I know the first thing you’re going to ask me is “is 24 hours enough time in Niagara-on-the-Lake?”. The answer to that question depends. It depends what your interests are, if you’ve been before, and yes, what your budget is.
Since I live within a couple of hours of Niagara-on-the-Lake and I’ve been many, many times before, 24 hours was the perfect amount of time for me. Even though I typically visit Niagara-on-the-Lake solo, this time I visited with my daughter for a mini mother-daughter getaway. We were looking to experience something a bit different, while at the same time, getting lots of much needed downtime.
24 HOURS IN HISTORIC NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE
- When is the Best Time to Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Where is Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Visit a Winery (or 2)
- Stroll the Streets of Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake
- High Tea at Prince of Wales
- Check-In and Relax at Pillar and Post
- Dinner at Pillar and Post
- Walking Off Dinner
- Nighty, Night
- Hot Springs One Last Time
- Stroll the Gardens at Pillar & Post
- Our 24 Hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Need More Time?
- Accommodations in Niagara-on-the-Lake
When is the Best Time to Visit Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a year-round tourist destination and once again the best time to visit depends on you and what you’re looking for. I have visited during all four seasons and my daughter and myself both agreed that Winter was by far the best time to visit. We were able to find parking no problem, we weren’t bumping into wall to wall people, and we were able to do a wine tasting without a reservation. Needless to say, Summertime is over-run with tourists, but it’s still a beautiful time to visit especially if you are looking to tour the wineries by bicycle.
Where is Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is in the heart of the Ontario Wine Region, approximately a one hour drive from Toronto. I was coming from Kitchener, and picked up my daughter in Hamilton. The main entrance into Niagara-on-the-Lake is from the QEW, however, we were looking to take a more scenic route so that we were able to visit and enjoy the scenery.
I set my google maps to “avoid motorways”, and it took us through Grimsby, St. Catharine’s and along Lake Ontario. The drive was much less stressful than the QEW and the scenery was much more beautiful.
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Visit a Winery (or 2)
Since both my daughter and myself had been to multiple wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake and we only had 24 hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we opted to visit only one winery this time. We chose Strewn Winery. Although we didn’t have a reservation as we were flying by the seat of our pants, the very kind gentleman took us through a wine tasting of what was to have been 3 types of wine of your choice. He allowed us 4 different wines. My daughter is a white wine lover and she loved the Reisling. I’m a red wine lover and I loved them all, however, I was told that I transferred over to the “dark side”, which I immediately knew my favourite was the most expensive :). Yes we did buy bottles of wine to drink at our hotel room.
The entire experience lasted approximately 45 minutes and the gentleman was extremely kind, patient and knowledgeable. Reservations are required and can be made ahead of time here. We lucked out as we arrived right when the winery opened and during low season.
Stroll the Streets of Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake
Shopping in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake will provide magnificent retail therapy if that’s what you’re looking for. From Christmas stores, specialty tea/coffee shops, and even a massive specialty hat store, Niagara-on-the-Lake has it all.
If retail therapy isn’t on your radar, I highly recommend taking a stroll through the residential area of the historic district. The ancient Victorian architecture is out of this world.
High tea has been on mine and my daughter’s bucket list for quite some time now and my daughter always thought that she would have to make a trip to England to experience this. There are a couple of places in Niagara-on-the-Lake that offer high tea, but none are quite as authentic as the high tea at The Prince of Wales. The historic, magical feel to this Vintage Inn added a great deal to the ambiance of our high tea experience.
The Prince of Wales is located in the center of the downtown historic district and high tea is the perfect way to relax and warm up after wandering the streets of downtown. If you are one who loves to be in the center of the action the Prince of Wales is the ultimate place to spend the night.
Check-In and Relax at Pillar and Post
Niagara-on-the-Lake offers an abundance of Vintage Inns, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnb’s, so again, where you choose to stay while visiting is totally dependent on your preferences. Since we were now looking for an evening of relaxation, we chose the Pillar and Post, one of the Vintage Inns. We knew that between the indoor and outdoor pools, the spa and the hot springs, we wouldn’t have a difficult time finding a spot to relax.
Since we had a busy day and we’ve both done the spa, we reserved some time in the hot springs before we went for dinner. Because we were travelling during the off-season, we didn’t have any trouble reserving the time we wanted in the hot springs. Since COVID hit, it is necessary to reserve a spot. The hotel has continued to do this and it’s wonderful! The hot springs will never have more than 10 people in at a time (in fact, the most we had were 6, including the two of us). The time slots are booked for 15 minute periods, however, we spent half an hour in the hot springs relaxing.
