St. Catharines is a city in the Niagara Region. It has the Welland Canal, a dry-dock for ships, and automotive plants. Two World Rowing Championships have been held here, first in 1970, and the most recent being in 1999. The smaller city of Thorold is on the south edge of St. Catharines.
The QEW Highway (which runs from Toronto to the Fort Erie-Buffalo border crossing) runs right through the city.
Greyhound and Coach Canada operate a bus service from the MTO building downtown located at 301 St. Paul Street. Frequent trips to Toronto, Niagara Falls, and beyond can be arranged.
GO Transit trains operate between Toronto and Niagara Falls on summer weekends and some long weekends. The train station is located just off St. Paul Street West, not far outside downtown. There is service east to Niagara Falls, and west to Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Toronto, and beyond. There is GO bus service to Niagara-on-the-Lake in conjunction with the train.
GO Transit buses service Fairview Mall. The stop is located at the corner of Dawsco Drive and YMCA Drive. Services are available east to Niagara Falls, and west to the Burlington GO Station for connecting trains.
The Via Rail Canada and AMTRAK train station is located with the GO Train station not far outside of Downtown. Located on Ambrose Street, not far off St. Paul West. There are services West to Toronto and beyond and East for Niagara Falls and beyond into Buffalo USA for AMTRAK. Check viarail.ca or amtrak.com for more information.
St. Catharines has a public transit system of buses that service most of the city. Maps and schedules can be viewed online. As of September 2014, the fare is $3.00 per ride including a transfer. You can view maps, schedules, and purchase passes at the MTO building Downtown located at 301 St. Paul Street. Tickets for multiple rides can also be purchased at the PEN Centre shopping mall located at 221 Glendale Avenue.
It is a shame that St. Catharines is overlooked by most tourists visiting Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake as it has a lot to offer. St. Catharines offers better value and quality for food and accommodation than the nearby tourist destinations which are only about 10-20 minutes away.
- One of the world's best rowing courses is home to the annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, named after the original regatta in Henley-on-Thames. The 132nd event was held August 3–10, 2014.
- Fantastic scenery can be enjoyed in Shorthills Provincial Park which is within minutes of the downtown core. The main entrance on Pelham Road is surrounded by vineyards and forests while the trails themselves wind up and down the escarpment. All trails are suitable for hiking. There are some fantastic mountain biking trails, and trails for horseback riding. In the winter, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are also popular activities. There is no shortage of wildlife, a couple of waterfalls, rivers, valleys, and cliffs. There is great scenery on every trail all waiting to be explored. Dogs are welcome.
- The Welland Canal runs along the east side of the city. From late March to Christmas, ships travel between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario bypassing Niagara Falls using the series of locks that constitute the canal. Visitors can see the ships at several locations. The best locations are the Welland Canals Centre at Lock 3, and the Lock 7 Viewing Complex in Thorold. Sections of the canal are drained between New Years and mid-March for maintenance. The canal officially opened for the 2015 season on April 2.
Port Dalhousie (pronounced Da-loo-zee) is at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek on Lake Ontario. Not far away is the Henley Rowing course. It is the home of Lakeside Park, made famous by the Rush song of the same name. It is a small area, basically one square block, but it hosts more than 10 bars, almost all of which have patio areas. One popular attraction is the old-fashioned carousel, which costs only 5 cents a ride. A very popular place for locals and tourists in the summer time.
- There are world class vineyards in St. Catharines located in the rural west end of the city. Tours can be arranged and there is much available for tasting at every stop. Ontario wineries produce some fantastic white wines and ice wines which is what the region is known for.
- Henry of Pelham Estate Winery, 1469 Pelham Rd, R.R. #1, ☎ +1 905 684-8423, fax: +1 905 684-8444, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. November–May 10AM–5PM, late May–October 10AM–6PM.
- Hernder Estate Wines, 1607 Eighth Avenue Louth, ☎ +1 905 684-3300, e-mail: email@example.com. 10AM-5PM. $1 per sample, $2.50 for icewine.
