Toronto to Niagara: Waterfalls, fall colour and wine country
Enjoy farm-to-table food, exceptional wine and beautiful scenery come to life with dazzling displays of fall colour in Ontario’s famed waterfall and wine regions.
Thriving culinary hotspots, charming villages and farming communities, world-renowned wines and an astonishingly large number of waterfalls, including of course the mighty Niagara Falls, are just a few of the highlights on this road trip from Toronto to the Niagara Region.
And the best part? You’ll love how much more value your dollar has in Ontario, Canada.
Getting here and around
Travel documentation: Travellers to Canada must present a valid passport or NEXUS card. Find out what else you need to know to fly into Canada.
Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ): Conveniently located along Toronto’s waterfront just minutes from downtown, Porter Airlines provides flight service between New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ): The majority of flights into Toronto land at Pearson, northwest of the city centre. Travel downtown by UP Express, transit, taxi, Uber or Lyft. Several major car rental companies provide service from Terminal 1.
Car-free travel: This itinerary is designed as a self-drive road trip however you can customize a car-free route with GO Transit. Regular train and bus service is scheduled from Union Station in downtown Toronto to Hamilton and Niagara Falls. WEGO is a hop-on-hop-off transportation system that connects tourism attractions and hotels in the Niagara region.
Car rental: Book a vehicle from a downtown rental company or directly from Pearson or Billy Bishop airports. Rental companies in Toronto include:
- Avis: Airport rentals and almost a dozen city neighbourhood locations
- Budget: 20 rental locations in the Toronto area, including Pearson airport and downtown
- Enterprise: Locations at both airports and at Union Station, Toronto’s central train station located downtown
- Hertz: Rentals available at both airports and at two downtown locations
- National: Rental locations at both airports
- Electric Vehicle Network: West Toronto rental location at 15 Lockport Avenue, Etobicoke
Driving approx. distance and travel time from Toronto: 45 miles (70 kilometres), 1 hour, 15 minutes
Southwest of Toronto, along the coast of Lake Ontario, detour to the city of Hamilton for exciting cuisine, quality craft breweries and easily accessible outdoor experiences.
The Niagara Escarpment, a major geological feature in Southwestern Ontario, cuts across the city. Dotted along this glacially formed landscape are protected forests and parks, hiking trails, stunning ridges with lookout points and over 100 cascading waterfalls.
Things to do
Hamilton Waterfalls Guide: Some of the most popular include the 63 foot (19 metre) tall Albion Falls, 69 foot (21 metre) high Tiffany Falls located in the Tiffany Falls Conservation Area and the 72 foot (22 metre) high Webster’s Falls. Many of these falls are accessible via the Bruce Trail. Note that parking is limited for most waterfall attractions, and some may require pre-booking so plan ahead.
Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG): Spanning over 2,420 acres (979 hectares), RBG is home to more than 1,100 types of plants, including a large collection of native species. The gardens also attract hundreds of different bird species.
Location: 16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton
Dundurn Castle: A neoclassical mansion built in the 1830s that offers a glimpse into the life of 19th century high society with tours and historical re-enactments.
Location: 610 York Boulevard, Hamilton
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and HMCS Haida National Historic Site: The Warplane Heritage Museum houses military jets, prop planes and helicopters dating to WWII. You can even book a flight in some of them. Take a guided tour of the HMCS Haida, a Tribal Class Destroyer that served in the Second World War, Korean conflict and Cold War.
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Rd, Mount Hope
HMCS Haida, Pier 9, 658 Catharine Street North, Hamilton
Supercrawl: Annual live music, culture and arts downtown street festival, September 8-10, 2023
Where to eat and drink
Born & Raised: Chef’s Italian roots and love of local shine through his menu. Open Thursdays to Saturdays, with a late-night menu which offers $2 oysters after 10:30 p.m.
Location: 224 James Street North, Hamilton
Collective Arts Brewing: One of Hamilton’s flagship brewhouses serving craft beer, cider and sparkling hard tea, along with a full calendar of arts and cultural events. Also, try other local beers at Grain & Grit Beer Co. and Fairweather Brewing.
