Rainbow Niagara

The Falls plus wine, theatre and fun

Gay Neighbourhood

  • Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and St Catharines, the three largest towns in the region, don't have distinct gay neighbourhoods. However Brock University (in St Catharines) and the Shaw Festival (in Niagara-on-the-Lake) are magnets for local and visiting queers.

Events

Best Known For

  • The spectacular Niagara Falls
  • Great wine and cuisine
  • The Shaw Festival

Must Dos

  • Whirlpool Jetboat Tours - Celebrating 20 years on the Niagara River! Experience awe-inspiring scenery, feel the rush of Devil's Hole Class 5 rapids and enter the magnificent Whirlpool! Great for ages 6+, Open April - October
  • Take Maid of the Mist boat ride - the best way to get up close and personal with the Falls.
  • Cycle and stop for a picnic along the Niagara Parkway.
  • Stroll Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake to check out the shops and sample the fudge.

More Local Info

  • NiagaraIsOut.com is Tourism Niagara's official site for gay and lesbian visitors to the Niagara region.
  • OUTniagara is the best grassroots source of local information.

Tips

  • Both Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake attract lots of visitors so streets can be crowded with cars during peak times. If you're driving do yourself a favour and find yourself a parking spot and walk around town. > Plan to visit the region during the week when summer crowds are less intense - and theatre tickets are much easier to get.
  • If you're driving, drop into the visitor information centres (either at the Casablanca overpass in Grimsby or in Niagara Falls at Highway 20 and Stanley) to get local information and pick up discount vouchers to attractions and restaurants.

What else do you want to know about Niagara?

How To Get There

 

By Plane

There is no major airport in Niagara Region; however, you can get there easily on flights to three nearby airports: Toronto Pearson International (airport code YYZ), John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (airport code YHM) and (across the border in the United States) Buffalo Niagara International Airport (airport code BUF). If you'll be arriving at Buffalo make sure you take extra care that you have all the necessary identification documents to enter Canada and return to the United States.

In Toronto, Air Canada and Star Alliance flights arrive at Terminal 1 while all other carriers arrive at Terminal 3. (Terminal 2 is no longer used.) The airports in Hamilton and Buffalo are smaller and have just one terminal building. Niagara Airbus provides shuttle bus service from Toronto and Buffalo and limo service from Hamilton to all parts of Niagara Region. The trip from Toronto will take 90 minutes to 2 hours (depending on traffic) and costs between $65 to $75. Travel time from Buffalo will vary greatly depending on wait times at the border but expect the trip to take at least 1 hour and cost at least $70. Hamilton airport is no more than an hour away from most points in Niagara Region. A limo will cost approximately $120.

While you can get around the region by bus and taxi, renting a car makes a lot of sense and gives you maximum flexibility. Major rental companies are located in each of the airport terminals. If renting in Buffalo be sure to let the rental company know you will be taking your vehicle across the border into Canada. (Additional fees, insurance or restrictions may apply.) And no matter how tempting the Wine Route is, please don't drink and drive.

 

By Train

You can take the Westbound GO train to Burlington and then take a GO bus that drops you off at Fairview Mall. VIA Rail has twice daily service between Toronto to Niagara Falls and the ride takes about two hours. The train station in Niagara Falls is within easy walking distance of downtown. Some hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake offer a shuttle service from the station. 5-0 Transportation also offers a shuttle service from Niagara Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake, departing from the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal at 10:15am, 1:15pm and 4pm daily, and leaving from Fort George at 11am, 2:15pm and 5pm. The fare is around $19 for a return trip.

 

By Car

With the Niagara region being just over 100 km's from downtown Toronto, you can be here in just over an hour. If you are coming from the United States make sure you have the necessary identification and that you allow plenty of time to cross the border. Citizens of the United States do not require a passport to enter Canada by land. The Tourism Niagara website is an excellent source of up-to-date info on crossing the border including documentation requirements and border wait times.

Where To Stay

Gay and Lesbian Options

All of these B&Bs are gay or lesbian owned and operated, however, just The Oasis welcomes exclusively gay guests. Wile all the rest are obviously gay-friendly, they cater primarily to a mainstream clientele.

Niagara Falls

  • Absolute Elegance - both rooms in this small B&B have ensuite baths with jacuzzi tubs. (6023 Culp, Niagara Falls)
  • Accommodations Niagara - all four rooms have ensuite baths and wireless internet service. (5069 River, Niagara Falls)
  • Bamfield Hall - three simply decorated room with ensuite baths. (4761 Zimmerman, Niagara Falls)
  • Heart of Niagara Hotels - Includes: Holiday Inn & Suites Parkway Conference Center, Best Western Hotel & Conference Center and Days Inn Fitness Hotel, all centrally located to all that Niagara has to offer.
  • Ellis House - this B&B is in the heart of Niagara Falls and is popular with international guests. (4284 Ellis, Niagara Falls) 

Niagara-on-the-Lake

  • Britaly - a well reviewed choice with three rooms, each with either ensuite or private bath. (57 The Promenade, Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Gay Friendly Options

Niagara Falls

  • Embassy Suites - one of a handful of hotels boasting spectacular views of the Falls. (6700 Fallsview, Niagara Falls)
  • Lyons House Hostel - very basic, clean youth-oriented hostel a block from Clifton Hill. (5741 McGrail, Niagara Falls)
  • Sheraton Fallsview - probably the premier hotel along the Fallsview strip, most notable for rooms with a view. (6755 Fallsview, Niagara Falls) 

