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20 Towns Similar to Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

Panorama shot of Niagara Falls during sunny day.

Niagara on the Lake is a one-of-a-kind town experience; its national treasures, history, culture, unique architecture, and geography make it a top small town tourist attraction.

The experience enjoyed in Niagara on the Lake in Ontario is frequently sought after again and again. Many other towns in Ontario hold the same charm and beauty; for example, Elora, Grimsby, and Stratford; the following is a list of Towns like Niagara on the Lake.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is called the prettiest town in Ontario; this well preserved and well maintained 1800s small settlement is in the heart of Ontario wine country. It is also celebrated for the Shaw Festivals world-class theater.

20 Towns Similar to Niagara on the Lake Ontario

Niagara falls in autumn.

The intricate networking of small towns along Niagara Falls is full of charm, beauty, quiet appeal, and hidden treasures. Niagara on the Lake maintains a low-profile allure as lush verdant gardens flourish along pedestrian walkways. Historical buildings attest to the town’s rich heritage.

Towns like Niagara on the Lake fall into the same spectrum of experience yet are uniquely enjoyed. The constant of these villages is the eclectic, tranquil charisma of heritage, flora, culture, restaurants, and coffee shops enjoyed beside a calm lake. Some are more rugged and offer both winter and summer activities.

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1. Almonte

Mississippi river in Almonte town, Ontario.

Almonte was a mill town, and its last textile mill closed at the beginning of 1980. Currently, the city generates wealth through tourism. Its historical legacy is evident in several historic sites.

Almonte has maintained its 1800s architecture: buildings like the old Almonte post office, the Rosamond Woolen Mill (the largest 19th-century textile mill in Canada) are National Historic Sites of Canada.

Almonte also accommodates modern-day lifestyles, specifically the skatepark, splash pad, and arena. Almonte has an array of little boutiques, restaurants, and tea-coffee shops. It’s also a destination for cyclists; every June, the Mississippi Mills Bicycle movement arranges cycling events and promotes better routes and trails.

A handful of festivals celebrated throughout the year are tourist attractions: the North Lanark Highland Games, Almonte Celtfest, Naismith 3-on-3 Basketball Festival, and BusFusion.

The North Lanark Highland Games have been an annual occurrence since 1982; these games enact traditional Highland sports and attractions and draw approximately 6000 tourists per festival.

The Almonte Celtfest commenced in 1997 and occurs every year; it features Gemmill Park and observes the Celtic heritage of Ottawa Valley in music and dance. BusFusion is a big get-together of VW Vans; it’s held at Almonte Fairgrounds close to Ottawa and occurs every June.

2. Town of Blue Mountain

Christmas decorated streets of Blue Mountain village in Ontario.

Blue Mountain is a town in Grey Country and comprises several communities, including Thornbury, Christie Beach, Clarksburg, Heathcote, and Ravenna. This region is scenic, adventurous, quaint, and peaceful. The little village has restaurants, curiosities, and shops.

Blue Mountain boasts an outstanding alpine ski resort in Ontario. During autumn, Blue Mountain has an apple harvesting season that is free to anyone. Summer in here possesses equal appeal for its hiking, mountain bike trails, and restaurants that embrace the warm summer air and festivities.

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Blue Mountain town is two hours away from Toronto city center; it offers a solely pedestrian village at the base lodge of the ski hill; this was designed according to European ski resorts and is accommodating to every facet of the anticipated experience.

3. Cobourg

Victoria Hall in Cobourg, Ontario.

Cobourg is a Canadian town located approximately 59 miles east of Toronto, Port Hope’s closest neighbor. Cobourg lies on the boundaries of Lake Ontario to the south, and north, east, west is neighboring Hamilton Township.

Cobourg was once home to the Mississauga (Anishinaabe-speaking) aboriginals. During the 1830s, Cobourg grew into a regional center, mainly thanks to its harbor on Lake Ontario. On the first of July, Cobourg became a legitimate town.

One of the oldest buildings in Cobourg is The Barracks; its use varied from military and industry in the early 1800s; after that, records reveal that it was a brewery or malting house in the 1830s. In 1863 the McKechnies built a larger brewery replacing The Barracks.

