Almost everyone with a driver’s license has experienced the thrill of freedom that can accompany sliding behind the wheel of a car, especially as a young person with few responsibilities and a delicious case of wanderlust. While few of us take to the open road with the reckless abandon we did in our more carefree, youthful days, there are still plenty of opportunities to emulate the perfect long form road trip by hitting the road in and around the Niagara Peninsula.
Blessed with picturesque farms, a beautiful countryside, thousands of acres of vineyards, and watery shores, Niagara is actually one of the best places in North America to go for a drive. If you’re planning a stay in Niagara, here are four routes to take for a drive.
1. The Niagara Parkway
Part of the Greater Niagara Circle Route, the Niagara Parkway is that lovely bit of road Winston Churchill once described as providing, “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.” Cruise alongside the rushing Niagara River all the way from charming Niagara-on-the-lake up to Fort Erie and see luscious gardens, green parks, historical sites, wineries and vineyards, shorelines, and the mighty and thundering Niagara Falls. Pack a blanket and a picnic lunch or stop to eat at roadside stands or local restaurants along the way.
2. The Welland Canals Parkway Interim Route
This drive will take you from Port Colborne to Thorold. Along the way, you’ll pass through Welland and see the Welland Canal, a marvel of Canadian engineering that lets large freighters go over the mountain, so to speak, via a series of canal locks at points that include Port Colborne, St. Catharines, and Thorold. Be sure to stop and spend some time at the Welland Canals Centre in St. Catharines, where you can learn more about the canal system thanks to a number of illuminating exhibits and a well-placed observation deck.
3. The Niagara Wine Route
While you should certainly spend plenty of time stopping to take wine tours, enjoy tastings, and, otherwise, soaking up the riches of Niagara’s wine country, spending an afternoon driving along the Niagara Wine Route will serve to get you even more in the mood. This network of roads runs east to west from Niagara-on-the-Lake all the way to the Niagara Escarpment, and it allows you to twist and turn your way through the very heart of wine country.
4. The Lake Erie South Shore Circle Route
For lovers of coastline, the Lake Erie South Shore Circle Route travels along the southern part of the Niagara Peninsula through area lakeside communities Wainfleet, Port Colborne, and Fort Erie. Parks, marinas, beaches, and the golden glint of the sun on the water — especially in late afternoon, this drive is idyllic.
Come to Niagara, and hit the road. From the Lake Erie shoreline to the wine country’s never ending charm, one of the best ways to see and experience Niagara is from behind the wheel. So, book a trip to Niagara, rent a car or bring your own, and drive your way through the region. You’ll achieve such a sense of wonder that you’ll lose all sense of time.