Winston Churchill called the drive along the Niagara Parkway ‘the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world’.
The complete length of the parkway is 55km (34.2mi), and runs through the entire Niagara region from north to south – its ends at Lake Ontario and Lake Erie respectively. For that entire length the road never strays far from Niagara River, sometimes only a few meters away from the riverbank.
The main hub along the Niagara Parkway is at the Table Rock Welcome Centre – standing at the former site of Table Rock. Adjacent to the falls themselves and in the middle of the Canadian township of Niagara Falls, this is the ‘centre’ for the highway – both commercially and geographically.
South of the centre, the ‘Niagara Parkway’ scenic route takes different names at times near Lake Eyre, including Lakeshore Road down near Fort Erie. It’s less populated between the lakeside communities and Niagara Falls, the main landmark being the Willoughby Historical Museum. Shortly before coming to Niagara Falls, the parkway runs through the small community of Chippawa, clustered around Welland River. Relatively quieter than Niagara Falls, Chippawa is home to several historic parks and buildings and can act as a humble hub for local cuisine.
Heading north from Table Rock instead, the parkway is officially an ‘Ontario scenic highway’, hugging as close to the river as able. The road snakes along towards Queenston, providing both a captivating landscape and ample opportunities for entertainment and indulgence – helicopter tours, wineries, running, bike rides and so on. The parkway also runs alongside the botanical gardens at this stretch.
From Queenston – which, like Chippawa, is another town rich with history and coloured with colonial-era architecture – the parkway comes into its own as a relaxing drive. The maple trees that line the road are best viewed in autumn. The road continues along until its final destination at Niagara-on-the-Lake, sitting on the edge of Lake Ontario as a major cultural and culinary centre in southern Ontario.
Whether heading north or south from Table Rock, the Parkway is both a key commercial road and a recreational route, connecting many various Niagara communities in a single chain, routinely travelled by both tourists and locals.
It’s best seen on foot, bike, or by driving your car along the Parkway from the Marriott on the Falls hotel all the way up to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
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