A Guide to: Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton is a well-known city full of history, culture and nature. Its location in Southern Ontario is ideal as it’s an hour’s drive from both Toronto and Niagara Falls. Whether you’re stopping by for a visit or passing through as a detour there’s plenty of things in Hamilton to keep you busy and entertained. 

I loved growing up in Hamilton. I’ve moved in and out of the country multiple times, but I’ve always been pulled back into the city. I have a deep sense of connection and belonging here that I haven’t felt anywhere else. So I decided to write a blog post for locals and travellers alike that’s both factual and personal. I compiled a list of places to eat, things to do and where to stay and formed it into the Ultimate Guide. 

Weather

Hamilton’s climate is humid-continental, with summers warm and winters cold. Temperatures in winter can fall into the negatives with summers between the 20-30 degree range.

History

The town of Hamilton was conceived by George Hamilton shortly after the War of 1812. After achieving its status as a city Hamilton began to see itself in terms of industrial production and acquired nicknames such as the Ambitious City and Steel City. Soon after other sectors of the economy took over, as Hamilton became a post industrial economy which grew Hamilton to what it is today. 

How to Get Around

Hamilton offers numerous methods of transportation throughout the city. The Hamilton Service Rail (HSR) bus system commutes to a vast majority of locations in Hamilton. The buses are can be slow or late sometimes so give yourself an extra few minutes when commuting. If you plan to reach some of the attractions or restaurants out of the downtown core driving by car is easier and more convenient. If you’re feeling adventurous you could Bike the Hammer with SoBi Hamilton to explore the hidden corners of the city. They are available 24/7 in different locations throughout the city.

Where to Stay

Staybridge Suites Hamilton 

Staybridge Suites has perfected the extended-stay experience to ensure a “home away from home” feel. This is the perfect hotel if you’re looking for a luxurious and comfortable stay. One great feature that I personally liked about Staybridge is its prime location in the downtown core. You’re able to explore the inner city and see what Hamilton’s all about!

Hamilton Guesthouse

This friendly backpackers’ hostel provides affordable accommodation to tourists from all over the world. If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, this is the perfect place to try one out. Hamilton Guesthouse offers low prices making it a good value for your money.

Where to Eat

NàRoma Pizza Bar

215 Locke St S, Hamilton, L8P 4B6

Experience the taste of real handmade Italian pizza at one of Hamilton’s finest pizzerias.  Foodies can’t go wrong with the wide selection of pizza’s and second you can’t beat the price. I love heading to NàRoma’s outdoor patio to enjoy the Terra Pizza al taglio while people watching on Locke Street.

Rawlicious

1044 King St W, Hamilton, L8S 1L5

In the charming village of Westdale lies Rawlicious, a raw vegan restaurant, helping you feel good about what you eat. I love staying healthy on the go while traveling so I treat myself with a freshly squeezed juice or smoothie to give me the energy to explore. My ultimate favourite is the Creamsicle smoothie!

Edgewater Manor

518 Fruitland Rd, Stoney Creek, L8E 5A6

Edgewater Manor reflects the passions of the Great Gatsby era with modern day fine dining. The location right on the shores of Lake Ontario is lovely in the summer and has breathtaking views. The food is not only delicious but is full of quality and is quite generous. What’s not to like?

What to do:

Nature:

Bayfront Park

Visit the stunning 16-hectare lakeside park popular for in-line skating, cycling, walking, and jogging. It connects with the nearby Pier 4 and Cootes Paradise where you can enjoy the harbour area and naturalized areas. Whether it’s the summer or winter I love heading here to get some exercise and soak in the lakeside views.

Hamilton Waterfalls

Hamilton is home to over 100 waterfalls earning the city the title “Waterfall Capital of the World.” Whenever my relatives come into town I always invite them to a new waterfall to experience Hamilton’s natural attractions, such as Albion or Tiffany Falls, personal favourites of mine. Explore Hamilton’s backyard by hiking the Bruce Trail or the Niagara Escarpment. You will not be disappointed while spending the day experiencing what Hamilton’s waterfalls have to offer.

Historical:

Dundurn Castle

Tour Dundurn Castle, formally owned by Sir Allan MacNab, and step back into 1835. Today it is a National Historic Sites of Canada where you can learn more about the family and how they lived. I recommend spending a few hours here to soak in Hamilton’s history while exploring the gardens and property.

Whitehern

Whitehern has an incredible tale to tell. In the 1850’s it was residence of the McQuesten family and descendants who were distinguished members responsible for the development of industry in Hamilton for parks, bridges, and highways. This is a Must See attraction if you’re looking to learn more about the city’s history.

Cultural:

Art Crawl

Every Second Friday of the month there is an Art Crawl on James Street North where all the galleries in the area have their art openings on the same night. But it isn’t just limited to galleries. Shops and restaurants keep their doors open late so that visitors can explore, chat and eat. It’s a great community event that every local or traveller should come out too.

Art Gallery of Hamilton

The Art Gallery of Hamilton, located in the heart of Hamilton, is one of the oldest in Canada. Home to over 9,000 works with a comprehensive collection of Canadian historical, contemporary art and 19th-century European collections, this museum is not one to miss.

Shopping:

Locke Street

Roam Locke Street home to Hamilton’s hottest commercial districts with world-renowned restaurants, local and global shops and thriving businesses. This is one of my favourite locations to just explore and interact with the community. Other favourites of mine include grabbing a delicious treat at Democracy or window shopping at Canoe.

Hamilton Farmers Market

The Hamilton Farmers Market has over 60 amazing vendors with international and local products. It’s the best place in the city to get lost and grab a bite to eat.

Free Events:

If you’re looking for something fun to do check out the Super Crawl, an annual art and indie music festival, held downtown every summer.

Open Doors Hamilton invites residents and visitors to discover Ontario’s hidden treasures with free admission to some of the most prestigious and historical buildings in the city. 

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