Dinner at the Pillar and Post
The Pillar and Post offers two restaurants, both on site. The Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge is an upscale pub feel, while the Cannery Restaurant is fine dining. Both restaurants are spectacular! The hotel package I booked for the two of us included a three course dinner for each of us at the Cannery Restaurant. The concierge made the dinner reservations for us when booking our stay. We both had prime rib and the portion sizes were MASSIVE! Suffice it to say that neither of us ate more than half of our dinner.
Walking Off Dinner
After dinner, we were both so stuffed that we needed to get out for some fresh air and a small walk. We were planning on visiting the Gardens at the Pillar and Post which is lit up with a ton of lights and offers a skating rink later in the Winter season. Unfortunately, it closed at 8:00 p.m. so we weren’t able to enter (hopefully as Winter progresses this will change and it’ll stay open longer).
Since we had been on the go since 8:30 in the morning, we were both exhausted so we returned to our room for a glass of wine and a good night sleep.
I booked a double deluxe room which was quite large with two double beds and a fireplace. The fireplace came in handy to dry our bathing suits and to warm us up after venturing out into the cold night.
For more specifics on the Pillar and Post you might like to refer to Pillar and Post, a Vintage Inn
Hot Springs One Last Time
We didn’t wake overly early the next day, but early enough to book another spot in the hot springs before check out time. All we had to do was call down and our spot was ready within 10 minutes. I was surprised to find that the hot springs both relaxed and energized me. We were now ready for our drive home.
Stroll the Gardens at the Pillar and Post
Since we didn’t have the opportunity to visit the gardens the evening before, we took a quick stroll through the gardens before heading home. It was beautiful, but nothing like it would be in the evenings.
Our 24 Hours in Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake
This is how we chose to spend our 24 hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but there is so much more to do which all depends on your interests and needs. For this visit, 24 hours was the perfect amount of time for myself and my daughter to experience Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as to have some much needed mother-daughter down time.
More Than 24 Hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake?
If you decide that 24 hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t enough time and you need more time to make the most of your experience, there is much more to do that would keep you busy for 2 – 3 days:
- Take a horse and buggy ride through historic downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Book a wine tour and get picked up directly at your hotel
- Attend a live theatre performance
- Take a ghost walk during certain times of the year
- Visit Fort George
- Stroll or bike along the Niagara River
- Visit Niagara Falls for the day or at night
JUST ONE TIP: For first time or one time visitors to Niagara-on-the-Lake, I would recommend visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake for 2 to 3 days in order to experience it all.
Accommodations in Niagara-on-the-Lake
As previously mentioned, Niagara-on-the-Lake has some AMAAAAZZZZING places to stay if you are planning on spending more than 24 hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake
As you can tell, my favourite place to stay when I’m in Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Pillar and Post Inn, which is part of the Vintage Hotels Group. The Vintage Hotels Group are all 5 star hotels which offer an abundance of amenities and are in prime locations throughout the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Vintage Hotels to choose from are Pillar and Post, the Prince of Wales, Queens Landing, and the most recently acquired Moffat Inn.
In addition to the Vintage Hotels, one of my other favourite places to stay is the Oban Inn, especially during the Summer. The Oban Inn is located within walking distance to the main street, but offers beautiful views of the Niagara River. The outdoor pool in the gardens is what attracts me to the Oban Inn during the summer.
JUST ONE TIP: Separate from the main part of the hotel, there are two units located right beside the outdoor pool and both provide outdoor patios allowing you to enjoy the beautiful gardens at the Oban Inn. These units are my favourite.
There are also an excessive amount of bed and breakfasts and Airbnb’s in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it is important to note that notwithstanding that an abundance of accommodations is to be had, during the Summer months it is virtually impossible to find accommodations unless reservations are made far in advance.
Is 24 Hours Enough Time in Niagara-on-the-Lake?
It is important to keep in mind that Niagara-on-the-Lake is a Canadian tourist destination and the prices definitely reflect this. But having said that, I also believe that it is an Ontario destination to be experienced at least once. Whether you are travelling to Niagara-on-the-Lake solo or as a couple, you definitely won’t have any problem finding activities to keep you busy for the entire 24 hours.
PIN TO SPEND 24 HOURS IN THE HISTORIC NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE