Canada, Ontario

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls…

February 22, 2014

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: 

Illustrated by yours truly...

Illustrated by yours truly…

Inniskillin Winery 

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.

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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 (!!).

Photo by William Bong

Photo by William Bong

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.

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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.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

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.

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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.

From a store called Ten Thousand Villages

From a store called Ten Thousand Villages

Kurtz's Culinary Creations

Kurtz Culinary Creations

The Christmas Store

The Christmas Store

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.

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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!

This is NOT the broasted chicken platter. I was feeling adventurous, so I tried their burger instead. Delicious!

This is NOT the broasted chicken platter. I was feeling adventurous, so I tried their burger instead. Delicious!

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’.

The Falls

Saving the best for last, we made our way to the falls after lunch. No matter how many times I go, seeing the falls always make me gasp in awe and wonder (no exaggeration here). They are majestic and powerful, even in the winter. Bonus: no crowd!
The American Falls

The American Falls

 We started at the Horseshoe Falls, making a brief stop at Table Rock to warm up our frozen body, and continued to see the American and Bridal Veil Falls.
Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

If you want, go beyond Table Rock to see the waters of the Niagara River plunging itself down the falls. Warning:  You WILL get wet! I always do this in the summer, but I opted not to do so this time seeing as it is winter, I didn’t particularly want to be drenched in the water/ice, eventually transforming myself into an ice sculpture.

*Tip: Park at the Skylon Tower lot on Robinson Street – $5 for all-day.

Clifton Hill 

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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.

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My brother and I being silly at Clifton Hill.

My brother and I being silly at Clifton Hill.

 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.

***

Psst, in other news, I submitted a short anecdote to Candace’s Slow Moments Project and she featured it in her blog post this week, check it out! Also, don’t forget to browse around her blog, The Great Affair, and check out her beautiful sketches!

If you are on Instagram, can I be your friend? Speaking of Instagram, my vanilla cupcake is featured by Gastropost on the Saturday (Feb.22) National Post – one of many, but a mention in a national publication,  nonetheless! *HIGH FIVE*

12 Comments

  • Reply Aswin February 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Gorgeous photos!!

  • Reply Aswin February 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    What!! $5 for all day?! Remind me to ask you for parking spots before I go anywhere from now on..

    BTW I have to disagree on the itinerary though.. I’d rather spend the first half of the day on the falls and Clifton Hill, while you still have lots of energy to spend walking, taking picts, bla3x. Then before you go home, go to the niagara-on-the-lake to catch the relaxing, cooling down atmosphere to chill. Don’t forget to get the Cow’s ice cream there for dessert.

    Also, I once did the helicopter ride in Niagara – quite breathtaking as well!

    • Reply Pauline February 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Yea! $5 at the Skylon Tower and there s a less legit-lookig lot beside it manned by this amazingly a ponytail – also $5. In the summer, there is a downhill trail that you will take you to Falls Avenue, right near the Rose Garden. Quite convenient spot!

      The reason I didn’t do it the way you suggested is because the wineries close in the early evening. So, if we end up losing track of time (which happens very often to me), we won’t be able to go… Hence me putting the most time-sensitive activity first thing in the morning. Great suggestion, though – Niagara-on-the-lake must be gorgeous at night!!

  • Reply Karen February 22, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Great post about your visit to Niagara Falls, Pauline! I have to admit that I’ve never eaten at Lundy’s Lane before but plenty times at the restaurants on Clifton Hill. I’m going to have to check those homemade meals out, especially the broasted chicken platter. Also, all of your pictures look so good! I would never have thought they were taken on your phone!

    • Reply Pauline February 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Yeaa!! You must try it next time you go! Although this happens very rarely, I still have to warn you – sometimes the chicken is dry and not up to standard, but I hope this doesn’t happen when you go. Where do you eat when you go to the Falls?? Share your recommendations! :)

  • Reply Melissa February 23, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Niagara on the Lake often gets overlooked by people heading right to the falls. Good on you for taking your friends.
    Melissa recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge: ThreesMy Profile

    • Reply Pauline February 23, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Hey Melissa, I know right?! It’s a shame if you don’t visit though – such a beautiful town!

  • Reply Colleen Brynn February 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    I never would have thought to do a wine tour in the winter, but I like that this is still an option. I did a wine tour at Henry of Pelham back in 2012 when I first moved to Waterloo. Such a great area for the countryside and proximity to the likes of Niagara Falls. I would love to see the falls in the winter.

    • Reply Pauline February 27, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Hi Colleen! Like you, I also didn’t think a wine tour is possible in the winter, but what do you know, wineries are open year-round! It’s quite the experience too!

  • Reply Lisa March 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Let’s hear the story of wine tasting in Tuscany!

    • Reply Pauline March 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Well, well, well, SOMEONE was on a comment-spam mood! Cray cray!

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