Why is Niagara-on-the-Lake a Favourite Place to Live? 

From the History, Community Support, Foodie Tours, Festivals and Events and Real Estate: There are a Zillion Reasons to Love Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The Best Foodie Tour Around

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a hidden gem of deliciousness when you consider all your options for stunning haute cuisine, and now you can experience some of the city’s best flavours in one tour!

Run by Niagara Culinary Tours, the “Ultimate Foodie Tour” event is held year-round. Since the tour offers a bit of history and local culinary knowledge, in addition to mouth-watering samples of the best in local cuisine, I highly recommend anyone visiting or living in the area should take advantage of this great opportunity.

Of course, those who own Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate have the chance to nibble on amazing local vittles all year long, so do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in the homes for sale in Niagara on the Lake.

More About The Ultimate Foodie Tour

The Ultimate Foodie tour is held each week, Thursday through Sunday. Attendees can park downtown and meet for a walking loop around the city’s beautiful and historic downtown district.

If you attend you will stop into at least five restaurants, which will be serving scrumptious farm-to-table cuisine and local favourites like handmade spanakopita. Each local chef will offer up information on the dishes they serve, such as a special agricultural practice needed to source its ingredients, or how the dish plays into the region’s history.

While on the tour your knowledgeable guide will regale you as to the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our city has become a melting pot of different regional subcultures that uniquely blend the traits of Upstate New York, Metro Toronto and the Great Lakes communities. You will learn about cultural landmarks, businesses that have stood the test of time, and exciting new developments in our downtown.

In short, the tour will offer food for thought as well as food to nourish your grumbling belly. 🙂

Participants take in the tour on a short 3–4 km walk across flat land, mainly on sidewalks. The tour loops within a block of its starting point, allowing you quick access back to your car. Of course, you could always check out other NOTL restaurants and businesses before you leave.

The best things about the tour is that space is limited to 12 people and its itinerary is always changing. These two traits ensure that every tour is a unique, intimate experience that offers something new, even to long-time locals.

Learn About Other Local Cultural Events from a Niagara-on-the-Lake Real Estate Expert

As a 20-year veteran of the real estate business and a long-time Niagara-on-the-Lake local, I have a unique perspective on the latest developments within the area, no pun intended.

I am always looking out for new experiences to suggest to my clients, including tours and new restaurant openings. If you want to learn about some of the best businesses and services in town or you want advice about Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate activities, do not hesitate to contact me at any time!

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

If you’ve recently bought some NOTL real estate and haven’t yet had a chance to explore the area, now is the perfect time to do so.  Here are a few of those activities recommended to tourists that you’re sure to love.

How to be a Tourist in Niagara-on-the-Lake

The number one thing to do if you haven’t had a chance is to check out Niagara Falls. It is one of Canada’s most picturesque natural wonders. It is located only 20 km away from the township of NOTL and is a great way to spend a day or an afternoon. People come from all over the world to see these magnificent falls, and you’re lucky enough to have them in your own backyard.

Be sure to check out classic Niagara Falls activities, including a trip on Maid of the Mist, which will bring you up close and personal with the falls. Also go see the falls at night when they are lit up with a variety of colors that change from purple to yellow to blue and everything in between. There are also plenty of activities for your kids in the area surrounding Niagara Falls. These include arcades and rides like Ferris Wheels and Roller Coasters. While you’re settling into your new NOTL home, be sure to take the time to see these magnificent falls.

If you want to see something not as well-trodden as Niagara Falls, there are plenty of options. Driving a little way from the tourist center will give you lots of choices. There’s Niagara-on-the-Lake itself. This picturesque little town is perfect to walk around in. Plus, you might get to meet some of your new neighbours as you duck in and out of the old-fashioned shops.

You can also head over to the Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory to see the blooming flowers and trees. If it’s a warm day, this would be the perfect activity. If you want to avoid crowds, but still see the best of what your new town has to offer, getting off the beaten path is a great idea.

Niagara on the Lake is a wonderful place to call home.  Throughout every season, it is jam packed with incredible events and festivals.  Let’s check out a few of the region’s gems.

Enjoy Summertime Events

Kevin Stokes NOTL realtor talks about local wine tours

Family Fun Fest

This family-oriented event offers access to a thrilling waterslide, a 1-acre pool, a kid’s splash zone as well as a wide range of games and activities.  There is also local bands performing throughout the day, face painting and a BBQ.  This is a wonderful family event in the heart of Niagara on the Lake.

Summer Winery Tours

Summer in NOTL would not be complete without a winery tour or two.  The entire area is known for its amazing wines.  Each winery offers something unique from special tours to tastings and pairings during the summer months.  Book your favourite winery tour today.

