Monday night left me feeling utterly exhausted and famished. I stepped into my house, took off my jacket, and was more than ready to devour our take-out meal, a box of Chinese-style noodle soup, from Golden Jade Restaurant nearby. You see, we were out the door by 8 AM that morning and we had spent the entire day giving our friends a tour of the Niagara region, complete with a visit to a winery. In the dead of winter. I know! I’m also quite surprise with myself.
Like many of my other trips, it all started with a conversation we had in the car on our way to our weekly band practice. Despite having lived in Toronto for a couple of years, my friends, Lauren and Ozy, have never been to Niagara Falls. Quite appalled at this revelation (I mean how can you NOT have gone to the Falls? Isn’t that the first point of interest EVERYBODY visits when they come to Toronto?! WHAT!), I offered to take them to see the Falls during Family Day weekend. I didn’t think they would be interested seeing as 1) it’s winter and 2) see reason #1. Little did I know, Ozy squealed and giggled before excitedly proclaiming “Yes, please!”. Hence, we were out of the house by 8 AM this past Monday morning. You’re welcome, ladies!
I’ve done this enough time now to realize what the best way is to cover all that the Niagara region has to offer. In a nutshell, follow this itinerary: Start your day at the winery, stroll through Niagara-on-the-Lake, have lunch at Manor Chicken, check out the Fashion outlet, see the falls, and end your trip at Clifton Hill. I even illustrated a quick map to help you visualize it:
Inniskillin Winery played a major roll in changing the face of the Niagara wine industry when its 1989 Vidal ice wine won the prestigious Grande Prix d’Honneur in Vin Expo, France in 1991. The achievement put Niagara and Canadian wines on the map and earned the region respect from other wine experts in the world.
A mere $5/person entitles you for a 45-minute tour (where I learn all the facts above) as well as a tasting of their 3 wines: red, white (the Pinot Gris), and the Vidal Icewine (!!).
I’m not much of a wine-drinker nor do I have a discerning palate for wines, but I know enough to say that the Icewine is ridiculously delicious! Don’t forget to browse their wine boutique and maybe pick up a bottle or two. I’ve been told you won’t find some of their wines (specifically the Pinot Gris) at your local LCBO.
When you go, make sure you check the hours of the tour and time your arrival accordingly. I recommend going with the earliest tour, but make sure you have eaten a proper breakfast lest you feel woozy afterwards.
From the winery, a quick drive down the Niagara Parkway led us straight into Niagara-on-the-Lake. Located where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, this little town is as charming as it gets.
Queen Street, its only major road, is lined with everything imaginable from the Christmas stores to boutique stores selling cute knick-knacks from all over the world.
In the warmer months, blooming flowers accentuate its streets, making it all the more beautiful. It was equally as gorgeous when we went since the sun was shining brightly and the winter weather was a little bit more forgiving than usual.
*Tip: Park in one of the many Green P parking lots scattered throughout the area – $1.50/hour.
Falls Manor Resort and Restaurant (aka Manor Chicken)
After strolling through Niagara-on-the-Lake, munching on ice cream, and sampling the goodies offered by Kurtz Culinary Creations, we made our way to our lunch spot in the heart of Lundy’s Lane.
My all-time favourite and often frequented by other Indonesians, Manor Chicken is what you should eat at the Falls. Never mind the chain restaurants with their terribly overpriced meals at Clifton Hill and come here for a homemade meal instead! Located on Lundy’s Lane, it is quite removed from the Falls, but I promise you, it’s worth the detour. When you come, order their broasted chicken platter – delicious and budget-friendly meals guaranteed!
The Fashion Outlet of Niagara Falls is located just down the road, so stop by if you wish. Don’t get your hopes up, though, the Canadian outlets just aren’t as good as the States’.
After photo-bombing Ozy’s pictures and taking countless failed selfies, we made our way towards Clifton Hill, a short stretch of street where neon lights are considered to be the primary form of lighting. Despite being known terribly cheesy, I have to admit it’s a lot of fun to stroll through the street. Where else can you find Wax Hand Emporium, the Guinness Museum, the Upside Down House and a couple of haunted houses in the same general area with each other, right? Right!
*Tip: If you do park at the Skylon Tower, walk past the Wheel on Oneida Lane, keep going until the end of the lane, where there is a carved out path on the field that will eventually lead you straight to the parking lot. Alternatively, you can walk further on to Victoria Avenue to get your fill of more souvenir shops and restaurants.
After a full day of wandering about, we left the Falls at around 7 PM, only getting home at 9:30 PM. I was more than ready to collapse on to my bed and spend the night watching Netflix. It had been yet another great day at the Falls after all!
Have you been to the Falls? If you’re in Ontario, I’m sure you have! Do you love it as much as I do? Have you gone on a wine tasting tour? Did you feel woozy afterwards? I sure know some people who did (*wink*). No worries, the first time I did wine tasting in Tuscany, I spent the rest of the day sleeping and drinking as much water as I possibly could. I’m getting ahead of myself here – that’s another story to tell. Any other tip for Niagara Falls?
P.s. My legit camera is out of commission for now (boo!), so I had to make do with my cellphone. Considering the quality of the pictures it takes, I suppose it’s not too bad.