4 Favourite Canadian University Towns

What to see, do and eat in these scholarly towns


St. Catharines, Ontario

Nicknamed “The Garden City”, thanks to its extensive network of parks and trails, this charming city on the Niagara escarpment is home to Brock University. It’s only 15 minutes from Niagara Falls and close by the Niagara wine region.

Welland Canals Centre

This famous canal connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, while moving ships up and down the Niagara Escarpment and bypassing Niagara Falls. You can get up close to the ships from around the world as they navigate the canal from the centre’s observation platform. The centre also houses the St. Catharines Museum and Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Port Dalhousie

Close by (a 15-minute drive from St. Catharines) is the historic village of Port Dalhousie on the south shores of Lake Ontario. Stroll around this pretty town and browse the local boutiques and galleries, and then pop into Pier 61 for lunch—try the fish tacos.

Toi Restaurant

Toi puts a twist on classic Vietnamese dishes; think savory crepes with coconut milk rice batter, turmeric and chicken. The dinner menu features an extensive tapas selection as well as pad Thai, stir-fry and seafood dishes.

Kingston, Ontario

This beautiful town looks its best in the fall. About halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, Kingston is ripe with history (it served as Canada’s first capital for a few years), and features parks, rivers, cobblestone downtown streets and the beautiful campus of Queen’s University.

Kingston Public Market

Kingston is home to Ontario’s oldest markets, around since 1801. The market is in downtown Kingston, right behind City Hall and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from April to November. Visitors can shop local produce, meat, baked goods, crafts and other locally made wares like cosmetics and bath products from the Kingston Soap Company.

Chez Piggy Restaurant & Bar

Foodies won’t want to miss Chez Piggy, or “the pig” as it’s known locally, one of the city’s most popular restaurants. More than 30 years ago, a local culinary couple renovated an abandoned limestone stable in downtown Kingston and created this culinary gem. The Sunday brunch can’t be missed especially when it includes items like fresh oysters and vanilla French toast with applesauce.    

Prince Edward County

About an hour from Kingston is Prince Edward County, one of Ontario’s newest wine regions, home to a number of wineries, breweries and cideries. Visitors will also stumble upon organic farms, great restaurants, beaches, theatres and galleries in this stunning area along the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

Lethbridge, Alberta

This southern Alberta town is big on outdoor adventure. The Oldman River runs through the city, making for many pleasant walking trails. Or get on the river for a paddle. The town is also rich in history and culture and home to the University of Lethbridge.


This archaeological site is one of the world’s oldest and largest buffalo jumps, used by Native people as a method of hunting for more than 6,000 years. Less than an hour drive from Lethbridge, guests can explore the interpretation centre and check out the artifacts and exhibits at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

The Southern Alberta Art Gallery

There are a few galleries to choose from in town but we like the Southern Alberta Art Gallery for its contemporary exhibits and art by local, national and international artists.

Two Guys and A Pizza Place

This popular spot has been serving up what locals call the best pizza in Lethbridge for more than a decade. Hand-tossed dough is cooked up in the brick-oven and the best local ingredients, including a secret-recipe pizza sauce, are used to create these delicious pies.

Nanaimo, British Columbia

The options for outdoor recreation are endless in this city—hike, bike, fish, swim, climb or golf—most of which you can do year-round thanks to the mild climate. Once you’ve worked up an appetite check out the impressive culinary scene at one of the city’s many restaurants. The main campus of Vancouver Island University is close to the action downtown.

Newcastle Island

This marine provincial park is located within Nanaimo’s harbour and only accessible by foot-passenger ferry or boat but the views alone are worth the trip. There are also trails for hiking or biking and a beach.

The Nanaimo Bar Trail

You really can’t go to the home of the Nanaimo bar without having one, or 34, if you decide to do the whole trail. Stop by the visitor centre for a brochure that will help you map out your bar stops route.

Longwood Brew Pub

This popular spot has an impressive selection of beers made in-house and a great locally sourced menu—don’t miss brunch on Sunday mornings. Hang out in the casual pub or stay on the main restaurant level for great views of the mountains. On Saturdays there are tours of the brewery and a tasting (book ahead).


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