Home to the Shaw Festival and founded in the early 1780s, Niagara-on-the-Lake (also known as NOTL) is a pretty little 19th-century town in Ontario, Canada. The old-timey tourists’ destination is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and right next to Niagara Falls.
The small town has a projected population of 20 000 (in 2011, the count was 15 400, and increased by 13.7% by 2016 with 17 511 residents). Apart from the historical charm, NOTL has a lot going on during the warmer months (June to September) to keep the visitors occupied; there is something for everyone to enjoy:
- Day tours to Niagara Falls
- Shopping, spas, and casinos
- Theme parks and waterparks
- Theater and shows (Shaw Festival)
- Golf, biking, hiking, horse riding
- Wineries, breweries, and distilleries
After a day of fun – but exhausting – activities, you can wind down with a glass of local wine or beer and something tasty to eat from one of the many restaurants the town has to offer.
Whether you want to relocate or simply plan a vacation, you should know that Canada has a wealth of towns rich with culture and entertainment. So, let’s take a trip up and down Canada to find 14 destinations similar to Niagara on the Lake.
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Oakville (Ontario, Canada)
If you are looking for another old town near Lake Ontario but with fewer tourists and more residents, take a drive along the shoreline towards Toronto. About 57 miles from Niagara on the Lake, you’ll find Oakville.
With blooming flowers hanging from streetlights in the summer, this beautiful town settled in 1827 and has an approximate population of 200 000 (in 2011, around 182 520 people called Oakville home, increasing by 6.2% until 2016 to 193 382).
The best time to visit Oakville for warm weather will be between June and September. And if you don’t care for rainy days, June can be a damper on your plans; for drier weather conditions, plan your trip closer to September.
Things To Do In Oakville
Both Oakville and NOTL have a great love for the Performing Arts, from Big Band Live shows to orchestral showcases. Keep up to date with the events calendar, and never miss out on your favorite performers.
Oakville has an abundance of parks to enjoy; be sure to stop by the Lighthouse while you’re there. The Oakville Museum (Erchless Estate) offers visitors a look into the home of Oakville’s founding family, the Chisholms.
Kelowna (British Columbia, Canada)
Founded in 1879 on the shores of Okanagan Lake, the mountain-surrounded town of Kelowna offers breathtaking scenery various activities to keep the tourists busy –including wine tours.
This popular destination has around 138 300 inhabitants (an 8.6 % growth brought the population from 117 312 in 2011 to 127 380 in 2016).
While a summer holiday to Kelowna might just be what you need, keep in mind that the best months for warm weather would be between June and September. However, June is also the wettest month for this town.
Things To Do In Kelowna
You’ll never have a tedious day in Kelowna; whether you’re after physical stimulation or need a break from the day-to-day stresses of life, this town has you covered. Experience the majestic mountain ranges with a guided hike or bike tour or take a tipsy trip throughout the wineries.
If hiking or biking sounds like too much work for you, take a breather on the golf course or enjoy the lake and sun on a rental boat. Family trips to Kelowna are fantastic and keeping the little ones happy is as easy as taking a trip to the Don-O-Ray Farm Adventure or the Kangaroo Creek Farm.
Edmonton (Alberta, Canada)
If the Shaw Festival in NOTL was the highlight of your visit to Ontario, Edmonton should be next on your list. Settled in 1795, Edmonton is a beautiful city with views of the Saskatchewan River running through the capital.
With a population of more than 1.3 million, Edmonton isn’t a town by any standards. But rest assured, the metropolis offers an assortment of neighborhoods to consider, from small-town charm within the city (Hazeldean) to the bustling city streets packed with action (Downtown).
Plan your trip between July and August for the best weather experience while visiting Edmonton; just don’t be too surprised if you’re an early bird trapped inside during the June rains.
Things To Do In Edmonton
Alberta’s capital city has more than fifty festivals each year, from summer fairs to winter wonderlands; Edmonton is active all year round. When there are no festivals to enjoy, try your hand in a scavenger hunt or take on the Canadian Rockies on a bicycle tour.
Edmonton offers recreation and leisure centers all over the city to keep the people entertained. There are a couple of zoos for the little ones to enjoy, golf courses for Saturday afternoon business meetings, and malls to make any avid shopper tingle with excitement.
Banff (Alberta, Canada)
Founded in 1885 and about 260 miles from Edmonton, we’re making a stop at the Banff National Park at a quaint town called Banff. If the views of NOTL made you yearn for a peaceful getaway, this might be the destination your soul needs.
With a populace growth of 3.5% from 2011 (7 576) to 2016 (7 851), Banff’s estimated 8 200 residents have a tranquil place to call home with views of mountains in the back and the Bow River splitting the resort town in two.
Banff offers activities throughout the year, September to November is the snow season in the little town, but if you need summer vacation without rain clouds, the best time to visit will be from July to August.
