If you’ve been to Ni­a­gara and think you’ve seen it all, it is time for an­other look. And if you’ve never vis­ited, there hasn’t been a bet­ter time to come. Ni­a­gara rocks, as it never has be­fore.

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY BAR­BARA RAM­SAY ORR

Clifton Hill is un­der­go­ing a facelift, there are new ad­ven­tures to ex­pe­ri­ence and the jour­ney to the foot of the Falls has got­ten far more so­phis­ti­cated. In Wine Coun­try, in­ti­mate restau­rants in bou­tique winer­ies are rein­ter­pret­ing the Ni­a­gara din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the Shaw Fes­ti­val has a block­buster mu­si­cal and in­ter­na­tion­ally fa­mous per­form­ers. The arts, the gar­dens, the nightlife—all are bloom­ing in Ni­a­gara this year. From the wild wa­ters of the Falls to the rolling beauty of wine coun­try, the Ni­a­gara Re­gion is ready to daz­zle you!


For vis­ual im­pact, noth­ing beats the Falls, no mat­ter how you view them. The most fa­mous way to get an in­ti­mate look at this won­der is on a Horn­blower cruise, which will take you right up to the base of Horse­shoe Falls (­a­

For a dif­fer­ent view, hover above the spray in one of Ni­a­gara He­li­copters’ flights, get­ting a bird’s-eye look at the area. Their fleet of whirly­birds pro­vides the added com­fort of air con­di­tion­ing, lower noise lev­els and un­ri­valled safety (­a­gara he­li­ Want a more sybaritic way to en­joy the Falls? Din­ner at a Fallsview restau­rant, like El­e­ments on the Falls, lets you en­joy fine lo­cal cui­sine and wine while watch­ing the flow. Even more re­lax­ing is wak­ing up and see­ing the morn­ing mist over the Falls from your bed­room win­dow in one of the ho­tels that of­fers spec­tac­u­lar

over­views. Or see the rush of the rapids with a visit to the White Water Walk or on a jour­ney across the Ni­a­gara Gorge on the Whirlpool Aero Car (­a­gara­ To see the Ni­a­gara River down low, take a jet boat ride with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours (www.whirlpool­


Ni­a­gara has long been fa­mous for the art­ful light­ing of the night Falls, but now it is even more spec­tac­u­lar. In a re­cent ma­jor in­vest­ment the ex­ist­ing lights were re­placed with new, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient LED light­ing tech­nol­ogy, pro­vid­ing more than twice the pre­vi­ous light­ing lev­els, pro­gram­mable light­ing and a wider spec­trum of colour.

In ad­di­tion to the nightly il­lu­mi­na­tions, there is the bril­liance of fire­works over the Falls. Ni­a­gara Parks con­tin­ues to host Canada’s long­est run­ning fire­works series in Queen Vic­to­ria Park, from May to Septem­ber.


It is good for the body and mind to slow down, con­tem­plate and connect with your sur­round­ings, and Ni­a­gara en­cour­ages visi­tors to do just that. One of the new­est pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties is Na­maste Ni­a­gara, a yoga series or­ga­nized by Ni­a­gara Parks and held on se­lect Sun­days dur­ing the sum­mer. Ad­mis­sion to the event in­cludes park­ing, pri­vate ac­cess to Jour­ney Be­hind the Falls, a 45-minute yoga workshop right at the brink of the Falls and brunch at the Queen­ston Heights Restau­rant.


It isn’t sur­pris­ing that the culi­nary scene and the winer­ies of Ni­a­gara now ri­val the Falls in pop­u­lar­ity. Year-round, visi­tors can tour, taste and feast at the many eas­ily ac­cessed winer­ies. In win­ter, visi­tors can “chill” at the Icewine Fes­ti­val. You haven’t re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced a “Nuit Blanche” un­til you have dined in the icy (but heated!) white tents set up on the streets of Ni­a­garaon-the-Lake on a chilly win­ter evening (­a­garawine­fes­ti­ Be one of the first to try this year’s wines at the Ni­a­gara New Vin­tage Fes­ti­val, and in­dulge your love of fine white wines at the In­ter­na­tional Cool Climate Chardon­nay Cel­e­bra­tion, or i4C, in July ( chardon­

Com­pa­nies like Crush on Ni­a­gara Wine Tours of­fer vis­its to the vine­yards (www. crush­ Zoom Leisure Bikes or­ga­nizes cy­cling tours (www.zoom­ An­other at­trac­tive op­tion is the Ni­a­gara He­li­copters wine tour where you can fly over the Falls and then take in the vine­yards by air, land­ing at a lo­cal win­ery for a tour and tast­ing or a gourmet meal (www. ni­a­gara­he­li­


It’s easy to do your own in­di­vid­ual tast­ing tour as most winer­ies are well-signed and an ex­cel­lent self-tour­ing map al­lows you to choose be­tween large es­tab­lish­ments and smaller ones that are ag­gres­sively push­ing the boundaries of wine­mak­ing (www. winer­iesof­ni­a­garaon­the­ great­est-win­ery-tour).

How about a visit to On­tario’s only fly-in vine­yard? Sue-Ann Staff Es­tate Win­ery is a small bou­tique oper­a­tion, with the tast­ing room in the fam­ily din­ing room. Owner and vint­ner Sue-Ann is also a pi­lot, and her win­ery is the only fly-in win­ery in On­tario with two grass run­ways and co­or­di­nates avail­able for touch down

( West­cott Vine­yards is an­other small fam­ily-run win­ery, lo­cated in a re­si­t­u­ated 200-yearold Men­non­ite barn. The win­ery makes a bub­bly that will blow your socks off and serves fresh and tasty lunches on the ve­ran­dah (www.west­cottvine­


His­tory abounds in Ni­a­gara, and it is no sur­prise that the area is busy with spe­cial events and cel­e­bra­tions to show­case Canada’s early his­tory.

