Though it’s still the “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” and tacky tours and all-you-can-eat buffets are alive and well, a new attitude is changing this tourist mecca. Shops that once sold kitsch in and around the historic Queen Street Arts and Entertainment District are sharing space with elegant galleries, cafés, bistros and a renovated Seneca Theatre. The area is a recreational hub. Cyclists and joggers enjoy more than 50 km of paved pathways on the Niagara River Recreational Trail. And with the recent completion of several new championship courses, Niagara has joined the ranks of one of Canada’s premier golf destinations.
Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island
Tour the region’s acclaimed wineries and sample prize-winning vintages. Wander the sprawling greenhouses of Colisanti’s Tropical Gardens in Ruthven, home to flowering cacti and tropical plants, before making your way to Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island, where you can dig your toes into the sandy beaches or explore the bird-filled marshes and Carolinian forests.
There’s plenty in T.O. for those passing through—and for locals who don’t have friends with cottages. Kicking things off is the North by Northeast Music and Film Festival (June 16-20), a showcase of 650 bands and 40 music-related films. Pride Week (June 25-July 4) attracts more than a million people and features one of the more eclectic parades you’ll ever see. The Toronto Fringe Festival (June 30-July 11) is the city’s premier grassroots theatre event. Just for Laughs (July 6-11) will leave you in stiches, while the Toronto Arts Exhibition (July 9-11), featuring 500 artists, will make you think. There’s Caribana (July 13-Aug.1), a cultural explosion of everything Caribbean. And plenty for sports lovers: the stars and cars of the IndyCar Series at the Honda Indy Toronto (July 16-18) and the world’s best male tennis players at the Rogers Cup (Aug. 7-15) at York University. Cap things off at the Canadian National Exhibition (Aug. 20-Sept. 6).
Quinte Country and Prince Edward County
Sandbanks Provincial Park, near Picton, is home to golden beaches and the world’s largest system of freshwater sand dunes. Sample culinary creations and tasty local wines on Prince Edward County’s Taste Trail. And the scenic Loyalist Parkway, from Kingston to Trenton, has 40 archaeological sites, plus 125 notable heritage buildings to explore.
To see what Russell Peters picks as his favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play
For more information on events and travel in Ontario, see www.ontariotravel.net