Things To Do In Banff
From festivals to hiking, museums, and art galleries, Banff is rich in culture and entertainment for such a small town. Take in the breath-taking scenery on a horse-drawn sleigh ride or test your endurance on horseback with a two-day trip in the wilderness
The resort town nestled below the mountains has long winters and all the wintertime activities that go with heaps of snow. During the short summer, you can experience the stunning waters of the lakes on a canoe or marvel at the inside of a cave on your way back to your accommodations, enjoy a local meal at one of the many restaurants in town.
Kingston (Ontario, Canada)
Heading back to Ontario, digging up some roots and admiring 19th-century buildings, we explore the city of Kingston and its rich history stretching back to the late 1600s. Kingston was incorporated in 1838, and in June 1891, the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A Macdonald, was laid to rest in this city.
Flanked by Islands and on the shores of Lake Ontario, Kingston has a population of around 162 000 residents, with only a 1% difference between 2011 and 2016 (161 175).
If you want to explore the city’s past without snow or rain spoiling your enriching experience, June, July, or September would be the best time to visit Kingston. October is the rainiest month, and January has the most snow.
Things To Do In Kingston
Kingston has a wide variety of attractions to fill your days; Fort Henry National Historic Site, 1000 islands cruise, museums guides, and food tours. The 19th-century city offers something for everyone to enjoy.
Appreciate the arts and culture scene with the Pumpkinferno event at Fort Hall, or try your hand at solving mysteries at Sherlock’s Escapes on Bagot Street. Lake Ontario Park, Springer Market Square, and the Tett Centre hosts diverse and exciting events throughout the year.
Regina Beach (Saskatchewan, Canada)
Hoping over to Saskatchewan, we visit another shoreline destination; Regina Beach was settled in 1880 and thrived on the shores of Last Mountain Lake. The small beach town offers a great variety of summertime activities for vacationers.
The town has approximately 1 200 local residents, growing by 5.9% from 2011 (1 081) to 2016 (1 145). During the summer months, Regina Beach becomes a popular vacation destination for the residents of Regina and its surrounding towns.
The best warm-weather time to visit Regina Beach is during July and August. While June still offers warm weather, it is the wettest month for the town, cutting the summertime window pretty short because September sees a quick drop in temperatures.
Things To Do In Regina Beach
Regina Beach is a resort town that caters to beach lovers from near and far; spend your days on the beach swimming, boating – and water skiing if you’re keen – playing volleyball.
If you had more of a relaxing time in mind, you could sit on the shore waiting for the fish to bite; the filleting facilities on the beach come in pretty handy when they do. As the sun sets, head over to one of the few restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine and a cold beer.
When the beach gets too crowded over the weekends, there is a standard and miniature golf course, paintball, boutique shops, and even a museum to keep you busy until the neighboring towns head back to work on Monday morning.
Dunham (Quebec, Canada)
The small old-timey town of Dunham is one of the top wine-producing destinations with an approximate population of 3 400 and is one of the few towns that decreased in local residents from 2011 (3 394) to 2016 (3 432).
June to September offers warm weather, with July having the most rainfall during the season. October to April is snow season, with February seeing around 10 inches of snow.
Things To Do In Dunham
The small town has ten vineyards, making any connoisseurs’ dream come true with wine known not only locally but internationally as well. Dunham has a few restaurants and bakeries you can indulge in as you pursue your wine excursion.
For some physical stimulation and in just under an hour, you can take a trip to Mont Orford for hiking, biking, or canoeing adventures that offers astonishing views in the summertime. But if you’re vising Dunham in the winter, you’ll be pleased to know that Mont Orford has great downhill trails for snowboarding and skiing.
Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Not only is this one of the most beautiful destinations in Canada, but Cape Breton also has excellent festivals, a wealth of exciting historical facts, charming towns, and so many activities you won’t know where to start.
Cape Breton is another destination that had has seen a decline of 2.9% in population from 2011 (101 619) to 2016 (98 722). July, August, and September are the warm months on the Island. November sees the most rainfall, and February is the whitest month with an average of 14 inches.
Things To Do In Cape Breton Island
From festivals across the Island, cèilidhs, and live music, Cape Breton is a cheerful destination. There are theatre performances, and traditional dances still performed today, and an arts and crafts scene that would inspire even the non-artist.
For the more adventurous spirit, there are hiking and biking trails, golf courses, winding roads for motorcyclists to enjoy – imagine breakfast runs to one of the many culinary experiences the Island has to offer.
Churchill (Manitoba, Canada)
Visit the winter spectacular of Canada; Churchill is located on the shores of the Hudson River. With residents adding up to less than a thousand, the pretty little town is a tight-knit community that looks out for its fellow neighbors.
July and August are the warmest months in the area, but since most attractions are more suited to colder weather and snow, the best times would be between September and May.
Things To Do In Churchill
The small town is often nick-named the polar bear and beluga capital of the world – experience majestic polar bears in the natural environment with guided tours in a truck or helicopter. Suppose that wasn’t enough to lure you over in the wintertime. In that case, the breathtaking Northern Lights should do the trick.
