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Old Jul 18th 2011, 10:59 PM
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Default Trip to Hamilton Ontario

I just booked a trip to Hamilton, Ontario for 4 nights. I picked this place because it's about halfway between Toronto and Niagra Falls, at least as the crow flies (and assuming the crow doesn't fly over lakes). We're going to leave early on a Friday morning, drive nine hours from Chicago, and get in late afternoon or early evening.

From there, I'm tentatively planning a day in Toronto and a day for Niagra Falls, with an extra day and a half before we head home for whatever. I'm interested in suggestions for how to spend the "whatever". Is the lake/coast worth checking out in the Burlington/Hamilton area? Are either Toronto or the falls worth devoting two days to?

Also, is there good public transit running from Hamilton into Toronto? It might be nice not to drive to the city both for parking and the possibility of drinking.

Answers to these or other random thoughts by forumgoers that know the area would be greatly appreciated (especially those that live in Toronto )

(By the way, I just tried out priceline's bidding scheme for the first time and am pretty pleased with the results. I wound up with a Marriott room for $75 per night -- I have a frequent rewards program with them and stay at their hotels all the time, and I'm used to paying in the $110 - $150 neighborhood. I was a little iffy on this scheme for booking hotels, but it turned out to be a good deal in this instance, at least)
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Old Jul 18th 2011, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I just booked a trip to Hamilton, Ontario for 4 nights. I picked this place because it's about halfway between Toronto and Niagra Falls, at least as the crow flies (and assuming the crow doesn't fly over lakes). We're going to leave early on a Friday morning, drive nine hours from Chicago, and get in late afternoon or early evening.

From there, I'm tentatively planning a day in Toronto and a day for Niagra Falls, with an extra day and a half before we head home for whatever. I'm interested in suggestions for how to spend the "whatever". Is the lake/coast worth checking out in the Burlington/Hamilton area? Are either Toronto or the falls worth devoting two days to?

Also, is there good public transit running from Hamilton into Toronto? It might be nice not to drive to the city both for parking and the possibility of drinking.

Answers to these or other random thoughts by forumgoers that know the area would be greatly appreciated (especially those that live in Toronto )

(By the way, I just tried out priceline's bidding scheme for the first time and am pretty pleased with the results. I wound up with a Marriott room for $75 per night -- I have a frequent rewards program with them and stay at their hotels all the time, and I'm used to paying in the $110 - $150 neighborhood. I was a little iffy on this scheme for booking hotels, but it turned out to be a good deal in this instance, at least)
The falls are worth a couple hours max, definitely not two days.

Ok. That's my bias. The falls are really cool, but there's only so much time you can spend watching water pour down. If you go on one of the tours or on the Maid of the Mist it would definitely fill more time. I'm sure you could do an entirely pleasurable day there, and I think there's some various activity to do in the town on the Canadian side. The falls is more the kind of thing I do when I stop in between Ohio and Toronto.

Toronto is the shit though. The transportation is a breeze, and there is a lot to see and do. As far as just getting out and seeing the city, I think you could easily do two days there. Rita and I spent a lovely day out and about, and a lovely night drinking in some little bar where the locals gave us stale cookies. You could always catch a Jay's game if they're in town, and I'm sure there's a ton more stuff that Michael can tell you about, especially in the summer. (When I was there last it was definitely jacket and gloves weather).

Fuck, I wanna go to Toronto now. Maybe a weekend trip sometime soon. Hrm.
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Old Jul 18th 2011, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

Hamilton is my hometown and there's a lot to do there if you know where to look. However, Toronto is definitely more worth your time for city activities. The transit from Hamilton aka the Hammer aka Steeltown aka the Ambitious City is easy enough using the GO bus (Government of Ontario) There are about four of these per day. They run from the Central terminal on ?Young? Street in Hamilton to ... bloody hell ... help me out here Michael! It's been too long since I've taken that bus to remember and it's probably not best to trust my memory. There is also a GO train that runs from the same station but it's twice a day and only for the morning and evening commutes - so, packed with commuters.

