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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Hamilton, Ontario skyline
Hamilton, Ontario skyline

Hamilton [1] is a port city in Ontario with a population around 505,000. It is situated at the westernmost end of Lake Ontario—the city wraps around the lake and continues towards the Niagara Escarpment, referred to by locals as "the mountain."


Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. Formerly, the city limits of Hamilton were bounded by approximately Horning Road in the west and Centennial Parkway in the east, but a continuous urban or suburban area had grown around the city, in the towns of Dundas, Ancaster, Stoney Creek and the community of Greensville in the town of Flamborough. On January 1, 2001 the new City of Hamilton was formed through amalgamation of the former City with the constituent towns of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Municipality. In addition to the aforementioned communities, the city also includes the community of Waterdown, which is located closer to Burlington than it is to the urban portion of Hamilton. Residents of the city are known as Hamiltonians. Since 1981, the metropolitan area has been listed as the ninth largest in Canada and the third largest in Ontario.

Traditionally, the local economy has been led by the steel and heavy manufacturing industries. Within the last decade, there has been a shift towards the service sector, particularly health sciences. The Hamilton Health Sciences corporation employs nearly 10,000 staff and serves approximately 2.2 million people in the region.

Hamilton is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, the Bruce Trail, McMaster University and several colleges. The Canadian Football Hall of Fame can be found downtown right beside Hamilton City Hall and across town to the east, the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats play at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Partly because of its diverse locations, numerous TV and film productions have been filmed in Hamilton, regulated by the Hamilton Film and Television Office. A growing arts and culture sector garnered media attention in a 2006 Globe and Mail news article, entitled "Go West, Young Artist," which focused on the growing art scene in Hamilton. The article highlighted local art galleries, recording studios and independent film production.

  • John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (CYHM) [2] accommodates major air carriers and tour operators, offering frequent flights to Canadian, American, Caribbean and European destinations.

By car

Main thoroughfares into Hamilton include the Queen Elizabeth Way/Highway 403, and Highway 6. Hamilton is ideally situated for tourists, being roughly 1 hour from both Toronto and Niagara Falls.

By bus

A few buses serve the Hamilton bus depot - Greyhound runs service from the west, traveling from the London area in the west, as well as from Niagara Falls and Buffalo (USA) in the east and Toronto from the northeast. The Bus parcel service (Greyhound courier express) for Hamilton is at 74 Cannon Street, (905) 525-3019. GO Transit offers frequent travel from Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Regional carriers are also available, such as Coach Canada, which travels from Kitchener in the west and from Niagara Falls in the east. The bus depot, a handsome art deco structure, is in the heart of downtown, at Jackson and Hughson South between James and John Streets.

By train

Hamilton itself is not serviced by VIA Rail, but VIA Rail does stop in nearby Aldershot (in Burlington), which is along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor. GO Transit trains service Hamilton on weekdays, stopping at the bus depot, but the service is geared towards Toronto-bound commuters, with two trains departing Hamilton on weekday mornings and returning to Hamilton on weekday evenings.

By boat

When approaching Hamilton Harbour from the east- Lake Ontario- remember that the lift bridge opens every half hour on the hour.

Get around

Hamilton is divided into two main sections—"The Mountain" and downtown. The Mountain refers to anything on the escarpment—access to the mountain is limited to a few roads, which often arrive on a different street than when you started. If you're going up the mountain, take a second to learn which access you need to take. Driving on the mountain accesses in the winter can be treacherous, and even many locals avoid it if possible due to icy road conditions. During severe storms many and sometimes even all of the accesses can be closed by the city, making travel between the two major districts nearly impossible. The Sherman Access changes to one-way traffic during rush hour, to get traffic down the mountain in the morning and up the mountain in the afternoon. If you aren't aware of this, it can mean having to take a long detour if you've committed to taking the Sherman but can't. Even outside of rush hour the signage on this access can be confusing.

