Niagara Falls and Niagara Wine

Oh, Canada.

How are you so beautiful?

I love visiting Canada, but I seem to only go in winter. Must make a mental note to visit in summer next time to enjoy the beautiful landscapes without 7 layers and bobble hat.

However, winter does bring some joyful sights, like Niagara Falls in the wintery light that only that time of year can bring.

Look how gorgeous it is.

Yes, the area around the falls is touristy. Yes, a lot of it is tacky, but the part that you really came for – the waterfall itself – is so worth it. There’s something about a waterfall that gets me every time, whether it’s trickling down in the middle of a jungle or thundering down here in Ontario.

The Canadian side is the only side to visit from, so don’t even think about coming from the US side. You won’t get the full glory of the falls from that viewpoint, plus I bet they don’t have a Tim Hortons and that would sway me. Also, come very early to avoid the crowds. We did and it was the best decision, as there were basically no queues anywhere.

We decided not to brave the full on freezing mist by heading in on the boat, but instead we took a peek behind the falls – and that was about cold enough.

I highly recommend paying the fee to take the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ as you get to stand almost next to the cascading water (and get pretty wet – thank you poncho for keeping me dry!) at the edge of the falls.

You also walk in a tunnel behind the falls that has openings at two points so that you can see and hear the water crashing down in front of it. It’s a pretty incredible feeling knowing you’re standing right behind all of that rushing water.

After you’ve frozen your fingers and probably got your camera a little wet (do bring protection for your devices) head inside the main building and warm yourself up with a steaming cup of tea and a doughnut (with Christmas sprinkles – obviously) at Tim’s.

After you’ve basked in the wonder of the falls for the last time, take a walk down the river and if you can maybe try to take a the elevator down to the White Water Walk (it’s quite far from the main falls, but you can take a bus too). It’s a boardwalk along a section of rapids and looked great from above, but unfortunately it was closed when we visited, so check the opening times first if it’s something you’d like to do.

If you’ve got your own transport or you can find a tour that includes it, I’d definitely recommend a trip to the vineyard section of Niagara and do a bit of wine tasting. We visited the Southbrook vineyards and tasted 3 wines each, including the famous ice wine.

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine, where the grapes used to produce the wine actually freeze on the vine giving a more concentrated grape juice. The Niagara area is perfect for this kind of wine as it always freezes in the winter, allowing for a yearly production. All the wines we tried here were absolutely divine and I would have taken home a few bottles of the ice wine if I’d had the weight in my case. Sadly, it was already taken up by all the bottles of maple syrup I’d purchased. Priorities.

After our sunset taster we stopped off at Niagara Home Bakery in Niagara-on-the-Lake (a picture postcard town) for some treats. They make some insanely good butter tarts and a cracking Nanaimo bar, so you should definitely stock up for the drive home and maybe a sweet breakfast the next day.

If it’s Christmas when you visit, don’t miss a quick drive through the town to see all the local displays on the houses. It’s a treat and will put you in a super Christmassy mood.

So, before you dismiss Niagara as being too touristy to visit, think again. Go early and take a look at the magnificence of the falls themselves before it gets too crowded and then head out to see some more of what the Niagara region has to offer. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Waterfalls, wine and butter tarts (and Tim Hortons). Sounds like a pretty magical day to me.

And to finish.....

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