Monday, July 20, 2015

Niagara-On-The-Lake with GO Transit

Woohoo! With the summer season in full swing it is time to take advantage of the glorious weather and the great outdoors. Weekends are jam-packed with so many things to do, people to see and places to explore. It is also the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city and plan a weekend adventure. Not sure where to go? Well, if you love visiting places with a "small-town" feel, enjoy shopping, appreciate good food and wine, world-class theatre and beautiful scenery, then I highly recommend that you visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. Situated on the south shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a one of the loveliest, if not the loveliest, town in Ontario. So, after checking the weather forecast, I decided to do a fun day trip out to Canada's premier wine region last Saturday.

Instead of driving, I ditched my car and took the GO. I never knew it was so convenient! With stops on the Lakeshore West line at Union Station, Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville and Burlington GO Stations, and St. Catharines and Niagara Falls VIA Stations, GO makes it easy for anyone looking to do a weekend getaway to Niagara.

Since I live in Mississauga, I hopped on the GO Train at Port Credit Station, got off at St. Catharines, then took the GO bus shuttle to Niagara-on-the-Lake. You have no idea how great it feels to not have to drive and deal with traffic (driving in Toronto has permanently scarred me). I also love that I could relax and sneak in some precious zzz's on the train. 

I, unfortunately, don't own a bike but if you do, make sure you take it with you because getting around by bike is a great way to explore wine country. GO has made it extremely convenient for you to bring yours, with two special bike coaches on their Niagara-bound trains. All you have to do is lock up your bike and enjoy a worry free ride. All GO Buses are also outfitted with bike racks.

The GO Bus dropped us off at the corner of Picton and King, right in front of the prestigious Prince of Wales Hotel. Once I got off the bus I realized the historic town was packed! I guess everybody was taking advantage of the beautiful weather. I was so glad I didn't drive as it would've been really difficult to find parking.

After we got off the bus we took a five minute cab ride to Peller Estates Winery for lunch. The Peller Estates Winery Restaurant has received many accolades, including the CAA 4 diamond rating, the Golden Plate Award from Le Clefs d'Or, as well as being recognized with Zagat's highest rating for food – "Extraordinary".

I couldn't have asked for a better lunch experience at Peller Estates, especially with that breath-taking view overlooking the vineyard. Just gorgeous!

Blog post on my lunch at Peller Estates coming soon!

Remember, never leave Peller Estates without doing a wine tasting first!

I headed back to Old Town afterwards where I visited quite a number of unique stores and boutiques. One of them was Just Christmas, home of Canada’s oldest year-round Christmas-themed store which offers over 5000 different Christmas items including a diverse selection of ornaments, novelty lights, nativity scenes, decorative Christmas accessories, Santas, snowmen, festive signs and tree toppers. What attracted me the most in this entire store was these lights.

Specifically these Hello Kitty and Angry Bird lights. How cute!

I also walked by some interesting buildings, such as the The Shaw Festival Theatre, which is the second largest repertory theatre company in North America; the Wine Country Vintners, home to the finest vintages of Wayne Gretzky, Trius, Peller Estates & Thirty Bench; and The Niagara Apothecary, an authentic museum restoration of a 1869 pharmacy.

All this walking made me crave something cold so I stopped at Il Gelato di Carlotta, which was voted the Best Dessert Parlour in Ontario according to Trip Advisor in 2014.

Pistachio and hazelnut gelato. Very delicious and refreshing.

Being the pig that I am I was also craving ice cream so I treated myself to some peanut butter cup ice cream from Cow's. That waffle cone is everything.

Where to next?

After browsing the shops in the Heritage District I wanted to sit and relax somewhere so I  made my way to the lake.

It was so nice and relaxing there. Don't make me leave!

Unfortunately, I had to leave, but not before visiting this open market first!

There were a lot of really talented vendors set up there. I couldn't resist buying something so I bought a pretty wooden pepper mills and a set of coasters.

I had some time to spare before the GO Bus arrived so I popped into the lounge at the Prince of Wales Hotel for a glass of delicious sangria.

I had so much fun at Niagara-on-the-Lake! It was such a relaxing trip, and knowing that I don't have to deal with driving and traffic on my way there and back made the whole trip so much better.  My day was stress-free and worry-free - it was the perfect weekend getaway.

We live for the weekends, especially during the summer. And planning them is just half the fun. Exploring the big city or biking through wine country – it’s good to have weekend options and we give them to you. Toronto to Niagara. Barrie to Toronto. Either way, we’ll take you there. Seasonal weekend train service runs until Sept 7. Discover a different side of GO this summer at

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by GO Transit  via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Metrolinx.