Niagara Falls Blog

Free Things to Do in Niagara in September

NFHblog11Some say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that might be true in some cases, but this September in Niagara there are several activities you and your family can take part in that won’t cost you a cent.

Saving money while on vacation in Niagara is important to most visitors so the city does its best to provide travelers with numerous free activities to make it easier on the pocketbook. This frees up money that you can spend doing special things that you might not have been able to otherwise.

If you’re visiting Niagara this September these are a few of the things you can do that are absolutely free.

Onguiaahra: Thunder of Waters

Taking place nightly through September 5 is the spectacular display of light and sound called Onguiaahra: Thunder of Waters. Held in Queen Victoria Park at 8:15, 9:15, and 10:15 each night a projection of color will be added to a special water feature in the park and the history of Niagara will be displayed upon it.

This is also an interactive experience as attendees can project their own light onto the water through the power of lasers. This is one of the most inventive and unusual events held in Niagara and, again, it’s absolutely free. In addition, between each light show the park has arranged for various bands to be playing to keep the crowd in a festive mood.

nfhblog12Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

Another of the fun and free things to do in Niagara is a visit to the stunning Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Covering 100 acres and featuring numerous species of plants the garden is tranquil and makes for a perfect spot to let your kids explore, have a picnic, or perhaps even a nap under one of their beautiful trees.

The gardens are designed and maintained by students of the onsite horticulture school there and you may even spot some of them learning the tricks of their craft. Guided tours are available during the summer months, but sometimes exploring on your own is best way to experience a garden such as this.

Ten Thousand Buddha Temple

Not something you’d necessarily expect to see in Niagara but is here nonetheless is the Ten Thousand Buddha Temple. Also called Cham Shan Temple this impressive seven-story structure is first and foremost a working Buddhist temple, but it also houses an interesting collection of Buddhist and Asian art.

Whether you’re interested in Buddhism or not, this is a great way to learn more about the practice and guided tours are offered on the weekends from June to October. This means that September is the perfect time to spend a few hours viewing the structure and the artifacts, all for free.

A visit to Niagara doesn’t have to be an expensive one and these are just a few of the free activities you can enjoy during September. Be sure to pencil these attractions into your itinerary and start saving money during your trip.


What Is Icewine?

nfhblog5The Niagara region is well known around the world for its incredible wines. Wineries dot the region and tours and tastings are among the most popular pastimes for most visitors to the area. All types of wines are produced here, but there is one variety that many might not be familiar with.

This is Niagara’s famous icewine. While it is produced in other parts of the world, Niagara’s icewine is likely the best known. If you’re a wine lover and plan to taste your way around Niagara, here’s all you need to know about this surprising and delicious wine you can try when you visit Niagara.

Icewine 101

As with many types of wine, icewine producers must follow strict guidelines from growth to fermentation. Only a select few varieties of grape can be used for icewine production, and these include Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Franc. To a lesser extent some vintners use Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

As with all wines, growing conditions must be exact and the Niagara region has the perfect climate for icewine. Mild summers and winters that aren’t too cold create the ideal environment.

How Is Icewine Made?

nfhblog6Icewine has a very distinctive growth and harvesting process, and you might guess part of it by the name. In late fall the vines are covered with nets to protect the grapes from hungry birds then the winemakers wait for the cold snaps to hit. A consistent temperature of -8 Celsius allows the grapes to freeze and begin to dehydrate. Once the temperatures reach -10 to -12 Celsius it’s time to harvest.

Since the grapes have dehydrated they don’t produce as much juice as other grapes, but the juice they do yield is much more concentrated and sweet. Due to the high sugar content, the icewine grapes can be difficult to ferment and this results in lower alcohol content.

Icewine is very sweet and is generally considered to be a dessert wine. However, many unique cocktails feature icewine as an ingredient, so you can experiment on your own or ask your favorite bartender if he or she uses icewine in any of their creations.

Where Can You Try Niagara’s Icewine?

Wineries all around the region offer icewine as part of their stock so choosing just one is difficult. The good news is that you don’t have to choose just one; winery tours often include several stops so you can taste the product for yourself and even purchase a few bottles to bring home.

The Ice House Winery is one of the region’s newest establishments or you could visit one of the first Ontario wineries to produce icewine, such as Inniskillin Wines. However, if you want to get a true feel for the industry a winery tour is definitely your best choice. Many of these tours can be customized for groups or special events and many include appetizers or meals to pair with the wines.

On your next visit to Niagara Falls be sure to explore the area’s wineries and try its most famous creation, icewine. Not only will you have a great time in the area you’ll get a taste of what Ontario is all about.