Niagara Music

Niagara Music is an all summer event that pairs some of Ontario’s finest musicians with a wide range of venues that include:

  • Local churches
  • City parks
  • A host of local wineries
  • Select restaurants

For a list of performers, event venues and ticket costs, please visit: http://www.musicniagara.org/.

Niagara Jazz Festival

The Niagara Jazz Festival boasts 265 musicians performing at 77 locations throughout the NOTL region.  Some of the more popular venues that are part of the festival include:

  • World Music on the Beach
  • Jazz in the Park – this free event features various artists
  • Niagara’s Summer Mardi Gras

For a detailed list of all the Niagara Jazz Festival performances, dates and ticket costs, please visit: https://niagarajazzfestival.com/.

These can’t-miss festivals and events are part of what makes the Niagara region such a special place to be in the summer.  If you would like more information about these or other great summer venues or are interested in seeing some of the great real estate options available in NOTL, please contact me today.

The Best Summer Event is on Canada Day

Kevin Stokes NOTL realtor talks about Canada Day at Niagara on the Lake

As we all know, the 1st of July is a very special day, not just because it is the height of summer and all the flowers and leaves are out, and not just because the sun (usually) is out and the smell of BBQ is in the air – though these are all good reasons to celebrate! No, it is special because the 1st of July is Canada Day! All over the country, people celebrate this important day. And no other place celebrates this day better than Niagara-on-the-Lake!

As dawn breaks many of us turn up at Simcoe Park opposite the famous Prince of Wales Hotel to set up tents, barbecues, griddles, tables, chairs, flags, fences, ice cream stands, coffee and tea making facilities, and the other things that need to be laid out before crowds arrive. We also rope off parking spaces for deliveries of hot dogs, rolls, burgers, drinks, etc.

This is a BIG fundraiser for the Rotary Club as the crowds start to arrive early in the morning and the griddles are heated up, ready to start turning out hundreds of pancakes, maple syrup and sausages for breakfasts. The coffee/tea station is ready to go and the team is working hard to keep up with demand.

In the background there is music, bag pipes in the distance, and the Salvation Army Band. The Simcoe Park Bandstand sets up for some bands arriving later. On the other side of the park there is a classic car display. The usual crowds who visit Niagara-on-the-Lake on a typical summer’s day pale in significance compared to the crowd we have on Canada Day!

By then it is around 12 noon and we switch from cooking breakfast to starting the lunch shift. Burgers and hot dogs are unwrapped and the barbecues are ready to go. Once again the line-up gets bigger as we work harder and harder to keep up. Ice cream sales go way up as the heat of the day increases. Bottles of water sell out fast!

About mid-afternoon the parade begins and the Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake makes his way along Queen Street in the back of a convertible, waving at the crowds lining the street as the procession moves into Simcoe Park.

Every year, there is a huge cake, baked by a well-known local baker, that takes its place in the parade. At the end of the route, a big group of people is waiting for their slice, if there is any room after their breakfast and lunch!

As the afternoon turns to early evening and the crowds start to disburse, heading home or back to their B & B’s, we begin the task of packing up once more. That’s it for another year. Next year Canada Day will be even bigger and better than this year. It always is.

Fall is a Special Time of Year In the Niagara Region

Fall in the NOTL region

Fall is one of the most spectacular seasons to see the Niagara region.  The leaves have changed, the air is fresh and crisp, and the town is alive with a variety of great venues and tours.  As your premier agent for NOTL real estate needs, here is a list of some of the can’t miss activities that take place in the Fall.

Fall Winery Tours 

There is a reason why the NOTL area is known as wine country.  Some of the best wines from around the world are produced in the region.  One of the reasons why NOTL wineries are world-renowned is the strict VQA standards.  These standards ensure that all the grapes used in the wine are Ontario grapes are up to standard, and no water is used during the fermentation process.  A trip to the NOTL region is not complete without a winery tour or two.

Here is my list of some of the fine wineries found in and around NOTL and a brief description of each.  Pick your favourite or try them all. Wineries in the Niagara on the Lake Area

Historical Walks 

The township of Niagara is steeped in history. It was the first capital of Upper Canada.  Many of the cultural landmarks from those times still exist. A popular activity is to take a guided tour or stroll through the town and immerse yourself in the town’s cultural charm.

The deep historical past of Niagara provides a great narrative to the many stories that come to life on the famous Ghost Tour, Ghost Walks and if you visit during October, the Halloween Ghost Tours.  See history come alive at Fort George and experience Canada’s most haunted fort and town.

Food Tastings

Some of Ontario’s finest chefs and restaurants can be found in NOTL.  Many of the dishes use only local ingredients and of course are expertly paired with the excellent selection of Niagara wines.  Choose your favourite restaurant or look at some of the tastings being offered in and around Niagara.