Hamilton is infamous for having mainly one-way streets throughout its downtown core, although many have turned two-way over recent years. Be aware of what intersection you're heading for, and what streets precede it, or you may overshoot. Conversion back to two way streets began in 2004. In the fall of 2005, John and James Streets, main North/South arteries, were converted back to two way traffic. Most of the locals preferred the one way system, but visitors will find it easier to get around.

Rush hour traffic can be problematic like in any other large city. Try to avoid driving down Upper James Street in the mornings or between 4-6PM unless you're content to watch pedestrians overtake you on the sidewalks. The nearby street of West 5th (next major street to the west of Upper James) generally has a far lower volume of traffic and can save you upwards of 10 minutes of driving time. It also sports a mountain access that can get you down to (lower) James Street in no time at all.

The Lincoln Alexander Expressway (known locally as the Linc or Link) is a city by-pass that runs across the mountain from Ancaster to Stoney Creek. If you're trying to get past the city be sure to avoid the major roads (Mohawk, Fennell Stone Church or Rymal) at all costs and take the Linc, which will save you ample time and gas.

There are some duplicate street names between Hamilton and the surrounding areas it amalgamated with; for example, there is a King Street in Dundas, Hamilton, and Stoney Creek.

The transit system is average at best for a city of its size. Downtown service is quite good, but the neighbouring suburbs suffer from infrequent buses, primarily due to high levels of car ownership. On Sundays and holidays expect hour-long waits between buses, even on fairly major routes (such as Upper James Street on the Hamilton Mountain). Late or too-early buses are a common problem on the mountain and can get irritating for locals who depend on transit to get to work.

The major bus hub is located at Gore Park, which runs along King Street and intersects at James (King and James is a notorious neighbourhood for night-time crime and day-time eccentrics and homeless). You can catch a bus to pretty much any part of the city from Gore Park, and each stop generally has a schedule posted on the pole for your convenience. If you have any questions just ask a local - most people are usually quite friendly and helpful and will be happy to provide suggestions if you're looking for a place to visit or something to do while visiting.

Many locals will have stories about rude or inattentive drivers, but if you are missed by a speeding driver or find yourself thrown around by over-zealous use of the brakes you can contact the usually-friendly HSR help desk to file a complaint.

HSR (Hamilton Street Railway) fares are $2.40, as of Tuesday, January 1, 2008 [3].

