Wanna go hang out at the mall..again?
February 9, 2008 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Niagara-Region-Filter: What should I check out in the Niagara region?

I have seen this thread, but it's old and not what I'm looking for.

I attend school in the Niagara region (the Canada side) and it recently occurred to me that I should stop complaining about what a terrible place I live in, and find out what it has to offer. I am in my 4th year of a 5 year program, so I have a year left to see some cool things.

What I like:

- concerts, indie music, small bands
- art - especially the modern period
- books - used bookstores are a favourite
- thrift shops

What I know about:

- the small music venues located in St. Catharines
- the Albright-Knox gallery in Buffalo
- the Book Depot in St. Catharines
- every Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village, and Christian thrift shop in the Niagara region

I don't want to tour wineries, and I have been to Niagara Falls too many times to count.

Any suggestions? I'm open to almost anything. If there is something that can redeem the area for me, I'd love to hear about it!
posted by gursky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you're still in the city when it's warm enough to swim, check out Decew Falls. I'm from St. Catharines originally, and it's the only genuinely cool thing unique to the area that I can think of. I couldn't give you directions off the top of my head, but I believe it's just off Merrittville Highway (so not far from campus), and you can actually climb down and swim under the falls which is pretty cool. Ask around and get a native to show you.

In September, if you haven't already, definitely check out the Grape and Wine festival, St. Catharines' answer to Oktoberfest.

There are a couple not-terrible used book stores on St. Paul St. I'm blanking on the name right now, but there's one near Carlisle and St. Paul that's pretty good.

Other than that, I'm short on ideas. Don't feel bad about complaining. Most of us who were born there think it sucks too.
posted by ewiar at 9:55 PM on February 9, 2008

I assume you mean Niagara region as opposed to Toronto? Because if nobody has told you, one of the premier metro areas of North America is ~90 minutes thataway.

Darwin-Martin House in Buffalo? Haven't been in, but lord is it something to see from the outside. And it's just in this neighborhood, in the middle of a bunch of decently kept up but unspectacular old Victorians. And it's walking distance to the zoo, which I also haven't been to but which surely has an array of interesting and furry aminals.

Also haven't done, but want to when it warms up: prospecting for trilobites and other fossils at Penn-Dixie, just south of Buffalo.

They're not thrift stores per se, but you can't swing a dead cat on Hertel in Buffalo or Main in Williamsville without hitting an antique store, and some of them seem at least to be low-rent enough to be plausible sources of thrift-store-like bargains.

If you're willing to drive a little farther, the land starts getting a lot less flat-n-boring once you get south of Buffalo into "ski country," and there are an assortment of state parks in the area. I can't vouch for any of them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:59 PM on February 9, 2008

Best answer: Are you a musician? Check out Thorold Music on Front St. in Thorold (not the one down by the pen center) - weird old music store full of 90% crap, 10% coolness. Worth checking out at least once.

I'm sure you're reading Pulse to keep up on the concert scene. Have you taken in the S.C.E.N.E festival during your time in Niagara?

Have you seen LMT Connection play yet? They play at On81 every Sunday night. Good for some sweaty funk/blues booty shaking

My friend Nathan Warriner has a pretty cool band - check out one of their shows..

Have you ever been to a drive-in movie? The 4-screener out on Highway 20 opens in late spring I believe.

In march you and a bunch of friends could head out to White Meadows farm for a pancake breakfast with locally produced maple syrup.

You could go watch some dirt track racing at the Merrittville Speedway on a Sunday night.

I haven't lived in Niagara (hometown is Fonthill) for about 9 years, so I can't guarantee results on any of this stuff.
posted by davey_darling at 10:18 PM on February 9, 2008

Best answer: The Butterfly Conservatory!
Go in the dead of winter (like now), when everything around you is bitterly cold and dead, so you can step into a little tropical oasis. I got to watch a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon; it was a pretty amazing experience.

And yes, definitely spend some time hanging out in Toronto.
posted by bassjump at 2:20 AM on February 10, 2008

Response by poster: i forgot to mention that i'm originally from very close to Toronto, so i do visit Toronto frequently. i attend 3 or 4 concerts a month there, and sometimes make lunch or dinner plans with friends to get through my week.

some responses...

-have been to DeCew falls (you're right, it is pretty cool) and Grape/Wine

-have been into the 'ski country' just past Buffalo (2 of my roommates are snowboarders)

-have always wanted to go to the butterfly conservatory, and completely forgot it existed! thanks!

davebush: for my first few years at university, drinking/partying/local bars and the events at the university were enough to sustain me. before i leave St. Catharines for good, i want to see if there's anything worthwhile.
posted by gursky at 5:36 AM on February 10, 2008

Other than that, I'm short on ideas. Don't feel bad about complaining. Most of us who were born there think it sucks too.

I spent the first 21 years of my life living there (Fonthill, then Welland) and I can definitely second this.
posted by saraswati at 6:15 AM on February 10, 2008

Best answer: For indie rock type music stuff in Buffalo, check out the Tralf and Soundlab.
posted by hazyspring at 6:38 AM on February 10, 2008

Good arty things happen at Hallwalls on Delaware Ave, downtown Buffalo. Also check out the Big Orbit/Soundlab scene like hazyspring mentioned. The Castellani Art Museum has a very good collection for a small museum.
All of these put together are worth the trip across the border.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:52 AM on February 10, 2008

I forgot the Burchfield Penney museum, which is closing its galleries in March to prepare for a move into their new building across from the Albright-Knox. Also U of Buffalo's Anderson Gallery which is hard to find if you don't googlemap the directions. There's a lot of great art in the WNY area, it's just spread out .
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:01 AM on February 10, 2008

Do you like theater? Don't miss the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. It runs April-early November, so there's quite a bit of flexibility in when you can go.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:34 AM on February 10, 2008

If you're there in July and August, Niagara-on-the-Lake will be full of little fruit stands, with some of the best peaches and grapes you'll ever run into.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:05 AM on February 10, 2008

The Griffis Sculpture Park is a huge tract of land that has about 200 of Larry Griffis' larger-than-life sculpures on it. This really makes a great, inexpensive day trip.

Another place to go is Lackawanna, which is a seen-better-times rust belt town with an amazing cathedral at the center. Also in Lackawanna are the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.

While it is still cold and snowy outside, you could go skiing at Tamarack, Kissing Bridge, or Holliday Valley (listed in increasing order of price/distance/quality).

For architecture, there are two Frank Lloyd Wright houses that are open to visitors-- the Darwin Martin Complex and Greycliff. Downtown, the Guaranty Building is another amazing piece of architecture.

If you are of the adventurous urban-explorer law-bending type, you can follow in the footsteps of these guys, who have found their way into a few of the many abandoned factories in the area. I recognize local steel mills, grain elevators, and even an unused wing of the Canadian power project.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 7:26 PM on February 10, 2008

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