Fort Ge­orge Na­tional His­toric Site is an ac­cu­rately re­stored fort where cos­tumed in­ter­preters re-en­act his­tory (www.parks­ge­orge). The Fort will sa­lute Canada dur­ing a rous­ing Canada Day event, fea­tur­ing pe­riod mu­sic, a bar­be­cue, mus­ket demon­stra­tions and can­non fir­ings, con­clud­ing with a con­cert and fire­works dis­play.

Ni­a­gara Parks is plan­ning a series of pop-up din­ners at dif­fer­ent prom­i­nent places along the Ni­a­gara Park­way, while the Botan­i­cal Gar­dens will fea­ture a new pub­lic art in­stal­la­tion by Gor­don Reeve called “Ni­a­gara Strait.”

The But­ter­fly Con­ser­va­tory cel­e­brates On­tario’s na­tive species, as well as be­ing home to over 2000 but­ter­flies from all around the world.

Not to be missed are the 25,000 red and white tulips planted by Ni­a­gara Parks within Queen Vic­to­ria Park that ex­plode with colour in the spring.


Adren­a­line junkies will re­joice at Wild­Play’s MistRider Zi­pline to the Falls which whis­tles you along the edge of the Falls for a breath-stop­ping ride. Ex­pe­ri­ence the Falls in a whole new way: hang­ing from a 67-m-high (220-ft.) van­tage point on one of four par­al­lel zip-lines at speeds over 70 km/h (40 mph), along the edge of the Ni­a­gara River gorge and down to the Falls ob­ser­va­tion area.

In ad­di­tion, Wild­Play’s new Whirlpool Ad­ven­ture Course presents the thrill of sus­pended ob­sta­cles and zip-lines above the Ni­a­gara Gorge. It also in­cludes climb­ing, jump­ing, and swing­ing aerial games—a dif­fer­ent way to ex­plore the Ni­a­gara River— with op­tions for both ad­ven­tur­ous adults and kids aged 5 to 12 (www.wild­

New this sum­mer in the on-go­ing Clifton Hill re­de­vel­op­ments, is the Ni­a­gara Speed­way, a 12-m (39-ft.) multi-storey raised spi­ral go-cart track that is guar­an­teed to be a thrill ride. It will be the only one of its kind in Canada and the largest in North Amer­ica.


Ni­a­gara is syn­ony­mous with good food, so it is log­i­cal that some of Canada’s celebrity chefs have moved to Ni­a­gara and are pro­duc­ing su­perb lo­cally-sourced food.

All of the Ni­a­gara Parks’ restau­rants are now Feast On cer­ti­fied, a cri­te­ria-based pro­gram that rec­og­nizes busi­nesses that use prod­ucts sourced as lo­cally as pos­si­ble, cel­e­brates lo­cal pro­duc­ers, and com­mits to show­cas­ing On­tario’s unique taste of place. Ex­pect fresh and in­ter­est­ing lo­cal dishes at all their din­ing places, like Queen­ston Heights Restau­rant, or Le­gends on the Ni­a­gara where you can en­joy a lo­cally sourced meal in the club­house and also get in a few rounds of golf on its renowned cour­ses.

There are ex­cel­lent af­ford­able din­ing op­tions in the area. The Backhouse, a Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake restau­rant de­voted to cool climate sus­tain­able cui­sine, of­fers an in­ti­mate din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a seat at the chef’s bar where you can sit by the fire and watch the cooks in ac­tion (www.

Many winer­ies have de­vel­oped ex­cel­lent in-house restau­rants serv­ing lo­cally-in­spired food. The 13th Street Win­ery is a fam­ily-run win­ery with a tast­ing bar and wine bou­tique, a sculp­ture gar­den, orig­i­nal Cana­dian art on the walls, and culi­nary art (think but­ter tarts) in the on-site bak­ery (www.13thstreet win­ Creek­side Es­tate Vine­yards, which is pro­duc­ing some great Riesling and a de­li­cious un­fussy bub­bly, is serv­ing all things smoked—ribs, pulled pork, salmon— on the wooden ve­ran­dah over­look­ing the vine­yard (www.creek­


Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake is well-known for the Shaw Fes­ti­val ( and this sea­son is fea­tur­ing Bri­tish ac­tor Stephen Fry in Mythos A Tril­ogy: Gods. He­roes. Men. as well as a sump­tu­ous mu­si­cal, Grand Ho­tel. But this his­toric town also of­fers good shop­ping along the his­toric main street and care­fully re­stored inns and manor house ho­tels, such as the el­e­gant neo-Ge­or­gian Queen’s Land­ing (­tage-ho­ or the in­ti­mate Har­bour House Ho­tel (www. ni­a­garas­­bour). The Prince of Wales Ho­tel is a Vic­to­rian-style ho­tel lo­cated close to the Shaw Fes­ti­val the­atres and shop­ping area. The town is also well­sup­plied with bed and break­fast es­tab­lish­ments, like the His­toric Davy House Bed & Break­fast Inn (www.davy­


Ni­a­gara has upped the ex­cite­ment fac­tor and this year is of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing ad­ven­tures, re­fined culi­nary experiences and ex­cep­tional cul­tural riches—and then there are the Falls them­selves! They never get old. Plan to spend some se­ri­ous time here to fully connect to the en­ergy of this ex­cep­tional place, and to ex­pe­ri­ence all that the re­gion has to of­fer (www.vis­it­ni­a­gara­;­a­garafall­s­





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