  • McMaster Museum of Art, University Av at Sterling St (Lee building), 905-525-9140 ext.23081, [4]. Tu,W,F 11AM-5PM, Th 11AM-7PM, Sa 12PM-5PM. Houses a nationally significant collection of more than 6,000 works of art, featuring a permanent collection and contemporary exhibitions, lectures and events.
  • Dundurn Castle, 610 York Blvd, 905-546-2872, [5]. Canada Day to Labour Day: Daily: 10AM-4PM; Labour Day to Canada Day: Tu-Su: 12PM-4PM. One of Hamilton's most-recognized landmarks, Dundurn Castle is a National Historic site, illustrating the life and times of Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1798–1862). More of a stately home than a "castle", the still-impressive structure was completed in 1835. Features year-round programming, tours, restaurant and an on-site military museum.
  • Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology, 900 Woodward Av at the QEW, 905-546-4797, [6]. June 1 to Labour Day: Tu-Su 11AM-4PM; Labour Day to May 31: Tu-Su 12PM-4PM. A fine example of 19th century public works architecture, and the only surviving facility of its time in North America, this National Historic Site houses the two 14 m (45-foot) high, 63.5-tonne (70-ton) steam engines which pumped the first clean water to the city over 140 years ago. Features various exhibits and events, including daily engine demonstrations.
  • Westfield Heritage Village, 1049 Kirkwall Rd, Rockton, 519-621-8851, [7]. Surrounded by 131 ha (324 acres) of unspoiled woods and meadows, this living history museum spans various time periods in 35+ historic buildings, plus a steam locomotive. Much of the TV series Anne of Green Gables was filmed here.
  • Battlefield House Museum, 77 King St. W., Stoney Creek (just east of Centennial Parkway), [8]. At the site of the Battle of Stoney Creek (June 5–6, 1813) is a rural Upper Canada home dating from around 1796 and featuring staff in period costume, demonstrating the lifestyle of day. Every June a military re-enactment of the War of 1812/Battle of Stoney Creek is held.  edit
  • The Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King Street West, 905-527-6610, [9]. Founded in 1914, AGH is Ontario's third largest public art gallery, and boasts one of the country's finest collections. Its emphasis is on 19th-century European, Historical Canadian, and Contemporary Canadian art. In 2003, the AGH began a major renovation project, designed by Hamilton-born and raised architect Bruce Kuwabara. The revamped gallery opened in 2005 and includes a new 2,500-square-foot glass pavilion and Sculpture Atrium.
  • The Movie Palace, 526 Concession St., (905) 383-2641, [10] Offers first run movies and revue programming in a restored 1920s theatre complete with a kitschy Imperial Rome motif and booths.
  • Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road, Mt Hope, (905) 679-4183 (email:, [11]. A living museum featuring the aircraft used by Canadians or Canada's Military from the beginning of World War II to the present. Home of one of the worlds two remaining flying Lancaster bombers. Those who dare can experience an open cockpit ride in a bi-plane through the Legends Flight program [12].
  • Canadian Football Hall of Fame, 58 Jackson St. West, 905-528-7566 [13]. Tu-Sa 9:30AM-4:30PM. Has interactive programs, displays, a library, archives and is home to the Grey Cup.
  • Parks Canada Discovery Centre, 57 Discovery Drive (at Pier 8), 905-526-0911, [14]. Houses state-of-the-art interactive exhibits in three galleries, a lobby and a 65-seat theatre, allowing visitors a virtual glimpse of Canada's national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas. Adjacent is HMCS Haida [15], offering self-guided tours of Canada's "fightingest ship".
  • Princess Point. Situated at the very end of Lake Ontario, Princess Point is one of the most beautiful sections of Hamilton. Bike or rollerblade along excellently maintained paths encircling the lake, or relax at the adjacent park. Harbour cruises are also available. [16]
  • Parks and trails - Despite its commonly-held industrial image, Hamilton has some 1,077 hectares (2,662 acres) of parkland, 549 ha (1,356 acres) of natural areas and 137 km (85 miles) of trails. The Bruce Trail runs right through the city. Bayfront, Pier 4 Park, and the Waterfront Trail offer panoramic views of the Hamilton Harbour [17] and northwest shoreline.
  • Waterfront - Hamilton is in the midst of a major waterfront reclamation project, and has already restored the beautiful Pier 4 Park at the bottom of Bay St. This continues to the west with a waterfront trail to Princess Point, and to the east with a beautiful marina, waterfront cafe, boat and trolley tours, and a lovely playground. At Pier 8, visit the HMCS Haida, a WWII destroyer that is maintained faithfully and can be explored in its entirety.
  • Waterfalls [18]—The combination of many creeks and the Niagara Escarpment makes Hamilton, now sometimes referred to as "The City of Waterfalls", an excellent place for seeing waterfalls. Over 100 waterfalls and cascades are known (several were found in 2008 and there's likely some that haven't been discovered yet). The one drawback of Hamilton's waterfalls is that half of them do dry up in dry seasons. The good news is that most are on or near the Bruce Trail as it winds through the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) in Hamilton. Some of the more popular ones are:
