Hamilton, Ontario may not be as well known as some, but it packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do. Visitors will discover a thriving culinary, history and art scene – and, it’s also filled with breathtaking natural beauty as well as offering lots of recreational activities. Known as the ‘Waterfall Capital of the World,’ there are more than 150 right within the city limits. Before you go, create your itinerary and make sure to include at least some of these fun things to do on your must-experience list.
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Go Waterfall Hopping
As the ‘Waterfall Capital of the World,’ you’ll have to take time to visit Hamilton’s gorgeous cascades. You can see two of the most impressive by heading to the Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area. Only a short drive from downtown you’ll find the city’s largest, Webster’s Falls. The 72-foot-high waterfall has been splashed across countless postcards and can be seen in images all over the internet. While you’re here you can visit Hamilton’s tallest waterfall, Tew Falls as well – a ribbon fall that spills for 134 feet. Throughout the area are scenic hiking trails and unique geological formations to explore, like the trek to Dundas Peak. Your reward will be a magnificent view over the city, Spencer Gorge and Dundas Valley.
Explore a Castle
Dundurn Castle is an Italianate-style villa that dates back to the early 19th-century. It was built on the former site of a fortified military encampment that was established by the British in 1813, and today it’s open to the public to enjoy. A National Historic Site, visitors can explore a museum focused on the life of Sir Allan Napier MacNab and get a glimpse of life around 1855 when MacNab was at the peak of his career. You’ll also get a peek at the area where the servants worked below the family, helping to support their wealthy lifestyle. There are 40 elegantly furnished rooms, while the grounds host a produce garden. Costumed guides lead visitors through the homes to illustrate life in the mid-19th-century.
Stroll Through Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens is not only one of the most beautiful you’ll ever take a walkthrough, but it’s Canada’s largest botanical gardens, and one of the biggest in the world, spread across over 2,400 acres. It showcases over 40,000 plants displayed in a variety of exhibition gardens. A wonderful place to relax and enjoy quiet contemplation, stroll through the Rock Garden, Laking Garden, Hendrie Park, the Arboretum and RBG Centre. There’s so much to see you could easily spend a whole day enjoying it.
Browse exhibits at Art Gallery of Hamilton
There are many different ways to delve into the arts in Hamilton, with independent galleries and studios along with some impressive street art in the city’s art hub area on James Street North. But anyone who appreciates art shouldn’t miss the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Situated downtown, it’s one of the oldest in Canada, around for well over a century, showcasing an extensive collection that includes over 10,000 works of art. The permanent collection features a remarkable 5,000 Canadian, 3,000 international and 2,000 contemporary pieces. It also hosts a fabulous sculpture atrium and a glass pavilion.
Tour the Canadian Navy's Most Famous Ship
The Canadian Navy’s most famous ship, the HMCS Haida is the only surviving Canadian destroyer that saw action during the Second World War. The destroyer was also used during the Cold War and Korean War, taking part in multiple historic battles. Today, it’s a National Historic Site docked at Pier 9 on Hamilton’s waterfront. Serving as a museum, visitors can join guided tours or walk through on their own, strolling the decks to get a feel for what it might have been like to be on board, visiting the wardroom, the mess and engine room.
Pick Up Souvenirs at Hamilton Farmers Market
Hamilton Farmers Market is considered an institution in Hamilton as its oldest market, dating all the way back to 1837 – in its current location next to the Hamilton Public Library for nearly four decades. Today the indoor market features some 70 vendors open every Saturday between April and October. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for souvenirs like pure Canadian maple syrup, ingredients for a picnic and perhaps a local bottle of wine too. You’ll find the usual fresh local produce and a wide range of other items, including culturally diverse products, raw honey, freshly made pasta, handmade ice cream and a community kitchen that hosts live demos and other events. Be sure the check out the historic Bricks Clock of The Charging Horseman that hangs in the market’s center.
Delve Into the Foodie Scene
You’ll need a lot of time to sample the many great eateries in Hamilton. This city has a fantastic food scene that includes King William Street’s “restaurant row.” It hosts many popular restaurants, with everything from elegant The French and trendy Berkeley North bistro to Born and Raised, renowned for its delicious wood-fired pizzas and mouthwatering desserts. The options are so tasty and varied that foodie walking tours are available so that you can sample many of its culinary delights, then attempt to decide which are your favorites.
Sample Craft Beers
Hamilton has a great craft brew scene too. You’ll find a wide range of tasty porters, stouts, lagers and ales along with one-of-a-kind venues make for that make for a fun time sipping pints. You might even want to pick up a Craft Beer Passport to try a variety of collections created by some of the world’s most talked-about brewers. The True Brew Path allows visitors to create a six-pack of tasting experiences throughout the region. Brux House is just one of the places to go if you want to enjoy outstanding eats with that brew, with options from across Ontario, including four rotating taps and an impressive list of bottles and cans.