Along the shores of Lake Ontario, in the town of Grimsby, you’ll find a unique neighborhood known as Grimsby Beach. The area is home to quirky, colorful cottages, unlike anything you may have seen before. Commonly referred to as the Painted Ladies, the concept is comparable to the row of colorful homes found in San Francisco and featured in TV show credits for Full House. The vibrant colors and Victorian details make the Painted Ladies of Grimsby a unique tourist attraction. If you’re planning to visit this hidden gem in Ontario, it’s easily accessible and nearby cities like Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls. 

Painted Ladies Find

Where to Find the Gingerbread Homes? 

The town of Grimsby is nestled between the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment and the shores of Lake Ontario. At just a 90-minute drive from Toronto, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway at any time of the year. Parking in the area is limited, though there is a small lot on Temple Lane near Bell Park. If the parking lot is full, you can look for street parking on nearby Park Road North. 

Though they’ll be hard to miss, you can find most of the historic Grimsby Beach cottages in a small court called Auditorium Circle. Temple Lane, the next street over, has more gingerbread homes for you to check out. The Grimsby Beach area is the perfect spot for a relaxing walk and a great place to take photos of the colorful cottages. Though a visit here can be both unique and exciting, it’s important to remember that it is a quiet residential neighborhood where people take great pride in maintaining their homes, gardens, and surrounding property. Don’t miss the Halloween decorations in October, or the blossoming gardens in Spring and Summer! Whenever you visit, be sure to remain respectful by staying off personal property and snapping pictures from the street when it’s safe.

Painted Ladies History 1

A Colorful History

Before visiting the Grimsby Beach cottages, it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with the rich history of the area. You’d be amazed at how much has happened in this charming beachside neighborhood, dating back to the 1800s. From 1859, the area was a Methodist meeting ground and campsite for prayer and worship. Participants would bring family and friends to partake in religious activities and then camp overnight, sometimes for days. By 1875, tents were upgraded to cottages after needs arose for better shelter. Two hotels were built in town to accommodate the influx of visitors and a 7000-seat auditorium for events held by Methodists — a grand venue considering the point in history and small population size. 

As the Methodist Park fell, an American named Harry Wylie purchased the land in 1910. He turned the space into an amusement park that featured a midway, dance hall, casino, live theatre, and even a roller coaster! However, due to waning popularity and the construction of the Queen Elizabeth Way freeway (QEW), which would eliminate overall space, residents took the park back in the 1930s.

Today, over a dozen vibrantly colored homes stand in the area, many with unique Victorian-era detailing. Several cottages are over 150 years old and are considered significant cultural heritage resources under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Bell Park

Stroll Through Bell Park

After you’ve finished touring the Painted Ladies, stop by Bell Park, another popular Grimsby tourist attraction. Dating back to Methodist gatherings of the 1800s, there is a large bell located in the center of the park. It was delivered in 1884 and was to hang at the then on-site temple building. Unfortunately, the roof wasn’t going to hold the weight of the bell, so it was placed in the middle of the park, the same place you can see it today. The bell was to notify people of worship or as an alarm in an emergency. It’s a great piece of history, so be sure to visit and take some photos. 

Bell Park is also a relaxing spot to unwind after a day out. Take in the native tree species, such as white pine, sugar maple, and white spruce, which provide a generous tree canopy throughout the park. Ready to close out the day with a beautiful sunset? Head over to the little path which will guide you toward the waterfront, where you can take in the calming sights and sounds of Lake Ontario.

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