our trip to Niagara On The Lake, or NOTL as locals refer to it, on YouTube: