St. Catharines is a city in the Niagara Region. It has the Welland Canal, a dry-dock for ships, and automotive plants. Two World Rowing Championships have been held here: first in 1970, and the most recent being in 1999. The smaller city of Thorold is on the south edge of St. Catharines.
The QEW Highway (which runs from Toronto to the Fort Erie-Buffalo border crossing) runs right through the city.
Greyhound and Megabus (Coach Canada) operate a bus service from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) building downtown at 301 St. Paul Street. Frequent trips to Toronto, Niagara Falls, and beyond can be arranged.
GO Transit buses serve Fairview Mall. The stop is located at the corner of Dawsco Drive and YMCA Drive. Services are available east to Niagara Falls, and west to the Burlington GO Station for connecting trains.
St. Catharines is served by the Maple Leaf train, operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail. The train runs daily between Toronto and New York City via Oakville, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and various smaller cities. Also, GO Transit provides an limited commuter service with the once-daily train between Toronto and Niagara Falls calling here. On weekends year-round, GO Transit offers the Niagara Weekend GO Train Service which stops in St. Catharines. Both the Maple Leaf and commuter trains can accommodate bikes.
- 1 St. Catharines railway station, 5 Great Western Street. Located southeast of the city centre, just off St Paul West St. Free parkering is available as well as limited public transport nearby.
St. Catharines Transit Commission buses serve most of the city. Maps and schedules can be viewed online. As of June 2018, the cash fare is $3 per ride including a transfer. A weekend one-day family pass can be purchased from the driver on the bus for $7/day. You can view maps, schedules, and purchase passes at the MTO building downtown at 301 St. Paul Street. Tickets for multiple rides can also be purchased at the PEN Centre shopping mall at 221 Glendale Avenue.
It is a shame that St. Catharines is overlooked by most tourists visiting Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake as it has a lot to offer. St. Catharines offers better value and quality for food and accommodation than the nearby tourist destinations which are only about 10-20 minutes away.
- One of the world's best rowing courses is home to the annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, named after the original regatta in Henley-on-Thames. The 132nd event was held August 3–10, 2014.
- Fantastic scenery can be enjoyed in Shorthills Provincial Park which is within minutes of the downtown core. The main entrance on Pelham Road is surrounded by vineyards and forests while the trails themselves wind up and down the escarpment. All trails are suitable for hiking. There are some fantastic mountain biking trails, and trails for horseback riding. In the winter, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are also popular activities. There is no shortage of wildlife, a couple of waterfalls, rivers, valleys, and cliffs. There is great scenery on every trail all waiting to be explored. Dogs are welcome.
- The Welland Canal runs along the east side of the city. From late March to Christmas, ships travel between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario bypassing Niagara Falls using the series of locks that constitute the canal. Visitors can see the ships at several locations. The best locations are the Welland Canals Centre at Lock 3, and the Lock 7 Viewing Complex in Thorold. Sections of the canal are drained between New Year's and mid-March for maintenance.
Port Dalhousie (pronounced Da-loo-zee) is at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek on Lake Ontario. Not far away is the Henley Rowing course. It is the home of Lakeside Park, made famous by the Rush song of the same name. It is a small area, basically one square block, but it hosts more than 10 bars, almost all of which have patio areas. One popular attraction is the old-fashioned carousel, which still costs only 5 cents a ride. A very popular place for locals and tourists in the summer time.
- There are world class vineyards in the rural west end of St. Catharines. Tours can be arranged and there is much available for tasting at every stop. Ontario wineries produce some fantastic white wines and ice wines which is what the region is known for.
- FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, 250 St. Paul St, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In the Corner Billiards & Lounge, 448 Welland Ave. A pool hall with 12 billiards tables, 2 snooker, food, beer and fun. All ages welcome.
- Kissing Rock, 50 Chapel Street South, Thorold (at the Lock 7 Viewing Complex). Legend has it that couples who kiss here enjoy luck and happiness.
- Lock 7 Viewing Complex, 50 Chapel Street South, Thorold, ☏ , toll-free: . This is a good location to watch ships being raised or lowered in Lock 7. A short walk leads to the head of Lock 7 for a very close look.
- Meridian Centre, 1 IceDogs Way, ✉ email@example.com. Home of the Niagara IceDogs (hockey) and the Niagara River Lions (basketball).
- Welland Canals Centre, 1932 Welland Canals Pkwy (at Lock 3), ☏ , toll-free: . Daily 9AM to 5PM. The Welland Canals Centre houses a tourist information centre, gift shop, the St. Catharines Museum and the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The raised observation deck (elevator available) allows visitors to see the process as ships are raised or lowered in Lock 3. Ships pass through the locks from late March to the end of December. There is a picnic area and children's playground just north of the building. Canals Centre is free. Museum is by donation (suggested donation is $4 per person).
- White Meadow Farms, 2519 Effingham St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Store: daily 9AM-5PM. Although a working farm with cattle and other crops, the big attraction is the Sugarbush. The Sugarbush Adventure runs weekends in February and March.
Named after Sir Issac Brock who was responsible for defending Upper Canada against the United States during the War of 1812, Brock University offers undergraduate and graduate programs, with the well-known sports management program being the only university offered in Canada.
There is a wide variety of stores and services available in Downtown St. Catharines.
- Fairview Mall, 285 Geneva St. M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Su noon-5PM. Major stores include Chapters, Mark's Work Wearhouse, Sport Chek, Walmart, Winners, and Zehrs. Nearby large stores include Costco, Home Depot, and Staples. There is a food court in the mall. Harvey's and Swiss Chalet restaurants are in the parking lot.
