Explore Niagara: Hidden Gems

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Explore Niagara with some of Niagara’s best hidden gems. This list contains just a few tucked away treats to check out this Summer/Fall season.

*Pictured Above: Decew Falls*

1. Oakes Garden Theatre

via cliftonhill.com

Located at the bottom of Clifton Hill between Falls Avenue and the Niagara Parkway is the beautifully maintained Oakes Garden Theatre. This is the perfect spot for a superb panoramic view of the American and Horseshoe Falls. It includes a distinctive pergola wall, lush gardens and beautiful, colourful flowers. A quaint little bridge that leads to a lily pond adds a little serenity and magic to a park that was welcomed to the Niagara Falls Arts & Culture Wall of Fame in 2011.

2. Dufferin Islands

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One of Niagara’s most beautiful hidden treasures in located just south of the Horseshoe Falls along the Niagara Parkway. Dufferin Islands offers 10 acres of protected land — a secluded park which contains several small islands bound together by bridges and footpaths. It’s quiet, and the perfect spot for a Summertime picnic. Its natural beauty is maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission.

3. White Water Walk

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It’s one of Niagara’s most little known treasures! The White Water Walk is a boardwalk situated on the very edge of Niagara’s whitewater. This attraction is wheelchair accessible as it takes you down 70 metres in an elevator, through a tunnel, and then out onto the boardwalk. The boardwalk runs for 1000 feet and contains two areas to witness the rapids at full speed at the very edge of the river. Experience the awe-inspiring natural wonder of the rapids!

4. Niagara Glen

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As one of Niagara’s favourite picnic spots, Niagara Glen boasts natural trails, rock climbing and access to the Niagara River. Direct access to the Niagara Glen trails is found at the highest part of the gorge, where a metal staircase sits at the edge of the cliff. The Glen overlooks the Niagara River Gorge Whirlpool, and you can expect four kilometres of hiking trails, untouched Carolinian Forest and incredible rock formations.

5. Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre

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Home to the Carmelites, the Monastery serves the community in a variety of ways and forms of worship. Here, they offer spiritual guidance and many religious retreats and workshops. The beautiful 140 year-old structure is situated on a 10 acre property, and it is a place of calm reflection and meditation. There is wide open spaces and gardens overlooking the world-famous Niagara Falls.Mount Carmel is home to the Canadian National Shrine to Saint Therese, and has both an indoor and outdoor shrine. The shrine can be visited during the week, please visit their official website for details:  https://www.carmelniagara.com

6. DeCew Falls

St.Catharines is home to two stunning waterfalls known as the Upper DeCew Falls (a large 22 metre plunge waterfall) and the Lower DeCew Falls (a smaller 25 foot waterfall). The water flows down from the upper reaches of the Twelve Mile Creek. Next to the falls is the Morningstar Mill, which features a working grist mill built in 1872, a turbine shed, a sawmill, a blacksmith and a carpentry shop. At the bottom of the gorge is the Lower DeCew Falls. Whether you wish to simply relax and unwind taking photos along the way, or you are feeling adventurous and ready for a hike, DeCew Falls is worth checking out.

*Please use extreme caution as the gorge is very steep and can be quite slippery in areas. 

7. Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm

Also in St.Catharines is a welcome place for all ages! Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm is a free setting to experience a variety of animals with benches adjacent to two ponds on site to sit and relax. Kids will love being able to interact and feed the animals (with the food provided), and afterwards there is a playground and a picnic area (including a pavilion) for some downtime.

The animals are at Happy Rolph’s from Victoria Day weekend until Thanksgiving weekend.

8. Jordan Village

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Unless you are from the Niagara region, you may have never heard of this “blink and you miss it” quaint shopping area. Jordan Village is situated among the vineyards of Niagara’s Wine Country, along the edge of the Twenty Mile Creek valley. It features delicious dining, galleries, boutiques, antiques, award-winning wineries, a spa, and accommodations.

9. Avondale Dairy Bar

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Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake this is an ice cream heaven on earth that has been a staple to new and old generations (since 1955). What makes Avondale Dairy Bar so unique is that it is made right on the premise. It is a working dairy farm with about 90 Holstein cows, cornfields, and vineyards. They have so many different flavours, cakes, pies, milkshakes and sundaes. They are open late during the Summer and have picnic benches and playgrounds outside so you can enjoy the outdoors while eating your favourite creamy dessert.

10. St. Johns Conservation Area

Off the beaten path is another little paradise located on the border of Fonthill and Thorold. St. Johns Conservation Area provides a tranquil setting for wildlife and visitors. Families line up around the pond which is surrounded by benches, bridges and viewing areas. During the Summer, kids love to go there to feed the geese, look for frogs & turtles and explore the forest. Hiking is a popular family pastime here with trails that are easy to navigate. The conservation area is off Pelham St. N. at the intersection with Hollow and Barron Rds.

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