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Perfect Weekends: St. Catharines

November 5, 2016
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With a population of 130,000+, St. Catharines is the largest city in the Niagara region. It also carries the pretty boast-worthy title of "The Garden City" owing to its over 1,000 acres of parks, gardens and trails.  If you’re planning a trip to Niagara wine country (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), St. Catharines is a perfect place to stop between Twenty Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake. We think it’s a pretty tasty city too!

Here are some of our favourite places to stop while in St. Kitts:

1. Opened in 2015, Beechwood Doughnuts has taken the city by storm. Bonus – their offerings are 100% vegan. Not that you’d know it from the inventive line-up of flavours they rotate through. Think Niagara grape, raspberry pistachio, banana cream with housemade graham crumble and apple fritters. Heck, they’re even making a spiced cronut! No surprise that they often sell out before noon. Which reminds us, you’ll want to make this your first stop.

2. Right next to Beechwood is another rookie of the year – Craft Arts Market. Nancy and Sarah have created an inviting space that showcases handmade artisanal products from young entrepreneurs in Niagara. At Craft, you’ll find goodies from the Wandering Locavore, Garden City Essentials… the list goes on. They also turn out some of the best coffee in the city at their espresso bar and offer some pretty cool workshops. Yes please, we want to learn how to make a succulent terrarium!

3. There’s plenty to do in the downtown and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays year-round, that includes the historic (it opened in the 1860’s!) St. Catharines Farmers’ Market. Situated between City Hall and the Courthouse, the market is a great place to do some one-stop shopping for the bounty of Niagara. We especially love stopping on Saturdays during July and August for the great selection of tender fruit.  While you’re at it, why not pick up some picnic-ready provisions and head a few blocks away to enjoy your feast at Montebello Park? In September, the park is home to the Niagara Wine Festival and also runs concert series throughout the summer.

4. From the park, head southwest on Ontario Street towards Port Dalhousie. We love this charming waterfront community, home to the annual Royal Henley Regatta, unique shops and best, of all, a hand-carved carousel.  Actually, we lied.  The best part is that a ride on the Lakeside Park Carousel is still only a nickel.  The gorgeous carousel is over a century old and is one of only nine of its kind still operating in North America.  After your ride, take your photo of the lighthouse for Instagram. Follow the scenic route back towards Fourth Avenue and stop in at 13th Street Winery and Bakery. Housed in a century-old farmhouse, you’ll find an impressive line-up of Ontario cheeses and one of our favourite bottles of sparkling – the NV CUVÉE ROSÉ.

5.  Our last stop for the day takes us to the Merchant Ale House, a popular micro-brewery and restaurant on St. Paul Street.  The Merch, as it is affectionately known, has been catering to thirsty crowds for over 15 years with a wide selection of craft beer.  Ask for a pint of their crowd favourite, the Old Time Hockey Ale, while you listen to live music from local musicians. Or play a few rounds of darts. We don’t use hockey puns often, but if we did, we’d call this line-up a hat trick.  

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to head to St. Catharines, including stocking up on eclectic wild game options for your next dinner party at Lake Land Meats, taking in an exhibit at the picturesque Rodman Hall or hiking up to Morningstar Mill. Find more suggestions at St. Catharines Tourism, the Tourism Partnership of Niagara or on one of our favourite regional blogs – Eating Niagara.

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