Over the years, The Barracks had twenty different owners and functioned from a storehouse to other varying industrial uses. In 2000 the Cobourg Museum Foundation bought and restored the building; it’s now Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre.

Cobourg’s quaint appeal also incorporates ghost-haunted walks, nature hikes, and food tours; Cobourg has dozens of parks and hosts yearly arts, crafts, and music events. Canada’s oldest drive-in resides in Cobourg- the Port Hope Drive-in.

4. Collingwood

Landscape shot of Collingwood area, Ontario, taken from the mountain.

Collingwood is a small historic settlement; the buildings are centuries old. Wondering through the charming shops and restaurants offers an otherworld experience of 1800 history and lifestyle.

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Collingwood is neighbors to Blue Mountain base and is a great stopover to invite a new experience into one’s day. Collingwood also boasts a Scandinavian spa for the ultimate relaxation.

Collingwood offers an art program whereby people can engage in an arts feasibility study- this provides a platform to promote art, poet laureates- engage in public appearances, civic and community get-togethers, and offer poetry workshops.

Collingwood has world-class trails for relaxing walks to adventure-seeking fun; there are over 35 miles of various routes for cyclists, snow hoers, skiers, joggers, and everyday commuters. These trails make physical activity effortless in its natural beauty.

5. Creemore

Creemore jail in Creemore, Ontario.

Creemore was once a hamlet and is now a part of Clearview Township in Simcoe County. It’s an idyllic miniature town with character and charm; burrowed between the Purple Hills beside the Niagara Escarpment, Creemore is a place of immense splendor and wealth.

Creemore, built in 1842 has deep Irish roots; the name comes from Gaelic- cron mor, which translates to big heart. There are many historic buildings, like The Jail; built in 1892, 15 by 20 feet and divided into three tiny cells.

The town’s pedestrian walkways have thriving shrubbery and trees; little pockets of flowers and flower baskets burst through the foliage in exquisite colors. Charming bikes line the street at intersecting intervals, nostalgic of a romantic time.

The people of Creemore are happy and buzzing; specialty shops highlight the experience of distinguished appeal. The festivals of Creemore create life-defining moments.

6. Dundas

Hamilton Conservation area, taken from Dundas peak.

Dundas is a municipality in Hamilton; its moniker is Valley Town as its geographically placed just below the Niagara Escarpment. Dundas was established in 1814 and named after the Dundas military road.

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The Dundas Museum and Archives began in 1953; it showcases the exclusive development of culture-specific to Dundas Valley. There is also the Dundas Valley School of Arts, created in 1964, and is now a complete diploma program with McMaster University as of 1998.

Worthwhile festivals include the Buskerfeast in early June and the Dundas Cactus Festival. The Carnegie Gallery is in the Carnegie Library (established in 1910); Dundas Arts and Craft Association manages it.

7. Elora

Halloween decoration on the street of Elora, Ontario.

Elora is on a gorgeous gorge along the banks of the Grand and Irvine Rivers. There are 80-foot limestone cliffs, a wistful old mill, the rushing river waters, stone store facades, and many cottages dotted throughout the town.

This miniature town rivals few in its picturesque vista, primarily of the Grand River. Elora Falls contributes to the town’s heightened beauty, and strolling over one of the bridges to the falls is a worthwhile excursion.

The town center has many old buildings stretching back to the 19th century; now repaired, they house art galleries, coffee shops, boutiques, curios, and restaurants.

Elora is a simple day trip to Toronto or Hamilton; it is a terrific 48-hour getaway. Renovated timeworn buildings are also bed and breakfast retreats. There is the added value of high-end haute-couture stores.

There is an Elora George Conservation Area for water sports and fun; witness the many participants cruising down the river on rented tubes relaxing and enjoying this exciting and unusual activity. The camping area has over 400 sites and is one that is closest to Toronto.

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8. Fort Frances

This town is situated on the border of the United States, International Falls, Minnesota, and is the residence for “boundless adventures.” This spectacular town surrounds Rainy Lake; this offers five-star yachting, sailing, fishing, and boating experience.

Fort Frances’ main throughway- Scott Street, has been recently renovated with brand new sidewalks and a new central park; on this street are a gathering of unique markets, restaurants, coffee shops, and live music.