Where to Pick Your Own Apples in Niagara Falls

nfhblog1One of the best things about the Niagara region is its agriculture. Virtually everything grows in this fertile area which is great news for local residents and also makes for delicious farm to table dining. While most of these farms are large scale operations some are more of the family farm variety and one of the best things about these farms is harvest season, especially when that means you can pick your own fresh fruits and vegetables.

The country roads throughout the Niagara region are dotted with signs advertising a variety of produce that you can pick but the real treat comes as summer ends and the glorious weather of fall begins because this signifies apple season. With the perfect growing climate and conditions, apples are one of Niagara’s most treasured and profitable crops. Here you’ll find macintosh, red delicious, and empire apples in abundance as well as a few other lesser known varieties.

So on your next trip to Niagara Falls hop into the car and head for one of Niagara’s many apple orchards for a day of delicious fun the whole family will enjoy.

Parkway Orchards

Just north of the falls and popular with pickers throughout the year, Parkway Orchards has been one of the favorites in the region for years. During other times of the year cherries, apricots, and other fruits have pickers lined up but September sees the real action with the start of the apple harvest.

Their hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends but these times may vary due to weather. Be sure to check their website for current information. Parkway Orchards also offers picked and cleaned fruit for easy pick up, homemade pies, and other treats in their gift shop.

Windwood Farms

nfhblog2Another of Niagara’s most beloved apple farms is Windwood Farms, located just a little ways north east of Niagara. A true working farm in the sense that you won’t find petting zoos or hayrides here, Windwood prides itself on the quality of its product and their commitment to excellence.

Windwood grows over twenty varieties of apples and picking starts in September. A member of their staff will give you a quick lesson in the proper apple picking technique then you’re free to wander the orchards and chose your favorites. Windwood is currently only open on weekends but check their website for updated hours of operation.

Mathias Farms

Three generations of the Mathias family have seen this far flourish over the years and in addition to providing high quality berries and other fruits to local residents and restaurants their pick your own business really ramps up during apple season which tends to begin in September.

As a smaller scale operation their fruit is often picked out and sold rather quickly so if you want your choice of the best apples it’s wise to contact them through their website, check what’s available, and make an appointment for your picking session.

There’s little that’s more quaint and satisfying than picking your own fruits fresh from the tree. Apple picking in this part of the world is a yearly tradition for some families so why not join the fun on your fall vacation to Niagara Falls.


5 Reasons to Love Ontario (Besides Niagara Falls)

nfhblog3Canada is a huge country and it is vast and beautiful. Seeing it all and doing it properly could take a year or more, and not many people have that kind of time. However, by focusing on one province a trip becomes more manageable and more affordable, when it comes to time and money.

Of course Niagara Falls is one of Ontario’s treasures, but if you’d like to explore more of the province’s sites after your visit to Niagara Falls these are just a few of the reasons to love Ontario and some of the incredible activities you can take part in.

Toronto

Ontario’s capital city is one of the most diverse cities in the world and is only a few hours’ drive from Niagara. Here you’ll find world-class dining, museums, gorgeous parks, and a booming nightlife. The Lake Ontario Harbourfront is a great place to grab a meal or a beer with a gorgeous view.

However, the highlight of the city is the famous CN Tower. Topping out at just over 1,800 feet the sweeping view of the city also includes the airport, where you can watch the planes take off and land.

Lake Superior

Ontario is almost completely surrounded by water which makes for stunning scenery and endless road trip options. The Trans Canada 17 highway will take you through the forests surrounding the lake and the lakeshore itself, all the way to Thunder Bay.

Quaint shops and inns dot the way so you can take as much or as little time exploring this part of Ontario as you’d like, but we recommend taking your time for this beautiful part of Canada.

Stratford Festival

Within an hour of both Niagara and Toronto is the unassuming town of Stratford. However, it’s only unassuming until you realize the significance of this little town of 30,000 people. Home of the largest repertory theatre in North America, the Stratford Festival runs each year from April to October.

While the theatre primarily focuses on the works of Shakespeare they include performances from other well-known playwrights too. Check out this year’s schedule and take in an incredible performance while you’re in Ontario.

nfhblog4Thousand Islands

Located in the St. Lawrence River and numbering closer to 1,800, the Thousand Islands are another perfect way to experience Ontario’s gorgeous scenery. You can choose to kayak or canoe your way through the islands or hire a guide for a more thorough understanding of the area.

Since the St. Lawrence River makes up part of the border between the United States and Canada, be sure to carry your passport at all times.

Cottage Country

Cottage country is not one single place but rather any place where lakeside cottages exist, and in Canada that could be anywhere. However, Georgian Bay is Ontario’s most popular cottage country and when summer hits, the area is booming.