Hamilton features Dundurn Castle if you like 19th century manor homes built over an 18th century American Loyalist home. It also has Stoney Creek Battlefield house, which is where the decisive battle of Stoney Creek was fought in 1812 allowing the British to rebuff the American advance into Upper Canada.

The beachfront near the east end is crap and I'd avoid it. However, closer to the west-central end of town they've vastly improved the Bayfront area (accessed from Bay St. North) and beautified the park and beach there, especially since Michael and I lived in the city. Cootes Paradise and Princess Point are nice for canoeing and kayaking. Spencer's Gorge and Webster's Falls area (accessed in Dundas off Hwy. 504 but you'd probably need a personal vehicle) is an absolutely gorgeous place for hiking. You really can't find a better place for waterfalls due to the city being built around a 500' escarpment. That's about all I have to say about it.
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Old Jul 19th 2011, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I just booked a trip to Hamilton, Ontario for 4 nights. I picked this place because it's about halfway between Toronto and Niagra Falls, at least as the crow flies (and assuming the crow doesn't fly over lakes). We're going to leave early on a Friday morning, drive nine hours from Chicago, and get in late afternoon or early evening.

From there, I'm tentatively planning a day in Toronto and a day for Niagra Falls, with an extra day and a half before we head home for whatever. I'm interested in suggestions for how to spend the "whatever". Is the lake/coast worth checking out in the Burlington/Hamilton area? Are either Toronto or the falls worth devoting two days to?
I'm not sure when you are planning this trip? If it is this weekend, then the Beaches Jazz Festival is on.

http://www.toronto.com/event/371945-...-jazz-festival

Definitely recommended - it is free - lots of events in the Beaches neighborhood (aka Queen East) with a bandstand, booked concerts and lots of musicians playing on the sidewalks. Very popular with the locals - you can guarentee a big crowd here.

As for Hamilton, Greendruid is the expert. Not exactly a major tourist hub. Kinda like Pittsburg, but not quite as pretty!

Depending on what you are interested in, Toronto is loaded with things to do. We have Broadway-style shows, a big nightclub scene plus lots of traditional touristy things (Ontario Place, CN Tower, Science Centre, etc).

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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
Also, is there good public transit running from Hamilton into Toronto? It might be nice not to drive to the city both for parking and the possibility of drinking.
The GO Train only runs M-F during rush hour. It is always packed.

The best way is probably the GO Bus. It runs frequently (like every 1/2 hour or so) and the trip is about 45 minutes (1 hour max) and it runs fairly late in the evening (about 11:30pm is the last bus out of Toronto to Hamilton). The bus terminal in Hamilton is right downtown - the bus goes straight to the Toronto bus terminal, which is also right downtown (Bay & Dundas in Toronto). I used to take this bus almost every weekend when I went to school in Hamilton.

http://www.gotransit.com/publicroot/....aspx?table=16

Btw, the Blue Jays are out of town this weekend, so no games at the Skydome. If they were in town, I'd recommend a game - seats are cheap in the bleachers and the stadium itself is pretty darn impressive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
Answers to these or other random thoughts by forumgoers that know the area would be greatly appreciated (especially those that live in Toronto )

(By the way, I just tried out priceline's bidding scheme for the first time and am pretty pleased with the results. I wound up with a Marriott room for $75 per night -- I have a frequent rewards program with them and stay at their hotels all the time, and I'm used to paying in the $110 - $150 neighborhood. I was a little iffy on this scheme for booking hotels, but it turned out to be a good deal in this instance, at least)
$75 hotel rooms do not exist in Toronto. $110 to $150 is a very CHEAP room in the city - most likely only in the outer burbs or out by the airport. Downtown prices are way higher.

Btw, if you are coming into the city, I'm sure I could arrange to buy you a beer on a nice sidewalk patio or pub... let me know.
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Old Jul 19th 2011, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'm going to read in more depth later when I'm at home so I can start planning the actual visit. I'm sure I'll have more questions then. (Off the top, a Jays game sounds like a great suggestion. I hope they're in town).