Immediately south of the central city is La Verendrye Parkway; here are urban pathways for 2.5 miles beside the shoreline of Rainy Lake. These lanes connect to the main hiking trail that leads to Pither’s Point Park.

9. Goderich

The old lighthouse of Goderich, Ontario.

With a view of Lake Huron, Goderich has been called “the prettiest town” by Queen Elizabeth. The town’s design is a deliberate octagon built around the city center’s square. The square or roundabout has a county courthouse; as of May 2007, the courtyard has been officially listed as Register of Historic Places by the Government of Canada.

Goderich has seasonal festivities and attracts diverse communities the world over. The local attraction holds the same idiosyncratic dainty town charm found elsewhere throughout Ontario. Goderich has three beaches available to the public; a wooden boardwalk is over a mile long and stretches across the beaches.

Along with the other events and festivals, Goderich presents special occasions like the Skydiving Jamboree. The Jamboree was held at the Goderich airport and drew hundreds of skydivers from Canada and the United States.

There is a Huron Historic Gaol which is an official historic site of Canada. The settlement’s jail was from 1842 – 1972; the last public hanging occurred in December 1869. The prison is available to the public, as a tourist attraction, from April to October.

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The Huron County Museum displays modern exhibitions; the permanent collection shows the town at different stages of its history. The museum has a full-sized locomotive, a World War 2 Sherman tank, a wide-ranging military compilation, and an area devoted to salt mining.

10. Grimsby

Downtown area of Grimsby, Ontario.

Grimsby is a town on Lake Ontario; it has 33 miniature parks, 17 larger parks, and an array of sports fields, trails, and parkettes. Grimsby has developed substantially over the past ten years as the halfway point between Hamilton and Saint Catherine’s.

The town of Grimsby has a couple of dozen distinguished attractions like museums, public libraries, art galleries, a Danish church, and a hockey arena (this is the Peach Kings arena).

Grimsby Public Art Gallery offers an assortment of art classes, from young, adult to elderly. There are virtual art exhibits, community projects, workshops, and celebrated festivities.

Grimsby beach- (used to be the Chautauqua of Canada)- is a recreational area that houses many unique, colorful cottages. The life force of the Chautauqua is still evident even though it is no longer a Chautauqua community; this is the enduring aspiration to foster an environment for learning and education.

11. Huntsville

Huntsville, Ontario, taken from the Lion's Lookout.

Huntsville belongs to craggy, rock-strewn Canadian Shield country demarcated by exposed granite, crystal clear lakes, and immense white pines; this is an outdoor, nature-loving town.

Huntsville is an access point to Algonquin Provincial Park via Ontario Highway 60. Algonquin is exquisite in its rustic, unbound, natural beauty; one can enjoy many activities, including yachting, camping, and skiing.

During winter, the town holds several different festive occasions, including ice-fishing, ice-skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, cross-country, and downhill skiing.

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Huntsville is approximately a 2.5-hour drive north of Toronto; this is an incredible wilderness destination for hiking, experiencing the Muskoka River, trying the craft beer at the Canvas brewing bar, and shopping along Main Street East.

12. Merrickville-Wolford

The Rideau Canal in Merrickville-Wolford, Ontario.

Merrickville-Wolford is a village status municipality referred to as the jewel of Rideau. Measures taken to safeguard this 19th-century village from deterioration and ruin include repairing historic buildings, renovating museums, and maintaining the upkeep.

The blockhouse museum (part of the Rideau canal), overseen by Parks Canada, is a National Historic Site and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The Rideau Canal opened in 1832.

Merrickville is the site of an array of diverse festivities that include Rideau Woodland Ramble (for gardeners).  This highly sought-after destination also has many dairy farms.

There are various hiking trails and walking routes woven throughout this historic town. The biodiversity includes the century-old cedar forest, great blue heron, osprey, and painted turtles.

13. Paris (Ontario)

Grand River, Paris, Ontario.

Paris in Ontario is a gorgeous town in its gothic, Victorian setting. The city center comprises numerous Edwardian and Victorian architectural styled buildings; it also has a place of post-modern influences.

Paris is celebrated for its cobblestone buildings, including ten residences and two churches, and boasts award-winning restaurants, open patioed cafes, and bakeries. Paris town is called the cobblestone capital of Canada.

