If working your way through your holiday to-dos tends to feel more chore-like than charm-filled, perhaps it’s time for a seasonal shakeup. This year, trade the trek to the crowded shopping mall for a relaxing road trip to Niagara. The St. Catharines area, in particular, offers unique shops overflowing with thoughtful gifts, fantastic bakeries for a little assist in the kitchen, excellent restaurants to refuel at, and a calendar filled with holiday events that will have you heading home filled with the festive spirit.
Niche Up Your Gift-Giving Game
For those struggling to come up with fresh ideas for presents to give this year, St. Catharines is home to a diverse collection of shops and boutiques that cater to some very specific interests. No matter who you’re shopping for, you can find a unique gift that will leave them feeling seen, heard, and appreciated!
- Shopping for pet lovers? You’ll find endless inspiration at boutique pet shops like Little Chief & Co., The Bone & Biscuit, and Endless Pawzabilities.
- Shopping for a book lover? The passionate owners at Thistle Bookshop and Café and Someday Books will be thrilled to provide recommendations.
- Shopping for a serious soccer player? Niagara’s top soccer shop, Absolute Soccer Life, has a wide range of soccer apparel, equipment, and lifestyle accessories.
- Shopping for a knitter? Pink Flower Lady Yarns has a wide range of lovingly curated yarns from around the world, as well as needles and other supplies for knitting, crocheting and a selection of other crafts.
- Shopping for a self-care junky? In addition to its house-made line of skincare products, Garden City Essentials has an incredible selection of face and body products from other brands and beautiful lifestyle accessories.
- Shopping for a music lover? Mindbomb Records and Roly Poly Records, both in Downtown St. Catharines, have sensational stacks of vinyl.
- Shopping for someone who loves gifts with a vintage vibe? Downtown St. Catharines has a growing collection of vintage retailers, including Out Of The Past and resell.
- Shopping for a foodie? Shops like Bushell and Peck, Antipastos, and the retail boutique at 13th Street Winery stock their shelves for the holiday season with all kinds of fabulous gift options, and many St. Catharines restaurants, including just-opened Fat Rabbit, Bolete, and Dispatch also offer curated collections of tasty take-home pantry products, including preserves, sauces, oils, and spices.
- Shopping for someone who loves plants and gardening? In addition to a spectacular selection of plants and plant supplies, Adams Flora has fun plant-themed accessories, terrariums, and more. The Watering Can, on James Street, also has a beautiful selection of arrangements and plants.
- If you’re not 100% sure of the recipient’s interests, stop by Catharines Farmers Market to browse amongst a wide variety of local artisans selling lovely jewellery, handcrafted signs, charcuterie boards, crystals, and more. Time your trip with the third annual BIPOC Holiday Market on Sunday, November 26th for an even more diverse selection of handmade items, or the Winter At the Market Artisan series on December 6th, 13th and 20th.
Partner Up With The Holiday Baking Pros
Enjoy A Retail Refuel
St. Catharines’ red-hot culinary scene will make you very happy you don’t have to rely on a shopping mall food court for your mid-trip meal. Excellent options when you’re ready for a retail refuel include an off-the-radar brunch or lunch spot that’s earned the love of locals, some globally inspired cuisine with a Niagara twist, the Garden City’s most perfect poutine or a mid-afternoon snack paired with a locally made craft beer. You can also browse the city’s more extensive list of restaurant and dining options.
Wrap Up Your Day In A Festive Way
Before heading home with a trunk full of gifts and goodies, take a time-out for some festive fun that’s guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit. The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is St. Catharines’ holiday headquarters for a broad range of holiday concerts and programming, including:
- The Toronto All-Star Big Band’s A Swingin’ Christmas on December 3rd
- A Lunch at Allen’s Christmas, featuring Murray McLauchlan, Cindy Church, Marc Jordan, and Ian Thomas on December 9th
- The Music of Charlie Brown Christmas on December 10th
- Handel’s Messiah on December 13th
- The Next Generation Leahy on December 14th
- Niagara Symphony Orchestra’s Home For the Holidays concert on December 16th and 17th
Let It Glow – A Celebration of Light is another great way to bookend your St. Catharines day in a festive way. Head to Rennie Park in Port Dalhousie from December 1- January 7, 2024 for a family-friendly, outdoor festival featuring interactive light installations. Dine, shop and explore the waterfront amongst the glow of twinkling lights.