Canadian Geographic - - CANADA'S BEST WINTER DRIVES - —Karan Smith

WHEN A HIGH­WAY starts off with more bumper views than es­carp­ment vis­tas, it may re­quire a few deep-breath ohms to get you on your way. But a win­ter­time jour­ney from Toronto to the Ni­a­gara re­gion is no less wor­thy of the road-trip moniker: the cosy car, the playlist, the get­away! As you fol­low the QEW and the ur­ban spread of the Greater Toronto Area to­ward the in­dus­trial sky­line of Hamil­ton and the Burling­ton Sky­way bridge, the relief of the re­gional roads and more in­ti­mate Lake On­tario mo­ments are not far off. Plus, coun­try calm awaits: lo­cal din­ners with wine or craft beer pair­ings, cosy inns with fire­places and sea­sonal events f rom the Shaw Fes­ti­val’s A Christ­mas Carol (De­cem­ber) to the Ni­a­gara Falls Win­ter Fes­ti­val of Lights (Nov. 18, 2017, to Jan. 31, 2018). The Ni­a­gara Penin­sula’s big cold­weather draw, how­ever, is the icewine fes­tiv­i­ties that take over the Jan­uary week­end cal­en­dar to cel­e­brate that sweet fruit of the win­ter vine. Ni­a­gara Falls kicks things off with a gala wine din­ner at the Fallsview Casino Re­sort (Jan. 12, 2018), Twenty Val­ley is home to the artsy Win­ter Wine­fest (Jan. 12-14, 2018) in Jor­dan Vil­lage, and Ni­a­gara-on-the-lake takes the party out­side with its long-run­ning Icewine Fes­ti­val (Jan. 19 to Jan. 28). You can ex­pe­ri­ence no­table chefs and VQA icewines in for­mal-wear fin­ery, but you can also watch a rau­cous bar­rel rolling com­pe­ti­tion or join an un­der­ground wine cave af­ter-party. A Ni­a­gara Icewine Fes­ti­val Dis­cov­ery Pass also al­lows you to pick and choose wine-and-culi­nary matchups at par­tic­i­pat­ing winer­ies over three week­ends. And it’s here, while trav­el­ling coun­try roads past frozen fields to­ward warmly-lit con­verted barns or tast­ing rooms with grand vis­tas of the Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment, that you’ll get the re­ward that only the very best road trips can of­fer: your next stop un­known but no less an­tic­i­pated.

Snow blan­kets the trees along the Ni­a­gara River.

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