Collective Arts, 207 Burlington Street East, Hamilton
Grain & Grit, 11 Ewen Road, Hamilton
Fairweather Brewing, 5 Ofield Road Unit #1, Hamilton
Driving approx. distance and travel time from Hamilton: 25 miles (40 kilometres), 40 minutes
Unique characteristics such as complex soil conditions and a micro-climate between the Niagara Escarpment shield and Lake Ontario wind have resulted in an ideal grape growing terroir. In fact, the region is home to several distinctive sub-appellations.
Travel through lush vineyards, fruit orchards and farm fields and experience small-town charm in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment appellation.
Treat your palate to a tasty adventure with world-class wine and fresh farm-to-table cuisine in the area of Beamsville, Lincoln and Jordan Village.
For more to see, do and taste, check out Niagara Benchlands.
Places to stay
Inn the Orchard: Options include a peaceful log cabin or cozy loft cottage with modern interiors and gorgeous views of the surrounding cherry and peach tree orchards.
Location: 4299 Fairlane Road, Lincoln
Inn on the Twenty: Elegant village inn with restaurant and spa conveniently located across the street from Cave Springs Winery, home to some of Canada’s finest Rieslings.
Location: 3845 Main Street, Jordan
Wineries to visit
Rosewood Estates Winery and Meadery: Sample and shop for signature wines, plus mead seltzers, wine, bourbon and cognac from this honey, grapes and lavender farm. Walk-ins welcome or pre-book a private 45-minute tour.
Location: 4352 Mountainview Road, Lincoln
Hidden Bench Estate Winery: Organic vineyard producing outstanding chardonnays and pinot noirs tucked away on one of the prettiest country roads in the region. Book tastings and tours in advance.
Location: 4152 Locust Lane, Beamsville
Megalomaniac Wines: Pair wine tasting with panoramic fall views from one of the highest spots along the Niagara Escarpment in Vineland. Daily tasting experiences and guided vineyard walks are available for booking.
Location: 3930 Cherry Avenue, Vineland
13th Street Winery: Recently recognized as the top winery in Ontario by the National Wine Awards of Canada, you’ll want to sample their hand-crafted sparkling, red and white wines and famous butter tarts.
Location: 1776 Fourth Avenue, St. Catharines
Things to do
Painted Ladies of Grimsby Beach: A collection of whimsical, colourfully painted gingerbread-style cottages line the street in this historic neighbourhood. Note: this is a residential street with limited parking, so be respectful of private property.
Location: Auditorium Circle, Grimsby
Balls Falls Conservation Area: Well-marked, one-mile hiking trail along a creek to a series of cascades and waterfalls. Note: this is a section of the Bruce Trail, one of the oldest and longest continuous trails in Canada.
Location: 3292 Sixth Avenue, Lincoln
Where to eat and drink
The Good Earth Food and Wine: The seasonal menu celebrates the bounty of local, farm-fresh ingredients and perfectly paired wine. Gardens, orchards and vineyards provide a scenic dining backdrop on a warm fall day.
Location: 4556 Lincoln Avenue, Beamsville
The Restaurant at Redstone Winery: Dine with fine wines, scenic views and live music (on select evenings) at this contemporary winery restaurant and outdoor terrace.
Location: 4245 King Street, Beamsville
The Restaurant and Pearl Morissette: Distinctive wines, a fine dining restaurant, bakery and garden tours makes Pearl Morissette a regionally sourced destination foodie experience. Lunch served on Saturdays and dinner on Thursday through Sunday evenings.
Location: 3953 Jordan Road, Jordan Station
Driving approx. distance and travel time from the Benchland: 28 miles (45 kilometres), 40 minutes
Perched in the top corner of the region where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming historic town. It is famous for carefully preserved 19th-century Victorian architecture and its proximity to some of Canada’s oldest and most renowned vineyards.
In 1792, Niagara-on-the-Lake became the first capital of Upper Canada (later the province of Ontario), after being settled by British Loyalists. The tree-lined Heritage District is home to boutique stores, antique shops, cafes and a cenotaph clock tower. Located at the foot of King Street, Queen’s Royal Beach and the Royal Gazebo offer great views of the Niagara River.