The amalgamation of history and modern facilities make this small town experience a legendary affair. Paris is at the intersection of the Grand and Nith. Paris gets its name from the deposits of gypsum found in the area used to make plaster of Paris.

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Interestingly, the first distance telephone transmission was made from Bryant in Ontario to Paris by Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone inventor, on 3 August 1876.

The town holds an annual Fall Fair over Labor Day weekend. The Fair celebrates rustic, rural traditions; it hosts country music nights, a carnival, and a demolition derby.

14. Picton

Streets of Picton, Prince Edward county, Ontario.

Prince Edward County informally referred to as the county, is about 99 miles east of Toronto.  It was initially founded in the 1780s by British Loyalists and incorporated in 1837. It is one of Ontario’s wine regions.

In 1998 the town and its surrounding municipalities disbanded and formed the Corporation of the County of Prince Edward.

Picton is a well-liked area for tourists and vacationers; they enjoy bivouacking, yachting, sailing, wineries and vinification, and upscale lodging. Picton town has the delicate appeal of a quiet village, with a theatre, boutiques, curio shops, coffee and tea shops, bakeries, and restaurants.

The Crystal Palace of Prince Edward County Fairgrounds, built-in 1887, is a rustic compound, rampant with natural lighting, wooden floors, and is one of the remaining models of the Crystal Palaces of The Great Exhibition in London.

Adjacent to the Crystal Palace is County Youthpark; this is a terrific recreation spot with a skateboard park and BMX area to entertain and occupy young teens and kids; there is also a canteen available during the day.

15. Port Hope

The Ganaraska River, Port Hope, Ontario.

Port Hope is tranquil, with renowned heritage and lush, colorful foliage. The Ganaraska River cuts through the town; the water’s swirling currents and fresh appeal contribute to the town’s understated beauty.

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Port Hope offers scenic nature trails along the waterfront, a tawny stretch of sandy beach, and unassuming individual cottages. The stay here ensures respite and is worthwhile.

Ziplining through the Ganaraska forest, hometown crated beer, dancing bee farm and observatory, and vintage film festivals are all events to enjoy in Port Hope. In 2017 and again in 2019, the horror film IT had its filming location in Port Hope.

The town’s Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and the Heritage Port Hope Advisory Committee oversee the restoration and preservation of historical sites. There are about 270 old buildings of historical significance amidst the municipality; Port Hope retains a higher per capita conservation rate than any other town in Canada.

The Capitol Theater in Port Hope is the town’s last atmospheric theater. An atmospheric theater is a kind of movie palace designed in the 1920s to conjure an experience of a specific time and setting for moviegoers; tools used to evoke these feelings include projectors, architecture, and ornamental designs.

16. Port Perry

The busy community of Port Perry, Ontario.

Port Perry is situated on the southern end shorelines of Lake Scugog and is a vibrant town. This intriguing town resides amongst charming countryside and inviting villages.

The original smallholding of Reuben Crandell, established in 1821, still stands and is in use in Port Perry, a testament to the town’s deep respect for its history and ability to preserve its heritage.

Port Perry’s population has grown to approximately 10 000 people; this number increases significantly over the summer weekends. This high-in-demand area has lakeside grounds beautifully maintained for public enjoyment. Sunny patioed restaurants offer a variety of worldly cuisine and haute-cuisine.

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When visiting the gleaming lake of Scugog, you’ll see boats littering the softly undulating surface and enjoy the chance to fish and boat. The Port Perry Marina, Palmer Park, and Birdseye Park present a chance to stretch one’s legs and roam around.

The lakeside boulevard allows one to peer into an unending stretch of water as they dine at a Boathouse Grill or Marina’s café (licensed). Queen Street, the town’s primary historic thoroughfare, offers sightseeing on an entirely new level, an array of eclectic curios, boutiques, and shops that are truly unique.

Queen street is well preserved and maintained; its attraction is renowned and has served as the site of numerous film locations. Follow the thoroughfare downtown, and you’ll encounter verdant shrubbery scattering shadows across the exterior of old, beautiful buildings.

17. Sparta

Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area, Sparta, Ontario.

