Every time I have travelled to the East Coast of America, I’ve been tempted to step across the country to visit Niagara Falls. The issue with most city breaks is that spending a day travelling feels like a real waste of time, but this time I had 2 weeks in New York, so the first thing I did was hire a car and plan my trip to see the famous waterfall.
The good thing about travelling to Niagara Falls is that there is more to do than just the waterfall, but blimey, that natural wonder would be worth it alone.
The obvious first spot to visit in Niagara Falls are the falls themselves and there are a number of ways you can see them. I stayed in an AirBnb (more about that soon) in Niagara Falls, Ontario and there is a walkway all along the edge, so you can see the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls with ease, and for free. You will hear the Falls before you see them. As you get closer, the sound of a light shower changes into loud crashes, like waves hitting the shore after a particularly heavy rainfall. No matter where you stand, you will get wet. The wind whips up the mist from the crashing water into the air, to coat you with a layer of water like you got caught in one of those light rainstorms that soaks you to the skin without you even realising it’s that heavy. Luckily for me, I visited in June so I dried off pretty quick. I chose to wear this pretty floral wrap dress from Pink Clove (it is now sold out but you can get similar here) as it is nice and floaty, perfect for the warm yet wet environment!
You can board a boat on the lake to get up close and personal with Niagara Falls but I am a bit of a wuss and, having watched the boat go up and down a few times, I soon realised I wouldn’t have the guts to get on. Instead, I decided to do the opposite and go behind the Falls. I boarded a lift which took me 150 feet down to the tunnels to Journey Behind The Falls. There are also two outdoor observation decks to get up close and personal with the waterfall, without having to leave the safety of solid ground. The viewing portals allow you to stand in a tunnel behind the Falls yet still see the sheer sheet of water that is falling from above. It was an incredible experience and one that I would definitely recommend for your trip.
Niagara On The Lake
20 minutes drive from Niagara Falls is Niagara On The Lake, a pretty little town in the wine region of Ontario. Here you will find wineries, breweries and distilleries galore, including the world famous ice wine.
My first stop was to Inniskillin to enjoy a wine flight of their ice wine. Inniskillin is one of Canada’s oldest wineries and was the first to receive a winery licence in Canada following prohibition. Their ice wine is delectable and rammed with flavour to compliment the sweetness of the wine. I paid $20 to try 4 of the ice wines although I do wish I had booked a tour. I was expecting to be told about the wines and how they are produced but, unfortunately for me, they were poured and I was left to enjoy. That said, the views over the vineyard are stunning and I enjoyed the experience of trying the different varieties of ice wine before selecting a few bottles to bring home.
Up next was Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery where I tried something different in their whisky tasting. The grain to make the whiskies is grown alongside the grapes in their vineyard and finished in red wine casks, something they call the Canadian way of making whisky. It creates a product quite different from the Scotch I am used to but delicious all the same. True to form, the whisky cream was by far my favourite with notes of almond, toasted biscuit and nutmeg on the palate. My friend loved the Red Cask for its smooth yet slightly wooded finish. So much so that he bought a bottle to bring home. It was so windy in Niagara On The Lake that pretty outfit shots were totally out of the question. I had to hold down this gorgeous black spotty dress (you can buy it here) to try and get a photo, it just wasn’t happening but the vineyards were too pretty to ignore!
Feeling peckish on the way home I stopped at Silversmith Brewing Company for a quick snack. Unfortunately the brewery was closed so I couldn’t do a tour but I did try the best cheesy snacks in the world. The Goat Cheese and Ricotta Dip is served with a basket full of bread to dip and dotted with cherry tomatoes for some sweetness, which cuts through the richness of the cheese well. It looks small but this little bowl of cheesy goodness filled me up for hours. My friend went for the Mac and Cheese which was coated in the lightest yet cheesiest of sauces. The breadcrumbs added a little crunch and he left with a happy tum. They serve up their own beers and my friend enjoyed a flight whilst I enjoyed an old school style root beer. It’s a fabulous beer hall and somewhere I would definitely return to.
On the way out of Canada the next day I was peckish so stopped by the local McDonalds. Canada Maccys have POUTINE! French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, I swear it is a good job we don’t have this in the UK because I would visit far too regularly. I totally get that ‘real’ poutine would have been a better option but I hadn’t seen it anywhere so I was probably more excited about this find than I should have been. Did you also know that you can get a drink of ANY SIZE in Canada for just $1? It puts our McD’s to shame!
If you are visiting Niagara Falls from New York State, make sure you carry your passport at all times. I totally forgot this whilst touring the wineries and ended up back at customs on the AMERICAN side after taking a wrong turn. Queue an hour sat in their office whilst they checked the cameras to verify my story and me panicking that the tiny amount of alcohol I had consumed (and the several bottles in the boot of the hire car) meant I was well over the limit, I promise it is not worth it. The customs staff ended up finding this hilarious and bid me a safe trip as I somehow managed to get back in the car and get back to our accommodation.
I would recommend that you also visit their duty free during your stay. I found all the wines I had driven to Inniskillin for at a cheaper price and lots of Canadian goodies to bring home. I think you can only buy duty free on your way back over the border as we had to pay and then collect our purchases as we hit the bridge. I am sure they were glad to see the back of me after my error the day before!
Contains PR Samples