offers more than the giant retailer; however, IKEA remains one of the main reasons for visiting this city, a one-hour drive from Niagara. The acronym, IKEA, derives from the initials of Swedish founder, Ingvar Kamprad, plus Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born and the nearby village of Agunnaryd. At 95, Kamprad is listed by Forbes Magazine as the 11th richest person in the world with a net worth of $23 billion. IKEA occupies 40 countries, one of the largest stores in Burlington.
While picking up new furniture I explored this city of 165,000, nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario in the centre of Southern Ontario's Golden Horseshoe.
Downtown, parking is limited, and you need plenty of change to feed the meters. First stop should be
the Burlington Tourism Information Centre at 414 Locust Street. Park in the indoor parking garage next door. (first 20 minutes free) I headed out on a free, self-guided heritage walking tour suggested by the information centre. I dressed in layers as it's cold outside and near a lake.
The tour starts at the nearby Burlington Art Centre. Admittance is free and the centre is open seven days a week. Check out examples of original Canadian art and experience the tropics inside their mini greenhouse.
If you appreciate old homes, walk along Nelson, Burlington and Ontario streets to view many attractive, circa 1885 homes.
Across from the art centre, one of Burlington's gems - The Waterfront Trail along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, is a hive of activity any time of year. I witnessed families taking advantage of the free outdoor Rotary Centennial Rink and playground at the Discovery Landing. Walking the waterfront Trail, I was rewarded with an encounter with one of North America's largest birds, the long necked Trumpeter Swans, swimming and feeding along the shoreline. Once, they were on the endangered list, but thanks to conservationists, they now flourish.
The Joseph Brant Museum is another place to visit except on Saturday and Mondays when closed. Located at 1240 North Shore Boulevard beside the waterfront, it's housed in a replica house of
Mohawk leader, Joseph Brant who built his house here in the 1830's. This museum highlights Burlington's rich cultural past. Adult admission is $4.50 and children 5-12, $2.25. Until the end of February you can view a special exhibition of the fashions from the Roaring 20's.
Before you leave downtown, there are plenty of great eateries from which to choose. Two favourites are Benny's Deli and Siam Dish where you can enjoy authentic Thai cuisine. Both are located on Lakeshore Road across from the waterfront.
If you used the QEW to drive to Burlington, hug Lakeshore Road East beside Lake Ontario back to Niagara, a slower, contemplative route. Once across
the old Lift Bridge, continue along Beach Boulevard to the end and turn left on Van Wagner's Beach Road. You will see old homes mingled with modern condos in the shadow of the Burlington Skyway.
If a nostalgia buff, take a break at Hutch's Restaurant at 280 Van Wagner's Beach Road. This classic diner has been around since 1946 and serves up great fish and chips, hamburgers and hotdogs, as in the diner featured in the 1950's television series, "Happy Days." You expect Fonzie at one of the booths, playing the Juke Box. Yes, the originals are still at the booths. An added bonus is that the restaurant enjoys a majestic view of Lake Ontario from the comfort of the booth.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.
If you go
Burlington Tourism Information Centre at 414 Locust Street: www.tourismburlington.com or 1-877-499-9989.
Burlington Art Centre: www.thebac.ca or 905-632-7796.
The Joseph Brant Museum: www.museumsofburlington.com
Churches & Synagogues: http://www.goldbook.ca/burlington-on/synagogues/ ;
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