15 Best Things to Do in Burlington (Ontario, Canada)

Burlington is a beautiful city nestled between Toronto and Niagara Falls, nestled on the edge of Lake Ontario. It has been voted as one of the best places to live in the country, while also being an excellent holiday destination.

From charming gardens to fine dining, there is something for everyone in Burlington. Still, it’s often overlooked by tourists passing between Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Highly recommend spending a few days in Burlington, especially if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax away from the hustle and bustle. If you do find yourself visiting the city, these are the best things to do in Burlington:

1. Visit the garden

Royal Botanic Gardens

Not just any garden, but the largest garden in Canada. The world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens is arguably Burlington’s top attraction and a must for anyone visiting or passing through the city.

The beautiful garden is divided into different sections spread over 900 hectares of land. It has four outdoor gardens, a conservatory and three restaurants, as well as a lovely gift shop.

Stroll through the picturesque gardens and admire the world’s largest collection of lilacs and more than 1,000 other plants and flowers. It also happens to be an important bird area.

2. Look at art

Burlington Art Gallery

The Burlington Art Gallery is the seventh largest public gallery in the province. The 4,100-square-meter gallery houses more than 1,000 works of art.

One of the art gallery’s biggest draws is its collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics, the largest in Canada. It also has a lovely courtyard for special exhibitions.

The Burlington Art Gallery opened in 1978 as a venue for artists to create crafts. Since becoming a public gallery, more than 100,000 visitors pass through its doors each year.

3. Walk along the pier

Brant Street Pier

Brant Street Pier is an S-shaped pier that stretches 137 meters above Lake Ontario. The marina offers stunning views of the lake and Burlington coastline.

Walk along the pier and enjoy the view while feeling the wind in your hair. For the best view, follow the circular staircase to the elevated deck.

The marina is open between 7am and 11pm so you can enjoy the view in the morning, afternoon or evening. You can also fish on the pier or cycle along the pier.

4. Go rock climbing

Mount Nemo Reserve

Mount Nemo Reserve is the place to do just that. In fact, it’s one of the most popular climbing locations in southwestern Ontario.

The climb starts at 5.9, with some descents between 5.10 and 5.12, so it’s not suitable for amateurs. But any avid climber will love rock climbing here.

A feature of the climb is the spectacular view, which on a clear day stretches all the way to the CN Tower. For those who don’t want to climb the mountain, there are also hiking trails.

5. Go hiking

niagara cliffs

The famous Bruce Trail stretches 890 kilometers from the Niagara River to Tobermory, passing Burlington along the way. This is a world-renowned trail that is the best place to hike in the city.

The trail runs along the edge of the Niagara Cliffs, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This is an extraordinary hike with stunning views, waterfalls and wildlife.

Part of the trail goes through the Mount Nemo Conservation Area, where there are some spectacular views. It also passes through the Crawford Lake Reserve, which has a rare meromictic lake.

6. Explore Downtown Burlington

Downtown Burlington

Take a walking tour of the city’s historic districts and see some of Burlington’s grandest buildings. Start your tour at the fountain in front of City Hall, then start exploring downtown Burlington along Ontario Street.

On this historic walk, you’ll see beautiful Victorian Vernacular, Late Victorian and Gothic Revival mansions. You will also pass the Zimmerman House, a hotel bistro built in 1860.

There are two historic churches in downtown Burlington; Knox Presbyterian Church and St. Philip’s Church. The former dates back to 1845 and is known for its handcrafted pulpits, while the latter was built in 1875 and features an Italian-style square tower.

8. Watch the weather

Discovery Landing

The iconic Discovery Landing building faces the lake and is a great place to watch the weather. The 4,328 sqm building is a landmark and a great place to play, relax and enjoy.

The building features an observation deck with floor-to-ceiling windows for stunning panoramic views. It also has a great restaurant with stunning views of the lake.

Discovery Landing also happens to overlook the Rotary Centennial Pond. The pond covers an area of ​​more than 3,000 square meters and turns into an ice skating rink in winter.

9. mingle with the locals

Burlington is full of bars and nightclubs, perfect for meeting and mingling with the locals. Some bars in town offer live music, while others are perfect for watching your favorite sports.

When it comes to Burlington’s nightlife, live music seems to be the most important thing, with around 30 bars offering it. Most of them also have a great food menu and typical pub food.

There are also stylish lounges where you can sip cocktails and several nightclubs where you can dance the night away. Basically, if you’re a night owl, you won’t get bored.

10. Visit the farm

Stonehaven Farm

Pick your own strawberries, pumpkins, raspberries or corn at Stonehaven Farms, or buy fresh produce at their market.

Stonehaven Farm opened in 1904 and is still going strong today. Of course, it has expanded from a small farm to what it is today. A large farm with shops, corn mazes and wagons.

There is also a children’s area with straw piles to climb, a giant sandbox and a straw bale maze. The whole family will enjoy visiting the farm.

11. Eat ribs

Canada's Largest Rib Festival

No kidding, Burlington is home to Canada’s largest ribs festival. Eating Ribs Day takes place on Labor Day weekend, usually the first weekend in September.

Ribfest is full of food vendors and has a market that focuses on ribs. Eat as many ribs as possible, cooked in many different ways, with a variety of sauces and flavors.

You’ll really spoil your taste buds at this annual festival. All while listening to some great live music.

12. Have fun at the park

Spencer Smith Park

Not only is Spencer Smith Park home to Ribfest and the Burlington Beer Festival, it’s also a great place to have fun all summer long. The park has a small beach and many trails along the waterfront.

Located in downtown Burlington, Spencer Smith Park features a wide promenade overlooking the lake. It is also home to Brant Street Pier and Rotary Centennial Pond.

There are expansive lawns where you can relax and have a picnic, or take a leisurely walk along the waterfront and enjoy the view. The park also has a children’s playground and water spray area for you to play.

13. Visit a museum

Joseph Brandt Museum

Burlington has two historic buildings that are now museums; the Irish House and the Joseph Brandt Museum. Visit any of them, walk around and learn about the city’s history and heritage.

Built in 1837, the Irish House is one of Burlington’s oldest homes. Explore the house and learn about the lives and times of three generations of the family.

Walk through the Joseph Brandt Museum and learn about the founding, settlement, and development of Burlington and its surrounding area. The museum has permanent exhibits and hosts traveling exhibitions.

14. Enjoy the food

Honey Western Restaurant & Bar

Burlington has more than 200 restaurants where you can dine. From cheap hot dog vendors to gourmet bistros, the city has it all.

Several of Burlington’s restaurants are award-winning restaurants with prices that match where you can really indulge yourself. There are also some great mid-range places if you are dining with the kids.

Tempt your taste buds by trying some of the more authentic restaurants serving Chinese, Thai or Italian cuisine. Burlington is also a great place to enjoy fresh seafood.

15. Play a round of golf

Indian Wells Golf Club

Or play some, as there are nine different places to play within or within the city limits. Basically, no golfer would be bored in Burlington.

One of the most scenic courses is Indian Wells Golf Club, an 18-hole course nestled at the base of Mount Nemo. Although it is its sister club, Millcroft Golf Club, it is widely regarded as the best golf course in the city.

There’s also the famous Burlington Golf and Country Club, but you’ll need to play golf here with a member. The award-winning Hidden Lake Golf Club is another great place to play golf.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Burlington, Canada
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