Travel Tales

BURLINGTON- Spring, summer, fall and winter, Burlington, Ontario ( is a city for all seasons with plenty to see and do. Whether you’re a new or returning visitor, or perhaps in town on business, there’s always a wealth of activities to make your stay enjoyable. Burlington is close to the urban buzz of Toronto, yet surrounded by the tranquil beauty of parks, gardens and its downtown waterfront.

Burlington is conveniently located between Toronto and Niagara Falls, at the centre of southern Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe” and has a population of 175,000. We had a family function to attend in Hamilton recently and after failing to find accommodations there that met with our approval, we turned to the neighbouring city of Burlington

The Royal Botanical Gardens are a draw here and so is hiking on the nature trails, bird watching, museums, and the galleries at the Burlington Art Centre and presentations at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Spencer Smith Park is the large waterfront park where the pier, discovery landing (pond, rink, and restaurant) and major festivals are held.

Burlington Ontario

The Hilton Garden Inn serves a terrific buffet breakfast.

In the summer the waterfront and downtown come to life with the annual Sound of Music Festival. Canada’s largest free music festival kicks off summer festivities the week leading up to Father’s Day. Stroll the downtown streets, lakeside boardwalk or Waterfront Trail; enjoy an invigorating mix of acclaimed Canadian and international performers, and emerging performers on bistro patios and the waterfront stages. There is also rock, jazz, folk, roots, pop, blues, Celtic, country and children’s entertainment – musically something for everyone. And there are many other festivals: watersports, boating, golf and outdoor activities to enjoy at local parks and beaches. Burlington also has a swimmable and sandy beach, something which really intrigues me for a future summer visit. The Beachway Park Pavilion provides change rooms, outdoor showers, seasonal concession facilities featuring the snack shack and year round washrooms. Amenities at the beach include the pavilion, parking, a pay phone, a playground, and lots of sun, sand and water. It was closed when we were there due to high water levels.

For the outdoor adventurers, you can hike the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest footpath with over 890 km of nature waiting to be explored. You can also scale the limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, or cycle through the scenic rural or city routes. If you’re looking for a more leisurely pace, window shop in Burlington’s quaint downtown boutiques and shops, get pampered at a one of the local spas, or take a walk through the challenging Central Park Labyrinth.

The Hilton Garden Inn ( was indeed the deciding factor in us basing ourselves in Burlington, even though it meant a 20 to 30 minute commute each day. We flew from Montreal from Toronto and rented a car from Enterprise and headed to the hotel, which is right next door to a Homewood Suites where we stayed a number of years ago. Nozer Doctor is the general manager of both facilities and his staff are wonderful to deal with.

Parking is free and the hotel is located very close to a number of fun restaurants (Denny’s, Milestones, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Kelseys and Montanas. The hotel also has a nice restaurant, the Garden Grille & Bar, which serves three meals a day and provides room service. I had a nice warm buffet breakfast there each morning. The chef also prepares made to order omelettes. There is a fitness center, pool and whirlpool as well.

Each room has a mini-fridge, a microwave and a Keurig coffeemaker. A large Longo’s supermarket is a few minutes away so we purchased a small order and had many of the essentials available. The rooms are spacious with nice comfortable sitting chairs, a comfortable working desk, plenty of light, a 37-inch flat-screen television, free Wi-Fi and generous drawer space. King suites are available for those who seek more space and you can also request connecting rooms. The prices are excellent here, significantly lower than what certain two star hotels in Hamilton charge. I felt very much at home and would highly recommend this spot. I know of parents who come to this area to visit their children attending McMaster University.

 Mike Cohen can be reached at [email protected]. Follow his travels at