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Hamilton, Ontario is located on the southwestern edge of Lake Ontario and boasts the third largest metro population in Ontario. It is only 69 km from Toronto, so visitors enjoy easy access to that huge urban centre’s attractions via GO Transit’s bus routes and train lines. The Toronto-Hamilton corridor, the “Golden Horseshoe”, is home to much manufacturing activity and is a well-known steel centre. Hamilton is also quite close to Niagara Falls at just 69 km.
Visiting Hamilton is a snap via Hamilton International Airport (YHM). On a side note, the popular Canadian Warplace Heritage Museum is located at the airport, so if you have an extended layover, check it out – entrance is free with your same-day boarding pass and you can see cool aircraft and lots of historic artifacts. Once in Hamilton, public transportation choices include city bus operated by Hamilton Street Railway Company (HSR), and the Hamilton Waterfront Trolley is a lot of fun to ride, plus you can learn a little about the city at the same time. You might enjoy staying at a downtown Hamilton ON hotel for convenience, as many attractions are found there.
You may be pleasantly surprised to know that Hamilton offers a nice selection of cultural opportunities. The Art Gallery of Hamilton boasts galleries filled with artworks from around the world, offering guided tours to nearly 150,000 annual visitors. The gallery is located in downtown Hamilton, as is Hamilton Place, a cultural venue offering theatre, dance and major concerts. Theatre Aquarius offers professional shows as well.
Hamilton’s largest college is McMaster University, with a student population of more than 24,000. Its pedestrian and bicycle campus is beautiful, and its Museum of Art well-known for its collection of early 20th century German prints and European art. You can cheer on the Marauders’ athletic teams at Burridge gymnasium and Ron Joyce Stadium. If you’d like to watch professional sports action, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a member of the Canadian Football League. The team plays at Ivor Wynne Stadium, which is being demolished after the 2012 season and a new stadium is being erected. If hockey is your thing, head to Copps Coliseum to watch the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs from October through the middle of April. Automobile and horse racing can be enjoyed at Flamboro Speedway and Flamboro Downs, respectively.
The renowned Bruce Trail passes through this area, and it’s a great place to get outdoors and explore the Niagara Escarpment. Amazing scenery awaits walkers and joggers – no bikes, motorized vehicles or horses allowed! Giant cliffs, rolling hills, a multitude of waterfalls, clear running streams and beaches are just some of what you can see along this trail. Speaking of waterfalls, did you realize there are more than a hundred along this trail? Quite impressive!
An attraction which is linked to the Bruce Trail is Dundurn National Historic Site. You can tour Dundurn Castle’s circa-1855 rooms, stroll the formal Kitchen Garden, and explore the Hamilton Military Museum. Each June a re-enactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek is presented; besides watching the battle you can tour soldiers’camps, watch demonstrations, enjoy music and food. This event is great for families.
Another way to get outdoors is to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Choose from 27 km of nature trails, explore an Arboretum and Nature Interpretive Centre, be amazed at the incredible scenery from 20 lookouts, and explore Cootes Paradise; guided tours are available to maximize your experience.
Summer weather in Hamilton is quite pleasant, so you can imagine that outdoor festivals are plentiful. The oldest and largest Canada Day fest is found here, called “It’s Your Festival”. Over 150,000 people enjoy stages of music, arts and crafts, dance, exhibitions and lots of kids’ activities. The festival is held at Gage Park and offers free admission. The Brott Music Festival has been going strong for nearly a quarter of a century. It features the National Academy Orchestra and invited artists for concerts at venues throughout the city. A third summer festival is held at Winona Park in August, the Winona Peach Festival. Bring the whole family for a midway, car show, concerts, a parade and a wonderful selection of local arts and crafts.
Hamilton offers lots to do and see, and it is so close to Toronto that you can enjoy some big-city attractions if you desire (see Toronto attractions here). Lake Ontario is at your fingertips, so you can explore its beauty and recreational opportunities as well. Consider Hamilton for your next vacation!