    • Albion Falls, Mountain Brow Blvd. A scenic 19 metre cascade waterfall. Located in King's Forest Park.  edit
    • Borer's Falls, Rock Chapel Rd., Dundas. A relatively small but picturesque waterfall. Located in Borer's Falls Conservation Area, the escarpment in this area is quite scenic as well.  edit
    • Devil's Punch Bowl, Ridge Rd., Stoney Creek. One of the taller waterfalls in the area. Located in Devil's Punch Bowl Conservation Area.  edit
    • Tew's Falls, Harvest Rd., Greensville. The tallest waterfall in the city, at 41 metres only slightly shorter than Niagara Falls (although the volume of water going over Tew's Falls is much smaller and shrinks to a trickle in the summer; spring is a better viewing time). Located in Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area along with Webster's Falls.  edit
    • Tiffany Falls, Wilson St. E., Ancaster. Tiffany Falls is a 21 metre ribbon waterfall. The location is easy to reach, being located just off of the former Highway 2.  edit
    • Webster's Falls, Fallsview Rd., Greensville. Arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Hamilton, at 30 metres wide it is the widest in the city. The surrounding area in Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area is a popular picnic spot in the summer. The staircase down to the base of the falls is treacherous but the view from down there is beautiful. While you're there, check out the cobblestone arch bridge near the falls.  edit
  • The view from the escarpment—There are many beautiful views of the city to be found from the escarpment. Especially when looking west, it is difficult to see streets or the roofs of houses under the thick canopy of trees (although it's easier to see these in winter). The Bruce Trail offers many excellent views, such as that at Dundas Peak. If you're driving around Hamilton, Mountain Brow Blvd. is a good place to stop for a look down.
  • Downtown Neighbourhoods - Like many cities, Hamilton is home to many traditional neighbourhoods, including Locke South, Concession St., James St. South, James S. North, International Village BIA, and Ottawa Street. James North has an exploding arts scene, with several galleries opened in the past few years.
  • Theatre Aquarius Usually puts on many good plays, starring local talent, not too pricey and has good dining in the surrounding area.
  • Doors Open Hamilton [19], usually held on the first weekend in May, offers an intimate experience of various historic landmarks around the city normally off limits to visitors and tourists: various place of worship, estates, museums, wineries and government buildings. A division of Doors Open Ontario [20], it is an annual opportunity to discover the City, the Province of Ontario, and Canadian Heritage.
  • Tourism Hamilton [21] is the city's official tourism website and offers a free "Experience Hamilton" Visitor’s Guide and current info on local events and attractions.
  • Golf [22] at one of Hamilton's 18-hole public courses: Chedoke [23] or King's Forest [24]. There are numerous private courses [25] including the 2003 home to the Canadian Open, the top rated Hamilton Golf and Country Club [26], in Ancaster. The Hamilton Golf and Country Club is an exclusive club that dates back to Hamilton's industrial glory days. Unless you know a member, or someone that knows a member, forget playing here.
  • Confederation Park/Wild Waterworks [27] offers lakefront camping, a waterpark [28] with wave pool and tube rides, and Adventure Village [29] with go-karts, batting cages, mini golf, etc.
  • Workers Arts & Heritage Centre [30] is a unique facility boosting Canadian workers history, culture and art. Located in a National Historic site, near Hamilton's harbour, this gem offers educational and group tours, exhibitions (available to travel across Canada), and meeting space.
  • Haunted Hamilton Ghost Walks, [31]. Explores the dark alleys and haunted buildings where voices of the past are said to still linger to this day. Haunted Walks of Downtown Hamilton, the Historic Customs House, the Hermitage Ruins in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area (Ancaster), as well as a historical tour of Hamilton's Dark Past, are done regularly throughout the year.  edit
  • Christie Lake Conservation Area, 1000 Highway 5 West, Flamborough (near Greensville), 905-628-3060, [32]. sunrise–sunset. Centred around the beautiful Christie Reservoir, this conservation area features a 360-metre long beach and a chlorinated swimming area separate from the reservoir. Also contains several ponds stocked with fish and large natural areas accessible by hiking trails. $4/person, additional $4 if bringing a vehicle.  edit
  • Crooks Hollow Historical Trail, Crooks Hollow Road, Greensville (park at Crooks Hollow Conservation Area, Crooks Hollow Rd.). This trail traverses the site of Crooks Hollow, once the largest industrial community in Upper Canada but now a ghost town. Many of the buildings are now just grassy fields, but the Darnley Grist Mill is a spectacular ruin. A few buildings, now private residences, also still stand. Connects with the Optimist Park walking trail, which winds along the picturesque Spencer Creek and passes near Greensville Falls as well as more ruins, ending near the Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area.  edit


