Spring has arrived and with it comes warmer temperatures and fresh starts. If you’re looking for a change, you just might find what you’re looking for in this month’s community feature – St. Catharines. The largest city in the Niagara region, it has become a hot spot for those who want it all at their doorstep – culture, history, incredible food, and lots of excitement. Acting as a mid-point for those travelling between Toronto and Niagara Falls, you’ve likely made your way into St. Catharines many times even if you haven’t explored it. Find out what you’re missing out on; you might discover your future home!
Live Like a Local
One great thing about St. Catharines is that there’s never a dull moment. The city is always alive with various activities and attractions, and its many festivals will keep you busy year-round!
If you want to get to know what really makes the Niagara region stand out, you’ll enjoy the Niagara Wine Festival (Canada’s largest wine festival, on hiatus this year) and i4C, the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, which celebrates the region’s many winemakers and their craft. St. Catharines is also home to some of the TD Niagara Jazz Festival, where you’ll enjoy activations dedicated to music and art. Other notable festivities include Pride in the Park, The Foster Festival, Celebration of Nations, and Culture Days.
A Foodie’s Heaven
Fancy yourself a foodie? You’re in luck! St. Catharines is home to an incredible array of restaurants that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Standouts in the area include Dispatch (voted one of Canada's best new restaurants by enRoute Magazine), OddBird and their newer counterpart OddBar, Pharmacii, Wellington Court, Bolete, and The Yellow Pear Kitchen, all of which have become well-loved amongst locals and visitors alike. If you’re in the mood for the best pub grub around, you’ll enjoy visits to The Merchant Ale House and The Feathery Pub.
Of course, you won’t want to sleep on one of the area’s most popular spots – Beechwood Doughnuts. The Vegan donut spot has become popular in the surrounding area because of its fun flavours and toppings. Don’t wait on them though – they regularly sell out early!
Imbibe a Little
When you come to St. Catharines, you’ll find yourself in the middle of wine country, though beer drinkers will also enjoy some local brews! Spend a summer afternoon enjoying tastings at some of the area’s best wineries, like 13th Street Winery (make sure you try their butter tarts during your visit!), Henry of Pelham, and Rockway Vineyards, which will also be a favourite amongst golfers as you enjoy a glass of wine after hitting a round on their golf course. For beer drinkers, you’ll likely get to know Cold Break Brewing, The Merchant Ale House, and Lock Street Brewing Company pretty quickly. Is there anything better than enjoying a cold beer or a delicious glass of wine that was made right in your community?
If the art and music scene is more your style, the city has you covered. St. Catharines is home to several incredible venues and programs that bring amazing talent to your front door! The First Ontario Performing Arts Centre, which opened in 2015, and Warehouse Concert Hall attract touring acts, ranging from musical performances to comedy specials – a little something for everyone! Fans of jazz music will love the Twilight Jazz Series, which brings a different jazz ensemble to the spotlight on the first Sunday of every month, though this has gone virtual for the time being. If art is your thing, you’ll love discovering the Niagara Artists Centre, a not-for-profit collective that was formed by working artists in the community.
St. Catharines is a great place for those who want to learn a little about the past. The city was a terminus of the Underground Railroad, where Harriet Tubman and over 800 escaped slaves settled in the 1820s. If you’re interested in discovering more about their journey, you can tour the Freedom Trail, where you’ll learn as you visit various sites and exhibits throughout the city.
Bring the kids to the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre to learn more about the area’s history and how the canal came to be. You’ll get an incredible view and see ships from around the world on the observation deck as you navigate Lock 3. You’ll also find the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame here, where you can learn about Canada’s national summer sport.
Looking for one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city? You’ll find something special in Graffiti Alley, an alleyway between James Street and Garden Park where serious artists show off their incredible skills and talent.
And no visit to St. Catharines is complete without spending some time in the lakeside area of Port Dalhousie; head down to the harbour and spend an afternoon on the boardwalk with the family. Make sure you pay a visit to the Lakeside Park Carousel, which has found a home here since 1921.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
If you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy you’re in good hands! Aside from being home to both Fairview Mall and The Pen Centre (Niagara’s largest shopping centre), you’ll also find incredible local retailers throughout the city and in the downtown core. This area has plenty of specialty shops and boutiques for you to discover; you’ll likely find some new favourites on your first visit!
The St. Catharines Farmers Market is another incredible shopping destination for those who are looking for local produce and goods. Since the 1860s, the market has been giving residents the chance to shop and eat local, with live entertainment in the square, a market discovery table with rotating themes, and free educational tours to introduce the younger generation to our bountiful produce scene.
If you plan on spending plenty of time outside you really can’t go wrong here; St. Catharines has an abundance of green space and trails for you to explore. Round up the pups and take a trip to the Port Weller East Trail, enjoy some time by the water at Lake Breeze Park, and go bird watching at Malcomson Eco Park. Get in touch with nature on the Green Ribbon Trail, where you might come across painted turtles, blue heron, swans, beavers, and more. Take a hike at Short Hills Provincial Park or get back on the bike – the area has some incredible cycling trails which you can discover at the Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre.
If you’re looking to put down roots in a place that’s full of excitement and new things to discover, you really can’t go wrong with St. Catharines. You’ll never run out of things to do and the surrounding communities are full of fun things to explore as well – keep an eye out for them in upcoming months! Ready to see if St. Catharines has your dream home waiting to be found? Take a look at all of our current listings here.
Note: Please check with businesses before visiting to see if they’re currently open and to learn about their COVID protocols.