Niagara-on-the-Lake

  • Pillar and Post - a charming former cannery transformed into a country inn, a short walk to the centre of town. (48 John, Niagara-on-the-Lake)
  • Prince of Wales - probably the best located hotel in town, right on the main street within easy walking distance of the theatres. (6 Picton, Niagara-on-the-Lake)
  • Queen's Landing - luxurious and elegant along the edge of the lake, ideal if you are looking to be pampered. (155 Byron, Niagara-on-the-Lake) 

St Catharines

  • Best Western Beacon Harbourside - just outside St Catharines, with great views across Lake Ontario. (2793 Beacon, Jordan)
  • Comfort Inn - conveniently located just off the QEW, the highway to Toronto and Niagara Falls. (2 Dunlop, St Catharines)
  • Days Inn - a moderate hotel to use as a relatively inexpensive base to explore the Niagara Region. (89 Meadowvale, St Catharines)
  • Four Points by Sheraton - a modern all suites hotel close to many of the region's best wineries. (3530 Schmon Parkway, Thorold)
  • Quality Hotel Parkway - good value just off the QEW. (327 Ontario, St Catharines)
  • Travelodge - a moderate hotel that's a good choice for those on a driving holiday. (420 Ontario, St Catharines)

Where To Eat

Niagara prides itself on the quality and freshness of its food and wine. Not surprisingly, there are a number of superior restaurants that play to this strength. Many of the wineries also have restaurants and are good bets for a decent meal. Most restaurants in Niagara Falls tend to cater to the waves of tourists, so you'll find many familiar (if somewhat unexciting) chain options to choose from.

Niagara Falls

  • Falls Manor Restaurant - a favourite breakfast stop for locals and visitors. Although there may be a line up on weekends, it moves quickly. (7104 Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls) 

Niagara-on-the-Lake

  • The Epicurean - a popular spot with a nice patio that's great for lunch. (84 Queen, Niagara-on-the-Lake)
  • Little Red Rooster - best for a bacon and eggs breakfast or a quick lunch. (271 Mary, Niagara-on-the-Lake)
  • Old Winery Restaurant - Italian-style dining from one the best known local chefs. (Regional Road 55, just outside Niagara-on-the-Lake)
  •  Queenston Heights Restaurant - stop here for lunch or afternoon tea with a view. (14184 Niagara Parkway, Queenston)
  • Willow Cakes & Pastries - probably the best sweets bakery in the area. Not much room to sit, so plan to take away. (242 Mary, Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Where To Meet Locals

Even though there really are only a couple of gay bars in the region, you'll be comfortable at most bars and clubs, particularly in the tourist-friendly areas of Niagara Falls and Niagara-On-The-Lake.

  • Envy Lounge - Phone : 905.682.7774 Entrance off of Haynes Street. (127 Queenston Street, St. Catharines)

Women

  • Custom Cafe Sugar - A relaxed atmosphere with a mixed crowd but with lots of women. (19 Hazenstraat)
  • Saarein 2 - A new incarnation of Amsterdam's oldest lesbian bar. (119 Elandsstraat)
  • Bar Vivelavie - Amsterdam's best know and popular lesbian bar. Gets packed with women as the evening progresses. Open late. (7 Amstelstraat)

"Cruising"

Gay Men

  • Erie Sauna - a steam room for men (and open to swingers on Friday nights). Showers and sauna are in poor shape and individual rooms are small; however, there is a roof top deck for sunbathing and other activities. (216 Jarvis, For Erie)

Things To Do

History Lesson -

The region is rich in War of 1812 history. Visit now peaceful and quiet scenes of major battles at Queenston Heights, Lundy's Lane and Fort George. The Laura Secord Homestead is just one the interesting stops on the Niagara Heritage Trail.

 

Shopping -

There's all manner of shopping to keep you hopping. Niagara Falls features everything from the kitschy souvenir shops in the Clifton Hill area to excellent deals at the outlet mall in Lundy's Lane. For a change of pace, stroll along Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake to pick up fresh fudge, local jams or chachkas like some new decorations for your Christmas tree.

 

Shaw Festival -

One of North America's best theatre events, the Shaw Festival features plays written or taking place during the lifetime of the festival's namesake. This season's highlights include Wonderful Town, A Little Night Music, The Little Foxes and a concert version of Follies.

 

Wine Route -

The Wine Route includes some of Canada's best wineries as it traces three trips through the region: Grimsby & Beamsville and Jordan & Vineland, both just west of St Catharines as well as the vintner-rich area around Niagara-on-the-Lake.

 

Beaches -

Once almost a bigger draw than the Falls, Crystal Beach near Fort Erie still retains the charm of its heyday in the late 1800's. Today, the beaches around Wainfleet near Port Colborne are popular with the local gay boys.

 

Festivals -

As you might expect, many of the festivals in the region have a connection to the bounty of local food and wine. The Niagara Ice Wine Festival (in January), the Strawberry Festival (in June) and Niagara Wine Festival (in September) are just some examples. Check out music and local theatre festivals over the summer or the Winter Festival of Lights over the holiday season.

 

Slots and Shows -

If the Falls aren't excitement enough, stop in at the nearby Casino Niagara or the Fallsview Casino to try your luck. While both casinos feature entertainment in addition to gaming, the Fallsview has a strong line up of familiar names throughout the year.