NOTL is not just a great place to visit, it is also a great place to call home.  If you are looking for that perfect small-town charm with excellent weather, culture and some of the best food and wine choices in the country, then NOTL is for you.

The Famous Ice Wine Festival

Grapes from the Niagara on the Lake real estate region

Niagara-on-the-Lake residents have many festivals and occasions to look forward to on their calendar all throughout the year, but none are quite so unique, special or intrinsic to the region as the Icewine Festival.

For the uninitiated, icewine is a rare treat that benefits from Niagara-on-the-Lake’s distinctive climate. Wine grapes grow readily in the region, but they also freeze just as readily when temperatures dip below -8° C. These frozen grapes are rapidly harvested and pressed, resulting in an unusually high sugar content and low water. When fermented, this seasonal concoction yields a sweet but acidic wine that is also relatively high in alcohol content.

The region around Niagara-on-the-Lake produces 80 percent of Canada’s icewines, and it can only do so during certain times of the year. These factors come together to make the Icewine Festival a brief but excellent chance to enjoy one of the most remarkable gifts our Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate can give to the world.

Celebrate the Holidays with These Fine Events

The Niagara Region is famous for its wonderful events, but none beat the holiday season.  With the famous Ice Wine festival going strong, check out some of the other winter festivals that take place in and around our beautiful town.

Winter Festival of Lights

This is a must-see event.  Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s foremost illumination festival and runs from the beginning of November until the end of January. Come celebrate this magical event and see Niagara Falls transformed into breathtaking colours.  Millions of sparkling lights and other illuminated displays can be found in Niagara Park, the Parkway and Dufferin Islands.  The Festival occurs nightly from 5 pm until midnight.  Although this is a free event, a donation is greatly appreciated.

Some of the festival’s highlights include:

  • Laser light show at the top of Clifton Hill
  • The three-dimensional Angels at the Niagara Parks Police Building
  • The two-storey high Zimmerman Fountain

The Festival of Lights is also accompanied by a fireworks show.  For more information about the Winter Festival of Lights and a schedule for the fireworks show, please visit:


Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Holiday House Tour

The Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake Annual Holiday House Tour features six beautiful homes seasonally decorated by professional designers, 4 local landmarks, the St. Andrew’s Church, three wineries offering complimentary wine tastings, and special luncheon offerings. It’s the most attended house tour in the region.


Deck the Falls Walking Tour

Deck the Falls offers ticket holders an opportunity to enjoy some unique winter activities in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s tourist district. Deck the Falls takes place over the first three weekends of December and some of the highlights include:

  • Pop-up carolers
  • Gourmet food samplings and holiday beverages
  • Holiday themed photo-ops and craft activities

Santa Claus Parade

Come out and see your favourite winter themed floats and Santa himself at this year’s annual Santa Claus Parade.  With a wide range of live bands, colourful floats, mascots and entertainers, this is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Candlelight Stroll

Come join in on some old-fashioned Christmas cheer and be a part of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Candlelight Stroll.  Take a guided walk through the historic town accompanied by local choirs and seasonal entertainment.  The stroll begins at the Old Courthouse building and runs from 6:30 – 9:00 pm in December.

Christmas Markets

Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to various outdoor Christmas Markets that offer an excellent selection of one-of-a-kind crafts.  You are sure to find a great gift for even the hardest to shop for person on your Christmas list.  Get a head start on your holiday shopping and enjoy some of the tastes, sights, sounds and smells of the tradition of Christmas.

These are just a few of the many great holiday events that abound in the Niagara-on-the Lake area.  If you are interested in living in Niagara-on-the-Lake or would like to see some of the new real estate opportunities available in the community, contact me today.  I would love to show you why the holiday season is such a magical time of year.

Our Close Nit Community

Kevin Stokes NOTL realtor talks about Christmas in Niagara on the Lake

Between our successful businesses, generous community members and gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate, our city is truly blessed in many ways. Wishing to spread these blessings around, the Niagara Community Foundation recently established the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund, which pools together financial resources to support long-term charitable goals and build legacies.

Initial donations by founding members totaled $450,000. These contributions were made by community leaders like Lord Mayor Pat Darte, Vintage Hotels CEO Bob Jackson, and the family of Joe Pillitteri.

Donations to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund are invested according to the donor’s preferences, and the resulting interest and growth are put back into community programs for “arts, heritage, environment, social services, health, education, recreation and community development,” according to myNOTL.com.

I am extremely proud of the Foundation’s efforts so far and cannot wait to see what great things come out of the Fund’s resources.

A Highly Successful Launch for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund

The Niagara Community Foundation kicked off raising capital for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund at an event held on November 10, 2016. Taking place at the Queen’s Landing restaurant, Lord Mayor Pat Darte formally announced the fund along with his family’s own contributions.