- Outlet Collection at Niagara, 330 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake (west of the QEW on Glendale Rd), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Although closer to St. Catharines, this open-air outlet mall is part of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first phase opened May 15, 2014. The main anchor is Bass Pro Shops.
- Pen Centre, 221 Glendale Ave (Hwy. 406 & Glendale Ave.), ☏ , toll-free: . M–F 10AM–9PM, Sa 9AM–6PM, Su 11AM–6PM. A shopping mall. You can get almost anything. Large stores include Dollarama, H&M, Homesense, Old Navy, SportChek, The Bay, Winners, and Zehrs. Services include Passport Canada. There is a food court inside the mall. A&W, Boston Pizza, and Kelsey's restaurants are in the parking lot.
Typical Canadian chain restaurants can be found around town. McDonald's, and Tim Hortons are probably the most common. St Pauls Street near the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre has an ever-changing variety of restaurants.
- Amakara Japan, 19 Geneva St, ☏ . M-Sa 11:15AM to 10PM, closed Sunday except for major holidays. This is a Japanese restaurant. The owner is Japanese, so you can enjoy real Japanese food: sushi, teriyaki beef/chicken, tempura and so on.
- Cat's Caboose, 224 Glenridge Ave, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Well-liked St Catharines restaurant. Entertainment usually on Friday & Saturday nights.
- Chang Noi, 225 Queenston St, ☏ . Authentic Thai food, slow service and a language barrier that results in a high probability that you will not get what you ordered. Most often they will correct it if you are willing to put up with a longer wait. But it is worth it and if you aren't picky any meal they put in front of you will be very delicious. They have a good vegetarian and vegan selection and the prices are reasonable. They also have the coldest beer in town served to you in an ice-frosted mug. Despite the slow service and frequent mix-ups, regulars keep coming back to this restaurant. $10-15.
- Duru, 220 Welland Ave, ☏ . M W-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su noon-10PM. Korean restaurant. “Cook-it-yourself” on their electronic grill table. Features five different types of barbecues.
- Fabio's Pizza, 530 Scott St, ☏ .
- The Feathery Pub, 420 Vansickle Rd, ☏ . British style pub.
- Gord's Place, 84 James St, ☏ .
- Merchant Ale House, 98 St. Paul St. The food is almost as good as their beers. It is made from scratch and fantastic value. Great budget pub food. The chicken wings are the best in the area and they have some very hot and even some usual sauces you can try. Try the shoestring fries as well but just about anything on the menu is as good as it sounds. For details on beers see the drink section below. $5-10.
- Papa Vince Pizza, 2A Sullivan Ave, Thorold (corner of Front and Sullivan), ☏ . 4PM to 11PM. Papa Vince has great pizza and wings, but where it really stands out is with their steak sub. Everyone should try a fatty!
- Romby's Tavern & Smokehouse, 488 Lake St, ☏ . Restaurant & tavern.
- Sahla Thai, 270 St. Paul St (downtown), ☏ . M-F 11AM–10PM, Sa 5PM–10PM, Su 5PM–9PM. Thai restaurant.
- UNeedAPita, 116 St. Paul St (downtown), ☏ . This place has much better value, flavour, and selection than the other pita places downtown. They also have burgers, fresh cut fries, smoothies, frozen yogurt, sliders and other goodies prepared fresh. A popular take-out lunch destination as well. Also at 343 Glendale Ave and 100 Martindale Rd (inside Nonna's Kitchen) in St Catharines, and 30 Rice Rd in Welland. Each location has different hours. $3-5.
There are two primary bar areas in the city: Port Dalhousie and downtown. Generally, Port Dalhousie is the active bar scene during the warm summer months, and downtown is the prime location for nightlife in the winter. The downtown area also has its fill of bars, likely more than twenty. Everything from small pubs to large dance clubs fill the area, although almost every bar has a laid-back feel (with matching laid-back clothing requirements.) There has been a bit of an upscale trend lately, with the addition of a few martini bars. It's a bigger area to cover than up in Port, but even still it's quite easy to walk from a bar at one end of downtown to another at the opposite end.
- 1 The Merchant Ale House, 98 St. Paul St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 11AM to 2AM (kitchen closes at 11PM). Possibly the best hang out pub in the city. Most of the beer is brewed on premises and is home to their famous Drunken Monkey Oatmeal Stout. Some other honorable mentions go to the blueberry wheat, strawberry blonde, IPA, Hockey Ale, and their seasonal pumpkin ale and holiday skullcrusher. There is some interesting live music most Saturdays. The type of music never seems to be the same. This is a pub for all ages and is thankfully not frequented by immature college crowds. $9-15.
- Capri Inn, 391 Ontario St, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Complimentary breakfast of hot drinks, juice, muffins and other pastries, free Hi Speed Wireless Internet, 100% non- smoking rooms, in-room safe and fridge. From $100.
- Stone Mill Inn, 271 Merritt St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Complimentary Wi-Fi, cable television, mini fridge, coffee maker. From $116.
- Cedar Suite Bed & Breakfast, 11 Dorothy St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From $120.
- 1 Brock University Residence, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Campus residence. Available to travellers from May to August.
Interesting places nearby include:
- Niagara Falls (Ontario) - for the Falls, of course
- Niagara-on-the-Lake - quaint, historic town with great little shops, restaurants, and (in the summer) the Shaw theatre festival
|Routes through St. Catharines|
|Toronto ← Grimsby ←||W E||→ Niagara Falls (Ontario) → → Niagara Falls (New York)|
|Hamilton ← Lincoln ←||W E||→ Niagara-on-the-Lake → Niagara Falls|
|Hamilton ← Lincoln ←||W E||→ Niagara-on-the-Lake → END|
|Toronto ← Hamilton ←||N S||→ Niagara Falls → END|