Sparta town was founded in the early 1820s by Pennsylvanian Quakers; today, it still retains the essence of the town centuries back. There are museums like Ye Olde Forge and Anvil Museum.

The quaker descendants currently reside in Picton; many of the monuments are ancient and reserved for worship. There are many small shops, charming boutiques, for example, the Sparta House Tea Room, with its extensive assortment of teapots.

18. Stratford

Stafford, Ontario city hall and market.

Stratford town is an arts and culture dynamo; every year, the Stratford Festival performs William Shakespeare’s plays in homage to its namesake. There are currently four venues for more performances; they encompass various themes and commissions, including drama, musicals, and modern plays.

Stratford is an experience of lively, festive walkways, coffee houses, restaurants, boutiques, and art stores. The town is well known for the parks that straddle the Avon Rivers; this includes Shakespeare’s Garden, Upper and Lower Queens Park.

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The scenic atmosphere has old Victorian buildings peppering the area; Stratford City Hall and Perth County Courthouse foster the cultural feel. Priceless heritage makes up the essence and charm of Stratford as libraries, universities, museums, galleries, schools, and city halls ensure a legacy of art and scientific inquiry.

19. Thorold

Niagara Region Headquarters, Thorold, Ontario.

Thorold is situated on the Niagara Escarpment and is the headquarters of the Regional Municipality of Niagara (Niagara Region). The Niagara Region is one of the twelve municipalities of Ontario.

Thorold is home to dozens of festivals and occasions that take place throughout the year.; these are the Mountain Top Ceremony (celebrates the commencement of Welland Canal Shipping), the Canal Bank Shuffle (three-day music festival), and the Can-View 4 drive-in cinema.

The historical sites of Thorold have heritage value. The Old Public Library is one of 156 Carnegie libraries established in Canada in 1912. St John’s Old School House is a single wooden room that opened in 1804 and was the first free school in Upper Canada.

The Maplehurst mansion, now known as the Keefer Mansion Inn, was constructed in 1885, and it now stands on an elevated area; it functioned as a hospital, private nursing home, and residence; it is now an inn.

The Welland Canal Parkway Trail is an overlaid pathway in St. Catherine’s and ends at Lake Eerie. Mel Swart Conservation Park is lakeside to Lake Gibson. The Conservation Park has an extensive track and a boardwalk that bridges out over the lake.

20. Wawa

Silver Falls during the summer, Wawa, Ontario.

Wawa is in the wilds in a remote area north of Ontario situated on the western shores of Wawa Lake. An unassuming town, this region has recently renewed and developed its town hall and infrastructure.

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Wawa lake is an incredible sight and is a testament to the town’s natural beauty; it has hills blanketed in greenery and trees. The water’s edge is a golden stretch of sandy beach, perfect for picnicking and meditative walks.

Wawa is characteristically known for its 28-foot metal statue of a goose built in 1960 and pledged to the community in 1961. Wawa’s name is from the Native American language of Ojibwe wewe, which means wild goose. In 2017 a new goose was resurrected to replace the old one.

Wawa’s rustic tourist attraction will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts fishing, swimming, and snowmobiling in the winter. It is just under 20 minutes from Lake Superior Provincial Park; this provides more hiking, kayaking, and camping.

Conclusion

The beauty and timeless appeal of Niagara on the Lake have consistent features across a myriad of other small villages; however, each experience and encounter are unique. Canada, Ontario is abundant in national treasures steeped in heritage, history, and national pride.

The many towns like Niagara on the lake focus mainly on tourism for their economy and host many events and festivities to keep tourists coming back. Summer and winter activities offer wide-ranging attractions; this includes hiking, cycling, trails, snowboarding, skiing, and fishing.

References:

Planetware.com – 15 Top-Rated Small Towns in Canada

Planetware.com – 11 Best Small Towns in Ontario

Theculturetrip.com – 11 of Ontario, Canada’s Most Adorable Towns

Theculturetrip.com – The Most Beautiful Towns in Canada

Tripadvisor.com – NOTL look-alike in US

Tripadvisor.co.za – Niagra Falls – small towns with unique shopping and eats

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Mapquest.com – 7 Small Ontario Towns With Big Appeal

Expedia.ca – 10 BEST TOWNS OUTSIDE NIAGARA FALLS