- In the Corner Billiards & Lounge, 448 Welland Ave. A pool hall with 12 billiards tables, 2 snooker, food, beer and fun. All ages welcome.
- Kissing Rock, 50 Chapel Street South, Thorold. Located at the Lock 7 Viewing Complex. Legend has it that couples who kiss here enjoy luck and happiness.
- Lock 7 Viewing Complex, 50 Chapel Street South, Thorold, ☎ +1 905-680-9477, toll-free: +1-888-680-9477. This is a good location to watch ships being raised or lowered in Lock 7. A short walk leads to the head of Lock 7 for a very close look.
- Welland Canals Centre, 1932 Welland Canals Pkwy (at Lock 3), ☎ +1-905-984-8880, toll-free: +1-800-305-5134. 9AM to 5PM. The Welland Canals Centre houses a tourist information centre, gift shop, the St. Catharines Museum and the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The raised observation deck (elevator available) allows visitors to see the process as ships are raised or lowered in Lock 3. There is a picnic area and children's playground just north of the building. Canals Centre is free. Museum is by donation (Suggested donation is $4 per person)..
- White Meadow Farms, 2519 Effingham St, ☎ +1 250 682-0642, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Store: Mon-Sun 9AM-5PM. Pancake House: Sat & Sun 8AM-2PM. Although a working farm with cattle and other crops, the big attraction is the Sugarbush. The Sugarbush Adventure runs weekends in February and March.
There is a wide variety of stores and services available in Downtown St. Catharines.
- Fairview Mall, 285 Geneva St. Mon-Fri: 10AM-9PM, Sat: 9:30AM-5:30PM, Sun: Noon-5PM. Major stores include Chapters, Mark's Work Wearhouse, Sport Chek, Walmart, Winners, and Zehrs. Nearby large stores include Costco, Home Depot, and Staples. There is a food court and Shoeless Joe's restaurant in the mall. Harvey's and Swiss Chalet restaurants are situated in the parking lot.
- Outlet Collection at Niagara, 330 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake (west of the QEW on Glendale Rd), ☎ +1 905 687-6777, e-mail: email@example.com. Although closer to St. Catharines, this new open-air outlet mall is actually part of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first phase opened May 15, 2014. The main anchor is Bass Pro Shops.
- Pen Centre, 221 Glendale Ave (Hwy. 406 & Glendale Ave.), ☎ +1 905-687-6622, toll-free: +1-800-582-8202. M–F 10AM–9PM, Sa 9AM–6PM, Su 11AM–6PM. A shopping mall. You can get almost anything. Large stores include H&M, Homesense, Old Navy, Sears, SportChek, The Bay, Winners, and Zehrs. Services include Passport Canada. There is a food court inside the mall. A&W, Boston Pizza, and Kelseys restaurants are located in the parking lot.
- Amakara Japan, 19 Geneva St, ☎ +1 905 684-0612. 11:15AM to 10PM, Closed Sunday except for Major Holidays. This is a Japanese restaurant. The owner is Japanese, so you can enjoy real Japanese food: sushi, teriyaki beef/chicken, tempura and so on.
- Buona Pizza North End 1 905 935-5353 Incredible, enormous, saucy chicken wings. Must be seen to be believed, and must be tasted no matter what. The pizza is tasty too.
- Chang Noi, 225 Queenston St, ☎ +1 905-228-6067. The best Thai food in the Niagara Region, possibly the best Thai food outside of Thailand. The most authentic as well. Unfortunately, they have a shortfall. Slow service and a language barrier that results in a high probability that you will not get what you ordered. Most often they will correct it if you are willing to put up with a longer wait. BUT it is worth it and if you aren't picky any meal they put in front of you will be very delicious. They have a good vegetarian and vegan selection and the prices are reasonable. They also have the coldest beer in town served to you in an ice frosted mug. Strangely, despite the slow service and frequent mix-ups, regulars keep coming back to this restaurant because they know it would be very difficult to find Thai food better than this outside of Thailand. $10-$15.
- Duru, 220 Welland Ave, ☎ +1 905-682-6920. Mon, Wed-Sat: 11:30AM to 10PM, Closed Tues, Sun 12PM to 10PM. Korean restaurant. “Cook-it-yourself” on their electronic grill table. Features five different types of barbecues.