Hamilton has a few main shopping districts. While less is available in Hamilton than in neighbouring Toronto, a few good areas successfully specialize in antiques or specialty boutiques.

  • Locke Street South - Located just west of downtown, Locke Street is home to a large number of antique shops. Prices tend to be lower than in Toronto.
  • Ottawa Street [33] - Home to innumerable fabric, home decor and furnishings stores. The street had fallen on hard times earlier in the decade, but is undergoing a resurgence and has become one of the city's most popular destinations for antiques, fabric and home furnishings.
  • Ancaster - Located up the mountain, at the westmost section of the city, Ancaster has several specialty boutiques. While not much is available in the historic village, Ancaster's shopping is now focused on big box retailers called the Meadowlands Power Centre. There you will find typical stores found in any Ontario suburb, conveniently located in one giant collection. Ancaster is one of the "rich" districts of Hamilton, with many doctors, lawyers and other high-paid professionals choosing to settle in the area.
  • Dundas - As west as Ancaster, but down the mountain, Dundas is a small heritage town that offers most of the good shopping opportunities in Hamilton. Dundas has a great drive-in park that is popular amongst locals for summer picnics.
  • The Hamilton Farmers Market [34] , originally founded in 1837 and since moved indoors, is located at 55 York Blvd downtown. It features the usual mix of local farm produce and ethnic specialties, and is older than the city and is one of the best farmers markets in Ontario. Don't miss the baklava at the Turkish food stand! One of the good things about living in Hamilton.
  • Concession Street [35] - Originally a turn of the century African American neighbourhood. Many slaves escaping the U.S. via the Underground Railway settled in this urban neighbourhood at the edge of the escarpment. It boasts the best views of the lower city and features many parks, some with fantastic vistas overlooking the downtown and heavy industrial areas. The neighbourhood offers many shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. The housing is an eclectic mix of million dollar estates and 1920s cottages. Stairs to the lower city are available on Mountain Avenue, traversing the 91 m (300 foot) escarpment. Many buses travel along Concession, making it one of the most public transit accessible areas of the city. Once considered run-down, it may be one of the most underrated areas of the city. A recent 1920s movie house has been renovated and is showing first run and art films.
  • Westdale [36] - Adjacent McMaster University keeps this neighbourhood healthy, with its many boutiques, groceries, eateries, pubs and bakeries and even a movie cinema specializing in foreign and art films. Westdale Village is accessible by bus and is walking distance to McMaster University and Hospital. It was Hamilton's first master-planned community in the 1920s.
  • Lime Ridge is a great mall with over 200 shops and services, located on Upper Wentworth just south of Mohawk Road, adjacent to the Lincoln Alexander Parkway. Easily on-par with most major malls in larger Canadian cities. It's the most popular hang-out spot on the mountain for younger and older people alike, partly due to the total absence of a night life outside of downtown.


It's not difficult to find a large variety of foods in Hamilton. Having a large minority and immigrant population, many people in Hamilton can and do take the opportunity to eat exotic cuisines.


Eat-a-Pita 217 King Street West. Small basic eatery. Amazing Chicken Shwamas, inexpensive, and fast/friendly service.

Bronzie's Place 201 James St.South (just North of St. Joseph's Hospital). Small basic Italian eatery. Large portions, inexpensive, and fast/friendly service. Nearly everyone goes home with another meal's worth in a doggybag.

James St. North Multicultural Community - You can find affordable restaurants serving food from multiple nationalities along James North from King Street all the way to the Harbourfront.

Harvest Burger - 194 King Street West. Rightly regarded by the locals as serving up the best burgers in town. Beats the regular fast food chains hands down.

Tim Hortons - Practically every corner throughout the city. Hamilton is the hometown of Tim Hortons, arguably the largest and most well-known coffee shop chain in Canada. It's nearly impossible to travel more than a few minutes without seeing at least one Tim Hortons. Cheap meals including nutritous lunches (soup/sandwiches) can be had. Most locals refuse to start their day without a trip to a local Timmy's for a cup of coffee and donut.

Westdale Delicatessen- 1293 King St. W Traditional Jewish deli. Hamilton's only kosher restaurant.

