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Hamilton Bucket List: 20 Must See and Do Experiences

1. Royal Botanical Gardens


Awaken your senses at this open-air museum, bursting with natural wonders. Bragging rights at Canada’s largest botanical garden include: the world’s largest lilac collection, 100,000 spring bulbs, 3000 rose bushes, endless trails and the recently restored Rock Garden, a stunning and tranquil National Historic Site. Year round events and concerts alongside award-winning dining make round out Hamilton’s own paradise found.

Still need convincing? Here are 6 reasons to visit this year

 

2. Art Gallery of Hamilton


Slow down and be inspired at Hamilton’s century-old gallery, the oldest and largest in Southern Ontario. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is home to more than 10,000 works including Canadian historical, contemporary and international art. In addition to world class exhibits, sought after permanent pieces include Alex Colville’s famous Horse and Train painting as well as the mind-blowing Bruegel-Bosch Bus by Kim Adams (the gallery’s most photographed installation). Explore the AGH here.

3. African Lion Safari


One of Hamilton’s most popular tourist attractions is home to lions, elephants and giraffes…oh my! African Lion Safari’s expansive drive through reserve lets families get closer than they ever imagined to some of the world’s most exotic species. The kids will also love cooling off at the waterpark, the hands-on animal shows and the unforgettable daily elephant swims. Find out more about this amazing Hamilton day-trip

4. Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum


With over 40 planes from the past and present, the sky’s the limit at Canada’s largest flying museum. Take in personalized tours,  simulators and air shows or buy your own flight on a vintage aircraft – including the legendary Avro Lancaster (the only place in the world you can still fly in one).

Read about your opportunity to fly in the legendary Lancaster in our roundup: 6 awesomely unique, only-in-Hamilton things to do, see and taste

5. Art Crawl


The best way to experience Hamilton’s headline-making arts scene is at the city’s famous monthly Art Crawls. On the second Friday of every month, James Street North is transformed into a friendly, bustling art market. Stroll through this downtown arts district and take in the many galleries, studios, shops, restaurants that pulse with the rhythm of a truly welcoming,  grassroots arts scene.
Read our Art Crawl Guide from one of our MyHamilton Insiders

6. Waterfalls & Trails


Among Hamilton’s most beautiful – and to some surprising – natural attractions are the more than 120 waterfalls cascading across the city.  Nearby Niagara Falls may get most of the attention, but Hamilton’s waterfalls are a pure joy to explore.

Discover the best of the best across this ‘waterfall capital of the world’ here

7. West Harbour


Hamilton’s West Harbour is your urban waterfront destination. Steps from downtown Hamilton, it’s home to waterfront trails, cafes and bike rentals. Attractions here include Parks Canada’s docked HMCS Haida, picturesque harbour tours aboard the Harbour Queen and an outdoor roller-skating rink! Rolling green spaces surrounding by peaceful trails, offer the perfect waterside picnic spots at nearby Bayfront Park.

8. Beachfront


In the summertime, the living is easy at Hamilton’s Beachfront.  This east-end waterfront is your family-friendly destination perfect for the young and young at heart.  Enjoy thrilling waterslides at Wild Waterworks or mini-golf, go-karting, and batting cages Adventure Village.  Trails, boardwalks and great beachside patios round out this perfect summer day trip destination. Read our Summer Fun at Hamilton Beaches for more great ideas.

9. Dundurn Castle


Dundurn Castle is one of Hamilton most iconic and recognizable attractions. Travel back in time as costumed interpreters take you through this sprawling historic estate overlooking the bay.  Tours reveal the secrets of its former inhabitants – the wealthy family members living upstairs and the hard-working servants that lived beneath the stairs. A two-acre historic kitchen garden offers a beautiful bounty that visitors can harvest and bring inside to create their own meal at one of the castle’s popular cooking workshops.  See website for hours, admission rates and events at Dundurn.

