Being only 30 minutes from my house, I can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve taken a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Until recently I have never even heard of Niagara-on-the-lake. After only a short drive across the bridge, I felt that I was in a different country. I was in a different country, I was in Canada. However, I felt that I was somewhere in England.
The drive alone was beautiful. We pre-set our GPS before leaving the USA so we would have directions once we got to Canada. The GPS wanted to take us the shortest possible route, however the shortest route wasn’t necessarily the best route. Ignoring the GPS, we decided to follow the signs for the scenic coastal route instead. It seemed that we weren’t alone. Every so often, there was a spot to pull over for a scenic overlook. Other tourists were pulled over, yet we didn’t have to fight to get a spot. We stopped at a viewpoint to take in what looked like tiny wet land islands dotting the water. The coast was all covered in changing fall leaves. The leaves looked like gold against the sapphire water. The view was the purest form of luxury.
Another stop brought us to Living Water Wayside Chapel, the “smallest church in the world”. I’m not sure if there are facts to back this up, but it sure felt like the smallest church. It was tough to fit two people in the church. We squeezed inside. You couldn’t comfortably fit more than eight people in the church. I wounder if there are actual church services held here? As we were leaving, an entire tour bus arrived at the chapel. Somehow they all squeezed into the small chapel. They must have been squished in their like sardines. I bet they were praying for some air.
Leaving the tiny church, we made our way into the town. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never even seen pictures of the place. Niagara-on-the-Lake ended up being one of the most charming places that I have ever been. I think some of the charm was from never having seen what Niagara-on-the-Lake looked like. It was a pleasant surprise. We drove into the center of town and I got my first glimpse of Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a small town and very walk-able. First, however, we needed to find parking. The area was busy with tourists that it took us a little while to find a parking spot. We ended up parking on a quaint tree lined street a block away from Queen Street, which is the main street. All the homes had gardens on the perfectly manicured front lawn. I felt that I was walking through pleasentville. To make the street even more quaint, a horse and carriage passed by us. The tourists in that particular carriage seemed miserable. I’m not sure how you could be miserable while being pull around on in a carriage.
The town center was small but beautiful. A clock tower stood in the middle of the road. There was a clock face on every side of the tower so you can see the time anywhere you were on Queen Street. There was a small strip of grass around the clock tower, where you could relax and watch the people weave in and out of the shops.
Every store on this strip had something to offer. One store that we went into had beautiful cable knit sweaters. The sweaters were so soft and warm. The looked like something you would wear on a rolling country side. If the price tag was lower, I would have bought one. In another store, I found the perfect grey felt hat, just what I’ve been looking for. I bought it right away and wore it all day long. Outside another store we found a door mat that said “go away”. This door mat was perfect for our house! Leave it to Niagara-on-the-Lake with its big British population to get our dry humor. For such a small area, I was surprised by how much there was to see and do. There was a theater that had a line of people waiting the see the show. Every other shop seemed to be offering tea and pastries. They looked to delicious in the window.
What made Niagara-on-the-Lake even more beautiful was all the flowers throughout town. they added a burst of color to the streets. There was nothing dim about this place. I watched as the carriages lined up outside of the Prince of Wales Hotel. My favorite horse was an ethereal white horse pulling a white carriage that was adorned with bright flowers.
The exterior of this Victorian style hotel fits in with the ascetic of the rest of the town. Sitting at the corner of King Street, it the Prince of Wales Hotel is the focal point of the town. The outside of the hotel was refined and charming but the inside was elegant and luxurious. It’s so elegant, Queen Elizabeth II stayed here during her visit in 1973. The hotel is an iconic landmark in Niagara-on-the-Lake and can’t be missed. the Prince of Wales Hotel offered a tea service in the drawing room. The tea service was $30-$50 per person, so I decided not to attend. Rather, I looked on at the fancy service from the window outside then got myself some affordable tea from the Starbucks down the road.
We headed next to Queen’s Royal Park on the water, which was only a couple blocks away from the town center. Here, you could view Old Fort Niagara from across Lake Ontario. It was a great view, especially from the gazebo. I loved having a moment to be free to play and run around on the rocky beach with such a cool view in the distance.
We were planing to drive to Port Dalhousie next, however we weren’t sure how to get there or how far it was. We asked for directions from a man walking his dog. He told us how far it was but he suggested that since it was getting late we should just watch the sunset. As we drove a little further down the road, we found the park over looking the water, where the man with the dog must have been heading to watch the sunset. We plopped a couple chairs that we had in our car at the edge of the cliff, overlooking the beach. I took the steep rickety stairs down to the beach to get closer to the water. From the beach, I watched the sun go down over the water in what was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. We stayed until the sun was almost completely gone, wanting to get on the road and back on the QEW before it got too dark out. Even though we left before it was dark, we still managed to get lost on some country roads in Canada before finding the QEW and heading back to Buffalo.