As for the timing, I probably should have mentioned that. We'll be heading out in mid-August -- the 12th through the 16th, I believe. My girlfriend has an academic conference the weekend before and orientation for her new school the weekend after, so that was the only weekend I could snag.

(It's weird - now that I'm not in school any longer and don't travel nearly as much for work, I'm the one with the easy schedule. I'm not used to that, and I have to say, it's kind of nice.)
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Old Jul 19th 2011, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'm going to read in more depth later when I'm at home so I can start planning the actual visit. I'm sure I'll have more questions then. (Off the top, a Jays game sounds like a great suggestion. I hope they're in town).

As for the timing, I probably should have mentioned that. We'll be heading out in mid-August -- the 12th through the 16th, I believe. My girlfriend has an academic conference the weekend before and orientation for her new school the weekend after, so that was the only weekend I could snag.

(It's weird - now that I'm not in school any longer and don't travel nearly as much for work, I'm the one with the easy schedule. I'm not used to that, and I have to say, it's kind of nice.)
Three home games for the Jays when you are in town:

Angels vs Jays, August 12th, 7pm
Angels vs Jays, August 13th, 1pm
Angels vs Jays, August 14th, 1pm

Here's some more events for you:

Shakespeare in the Park - Canadian Stage Company puts on a Shakespeare play every summer in High Park. Stage is outdoors, admission is free (donations welcome) and you can bring your own picnic. This year it is A Winter's Tale.

http://www.canadianstage.com/dream

Harbourfront hosts 'weekend events' all summer long. For August 12-14 is all about exploring pan-Asian cuisine.

http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/su...ortunecooking/

As for theater, right now Billy Elliot and Railway Children are on stage.

You apparently picked a poor weekend - no big festivals! You're arriving after the Greek Festival, Carribana & Italian Festival - and a week too early for the EX (aka CNE).

Anyway, here's a good site to check out what's happening around town:
http://www.toronto.com/
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Old Jul 19th 2011, 07:07 PM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

When I was in Guanajuato, Mexico, we happened to skip town just before the huge annual festival. Good thing too; they say that drinks at the bar doubled in price!
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 01:01 AM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

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The falls are worth a couple hours max, definitely not two days.

Ok. That's my bias. The falls are really cool, but there's only so much time you can spend watching water pour down. If you go on one of the tours or on the Maid of the Mist it would definitely fill more time. I'm sure you could do an entirely pleasurable day there, and I think there's some various activity to do in the town on the Canadian side. The falls is more the kind of thing I do when I stop in between Ohio and Toronto.

Toronto is the shit though. The transportation is a breeze, and there is a lot to see and do. As far as just getting out and seeing the city, I think you could easily do two days there. Rita and I spent a lovely day out and about, and a lovely night drinking in some little bar where the locals gave us stale cookies. You could always catch a Jay's game if they're in town, and I'm sure there's a ton more stuff that Michael can tell you about, especially in the summer. (When I was there last it was definitely jacket and gloves weather).

Fuck, I wanna go to Toronto now. Maybe a weekend trip sometime soon. Hrm.
I think we're going to plan to spend only the one day at Niagra Falls. I've never seen it before, so I don't really know what all is involved, but it seems sort of reasonable that there wouldn't be a whole lot more involved than just seeing the falls. After all, there was a reason that I didn't just plan a vacation to see the falls and nothing else.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 01:08 AM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

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Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
Hamilton is my hometown and there's a lot to do there if you know where to look. However, Toronto is definitely more worth your time for city activities. The transit from Hamilton aka the Hammer aka Steeltown aka the Ambitious City is easy enough using the GO bus (Government of Ontario) There are about four of these per day. They run from the Central terminal on ?Young? Street in Hamilton to ... bloody hell ... help me out here Michael! It's been too long since I've taken that bus to remember and it's probably not best to trust my memory. There is also a GO train that runs from the same station but it's twice a day and only for the morning and evening commutes - so, packed with commuters.

