I realize St. Catharines is a smaller town then most are use to but that doesn’t mean it lacks charm, and student friendly hotspots. After talking to many students I have found that most only know where 2 things are downtown: 1) The bus terminal and 2) the clubs. But downtown st. cats offers a lot more than nightlife!

Ever since I moved here for school last year I have frequently travelled downtown just to explore. Yes I was that baby Badger who went on random buses just to see where they went. And I would like to think I know downtown pretty well.

Downtown offers a variety and I think every student will find something they love about it. Here is just a glimpse of downtown st cats looks like.

 Do you want coffee?

Well there are many different cafes including Timmies. But if you are looking for a cute, unique study spot were you can sip on a hot beverage here are 3 awesome places.

1. Rise Above

Rise Above restaurant and bakery offers a complete menu that is vegan! It is Niagara first and only at the moment! I am not a vegan but the food is delicious and is a must try!

2. Mahtay

Mahtay cafe and lounge is the go to spot for the “chill”, “organic” vibe! I am frequently there drinking the “Canadian Breakfast” tea studying or playing some board games with friends.

3. Coffee Culture

This is a popular chain in this area. This cozy cafe offers the classic cafe and eatery featuring hot soup and sandwiches.

Sushi Sushi … Who wants Sushi?

St. Catharines definitely does not lack in All You Can Eat sushi places. As for the best one? I am no sushi expert so you will have to try them out and let me know! I do however get my delivery from Seasons only because it is the closest to the bus terminal and I am too lazy to walk any further to just get back on the bus. But I do hear good stuff about both East and Wind.

Feeling Hungry?

As a lover of foodie St. Catharines doesn’t disappoint with food places! From pubs to quick in and outs there is a huge variety!





 A Library Not Just for Readers

I am a self proclaimed anti-reader … yet I have a St. Catharines library card in my wallet. Why you may ask? Because it gives you access to this amazing resource! First, I have actually gotten course reading textbooks from here instead of buying them! Second, this 2 story building offers plenty of individual and group study place! Third, THEY HAVE VIDEO GAMES! I am no gamer but I do enjoy renting some once and while especially when they are free for a week!

Architecture and Art

I realize the graffiti is vandalism but I find it quite beautiful! Did you know we have an alley (not a dark creepy alley) dedicated to this art form? I found it in the summer lat year and I come back a few times a year to find it update with new work showcasing some amazing artists.

Walking downtown you get a sense of the history associated with this town! No I am not about to get into a history lesson but when you do decided to hope on the bus and go downtown look at the building. Many are being restored and it is helping revitalize the area.

There is just a glimpse of what Downtown St. Catharines looks like! This by no means is all of it! But just as the slogan for Ontario is our downtown is “Yours to Discover”!

Happy studying Badgers


  1. Ashley says:

    Insider tip – Locals usually short form St. Catharines to St. Kitts and not St. Cats.

    Also I would definitely recommend Fine Grind to be added to the list of places to check out! Located on James Street, it has a very homey and friendly feel. They make the best hot chocolate in my opinion and also offer bottomless coffee. Additionally they do offer some homemade food options as well!

  2. Brad says:

    No mention of Amakara in the sushi section. Laughable!

  3. Jenn says:

    I frequent Sushi Ai and I think it’s one of the best spots to go for sushi, East and Wind are basically the same restaurant except Wind has more Thai food – I agree with Brad that Amakara too deserves a mention.

    I’d also add The Carlisle Cafe to the list of places to check out, they have an excellent brunch on Sundays if you’re looking for something a little different.

    Also, that graffiti isn’t vandalism, it’s a legal spot for it – we have a kind of graffiti/street art festival day (which I believe is also a charity event if I’m not mistaken?) and that spot gets updated every year.

    A section detailing some of the neater stores downtown might’ve been a nice addition to this article as well.

    Just some suggestions!

    Plus, since this is directed at future students, it might be kind to catch them early and let them know that the Chili Pepper (absent from this article, but popular for newbies) is “The Pepper” – not “Chili’s”.

  4. Bryan says:

    Best Burger: Guilty Burger
    Best Pizza: Bella Noellas
    Best “Does Anyone Else Want Poutine Right Now? I’m So Craving Poutine Right Now.”: Smokes’ Poutinerie

    How were these missed? 😀

  5. Amakara Sushi is the best downtown – although not ‘all you can eat’ which is why its much better quality.
    Guilty Burger is hands down the best burger you will ever eat. Go now!

  6. Claire V says:

    I like going to Fine Grind to study. It’s cozy and also you can play some board games that they have.

    Other places that needs some mentioning:
    – Mama’s pita (right by Coffee Culture) for Shawarma.
    – Niagara Hobby shop (further down St. Paul Street near Amkara) containing model trains, and arts and crafts
    – Smoke’s Poutine, I mean seriously, who doesn’t like poutine?
    – I forget the name though but it used to be called “Koja Deli”, but it’s a small Korean restaurant near Mahtay, I go to it from time to time but very popular with International students since they are known for the best “pork bone soup”
    – Sahla Thai which is right by the big intersection close to the bus terminal if you wish not to mix Thai with sushi.

  7. Sunida Witayakarn says:

    I went to Brock for 6 months back in 2003 when I got a scholarship from Thai Government on a transferred credit scheme in my MA English. I still miss and love St. Cat and always wish to pay a visit one day.

    I am not familiar with the names of these spots you mentioned but would definately love to check them out.

    Thanks for a nice write up which helps me bring back the good time.