10. Fresh Produce, Farms and Markets


Hamilton is actually most rural, producing an incredible bounty of farm fresh produce. Savour the sights and tastes of this rich agricultural life  at one of the city’s many farms during Hamilton Farmcrawl or grab your own fresh produce at one of the city’s pick your-own rural attractions and local farmers markets. Not to miss is the city’s iconic Hamilton Farmer’s Market (one of the oldest in Canada), located in the heart of downtown.

Here are all the reasons why you have to visit Hamilton Farmer’s Market.

11. Westfield Heritage Village


Travel back to a simpler time at Westfield Heritage Village. Costumed interpreters help bring early Canadian culture to life as they lead demonstrations on everything from blacksmithing to bread-making across 35 carefully restored historic buildings.  Event highlights include the Maple Syrup Festival and Ice Cream Carnival. The 130- hectare site is bordered by beautiful woodlands, meadows and trails, perfect for quiet, reflective hikes.
See website for location, admission and hours.

 

12. Festivals & Events


From music and maple syrup to buskers, books and beer, Hamilton has festivals to suit every season and taste. So get out there and get festive! Check out our upcoming festivals

 

13. Supercrawl

The mother of all block parties has grown to become Hamilton’s most popular festival. Every September, the free arts festival shuts down James Street North to traffic for four  glorious days of live music, art installations, food and fun. While the focus has always been music, the accompanying cultural experiences are just as noteworthy. Visitors should expect the unexpected as they wander the downtown core. A perfect introduction to Hamilton’s buzz-worthy arts scene. Explore our guide to Supercrawl

 

14. Sporting Events


Passion for sports runs deep in Hamilton. Whether you want to cheer on our home team or get in on the action, Hamilton’s got the perfect sporting event for fans and athletes alike. Just a few highlights include: the city’s iconic Tiger Cats rousing their fans at the newly rebuilt Tim Hortons Field; OHL champions the Hamilton Bulldogs; North America’s oldest foot race the Around the Bay Road Race (older than the Boston Marathon), and top-ranked golf courses. Check out upcoming Sporting Events.

 

15. City of Music


Hamilton has a vibrant music scene just waiting to be explored. You can find music everywhere – from stadiums to intimate clubs. To discover music in this city, you simply need to know where to go – see Music Venues in Hamilton

 

16. Food & Drink


The culinary street cred in Hamilton is at an all-time high. Local eateries are attracting national attention for a whole bunch of delicious reasons. Even the New York Times recently took note. With so many talented chefs, brewers and baristas setting up shop in Hamilton, it’s hard to decide what to try first.

 

17. Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology


The Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology is a perfect showcase of the city’s proud  industrious beginnings. This fascinating National Historic Site pays homage to Canada’s early industrial revolution and houses many treasures, including two 70-ton, Canadian built steam engines, believed to be the oldest surviving ones of their kind. On demand tours, rotating exhibits and special events like the popular Live Steamer Days round out this site. See website for location/hours/admission info.

 

18. Hot Hoods


A great way to get to know a city is by exploring its distinct neighbourhoods and Hamilton has some great ones. Explore the city’s historic fabric district on Ottawa Street North, now a design and foodie destination, full of antique and interior design shops. (and don’t miss the cleverly named ‘Sew Hungry’ food truck rally held on the street each May).  James Street extends from the Niagara Escarpment to the West Harbour and has long been the heart of the city. Now known as a hub for arts, culture and food (famous for its monthly Art Crawls) the lively street still boasts fresh produce stores, fish mongers and plenty of beautiful grit. Escape the bustle of the city in the quiet historic town of Dundas, full of charming independent shops and restaurants and minutes from waterfalls and the lush trails of the Dundas Valley.

 

19. Country Music Week


For fans of country music, it doesn’t get much bigger than Canadian Country Music Week. Hamilton welcomes back the CCMAs September 6 to 9, 2018 for a serious celebration of all things country. This event will wrap with a star-studded Canadian Country Music Awards show hosted by Shania Twain and broadcast live from FirstOntario Centre in downtown Hamilton with performances by Keith Urban, Lindsay Ell and High Valley.

 

20. Heritage Sites


Hamilton’s historical roots run deep. Immerse yourself in a story that reveals how the city evolved into the vibrant, eclectic destination it is now.

 


 

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