Modern India Buffet - 157 Main St. E. One of the most popular Indian restaurants in the city. Excellent all-you-can eat buffet selection of curries and other staple Indian dishes. Lunch buffet is a mere $9.99 while dinner is $13.99 (includes one alcoholic beverage).

Tea Hut - 100 Main St. E in the Landmark Place building (tallest building in the city, hard to miss). Tea Hut is a Taiwanese restaurant known for its bubble tea. A popular hangout for the local Chinese community, and has very friendly staff and owners who will welcome you. Excellent food at affordable prices, and a huge selection of bubble tea.

Tapestry Bistro - 27 Dundurn Street North, 905.481.2166. Oozes relaxed, creative vibes and serves up inexpensive local, seasonal and organic food. The wings ($5) come highly recommended. [37]


Hamilton is a fairly large city and therefore enjoys almost every mid-range dining chain. Examples include Kelsey's, Montana's, The Keg, etc. Hess Street, in addition to housing some newer upper-scale establishments, has several mid-range places that offer fantastic food (Ceilidh House being an example).

  • Hutch's, 325 Bay St N. Offers what many consider the best fish and chips in town and, like its sister restaurant (a '50s diner on Van Wagners Beach), offers a scenic location to munch them. Hutch's is a famous local institution which once could vie for having the best hamburgers in Canada. Urban renewal has forced Hutch's beach strip location into a boring government building. Cruise nights often held here in the summer. On the beach trail, so you can walk off your Sportsmanburger.
  • Jade Garden, 113 James St. N. A hidden gem and a must-visit for lovers of authentic Chinese and Szechuan cuisine. Very generous portions at an affordable price. Impossible to leave hungry. Massive menu and great dim sum. Not your average "chicken balls and fried rice" Chinese restaurant. You can also purchase fresh fish here for home cooking.
  • Affinity Vegetarian Restaurant, 87 John Street South. This is a totally vegetarian, Buddhist-themed Chinese/Asian-style restaurant. Much of the food is spicy, featuring faux-meat dishes. Reasonably priced and nice decor. Friendly staff.
  • Stoney Creek Dairy, [38]. Operating at its original site since 1929, is home to the "Super Duper Sundae". Cruise nights are often held here in the summer. After Hutch's you drive here for ice cream.
  • Karolina's Restaurant, 757 Barton St E, East End, 905 548-0306. Polish. Excellent food at reasonable prices. Small and sometimes hard to get in. Don't let the rundown area prevent you from eating here. Just west of Lottridge. For an after-meal adventure you can drive north on Lottridge and check out the Hell's Angels clubhouse. You'll know it when you see it.
  • Capri, 25 John St N, Downtown. 905-525-7811. Italian. First restaurant to serve pizza in Hamilton. Gangster movies filmed here. Real gangsters ate here too. Like the mafia in Hamilton, this restaurant is now somewhat faded. Try the pizza bianco.
  • Black Forest Inn, 255 King St E, Downtown, 905-528-3538. [39] German. The Black Forest is another Hamilton institution. Full of cuckoo clocks, this restaurant and its army of servers in Bavarian costume move the crowds through with Germanic precision. Eat there and you'll find out why Hamiltonians keep coming back.
  • Harvest Burger, 194 King Street West, Downtown, 905-525-3233. Canadian/Greek. A Hamilton tradition for over 25 years. Harvest Burger is the spot to be at after a night out at Hess Village, or after a day of shopping downtown. Famous for their burgers and Greek food. Also has a licensed bar on site.
  • O Marineiro (The Sailor), a traditional Portugese restaurant on James St. North, serves a wonderful seafood platter.
  • My Thai[40], corner of John St. and King William. A stellar Thai restaurant.
  • La Cantina[41] May be the best Italian restaurant in Hamilton. Their pumpkin soup is breathtaking.
  • Golden Grain Bakery a large variety of imported foods and European baked goods.
  • Sizzle Steak House and Ultra Lounge,[42] 25 Hess St. S in Hess Village. A truly excellent place to dine, party, and just have fun. Sizzle's Menu offers a wide variety of foods, food is fresh and plate designs are magnificent. The restaurant is awesome--5 stars!
  • Mimi's Bistro, 931 Queenston Road, Stoney Creek. Offers patio and serves excellent quality Canadian food at affordable prices. Serves all-day breakfast. Beautiful decor and atmosphere.
  • Sapporo Japanese Restaurant. 96 Main St. East in the same complex as Slainte. Possibly the best Japanese food in Hamilton, and the only Japanese restaurant that isn't a sushi bar.
  • Ancaster Old Mill, [43]. With its historic stone buildings, natural panoramas and waterfall, this is a picturesque spot for Sunday brunch and what it bills as "contemporary Canadian Cuisine". Family run, but not inexpensive.
  • Edgewater Manor, [44]. Features fine dining in a 1920s-era mansion located stunningly on the shores of Lake Ontario. Expensive.
  • Sheraton, King Street. A splurge, but nice rooms. No free parking.
  • Shakespeare's, 181 Main St. E., (905) 528-0689. Award winning, family owned & operated. Fabulous steak, seafood and wild game. Amazing wines.
