St. Catharines is the largest city in the Niagara Region of Ontario. This beautiful city has been nicknamed the ‘Garden City’ due to its many gardens, parks and trails. There is at least 4 square km of green space within city limits.
In addition to vast natural spaces, you’ll find delightful museums and art galleries, theatres, great shopping, fantastic restaurants and much, much more in St. Catharines.
Where is St. Catharines?
St. Catharines is located in Southern Ontario, approximately 100 km from Toronto, 55 km from Hamilton and 20 km inland from Niagara Falls and the United States border. The city sits along the route between Toronto and Niagara Falls, via the Queen Elizabeth Way. GO Transit also provides service to St. Catharines.
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Things to Do in St. Catharines
There is a lot to see and do in St. Catharines.The city has a rich history with many monuments and memorials, and dozens of parks. You can hit the beaches or shop till you’re ready for a night of theatre.
One important historical figure who once lived in St. Catharines is Harriet Tubman. The famous slavery abolitionist was known to many as the “Moses” of the Underground Railway movement prior to the Civil War in America. Tubman helped transport approximately 300 formerly enslaved people into Canada, many of whom settled in and around St. Catharines.
Visit various sites and memorials dedicated to the Underground Railroad along Niagara’s Freedom Trail including the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre on Welland Canals Parkway, the Anthony Burns Grave Site & Victoria Lawn Cemetery on Queenston Street, the Richard Pierpoint Plaque on Oakdale Avenue and the British Methodist Episcopal Church, Salem Chapel founded by freedom-seekers on Geneva Street. Harriet Tubman attended this church and the site was designated a National Historic site in 2000.
Beach lovers will want to check out the Port Dalhousie community on the shore of Lake Ontario. The beautiful area has a fantastic waterfront where you can breathe in the fresh air, take a walk to the lighthouse, go for a swim and enjoy beach activities.
Lakeside Park, near the beach in Port Dalhousie, features an antique carousel that is still operational. The port itself was once the main terminal for the Welland Canal.
St. Catharines boasts a network of over 90 km of accessible pathways and trails for walking, cycling, rollerblading or jogging. In winter, many of the trails are accessible for cross-country skiing. The Bruce Trail, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Ontario’s oldest trail, runs 12 km through the city. You’ll also enjoy the Waterfront Trail that passes through the city along Lake Ontario, and the 1.5 km Terry Fox Fitness Trail that follows an abandoned CN rail line.
Niagara isn’t the only beautiful falls in the region. While visiting St. Catharines, visit DeCew Falls made up of Upper DeCew and Lower DeCew Falls, with a 22 metre plunge from the upper falls that span six metres. View the waterfall from the heritage gristmill, Morningstar Mill, and both are accessible by hiking trail.
The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is a welcome experience at the end of a day spent outdoors in the Garden City. The centre is the largest and most popular theatre in the city, offering an 8,800 square metre cultural complex containing four venues for live stage and film viewings.
St. Catharines also boasts several world-class vineyards nearby that wine lovers from all over will enjoy. Spend the afternoon sipping wine or take a wine tasting tour. The region is best known for cool climate white wines and unique Icewine, which are the featured highlight on many of the tours. While in St. Catharines, you’ll want to do a little shopping at the local markets. One of the most popular spots for locals and tourists alike is the Farmers' Market in Market Square. Shop for local goods, baked goods, dairy, meat and produce. The market also hosts special events like arts and crafts classes, food tastings and seasonal live music from June to October.
Among the many gardens and outdoor spaces celebrated in St. Catharines, Montebello Park is the largest. The park had the same designer as New York’s Central Park, and features the largest rose collection in the city, with over 1,300 rose bushes in 25 different varieties.
St. Catharines Neighbourhoods & Districts
Many of the neighbourhoods in St. Catharines are strictly residential, but several welcome visitors with interesting activities, beautiful parks and more.
Downtown St. Catharines
The city centre has enjoyed a revitalization in recent decades with many historical sites and parks worth visiting.
Home to many cultural centres and sites, this community is home to beautiful buildings and churches.
This neighbourhood is home to multiple parks of various sizes.
Filled with beaches, historical sites and parks, Port Dalhousie is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city.
Another busy neighbourhood is Port Weller, which is home to many parks and historic sites, including the 9/11 memorial.
North End St. Catherines
Beachgoers love North End for its beautiful Sunset Beach and the wonderful parks.
Things to Know About Visiting St. Catherines
There is so much to offer in St. Catherines, start your visit with some local favourites and follow the inspiration from there: