Things to Do in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Non-Wine Drinkers

8 activities that take in the best of the region.

The Women, performed at the Shaw Festival. Photography courtesy Emily Cooper

The Women, performed at the Shaw Festival. Photography courtesy Emily Cooper.

Wine may be Niagara-on-the-Lake’s biggest draw, but that doesn’t mean it’s all this charming town has to offer. Whether you aren’t a fan of wine or don’t drink at all, we’ve found 8 activities that take in the best of the region.

1. Watch Live Theatre

Home to the second largest repertory theatre in North America, the Shaw Festival Theatre has been in operation since 1962 and has grown to encompass four theatres, with different productions showing in each. Every season the festival produces 10-12 plays totaling about 800 performances in all of their theatres between April and October. Past plays include The Heiress (2006), My Fair Lady (2011), Ragtime (2012), Guys and Dolls (2013), Cabaret (2014).

Visit shawfest.com for ticket prices and their current calendar.

2. Go Horseback Riding

There’s a reason they make wine in this region — it has the landscape. The beautiful Niagara Escarpment covers 18,000 acres in this particular area and what isn’t used for wine is perfect for exploring on horseback. Open year round, Niagara Riding Stables has horses for all levels of riders, but is perfect for beginners too. Their 45-minute trail ride is $45/person with a minimum of 2 people, with scheduled rides throughout the day.

3. Take a Ghost Walk

Take in history and be entertained while doing so with a spooky ghost walk. The Niagara-on-the-Lake Ghost Walk promises stories of dark history, seances and town secrets, accumulated over the town’s 200-year history. Done in the evening, the 90-minute walk stops at key buildings where known paranormal activity has happened, such as the Court House, Royal George Theatre and Prince of Wales Hotel. Ticket prices are $13/adults.

Afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel.

4. Enjoy an Afternoon Tea

Swap a wine glass for a tea cup, sweet treats included. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s iconic destination can be found inside the Prince of Wales hotel in the heart of downtown. Served daily from noon to 6 p.m. in their Victorian Drawing Room, floral table cloths and teapots decorate the place setting, with rose chandeliers and antique furniture adorning the room. Traditional Afternoon Tea ($33) includes four selection of sandwiches and delicate desserts, or do that plus add on Canadian cheeses with their Prince of Wales Tea ($39). Have a little one in tow? The Little Prince/Princess Tea ($18) is suited for those 12 and younger.

5. Rent a Bike

You don’t have to be swinging by a winery to enjoy biking along Niagara-on-the-Lake’s gorgeous trails. For those who haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while, the Welland Canals Parkway Trail is an easy ride, with mostly flat terrain, but plenty of scenic options, as it follows the Welland Canal, which sees 3,000 ships pass through each year. Another waterfront trail to try is around Lake Ontario. Starting in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Butler Park, the trail passes through historic military forts, the Shaw Festival, plus dozens of shops and restaurants. Don’t have a bike? Renting in town is easy. Zoom Leisure rents a variety of styles, from hybrid to mountain bikes and even tandem bicycles. Your rental also includes a helmet, lock, handle bar bag and emergency roadside assistance if needed. Half-day rates start at $30.

6. Shop at Brand-Name Outlet Stores

You can always find an excuse to shop! At the newly opened, Outlet Collection at Niagara, there are deals to be found, meaning you really have no excuse not to check things out. Officially Canada’s largest open-air shopping centre, you’ll find more than 100 retailers, such as Coach, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Aldo, The Body Shop, Sunglass Hut and much more. They also offer free Wi-Fi, so you can Tweet and Instagram your latest finds.

Photography courtesy Pillar and Post Hotel.

Photography courtesy Pillar and Post.

7. Get Pampered at the Spa

Just because you aren’t drinking any wine, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of it on your skin. Jordan’s Spa on the Twenty has a close connection to Cave Springs Cellars winery, so vinotherapeutic treatments are its specialty. For example their Wine Country Indulgence ($145 for 90 minutes) includes a “wine” facial that uses red wine and grape seed extracts. Right in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake is the award-winning 100 Fountain Spa at the Pillar and Post hotel. The 13,000 square feet spa contains an outdoor hot springs. indoor saltwater pool, sauna and steam room, not to mention an extensive list of treatment options and a healthy spa cuisine menu.

8. Watch a Movie in a Vineyard

All summer long a handful of wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake have been opening up their backyards for movie-goers looking for a fun night out. Trius Winery at Hillebrand has a Friday night movie and dinner option ($85) or for those who just want a movie, some popcorn and a glass of wine, can get a ticket for only $15. Jackson-Triggs hosts a Wednesday Night Movies After Dark and this year is partnering with the Suppermarket offering more than 20 food vendors, artisans and farmers. Gates open at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $10/person.

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