A committee for the fund has also been established. It includes Wendy Cheropita as chair along with a list of members that includes Ken Bridgman, Ann-Louise Branscombe, Mario Ferrara, Brianne Hawley, Nancy Brazeau, Shawn Spiewak and Mayor Darte himself.

All the contributions go into an endowment fund. This endowment fund is managed through strategic investments that grow capital wealth and enable withdrawals that can be used towards charitable causes.

“It’s really a charity for charities,” explained Wendy Cheropita during the fund’s launch. “It’s a way of making our community stronger.”

Payouts have yet to be made until the fund can provide stronger returns, but past Niagara Community Foundation grants have gone to community organizations that include the Niagara Historical Society, the Niagara Regional Native Centre, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library, the Niagara Pumphouse Visual Arts Centre, Music Niagara, and many others.

The fund will provide updates to contributors and the press every fall. Families and businesses can contribute as little as $50 a month for 150 months to establish a legacy program that will benefit present and future generations. Foundation members’ current goal is to double the initial $450,000 endowment within six months.

Come Be a Part of Our Flourishing Community with Niagara-on-the-Lake Real Estate

Passionate business owners and community programs like these are just some of the reasons Niagara-on-the-Lake residents are so fond of their town. Come become a part of our family and watch as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund helps strengthen our community and its most critical programs through the collective compassion of each contributor.

You can visit our buyer’s page to see homes for sale in Niagara-on-the-Lake and start your search for a place among our friends and neighbours today.

 Preserving Our Unique History

Kevin Stokes NOTL realtor

Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate sits on land that has been settled for over 200 years. Everywhere you look you see sites steeped in history. Our community is fortunate to have people passionate about this history. From ages seven to 77 and beyond, our local residents care enough to preserve this history rather than see it fade away.

These efforts have compelled the province of Ontario to present several of our area citizens with a prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award. Recipients include a teen with a love of military history, a woman who has spent the last 50 years personally conserving historical sites, and two primary school classes.

Here is some information on why they were presented with these honours and which projects they felt so passionate about.

Justin Nicholls, 16, Helps Mark the Importance of a Cold War-Era Siren

Justin Nicholls, a 16 year-old Thorold Secondary student from nearby St. Catharines, always wondered what the purpose was for a giant horn sitting atop an 18-metre pole near the baseball field in Kernahan Park. Rumours hinted that the device was used to celebrate home runs or caution locals about weather advisories.

It turns out the truth is a bit more harrowing. The device is a 1950’s relic from the Cold War era. When everyone in the world was concerned about the threat of a nuclear attack, Canada’s federal government established a grid of sirens to alert citizens to an incoming air raid. By the 1980s, the system was in disrepair, and the political climate indicated that the sirens were no longer needed. All were dismantled in the town of St. Catharines, save one.

After putting two-and-two together regarding this historical connection, Nicholls petitioned the city to erect a commemorative plaque that would put rumours regarding the siren’s purpose to rest. The city agreed that the site deserved historic recognition and marked it with a plaque.

Nicholls became a youth recipient of the Ontario Heritage Award to honour his efforts.

Linda Coutts Recognized for Over 50 Years of Preservation and Advocacy

Linda Coutts has become an important part of the NOTL community, and an owner of a rare privately owned museum in Canada. She and her husband opened their own property to the public, a mansion first built in 1788 and that served as a home to Colonel Robert Nelles, a United Empire Loyalist.

Coutts still sits on the board of the Nelles Manor Museum in addition to being an active leader in other community heritage programs. She was presented with a lifetime achievement award for her consistent and impassioned work.

Two Primary School Classes Help Mark the Site of Harriet Tubman Border Crossing

The final Ontario Heritage Awards went to two primary school classes from St. Catharines. Grade 5 students at Harriet Tubman School and Grade 2 students at Lockview began a letter-writing campaign last year to the parks commission to mark the only recorded crossing of abolitionist and slave-freer Harriet Tubman. The site is located at a suspension bridge between Niagara Falls and Niagara River. In December 1851, Tubman used the bridge to bring 11 escaped slaves to freedom.

Students of Harriet Tubman School and Lockview began writing letters and creating posters to encourage the parks commission to commemorate the site. The two classes were given an award for group youth achievement following their successful campaign.

Come Live in History Among Passionate Neighbours in Niagara-on-the-Lake Real Estate

Residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake are always eager to discuss history, visit important sites and campaign to further the cause of historic preservation and education. If you love living in an area rich with culture, a Niagara-on-the-Lake home for sale may be perfect for you. Take a look at our local property listings to start finding your place among NOTL history today!

There are a zillion more reasons as to why Niagara on the lake is a special place to call home.  If you don’t already live here, come and check it out!

I’ll be happy to provide any information you might need. I’m Kevin Stokes, Niagara-on-the-Lake real estate agent. Contact me today.