  • Mandarin Buffet Restaurant, 1508 Upper James Street. Plenty of parking. Excellent and enormous selection of Chinese and Canadian dishes. Very popular amongst locals for special occasions. Dinner buffet is over $20/person not including drinks, but well worth it if you're in the mood for Chinese. You may wish to book reservations if it's a Friday or Weekend.
  • Slainte Irish Pub - Located at Bowen and Main Streets, this authentic Irish pub serves the best pint of Guinness in the city. The very old building is a heritage site, and all the beautiful woodwork and stained glass in the bar were built and shipped over from Dublin, Ireland. The front doors of the pub are the original doors from the movie "Michael Collins." Be sure to check out their live music Wednesday through Sunday and sports on their huge plasma TVs.
  • Hess Village - A "bar" in the classic sense, Hess is a couple blocks of pubs and eateries. Highlights include the Gown and Gavel, Che Burrito Bar, 33 Hess, Touche, and Funky Monkey. Located roughly between King and Main Street, on Hess Street. Typically pub-type bars, but it runs the gamut. Hess Village is where the patio action is in Hamilton on warm summer nights. Recently, dance clubs have opened in neighbourhood, adding to the entertainment mix. This is the summer place to be in Hamilton. One of the best bar and nightclubs in Hess Village with the best music fantastic accommodations is Sizzle's Ultra Lounge.
  • Chester's Beers of the World - A gem in the heart of downtown, Chester's offers over 250 bottled beers from all over the world. Not the place to party - this place is quiet and often empty, but the staff is friendly and courteous and the selection is unparalleled outside of Toronto.
  • Augusta's Winking Judge - Located on Augusta Street right behind the GO Transit station, this is the best place in Hamilton to get a tasty pint. With over 20 taps dedicated to microbreweries, they're sure to have something you like. It's worth noting that this bar does not sell popular beers like Molson, Labatt, or Sleeman products. This was original location of the Winking Judge, which later moved to Hess Village.
  • The Rebels Rock - Located on King and Emerald, this Irish pub may be the only truly authentic Irish pub in the city. If you want to stay away from the bars and have a pint in a friendly living room setting, this is the place. Live Irish music every Wednesday, with some of the city's best Celtic and east coast musicians, and great home style food at a good price. Don't be surprised if the guy next to you at the bar is missing teeth, as this is in a bit of a rough area. Founded by Toronto cop.
  • The Coach and Lantern, 384 Wilson St. E., Ancaster. Dating from 1823, the former "Union Hotel" has survived various incarnations and even a 1878 fire in its stables. During the war of 1812, it was purportedly the site of the Bloody Assize, and the spot where four traitors were condemned to hang outside Dundurn Castle. It's rumoured to be haunted, and not just by the Ancaster set. Has a good selection of draft beers and single malt scotches, typical pub grub, and nightly entertainment of the karaoke/trivia/open mic sort. Atmosphere is as you'd expect: exposed stone walls, beams, dark, cluttered and windowless, but it has a cobbled courtyard the claustrophobic may enjoy in the summer.  edit
  • Collins Brewhouse - 33 King St. West, Dundas. Serving locals since 1841, this "food and beverage warehouse" has 12 beers on draft, including its own Brewhouse Red and Lager. Specializes in Cajun fare. Unique decor includes plank flooring, galvanized steel, 6-seater booths, garage doors opening to a patio and a concrete bar top. Live bands, poker tournament and other shenanigans make this a popular spot for all ages. Attracts a younger crowd, particularly Mac students. This is the oldest tavern in Ontario.
  • Bar on Locke - 178 Locke Street S, Hamilton. Offers a cozy atmosphere in the Locke Antique district with a creative menu and about 7 beers on draft.
  • The Embassy Nightclub - 52 King St. East, downtown Hamilton is the largest gay nightclub in the city and is an institution with the locals. It plays a mix of house and hip-hop, has drag shows on Thursday and Sunday, and is busiest on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • The Phoenix, 1280 Main St. W (2nd floor of Wentworth House). 11:30AM - 2:00AM. This is McMaster University's graduate student run pub. It is an excellent place to meet local students and to enjoy microbrewed beers. They also have an excellent selection of pub food at reasonable prices. In the spring and summer their huge outdoor patio is very popular for students and faculty at lunch and the end of the day.  edit
  • The Whistling Walrus, 1508 Upper James St. Hamilton. Fabulous Pub. Great Food and very friendly prompt service. .  edit
  • Airport Inn - Located close to Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport, the Airport Inn has 30 renovated rooms, free Parking, provides Airport Shuttle Bus Services, is adjacent to the Pastacinno Restaurant.
  • Arrival Inn at the corner of Caroline & Main Street West. Clean, comfortable moderately priced accommodation.
  • Staybridge Suites at 118 Market St. ~$125 per night, including kitchen facilities and spacious room. Fairly new, and the facility is clean and friendly.
  • Crowne Plaza Hamilton, 150 King Street East, 1-888-528-3451, [45].  edit
  • Sheraton Hotel, 116 King Street West, (905) 529-5515, [46]. Nice rooms. No free parking. $150 (weekend double occupancy).  edit