Explore the historical site of the Prince of Wales Fort or the Miss Piggy Plane Wreck. Take a whale tour or book a mushing experience with a pack of energetic dogs that loves to show the visitors a great time.
Stratford (Ontario, Canada)
Settled in 1832, Stratford has beautiful 19th-century architecture and Lake Victoria running through the center of the town – a must-stop destination when you travel through Ontario.
An increase of 1.8% from 2011 (30 898) brought the total population up to 31 465 in 2016; the estimated resident count is around 32 000.
If you are not too enthusiastic about cold weather, the best months for warm weather are during June, July, August, and September. However, to avoid the rain, give June the skip as this is the rainiest month in Stratford.
Things To Do In Stratford
Make sure you don’t miss any great events by having a peek at the Stratford Festival website to see what the Performing Arts have to offer during your planned visit. Just keep in mind that the Covid pandemic has changed tourism as we know it, and many of their shows are streamed virtually.
Take a tour through the Junction 56 Distillery, or visit the Stratford Perth Museum to learn about the fascinating history of Perth County. Treat your tastebuds to the creations of culinary masterpieces at one of many restaurants that is Stratford’s pride.
Oliver (British Columbia, Canada)
If you are on a wine tour through the country, you shouldn’t miss out on the wine capital of Canada. The soul-soothing town of Oliver (established in 1945) offers visitors a taste of some of the finest wines produced in Canada.
A quaint town with a projected population of 5 000 people, an increase of 2.2% from 2011 (4 824) to 2016 brought the count up to 4 928.
Plan your trip to Oliver during July and August for warm weather, and you don’t have to worry about being holed up inside as the rain season only starts in October, with November seeing the most rainfall.
Things To Do In Oliver
With more than twelve wine tasting locations to explore in the town, you’ll need more than just one weekend to run through all of them and the other attractions Oliver has to offer.
For some variety, during your visit, make sure to work in a round of golf at either the NK’MIP Canyon Desert or the Fairview Mountain golf course. But if you need a little action on the wine expedition, hiking and biking trails will get your blood pumping.
During the snow season, November to February, Baldy Mountain Resort is a must-visit destination for skiing or snowboarding.
Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
Founded in 1875, the city of Calgary might not sound like a holiday destination for tourists looking for the small-town charm. However, with so many exciting things happing in various parts of the city, it is a great place to take some time off and destress.
A large city with an estimated 1.7 million residents, Calgary appears to be a popular pick for Canadians. They had a 14.3% increase in population from 2011 (more than 1.3 million) to nearly 1.5 million in 2016.
The best time to visit Calgary for warm weather is between July and August. June is the rainiest month for the city, and during November, an estimated 2.4 inches of snow will cover the ground.
Things To Do In Calgary
Festivals like the Calgary Stampede in July and other fascinating shows eat up a big part of the city’s events calendar; remember to have a look at the website to see what’s going on in Calgary during your visit.
Calgary has more to offer than just entertainment; there are a few golf courses you can try out, the Calgary Zoo for the kids, and a walk through the past at the Heritage Park Historical Village, shopping, and great restaurants for visitors to enjoy.
Mahone Bay (Nova Scotia, Canada)
An old shoreside town settled in 1754, Mahone Bay has a wealth of history and an abundance of beauty. The pretty coastal destination doesn’t have a lot of residents with an estimated 1 200 locals; in 2011, the town hadn’t breached the one thousand mark, but with an impressive 9.9% hike until 2016, the population rose to 1 036.
For long warm days on the beach, visit Mahone Bay between July and September. December is wet and cold, and February sees an average of 9 inches of snow.
Things To Do In Mahone Bay
Apart from spending the day on the beach or bus trips around the bay, you can visit the Mahone Bay Museum on your way to the Saltbox Brewery for a cold one – and don’t forget to pass by the Lobster Roll food truck for a bite to eat.
When you’re not in a beach mood, spend your days shopping at boutiques, admiring the art at the galleries, and appreciating the beautiful architecture around town like the St. James Anglican Church.
Paris (Ontario, Canada)
Our trek across Canada ends where we started in Ontario at a pretty settlement sharing a name with what is considered the most romantic city in the world. Paris in Canada might not share the title of its namesake, but there are still plenty of spots in this town that would make the perfect backdrop romance.
The town on the shores of the Grand River has an estimated population of just below 13 000. With a 5% increase from 2011 (11 722), Paris had 12 310 locals in 2016.
June to September offers warm days for exploring; just keep in mind that June is also the wettest month for Paris. January gets pretty cold, with an average snowfall of 4 inches.
Things To Do In Paris
It might be challenging to pull your eyes away from the 19th-century buildings on the water, but when you muster enough willpower to do so, Paris has more to offer than just beauty.
From kayaking adventures on the Grand River to set up camp on the grounds of the Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area, Paris in Canada will charm you into staying another day or two. Don’t forget to treat yourself to the local cuisine and beverages with Tasty Road Trips Tours.