Burlington, Tour Group Friendly!
Let’s face it, organizing itineraries, logistics, food and rest stops for large groups is not an easy task. Whether you are a group of 20 or 200 wishing to get together for an organized day or multi-day leisure tour, a special interest excursion, school field trip or reunion, selecting the right venues and activities to accommodate your group’s interest, budget and timelines can be a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area you wish to visit. That’s where Tourism Burlington’s Visitor Centre can help.
We have an extensive listing of ‘group friendly’ attractions, restaurants and hotels, all located minutes off major highways. Whether your group can stay hours or days, or is just looking for a refreshment break on their way elsewhere, there is lots to see and do in Canada’s best mid-sized city to live (MoneySense Magazine 2013), Burlington, ON.
Burlington is conveniently located in the heart of the golden horseshoe, 75 km from the Toronto and US border and easily accessible by all major highways. Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, we are noted for having one of the prettiest waterfronts west of Toronto, especially with the opening of our new Brant Street Pier. Extending 137 metres into the water, its unique S-shape structure features an observation deck and illuminated beacon offering breathtaking views of the lake and shoreline. A bus can easily access the pier via the Waterfront Hotel Downtown Burlington parking lot.
Experience that Inspire and Enrich
For those that wish to enjoy an experience that inspires, The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 2013-2014 performance line-up covers the full gamut including music from classic to country to pop, traditional ballet to hip hop, Shakespeare to comedy theatre, and feats of balance and precision. Group tickets are available for matinee, evening or Sunday brunch performances and there is a designated bus drop off area at the entrance. Group friendly restaurants such as the Waterstreet Cooker and Beaver & Bulldog overlooking the water, are just minutes away offering group dining areas and flexible menus to meet any budget. Early sittings can be arranged to ensure your group arrives before the curtain goes up!
Before or after your show, take a guided tour of the Burlington Art Centre, home of the world’s largest collection of Canadian contemporary ceramics (including a Picasso), seven working guilds, exhibition galleries and the magnificent Art Etc. Shop. Refreshments can be arranged on site, including their famous ‘Soup Bowl’ lunch where participants select a hand crafted pottery bowl for their soup and then take it home with them, how cool is that!
Points in Time – Heritage Tours
For historians we have a number of museum options that celebrate our heritage and showcase family farm life dating back to the 1800’s. Joseph Brant Museum, Ireland House at Oakridge Farms and the Halton Region Museum have been restored to profile the people whose contributions have enriched our community. Artifacts, exhibits, interpretive activities and special events reflect the homestead of generations past. For groups that wish to be more active, a guided walking tour of some of our cities heritage homes, churches, cemeteries and monuments in the downtown will provide insight into our historic past. And don’t forget to stop and see one of our designated heritage trees, a 1792 White Oak tree reaching over 30 metres high and 500 cm wide and quite possibly one of the oldest and largest specimen of its kind in Canada. A great picture opportunity!
Escape to Paradise
The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), a designated National Historic Site, is one of our most popular group tour attractions in our area. Sprawled over 2700 acres of gardens and wetlands, the site offers year round garden displays and exhibits including the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lilacs. My favourite garden is the Veggie, where fresh produce is picked daily for the three restaurants on site. They even have their own cookbook.
Each season brings a new interactive exhibit and returning for the holiday season is the model train exhibit. This all-botanical display showcases the many wonders of the world, with numerous model trains tracks woven throughout. You can be assured any group, young and old will be fascinated by this display of craftsmanship.
Groups can easily spend a full day touring the five display gardens or participating in an interactive world of tea or GEO-Quest workshops offered by the RBG. You even can arrange a guided canoe tour of Cootes Paradise to learn about the restoration and conservation of these wetlands and fish ways.
Everyone loves to eat and shop and there is no shortage of guilty pleasures in Burlington. Walkers Chocolate Factory & Outlet, Nickel Brooke Brewery and Mrs. B’s Gifthouse offer guided tours and tastings, while Voortmans Cookie Outlet and Picards Peanuts are great places to buy some treats to take home. Springridge Farm or Stonehaven Farms offer seasonal wagon rides, home baked goodies and specialty shopping.
For the outdoor enthusiast Conservation Halton is the place to go. Crawford Lake highlights the life of the native people in their replicated 15th Century Iroquoian Village. Reclining in the semi-dark longhouse, groups sit on fur covered seats while witnessing the legends and lore of the people who were once masters of the land. The Gathering Place is a perfect for lunch before touring the rare meromictic lake, one of the most accurately dated pre-European archeological sites in Canada.
Mountsberg Raptors Centre Birds of Prey exhibit is home to every falcon species in Ontario including the smallest in North America and the largest in the world. Groups can literally get nose-to-beak with birds of prey and meet owls the size of pop cans or eagles with seven-foot wingspans.
Eat, Sleep and be Merry
If you need a quick dining stop off the highway, Tuckers Marketplace, the Mandarin, Mohawk Inn, Alloro, Swiss Chalet or the Stone House are easily accessible and offer fast and flexible service for the group tour market. Or perhaps arrange to have your own culinary experience at one of our local cooking studios.
The Burlington Hotel Association member hotels are conveniently located by major highways and offer on-site bus parking, meals, and support services. Member hotels include Best Western PLUS Burlington Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre, Homewood Suites by Hilton and the Waterfront Hotel Downtown Burlington.
We are Here to Help
Our Visitors Centre is open seven days a week and offers bus tour groups free freshly brewed coffee, homemade treats, welcome bags, washroom facilities, attraction brochures and local maps. We encourage you to call us in advance to help you plan your itinerary or better yet come for a FAM tour to see everything our city has to offer. And speaking of offers, Tourism Burlington is currently giving group tour operators $10.00 per person to bring a minimum of 15 people to our city and participate in at least two experiences (attractions, activities, restaurants, hotels).
For more information on group touring in Burlington, please visit our website. We look forward to welcoming you to our city!
Linda O – Marketing Coordinator – Group Tour