Picture this; you drive throughout The Niagara Region, and each and every spot to stop at, you are bombarded not with a plethora of tourists, but with flowers and floral fauna like never before. Here in Niagara The Niagara Parks Commission certainly knows a thing or two about maintaining our parks, and therefore whichever park you hop on over to, you know it will be just perfect. Many of the parks have a variety of facilities such as picnic table seating areas, splash pads, soccer or football fields, tennis courts, playgrounds and so much more. One of the lovely things about The Niagara Region is the fact that they have leash-free dog parks, so if you've brought your 'sporty' dog with you than head on over to Burgoyne Woods Park where your dog can roam freely for once. Spend the afternoon picnicking at Queens Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake or Montebello Park in St. Catharines. The beautiful thing about Queens Royal Park is that there is a gazebo, trail and perfectly maintained grass area where you can certainly plop yourselves down for the day and take in the beauty of the water and enjoy the laid back lifestyle that Niagara-on-the-Lake boasts. No matter which park you choose, you'll certainly feel like a kid again as the park was always the best spot to go on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy the day outside with your very best friends and family. So go on, take out your shoes, grab a soccer or football and let the games begin.
If you feel there's something magical about the presence of a single butterfly, imagine having 2000 of them flying about! Thanks to tropical foliage and flowers, a waterfall and an added dose of humidity, the experience becomes downright exotic. Visitors wander the facility's pathways, watching the creatures light on flowers, flutter through the air and create a show of color and fragility. More than 65 species inhabit the space; outside, native counterparts can be found in the butterfly garden. A cafe is available and staff members present butterfly-related programs regularly. (905-358-0025)
Oakes Garden Theatre
Built on the site of a destroyed hotel (and incorporating portions of the ruins), this garden was completed in 1937. Remaining faithful to the lay of the land, it takes the shape of an amphitheater, and the stage, engagingly, employs the Falls as a backdrop. Formal in nature, the garden features limestone hard-scaping, iron gates, a curved pergola and geometric beds. Water features and rock gardens add character as well, a fact which is not lost on wedding planners and concert promoters.
Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse
This somewhat futuristic-looking glass structure, dating to 1945, shelters a host of beautiful, delicate plants. Within its walls, visitors find specimens from all over the world, including orchids, lilies, cyclamen and succulents. Plants used for outdoor displays are also started in the greenhouse and seasonal flower shows are presented. As a special treat, tropical birds add extra color. Outside of the greenhouse are several beautifully kept beds, including one that caters to visually impaired visitors.
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
Initially established in 1936, these botanical gardens attract nearly a million visitors each year. In fact, folks can't seem to get enough of NPBG's 100 acres of manicured beds and plantings, which are maintained by a select group of students from the Park's horticultural school. The arboretum features a wealth of specimen shrubs and trees, including flowering cherry trees. Other specialty gardens include those devoted to roses, herbs and vegetables. You'll also see rhododendrons, irises and a wide variety of perennials. (905-358-0025)
Burgoyne Woods Park
The beauty of Burgoyne Woods Park is not just the fact that you can let your dog roam free in the 'dog park' area, but it's the fact that you can get the family together for a day filled with barbeques, sports and full on enjoying the company of one another. This park, located in St. Catharines is the perfect oasis for those looking to hop onto the beaten path and take in the beauty of nature, all the while cooling off in the wading pool or sitting under a tree and enjoying the simplicity of park life. Enjoy a day here any time of year. (905.688.5601 x1927)
Queen's Royal Park
Niagara on the Lake is certainly known for its wines and perfect outdoor festivals, but if you make the trek on down here, one of the very best spots to go is to The Queen's Royal Park. Not only does it offer up a perfect spot to lay out a picnic, go for a walk, or just take in the sun, but the gazebo is the perfect spot to take the loveliest family photo. This park offers up lovely views of historic Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York to the east as well as Lake Ontario. And the very best thing about the location of this park is that it's just seconds away from the downtown core, so grab a coffee or sandwich from any restaurant and pull out the blanket, you're perfect picnic awaits. ((905) 468-4261)
Charles Daley Park & Beach
Charles Daley Park is the most splendid place to spend the day during those hot summer months. With 22.5 acres of waterfront views, the park is open all year round and offers a plethora of green space and sand to dig your toes in. There are two beaches located on the park, well maintained grasses and a bandshell where many performances occur during the summer months which are mostly free. The Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks both flow into Lake Ontario at Charles Daley Park, providing excellent opportunities for canoeists and hikers. This park truly is the perfect spot for those who love all things about nature. ((905) 563-8205)
Queenston Heights Park
This park is certainly a beautifully manicured park frequented by picnickers and locals alike in pursuit of a whole slew of activities. As the birthplace of Canada, this park is certainly home to not only a bunch of activities (baseball field, splash pad, facilities, soccer fields, picnic benches, playground and barbeques) but boasts a historical monument, The Brock Monument. The monument was created to remember Major-General Isaac Brock and Laura Secord, two figures during the War of 1812. Walk up the monument or take some photos in front of it, either or you'll enjoy the beauty of this sight all the while enjoying all of the green space this park offers. (877-642-7275)
Lester B. Pearson Park
Located in North St. Catharines this park has it all and so much more. With two lighted soccer fields and lighted tennis courts, games are going on all day and night. There are always local soccer teams either in tournaments or playing regular games so this is a great spot if you're interested in watching a game or two. There is a full-out amazingly designed playground and splash-pad for kids and 11.7 hectares of space to roam freely. (905.688.5600)
Montebello Park is a lovely green space located in busy downtown St. Catharines. The park itself is 2.49 hectares, hosts events and festivals throughout the year and is certainly the perfect spot to enjoy a day outside with family and friends. The park was designed way back in 1887, by Frederick Law Olmstead, a founding father of landscape architecture in the USA. The park is infamous for its yearly Grape and Wine Festival shenanigans. The pavilion and band shell are available to rent for special occasions. The park has washroom facilities, a playground and is surrounded by metered parking. (905.688.5600)
About Melaina Gasbarrino
Melaina is a native to The Niagara Region. Though she's traveled the world, she loves coming home and experiencing the true beauty that The Niagara Region has to offer. From hikes through The Niagara Gorge, to dinners at some impeccable restaurants, to wine tastings in Niagara-on-the-Lake, she's here as your guide. Learn about all things wonderful and beautiful of The Niagara Region with Melaina; you're in for one wild, eccentric ride.
Read more about Melaina Gasbarrino here.