Stay safe

Hamilton lies on one of the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario is polluted; E. Coli bacteria usually prevents the beach from being open for swimming season) and suffers high air pollution (especially fine particulate, consistent with most of Southern Ontario from Windsor through Oshawa. [47]

Like most cities, there are unsafe areas which should be avoided. Some of the areas that may be problematic after dark because of prostitutes and druggies are Barton Street around Gage Street and King Street between Wentworth and Victoria, along with the general downtown area including Gore Park and Jackson Square, but again, only at night.

Hess Village can and does experience the usual amount of drunken bar fights, but this is no different from any other large city.

Use common sense and avoid walking around downtown or in the North End alone at night. Police presence is usually infrequent in less-busy neighbouroods, so it can be best to avoid them unless you have business.

The rate of violent crime is moderate compared to other similarly-sized Canadian cities.

The beautiful trails along the Niagara Escarpment can sometimes run quite close to unfenced, unmarked cliff edges. Stay on the trail and use caution and you'll be fine.

Get out

There are many points of interest in the large rural area that is still within Hamilton's city limits:

  • African Lion Safari, Safari Rd., Flamborough.  edit
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Rd. W., Burlington (take York Bvld. just outside city limits), 905-527-1158, [48]. Vast horticulturtural collection spread over five specialist gardens and four nature sanctuaries. Most notable of the latter is Cootes Paradise, a 840 ha (2,076 ac) wildlife sanctuary containing a 250 ha (618 ac) coastal wetland located at the west end of Hamilton Harbour.  edit
  • Westfield Pioneer Village.  edit
  • Waterdown—a charming historic town near Burlington.

Some interesting places a short drive away are:

Routes through Hamilton
TorontoBurlington  NE noframe SE  GrimsbyNiagara Falls
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