hamilton ontario weekend

How to spend 48 hours in Hamilton

How to spend 48 hours in Hamilton

It’s impossible to see everything Hamilton has to offer in 48 hours alone. Surprised? Then it’s been too long since you’ve visited the city. After years of steel industry turbulence, Hamilton has built itself a new reputation surrounding its eclectic arts community and diverse restaurant scene.

And although there have been some less-than-peaceful protests reportedly against the city’s gentrification, new coffee shops, art galleries and restaurants continue to pop up throughout the Hammer.

Focusing mostly on the downtown core, here’s one of the many ways to spend 48 hours in Hamilton.  

Friday

5:00 p.m. - Check in to your hotel

Hamilton has a varied set of properties on Airbnb, like this studio cottage off Locke Street or this bungalow with panoramic views of the city.

For boutique-ish hotels, your best bet is the Best Western Premier C Hotel by Carmen’s on the mountain, but if you’re looking for the most convenient location, the Staybridge Suites and Sheraton will both house you in the heart of the city.

6:00 p.m. - Dinner at The Diplomat

Dining options on King William Street are endless, but one of the newest restaurants on the block is The Diplomat (from the same owners of Hamilton favourites The French and Aberdeen Tavern).

With fireplaces and lounge areas for larger groups and a 30-person patio, there’s plenty of seating options as you dine on the likes of southern fried catfish and watermelon fattoush.

Close by is Sagarmatha, a solid choice if you’re craving Indian. While Berkeley North has half-price bottles of wine between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m. - Flex your backhand at Serve

Let your competitive nature shine at Serve, a ping pong bar and lounge off King Street East. Walk-ins are $20 per hour and with three televisions in the lounge, you’ll never miss a minute of Hamilton Bulldogs or Tiger-Cats action.

10:00 p.m. - Bar hop down Augusta

Treat yourself to a cold one after showcasing your superior pong skills by bar hopping down Augusta Street. Start at Gallagher's for live music, transition to The Winking Judge patio for a craft beer before ending your night at James Street South’s Uno Mas, the cocktail and tapas bar under Mezcal. They have a DJ on Fridays until 2:00 a.m.

Saturday

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10:00 a.m. - Visit the Motel Restaurant for Brunch

Indulge your hangover with the likes of champagne pancakes and ooey gooey cheesy french toast at Motel on Barton Street. The bright pink walls and neon signs may be hard on your eyes at first, but you won’t be able to resist snapping a photo in between bites. All meat, dairy and eggs on the menu are sourced from local Ontario farms.

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11:30 a.m. - Catch the Waterfront Shuttle to the Hamilton Harbour

Hiking Hamilton’s famous waterfalls are a great way to spend a morning, but the Hamilton Harbour is another option if you’re looking to enjoy the waterfront.

In the summer months you can take the Hamilton Street Railway’s free Waterfront Shuttle to Pier 8. From there you’ll find an outdoor roller skating rink and bike rentals ranging from $9.00 to $32.00 per hour, with everything from single bikes to a four-seat Surrey bike.

Stop at Grandad’s Donuts for a quick sugar rush before walking or riding over to Bayfront Park.

2:00 p.m. - Head to Boon Burger for a late lunch

Vegan chain Boon Burger has opened a shop in Hamilton with everything from burgers and poutine to dairy-free, soy-free soft serve. If vegan food isn’t your thing, HAMBRGRCaro and Cannon Coffee Co. are all great options just down the street.

3:30 p.m. - Grab a new record on Ottawa Street North

Venture through Ottawa Street North’s record alley for an afternoon of flipping through new and gently-used vinyl. Make stops at Revolution Records and Stardust Records before turning onto Cannon Street for Crash Landing Music.

As you walk west toward the city centre, stop for coffee at Emerald Coffee Co. and take a photo in front of the Hello Baked mural beside.

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7:00 p.m. - Dine on Locke Street

It’s hard to go wrong when dining on Locke Street. Head to Brux House for a rotating menu (currently featuring deep fried brie and a lime and ginger beer) while Earth to Table: Bread Bar specializes in stone baked pizzas like the Cool Hand Zucch. If you’re looking for comforting pub fare, West Town Bar and Grill has been a Locke Street staple for 25 years.

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9:00 p.m. - Game on at Moody’s

Grab a Spicy Marge, stretch your hands and settle in to the arcade at Moody’s. Open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Moody’s Arcade houses pinball classics like Street Fighter 2 as well as video game favourites like Space Invaders. The extensive list of Ontario-brewed beers will help ease any Chandler Bing claw hand you may experience.

Sunday

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11:00 a.m. - Brunch at Nique

Chicken and waffles, shakshuka and the “hangry human hangover” surprisingly all come from the same brunch menu at Nique, priding itself on serving a global eclectic menu (or “inherently Canadian” as they call it). On certain menu items the restaurant partners with Mealshare to provide a meal to a youth in need.

12:30 p.m. - Snap a photo of the Hamilton musicians mural

From the walls of Rush Sugar Bar to Tim Hortons Field, @streetarthamilton’s work can be found proudly on display throughout the city. A personal favourite is the Hamilton musicians mural on King William Street, where you can find the familiar faces of Monster Truck and the unofficial-mayors-of-the-city, Arkells.

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1:00 p.m. - Beer crawl the city

Waterfalls aren’t the only thing flowing through the city. A variety of craft breweries have opened shop around Hamilton, so why not take advantage of your surroundings and go on a beer crawl?

Head to Dundas to sample homegrown brews from Grain & Grit or the Fairweather Brewing Company, or stay downtown and take a 2:00 p.m. tour of Merit Brewing’s operations. If cider is more your thing, West Avenue Cider House has won best cider in Ontario from 2014 to 2016.

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OR 1:00 p.m. - Take a flight on a vintage aircraft

Looking to shell out a little more on an experience unique to Hamilton? The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum offers 20-minute flights aboard some of their most famous planes, starting at $80. Flight dates and times vary, but the Douglas DC-3 Dakota (built in 1939) has some current Sunday openings for those feeling adventurous.

4:00 p.m. - Art, Coffee, Prosecco or Beer?

Before hopping on your GO Bus or hitting the QEW back to Toronto, make a coffee, prosecco or beer pit stop at Redchurch Cafe + Gallery. The cafe directly focuses on the arts community by featuring a rotating gallery, but with $5 mimosas all day any type of crowd will feel welcome.


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