- EAST Downtown. One of Japanese restaurants. It's the latest.
- Fresco's West End
- Jak's Subs Downtown
- Heavy Duty Pizza Downtown
- Merchant Ale House, 98 St. Paul St. The food is almost as good as their beers. It is made from scratch and fantastic value. Great budget pub food. The chicken wings are the best in the area and they have some very hot and even some usual sauces you can try. Try the shoestring fries as well but just about anything on the menu is as good as it sounds. For details on beers see the drink section below. $5-$10.
- Papa Vince Pizza, 2A Sullivan Ave, Thorold Ontario (corner of Front and Sullivan), ☎ +1 905 227-9394. 4PM to 11PM. Papa Vince has great pizza and wings, but where it really stands out is with their steak sub. Everyone should try a fatty!
- Pita Pit Downtown. very cheap, good.
- Pizza Pizza Ontario's largest chain of pizzerias. Three locations in St. Catharines, including Downtown, and The Pen Centre.
- Romby's, 488 Lake St. Restaurant & Tavern
- Sahla Thai, 270 St. Paul St (downtown), ☎ +1 905 984-4482. M-F 11AM–10PM, Sa 5PM–10PM, Su 5PM–9PM. Thai restaurant.
- Toi, 12 Queen St, ☎ +1 905 988 9111. Urban Vietnamese Fare. Originally intended as a tapas bar they expanded into full meals as well. This is dining done right. Run by a very friendly Vietnamese family that has incredible knowledge in food and restaurant service. The atmosphere is modern and relaxing. The prices can be described as mid to slightly higher range however no one has ever been disappointed by the food. Overall a great value considering the experience you will have. Great wine list and good cocktail and beer selection. A fantastic, well rounded dining experience will keep you going back.
- UNeedAPita, 116 St. Paul St (downtown), ☎ +1 905-682-PITA (7482). This place has much better value, flavour, and selection than the other pita places downtown. They also have burgers, fresh cut fries, smoothies, frozen yogurt, sliders and other goodies prepared fresh. A popular take-out lunch destination as well. Also at 343 Glendale Ave and 100 Martindale Rd (inside Nonna's Kitchen) in St Catharines, and 30 Rice Rd in Welland. Each location has different hours. $3-$5.
There are two primary bar areas in the city: Port Dalhousie and downtown. Generally, Port Dalhousie is the active bar scene during the warm summer months, and downtown is the prime location for nightlife in the winter.
The downtown area also has its fill of bars, likely more than twenty. Everything from small pubs to large dance clubs fill the area, although almost every bar has a laid back feel (with matching laid-back clothing requirements.) There has been a bit of an upscale trend lately, with the addition of a few martini bars. It's a bigger area to cover than up in Port, but even still it's quite easy to walk from a bar at one end of downtown to another at the opposite end.
- Merchant Ale House, 98 St. Paul St, ☎ +1 905 984-4060. 11:30AM to 2AM 7 days a week. Possibly the best hang out pub in the city. Most of the beer is brewed on premises and is home to their famous Drunken Monkey Oatmeal Stout. Some other honorable mentions go to the blueberry wheat, strawberry blonde, IPA, Hockey Ale, and their seasonal pumpkin ale and holiday skullcrusher. There is some interesting live music most Saturday's. The type of music never seems to be the same. This is a pub for all ages and is thankfully not frequented by immature college crowds. $4-$12.
Interesting places nearby include:
- Niagara Falls (Ontario) - for the Falls, of course
- Niagara on the Lake - quaint, historic town with great little shops, restaurants, and (in the summer) the Shaw theatre festival
|Routes through St. Catharines|
|Toronto ← Grimsby ←||W E||→ Niagara Falls (Ontario) → → Niagara Falls (New York)|
|Hamilton ← Lincoln ←||W E||→ Niagara-on-the-Lake → Niagara Falls|
|Hamilton ← Lincoln ←||W E||→ Niagara-on-the-Lake → END|