Hamilton features Dundurn Castle if you like 19th century manor homes built over an 18th century American Loyalist home. It also has Stoney Creek Battlefield house, which is where the decisive battle of Stoney Creek was fought in 1812 allowing the British to rebuff the American advance into Upper Canada.

The beachfront near the east end is crap and I'd avoid it. However, closer to the west-central end of town they've vastly improved the Bayfront area (accessed from Bay St. North) and beautified the park and beach there, especially since Michael and I lived in the city. Cootes Paradise and Princess Point are nice for canoeing and kayaking. Spencer's Gorge and Webster's Falls area (accessed in Dundas off Hwy. 504 but you'd probably need a personal vehicle) is an absolutely gorgeous place for hiking. You really can't find a better place for waterfalls due to the city being built around a 500' escarpment. That's about all I have to say about it.
The historic sites and the hiking sound like something I'd like to check out. If the beach were particularly nice, I might be interested, but I grew up within walking distance of Lake Michigan and have a pool in my condo development, so swimming and the beach aren't that big of a deal. I'll look at the sites you mention as we get our plans more solidified.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 01:27 AM
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Default Re: Trip to Hamilton Ontario

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I'm not sure when you are planning this trip? If it is this weekend, then the Beaches Jazz Festival is on.

http://www.toronto.com/event/371945-...-jazz-festival

Definitely recommended - it is free - lots of events in the Beaches neighborhood (aka Queen East) with a bandstand, booked concerts and lots of musicians playing on the sidewalks. Very popular with the locals - you can guarentee a big crowd here.

As for Hamilton, Greendruid is the expert. Not exactly a major tourist hub. Kinda like Pittsburg, but not quite as pretty!

Depending on what you are interested in, Toronto is loaded with things to do. We have Broadway-style shows, a big nightclub scene plus lots of traditional touristy things (Ontario Place, CN Tower, Science Centre, etc).


The GO Train only runs M-F during rush hour. It is always packed.

The best way is probably the GO Bus. It runs frequently (like every 1/2 hour or so) and the trip is about 45 minutes (1 hour max) and it runs fairly late in the evening (about 11:30pm is the last bus out of Toronto to Hamilton). The bus terminal in Hamilton is right downtown - the bus goes straight to the Toronto bus terminal, which is also right downtown (Bay & Dundas in Toronto). I used to take this bus almost every weekend when I went to school in Hamilton.

http://www.gotransit.com/publicroot/....aspx?table=16

Btw, the Blue Jays are out of town this weekend, so no games at the Skydome. If they were in town, I'd recommend a game - seats are cheap in the bleachers and the stadium itself is pretty darn impressive.
Thanks for the link on the bus info. I talked it over with my girlfriend and I think what we're probably looking at is spending Saturday visiting some local sites around Hamilton in the morning and then maybe head to Toronto for the afternoon/evening and explore. Sunday, we'll probably see the afternoon Blue Jays game and then catch the Shakespeare in the Park in the evening (I might drive in on Sunday, especially if the timing will get dicey with the bus after the Shakespeare in the Park).

Monday, I think, we'll head to the falls.

Quote:
$75 hotel rooms do not exist in Toronto. $110 to $150 is a very CHEAP room in the city - most likely only in the outer burbs or out by the airport. Downtown prices are way higher.
Yeah, that seems to make sense. Usually when I travel(ed) for business, I don't stay right in the downtown area unless it's really unavoidable. In any city the rooms tend to be pretty expensive there. Last summer when I stayed in Manhattan the room was like $275 per night or something. A few months ago, I even paid $130 for a room in a Holiday in somewhere in nowherseville, IL. I was thinking of the price range that I'm used to for hotels in comparable proximity to cities to this one. I'll take the $75 Marriott over the $130 Holiday Inn

Quote:
Btw, if you are coming into the city, I'm sure I could arrange to buy you a beer on a nice sidewalk patio or pub... let me know.
If you're free that weekend, we'd be much obliged. A new city, beer, and interesting conversation is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.

I can keep you posted as we sort of flesh out what we're planning to do. I'll probably buy the tickets for the Jays game this weekend and start planning things out in earnest.
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