A day in Niagara
If you haven’t yet decided what you want to experience in Niagara, here is a sample of how some visitors get the most out of this amazing destination.
There’s a reason why, more than 150 years after the precedent was set, tightrope walker Nik Wallenda took up the gauntlet thrown down by The Great Blondin, who was the first to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1859. Like the dreamers before him, Wallenda was compelled by the iconic majesty of the Falls, tackling it successfully in 2012 in a feat followed by millions around the globe. Over the years, the attractions have been spiffed up for new generations, just as the profile of Niagara’s nearby wine region has grown, but ultimately, its appeal is timeless. A sampler plate of the finest attractions is best enjoyed via rental car; here’s how to split up your day and night.
A.M.: Hit the Falls
There are plenty of ways to “do” Niagara Falls. The oldest and most traditional is to don a blue rain slicker and board the Maid of the Mist, the iconic boat that has been traversing the Niagara River since 1846. Another option is to book a seat on the Whirlpool Jet Boat, which offers white-knuckle jet-boat tours of the Niagara River’s Class V rapids. It operates between mid-June and early September and offers a choice of Wet Jet and Jet Dome rides; choose depending on whether or not you packed a change of clothes.
For a multi-sensory thrill, try the new Niagara’s Fury: The Creation of the Falls. Feel the full wrath of Mother Nature as you stand on a platform that tilts and shakes while the temperature dips. You’ll experience 10,000 years in about 15 minutes of sensory overload! Or stand in the mist, right at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, with Journey Behind The Falls.
If you prefer to stay dry, take a scenic flight via Niagara Helicopters. Or try out the Niagara SkyWheel; on this gigantic Ferris wheel in the Clifton Hill area, the glass pods are air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter.
Fuel up on gastropub fare at Niagara Falls’ Syndicate Restaurant & Brewery. The lunch menu offers locally sourced Niagara Greenbelt produce and features culinary highlights such as duck confit poutine and a lager-spiked burger on brioche. Get in and out fast, or book a brewery tour and tasting if you can spare an extra hour or two.
P.M.: Indulge at Niagara-on-the-Lake
Head to scenic Niagara-on-the-Lake and join Zoom Leisure Bikes for a pedal-powered winery tour. The bike-tour company provides the wheels and traverses wine country at a leisurely pace, covering 15 to 20 kilometres over the course of three-and-a-half hours. Along the way you’ll stop at local wineries to sample characteristic Niagara wines and specialty foods and—if you can limit yourself to what fits in your bike basket—buy a bottled souvenir or two. If cycling isn’t your thing try Niagara Vintage Wine Tours, a driving tour offering daily scheduled excursions or customized private tours.
Après-tour, reward your exertions at the spa. For more vino immersion, book a Divine Red Wine Wrap at the Shaw Club Hotel & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Your indulgence begins with a grape exfoliating scrub followed by a warmed wine-hydrating mask. While your grape wrap is working its wonders, your therapist will give you a gentle scalp massage, then finish by applying a hydrating cabernet body balm. If white is more to your liking, opt instead for the White Muscat Grape Body Wrap.
Return to Niagara Falls for dinner. Sterling Inn & Spa’s AG Inspired Cuisine highlights local ingredients such as Cro Farms quail, Quiet Acres Farm peaches and Wellington County beef. The daily changing three-course Fields, Forks & Corks menu is offered with or without complementary Niagara region wine.
End your day as you began it: taking in the mighty Falls. After dark they’re illuminated with powerful mood lighting, and there’s a seasonal razzle-dazzle fireworks extravaganza. The best place to enjoy the view is from the R5 lounge in the Fallsview Casino Resort, with cocktail in hand.