Things to Do in Hamilton
There is an abundance of things to do in Hamilton (and places to visit). Its long history, collection of eclectic neighbourhoods and resplendent natural attractions make Hamilton a place you’ll want to visit again and again, and will discover something new each time.
Explore Hamilton’s lush nature conservatories, walk scenic hiking trails and visit any of the 100+ waterfalls that line the legendary Niagara Escarpment. Grab lunch and enjoy the view at one of the restaurants on the shoreline of Lake Ontario, or discover your favourite new beer, wine or cider at a local brewery, winery or cidery.
Spend the weekend shopping at local farmers’ markets, stroll through fields of flowers in world-renowned botanical gardens and enjoy a laid-back day in the quaint villages in this diverse corner of southern Ontario.
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Food & Drink
Hamilton is known for many things, among them being the city that introduced the world to the glory of Tim Hortons cafe. This has led to the city fostering a thriving independent coffee (and tea) scene where lovers of caffeine can seek to satisfy every little predilection.
The down-to-earth craft beer community is another wonderful way to experience Hamilton. Enjoy local art along with a great local craft beer at Collective Arts Brewing. It is a grassroots craft brewery that marries excellent brews with the creativity of local artists by displaying limited-edition artwork on their beer cans and labels. Join a beer tour to learn more about how beers are made.
Love a crisp and refreshing cider? Visit West Avenue Cider, a charming farmhouse cidery that uses heritage apples and overlooks a gorgeous country landscape. Or explore the nearby wineries, some offer stunning views of the Niagara Escarpment and the Toronto skyline.
Visit the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, which has been operating since 1837 and is home to some of Hamilton’s freshest and tastiest treats. Peruse its newest congregation of food trucks. Or grab a quick lunch within the market itself. Another favourite is Locke Street Farmers’ Market open Saturdays from June to October, with produce from a variety of local farms.
Sweet-toothed visitors will also want to see, and taste, all the sweet treats Hamilton has to offer. Sample small-batch chocolates from Beanermunky Chocolate in the village of Dundas, indulge your craving for mango with Hui Lau Shan’s creamy mango puddings or choose from the creative selections at Donut Monster. Enjoy the warm creaminess of Portuguese custard tarts at Ola Bakery & Pastries, or have a slice of cake, except it’s crumbled, and in a cup, at Crumbled on Barton Street East.
The gorgeous outdoors is one of the biggest attractions Hamilton has to offer. A portion of the Niagara Escarpment cuts through the city, and the area is home to over 100 famous waterfalls. Intrepid explorers need not venture far from downtown, the waterfalls are mere minutes away.
Visit gorgeous Tiffany Falls with its cascading waters as you walk through forested trails, or find out why the Devil’s Punchbowl is named the way that it is. There is also popular Albion Falls, mystical Smokey Hollow Falls, romantic Sherman Falls (also known as Fairy Falls) or the magnificent Webster Falls.
Explore the city of Hamilton and enjoy nature on the Hamilton Waterfront Trail, a 7.5 km trail spanning from Burlington to Hamilton, along Lake Ontario. Set out on a paddling adventure on the Grand River. Spend a relaxing day at the beach, bike along the trails of Confederation Beach Park or spend a family fun day at Wild Waterworks, with its outdoor wave pool and tube and body slides.
Ever tried surfing the treetops? Float over a forest canopy at the zipline aerial and adventure park in Binbrook Conservation Area. There are over 10 km worth of hiking trails at the Hamilton Conservation Area with its gorgeous meadows and pine forests. Explore the 1,200 hectare of forests and 40 km trail system in Dundas Valley or trace the edge of the Niagara Escarpment by hiking the Bruce Trail.
Hamilton, and neighbouring Burlington, is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Canada’s largest botanical garden and second-largest in the world. Open year-round, the gardens feature over 27 km of scenic nature trails, the world’s largest lilac collection, over 100,000 spring bulbs, 3,000 rose bushes as well as an indoor Mediterranean Garden, all on grounds that span almost 11,000 hectares. Enjoy the natural fragrance of the Scented Garden, or explore the flowering flora of the world at Global Garden. Herbal enthusiasts will appreciate the Medicinal Garden, which is arranged by the afflictions they treat, or stroll around the works of art in the Sculpture Garden.
For a fun alternative to the traditional zoo, visit African Lion Safari, a drive-through experience where guests observe African wildlife such as lions and giraffes from their cars.
History buffs will love the many National Historic Sites in the area. Marvel at Dundurn Castle, an 1,700 square metre mansion built in 1835, before heading to the late classical Whitehern Historic House and Garden or the living history Battlefield House Museum and Park. For a more immersive historical experience, join Haunted Hamilton Ghost Walk on a nightly jaunt through Hamilton’s dark alleyways and haunted buildings.
Leisure & Sports
Hamilton is home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Canadian Football League, affectionately known by fans as the Ticats. Visit the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton before catching a game.
Hamilton is also the home of Forge FC, the region’s very own soccer club in the Canadian Premier league. Forge FC plays out of the Tim Hortons Field, sharing the venue with the Ticats. Basketball is also well-represented in Hamilton with the Hamilton Honey Badgers, who debuted in 2019 in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
Racing enthusiasts will appreciate the high-speed entertainment at Flamboro Speedway or check out the action at Canada’s fastest half-mile harness horse racing track at Flamboro Downs.
Arts & Cultural Experiences
From small galleries featuring the work of local artists to national museums, there’s a cultural experience for every interest in Hamilton.
View one of the finest art collections in Canada at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, established in 1914. It’s the largest and oldest of its kind in southern Ontario, housing over 100,000 historical, contemporary and international works of art. Take in a live theatre performance at Theatre Aquarius or Hamilton Theatre Inc. Catch an improvisational comedy show at the Staircase Cafe Theatre, which has grown since its opening in 1998 from a 10-seat theatre to include an artists’ gallery and cafe, as well as a rehearsal space for performance artists.
You’ll be impressed by the Levy Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and prints in the McMaster Museum of Art (MMA). It shares the space with a whopping 7,000 art displays, including historical, modern and contemporary art.
If you’re obsessed with live music, Hamilton is the place to be. From concerts and musical performances to live theatre held at performing arts centres, there’s something for every taste and genre. Hamilton is also home to a number of recording studios, such as Grant Avenue Studios and Sonic Unyon, and has even hosted the Juno Awards.
Visitors who love music and making friends will enjoy the annual Festival of Friends, Canada’s largest free live music event, as well as Supercrawl, an annual two-day event that draws over 100,000 visitors to the downtown core. Learn more about global issues at the Fix Our World Festival, where guests can spread awareness alongside the best in summertime musical acts in the region.
Last updated: May 31, 2021