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Hamilton is a Hidden Gem in Ontario

Outdoor Adventures and Burnt Tongues

A long time hidden gem of Ontario, Hamilton is a unique and ideal family vacation destination with plenty of entertaining attractions. “We’ve got the arts, we’ve got history, we’ve got nature,” says Paula Lanza, a Cultural Projects Specialist working in the Tourism and Culture Division for the City of Hamilton. “It’s always been here, and now the secret’s out.” 

Hamilton, Ontario, is most famously known for its expansive conservation lands, and one of the year-round draws is the abundance of outdoor adventure. “We are well known for having over 100 waterfalls... a great feat,” says Lanza. “There are great places for hiking and exploring nature.” The biggest draw in Hamilton for family outdoor fun is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Biosphere, one of only 18 in Canada. UNESCO has been protecting the Niagara Escarpment since 1990, and it’s home to Canada’s longest hiking footpath, the Bruce Trail. If the kids still aren’t tired out after that, downtown Hamilton also features an outdoor roller rink. “In the winter it’s skating, summer is blading and roller-skating,” says Lanza. While the kids zip around on blades or wheels, parents can sit back and relax. (Just remember to bring your own equipment.)

In addition to outdoor wonders, Hamilton has plenty of amazing history and architecture. Visit the famed Dundurn Castle, a 40-room Italian style villa dating back to the early 1830's. “Explore the castle and the different rooms, out to the kitchen and into the garden,” says Lanza. Dundurn was once home to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, a railway magnate, lawyer, and Premier of the United Canadas (1854-1856). Now a historical landmark and museum, Dundurn showcases the family’s rich and elegant lifestyle, and hosts workshops and special events, including a special Victorian Christmas Celebration in the winter. “It’s got a great view of Hamilton Harbor,” says Lanza. Guided tours are given year-round, and admission includes complimentary access to the Hamilton Military Museum.

Stop at one of the Burnt Tongue's two downtown locations for a casual lunch. “I would go for lunch, great soups and fries and sandwiches,” says Lanza. Grab a juicy burger with your choice of tasty toppings or opt for a savory French onion grilled cheese and a healthy salad. (Soup specials change daily.)

When’s the best time to visit Hamilton? With events and attractions that are open all year, it’s arguable that any time is a good time to visit. “There’s always something to do,” says Lanza. Pick one of Hamilton’s popular events and base a trip around that, such as the Supercrawl, an arts festival that takes place in late summer, the Apple Festival in the fall, and even winter brings the fun with Winterfest.

“If you are looking for an authentic experience, something that is truly real,” says Lanza, “it’s the place to be.”

- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, SARAH LEITH

-Photo credit to Tourism and Culture, City of Hamilton.

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