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Oct 31, 2020

10 min. read

Day 1.

Niagara isn't one size fits all. The region offers something to suit every taste and travel personality, from oenophiles to adrenaline-seekers. The same goes for accommodations. You can choose from historic B&Bs, skyscraper hotels or charming motels.

For a cozy stay, consider Niagara-onthe-Lake, a village about 20 kilometres north of the falls. Water views abound at Harbour House Hotel, a boutique hotel at the mouth of the Niagara River. The Cape Cod-style inn offers roaring fireplaces, locally sourced breakfasts and loads of nautical charm.

If you prefer high stakes to lazy days, book a room in the heart of Niagara Falls itself. The CAA/AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Fallsview Casino Resort Hotel boasts the city's largest gaming floor, penthouse lounges and spectacular views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls.

Standing 57 metres tall, the Horseshoe Falls are majestic in cold weather. Though the waterfall hasn't frozen over since 1848, ice shards and frosty mist lend an otherworldly appeal. Peek behind the watery curtain with Journey Behind the Falls. The 30- to 45-minute adventure takes you to an observation deck near the base of the falls, from which you can safely marvel as water thunders down up to nearly 110 km/hour.

Next, visit a different kind of watering hole. Since 2015, Niagara Brewing Company brewmaster Rick Neheli has been crafting unique beers using local ingredients. A pint of spicy pale ale or rich milk stout warms you up on a cold day. Or sip some Niagara Icewine beer, which blends the sweet intensity of the region's famous ice wine with the delightful carbonation of a lager.

For a more colourful nightcap, stroll to the brink of the falls at dusk. The nightly Illumination beams rainbow hues across the water. The show runs every night of the year, with daily illumination schedules posted online at

A wine tasting session with a masked server presenting bottles to interested customers.

Day 2.

Once known as the "Honeymoon capital of the world," Niagara Falls still serves up ample kitschy charm. At the Flying Saucer, a '50s-style diner dedicated to far-off galaxies, out-of-this-world fare—like the pancake-and-three-egg E.T. Special—provides much-needed energy for discovering more earthly attractions.

Before casinos and nightlife, the Niagara region was best known for its role in the War of 1812. It was the site of the war's first major conflict, the bloody Battle of Queenston Heights, which saw the death of British general and Canadian legend, Sir Isaac Brock. Learn more about the war and other lore at the Niagara Falls History Museum.

Nothing says "Canadian winter" like al fresco ice skating. Bundle up and strap on some blades at Wayne Gretzky Estates winery and distillery. After a few laps around the Great One's picturesque backyard rink, head inside to warm up by the fire with a snifter of house-distilled whisky.

Another warm respite: A 45-minute session at the subterranean Healing Salt Cave. The unique spa promotes the use of micro-size particles of salt to help reduce congestion, cleanse airways and soothe various skin conditions.

If you'd rather chill out, visit the sprawling Peller Estates Winery. Its igloo-like 10Below Icewine Lounge, made with more than 13,000 kilograms of ice, remains at a constant –10 C. That's the optimal temperature for harvesting ice wine grapes and, in this case, for sipping the vintner's “liquid gold,” a delicately sweet libation that's come to signify winter in Niagara.

Stick around wine country and tuck into dinner at Trius Winery Restaurant. Chef Frank Dodd works directly with area farmers, growers and producers to source the freshest in-season ingredients. House specialties include Ontario cow's milk burrata and ice wine-cured salmon, accompanied by local beets and goat's cheese. Dodd elevates vegetarian cuisine as well, serving inventive dishes like sumac-roasted cauliflower.

Check ahead before your trip as the chef often hosts special events like blind tastings and cooking classes.

A woman smiling at a joyful young girl in a dimly lit space, possibly a vehicle, with blurred city lights in the background.

Day 3.

For brunch and a view, reserve a table at Queenston Heights Restaurant. Perched on a scenic bluff of the Niagara Escarpment, the eatery serves a hearty Sunday brunch menu. Post-meal, stroll the historic battlefield (now a park) nearby and find the Brock Monument, which looks particularly regal after a fresh snowfall.

To make the most of that snow, consider a leisurely snowshoe trip or hike along the Bruce Trail. Canada's oldest and longest footpath stretches 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory, Ont. The trail's southern end is in Queenston Heights Park; it's the perfect starting point for a treelined trek.

After seeing the region's varied terrain up close, get a bird'seye view aboard the Niagara SkyWheel. The 53-metre-high Ferris wheel has 42 heated gondolas that seat up to nine passengers each. During three rotations, which take about 15 minutes total, you'll get unobstructed views of both the Horseshoe and American Falls—perfect for photos. The wheel runs nightly until midnight or later, so you can see the Illumination from the sky.

End your trip on a sweet note with a visit to the Maple Trail, the world's only indoor sugar bush. Located in the aptly named Maple Leaf Place mall, the facility offers an immersive look at Canada's syrup heritage. Make some maple taffy before touring the high-tech bottling area. After, scope out the rest of the shops, which feature everything from traditional First Nations' crafts to kitschy souvenirs—because every visitor needs at least one Niagara Falls snow globe!

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