Where to stay
Riverbend Inn & Vineyard: Surrounded by vineyards and gardens, this striking, Georgian-style mansion is located along what many consider to be Ontario’s prettiest drives.
Location: 16104 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Vintage Hotels: Combine the quaint small-town charm and romance of a historic hotel with luxurious, modern amenities, spa services and upscale dining at one of three inns.
Prince of Wales, 6 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Queen’s Landing, 155 Byron Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Pillar and Post, 48 John Street West, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara’s Finest Hotels: Deluxe boutique properties in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s romantic Old Town.
The Charles Hotel, 209 Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Harbour House Hotel, 85 Melville Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
The Shaw Club Hotel, 92 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wineries to visit
Peller Estates: Crafting quality wines for over 50 years, include Ontario’s famous Icewines, Peller offers a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience in their underground, made of ice 10Below Icewine Lounge.
Location: 290 John Street East, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery : A 23,000-square-foot (approximately 2,127 hectares) facility founded by the Great One himself. It also happens to be Ontario’s first combined winery and distillery.
Location: 1219 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Trius Winery: One of Canada’s pioneer winemakers, Trius offers traditional tastings as well as unconventional experiences like opening a bottle of bubbly with a saber, exploring Canada’s largest underground sparkling cellar and instagrammable wine-inspired art installations.
Location: 1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Things to do
Shaw Festival Theatre: Running strong since 1962, this theatre festival features works by George Bernard Shaw and more world-class plays on three different stages.
Location: 10 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Botanical Gardens: Explore traditional landscaping, rose and herb beds and wild gardens at this floral oasis. Onsite, a butterfly conservatory features over 2,000 colourful tropical butterflies floating freely among lush, exotic blossoms and greenery. Hourly parking is available.
Location: 2565 Niagara River Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Where to eat and drink
Queenston Heights Restaurant: Sunday brunch between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. includes Belgian waffles and eggs benedict with a breathtaking view of the Niagara River. Reservations online.
Location: 14184 Niagara River Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Treadwell Cuisine: Hailed as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. For an extra treat, homemade fudge is made daily in small batches next door at Maple Leaf Fudge.
Location: 114 Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Driving approx. distance and travel time: 18 miles (30 kilometres), 30 minutes
The landmark attraction in the city of Niagara Falls is the spectacular set of three waterfalls; the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the American and Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side.
Formed during the Ice Age, Niagara Falls has the highest waterfall flow rate in the world with approximately 3,000 tons (28 million litres) of water plunging over its edge every second. See the 170-foot-high (52 metres) Horseshoe Falls from a number of vantage points and perspectives.
Wineries to visit
Things to do
Journey Behind the Falls: A network of tunnels and viewing decks lead you to a unique perspective from below and behind the curtain of water. Entrance is inside the Table Rock Centre.
Location: 6650 Niagara River Parkway, Niagara Falls
White Water Walk: Ride an elevator 230 feet (70 metres) down into the Niagara Gorge and follow a 1312 foot (400 metre) boardwalk along the edge of the white water rapids of the Niagara River. Several viewing platforms allow you to stop and take in the sights.
Location: 4330 River Road, Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls Power Station: This decommissioned facility has been transformed into an exciting landmark attraction with immersive exhibits, including the vast underground tunnel that leads to an observation deck at the river’s edge of the base of Horseshoe Falls.
Location: 7005 Niagara River Parkway, Niagara Falls
Niagara Helicopter Tours: Get a bird’s eye view of the falls and surrounding area bathed in fall foliage. On a clear day, you’ll see the outline of Toronto to the north, and the shores of Lake Erie to the south.
Location: 3731 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls
Where to eat and drink
Niagara Falls Revolving Restaurant: Continental cuisine is served at over 750 feet above the falls in the Skylon Tower dining room that slowly revolves at one rotation per hour for maximum panoramic impact. Evening seating are extra special with the falls illuminated in colour.
Location: 52 Robinson Street, Niagara Falls
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Last updated: December 21, 2023