Article Written by Becky Dumais
Sir Winston Churchill said the Niagara Parkway was “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.” With its winding roads, scenic stops, shops and wineries along the way, you’d be hard pressed to argue with that kind of British intelligence.
The Niagara Parkway flanks the mighty Niagara River, extending from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The scenery along the Parkway is dramatic, dynamic and varied: the rock faces of the Niagara Gorge offer supreme vistas and contrast with the rolling fields, parks and lush vineyards in the area. Many historical monuments chronicle the War of 1812 along the way, and the route includes the thundering Niagara Falls.
Niagara’s wine route is clearly mapped for you to sample your way between vineyards and wineries. If you want this to be the focal point of your drive, Wine Country Ontario has created several itineraries: simply create your route, print it out and start your adventure. The Niagara River tour features five wineries on the Niagara Parkway that border the narrow band of the river: Inniskillin Wines, Lailey Vineyard, Peller Estates Winery, Reif Estate Winery and Riverview Cellars Winery. You may just find the perfect vintage (or five) to serve at Thanksgiving dinner. To enjoy a special lunch or dinner, head back to school: the Benchmark Restaurant at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Every Saturday students and chefs prepare a four-course meal for just $45, which can be paired with NC Wine from the Niagara College Teaching Winery for an extra $15.
With an abundance of roadside stands offering fruits, vegetables and baked goods provided by local farms, the drive is a wonderful opportunity to stock up on Thanksgiving recipe ingredients. A short jaunt off the Parkway will get you to Falk Family Farms, The Fruit Shack Market & Bakery, Quiet Acres, Van de Laar Orchards Fruit Market, Colcuc Family Farm and WillowBend Farms & Produce. If you’ve packed your own picnic (ready to pair with a just-purchased bottle of wine), there are many places to break for a bite.
You may want to bring your bike or your hiking boots – and maybe your dog too – to explore The Parkway in greater detail. The Niagara River Recreation Trail is a paved path for non-motorized traffic stretching 53 kilometres along the Canadian side of the Niagara River, and is one part of The Greater Niagara Circle Route Trails System.
After one day’s drive, enjoying Niagara’s diversity along the Parkway and its shops, wineries, restaurants and heritage sites, you’ll likely want to go back again and follow a different itinerary – or none at all – and head out on a whim. Explore the many picturesque routes and roads and let nature be your guide.
Shaw Theatre Festival
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Wine Tour Planning
Select your region, pick your route(s), pick your wineries, print the itinerary out and hop in the car!
Niagara Wine Route
A full-bodied network of roads connecting the area’s wineries. Go for a tour and a tasting, east to west, from the Niagara Escarpment to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Antiques and Artists Route
Signs mark this route from the QEW to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Stop at art and craft studios and see the creative pros at work.
Niagara’s Underground Railroad
Follow the “running man” signs along the route; the journey begins at “The Crossing” along the Niagara River near Fort Erie and ends at the BME Church in St. Catharines.
Information about destinations, trails, attractions, points of interest and customizable itineraries.