Some of the most impressive Hamilton attractions and things to do nearby can be found in the great outdoors, away from the malls and bustle of downtown. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, Hamilton offers access to major walking trails and stunning waterfalls. A car is almost essential to access the best spots, but some major natural beauty can be found just a short drive from downtown.
Hamilton also boasts several large parks, and a popular Botanical Gardens (discover more activities in downtown Hamilton on our dedicated page).
Here are some of the most popular natural attractions and things to do near Hamilton, all within an hour’s drive of downtown.
Hamilton attractions: Waterfalls
Waterfalls are a big deal in Hamilton, as there are dozens of them on the Niagara Escarpment. It is difficult to describe the sight of a major waterfall in a short blurb of text, so we’ll just leave this image here to whet your appetite.
This photo, beautiful as it is, doesn’t come close to the real deal. That’s why we recommend that you go discover these magnificent falls yourself, preferably shortly after you move to Hamilton – it will help to add an extra layer of appreciation for where you have moved to (plus, you’ll have some great photos and videos to make everyone back home jealous). Some local favourites close to downtown Hamilton include Chedoke Falls and Albion Falls, while the further-afield Webster’s Falls and Tew’s Falls are located on a popular nature trail for a more serious hiking day trip. All of these trails are accessible to even the most beginner hiker, but be prepared to climb – the views are worth it.
Hamilton attractions come in all shapes and sizes, but the best ones are vertical and wet!
The Bruce Trail
The Bruce Traill stretches more than 890 kilometres across Ontario – but no one is expecting you to walk the whole way. Instead, try some short walks along some of the best stretches, such as in the Dundas Valley Trail System, Sherman Falls, or Chedoke Radial Trail. Get more information on Hamilton’s trails here.
This wetlands ecosystem forms part of the Royal Botanical Gardens, and is a protected area for many regional and endangered species. If birds aren’t really your thing, keep your eye out instead for many quintessentially Canadian and North American animals including deer, raccoons, beavers, muskrats, coyotes, and even bald eagles (don’t forget to look up!).
Cottage country comes home
While many Canadians head to “cottage country” during the summer, there are many more who do not have the luxury of a second (or third) property in popular holiday destinations like Muskoka or Haliburton. But that’s just fine for many Hamiltonians, because their city still provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy the waterfront during the hot summer days. Try Binbrook Conservation Area for watersports and splash parks, Fifty Point or Christie Lake for boating and fishing, or Confederation Park for a tranquil break.
Mild summer nights and well-equipped camp grounds mean camping is another popular summer pastime in the area. Sites are scattered across the countryside surrounding Hamilton, many of them on smaller lakes, such as Valens Conservation Area, Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area, and Hillside Lake Park, among others.
These are just some of the highlights of the outdoors and Hamilton attractions. There is a lot more to discover. Hiking trails are plentiful and easily accessible, so get out there and explore for yourself!