You can visit for a day and experience the laid back feel but why not rent a cottage for a night or two? Then you’ll really see why cottage season is so popular.

A visit to Niagara Falls is just one way to experience Ontario. Consider extending your trip and see some of the other things this area has to offer.


Why You Should Plan Your Autumn Niagara Vacation Right Now

nfhblog1Summer is definitely the most popular time to visit Niagara Falls. The kids are out of school, parents are able to take their vacations from work, and the weather is superb. However, since summer is such a popular time to visit, crowds and long lines for attractions can be a drawback.

So why not plan your vacation for one of the best times to visit Niagara? Autumn is wonderful time to be in Niagara and the surrounding areas, so planning your autumn trip now can put you a step ahead of everyone else, and here are just a few reasons why.

The Weather

While summertime temperatures in Niagara are never very hot, the weather in autumn is much cooler and drier. While some might find it a bit chilly, especially with the mist coming from the falls, autumn is still a very comfortable time of year to visit.

Additionally, the Niagara area sees spectacular fall foliage and hiking the area and visiting the parks will give you an up close glimpse of autumn’s stunning beauty. The contrast of the colorful trees and the falls always makes for impressive photos.

Lower Costs

Off-peak season in any tourist area often means lower prices. Hotels may lower their rates and ticket prices for attractions may be reduced as well. Do your homework and compare prices. It can also help to call hotels directly to enquire about seasonal rates and discounts.

Restaurants in the area may also offer special discounts on food to compensate for the fewer visitors. Check their websites to see if online coupons are available.

Fewer Crowds

nfhblog2Perhaps the best reason to visit Niagara during the autumn months is the fact that fewer people will be there. On weekdays you may even feel as if you have the whole place to yourself. Without the crowds to contend with you and your family can enjoy Niagara to the fullest, without any pressure.

Additionally, if you’re planning a group trip you should also consider the autumn months for the same reason. Group or large family trips are hard enough to manage, so the fewer crowds make it easier for everyone to enjoy themselves.

Autumn Markets

Niagara is a bountiful agricultural region and many of the produce grown in the area isn’t ripe and ready for harvest until the fall months. This means that the local markets are brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables and you can even visit local farms for a pick-your-own adventure.

Local restaurants rejoice at this time of year so expect to find inspired dishes created with local ingredients at eateries throughout the area.

Niagara is special at any time of year, but autumn might be the best time for you and your family to plan your trip. Discounts, fewer crowds, and the fall scenery are just a few of the reasons why you should choose autumn as your best time to visit Niagara Falls.


Dog Parks and Doggy Day Care in Niagara Falls

nfhblog7It’s becoming more and more popular for people to travel with their dogs, especially if they’re taking a road trip. As Niagara is within easy driving distance from many places in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, furry friends are arriving in Niagara to enjoy a vacation with their humans, and this also includes service dogs.

While many hotels in the area are dog friendly, it’s not generally ideal to ask Fido or Fluffy to wait in the hotel room all the time while the humans are out enjoying the scenery. Luckily, the Niagara area offers several ways to include your dog in fun activities, or a safe place for your pooch to stay while you’re out exploring the falls and the beautiful surrounding areas.

If you plan to travel to Niagara Falls with your dog, these are some great resources that will not only help you ensure that your dog is safe when you’re not there, but also dog friendly places that will allow your dog to join the fun.

Niagara Falls Dog Park

Located within the already existing Firemen’s Park is the Niagara Falls Dog Park. It is fully fenced and has separate areas for small and large dogs so owners of smaller dogs need not worry about their little Yorkie in a sea of Great Danes. There are benches for the humans, drinking water available for the dogs, and shaded areas.

Dogs must be up to date on their vaccinations and dogs that are ill, female dogs in heat, and dogs younger than four months of age are not permitted. The park is open from dusk until dawn, but those hours may change seasonally. Visit their website for more information.

nfhblog8Burgoyne Woods Dog Park

Located in St. Catherine’s, Ontario is the Burgoyne Wood Dog Park. This leash-free dog park is popular with visitors and locals alike and is a great place for your dog to run, play, and socialize with other dogs. This park also features a separate area for dogs less than 16 inches tall, so, again, you can be assured that your small dog is safe.

Typical dog park rules apply, and the owner is responsible for their dog’s behavior at all times. No puppies younger than four months are allowed, nor are sick dogs or females in heat. The larger park which incorporates the dog park is also the perfect place for a picnic or a walk, as long as your dog is leashed after leaving the dog park.

DogSPAw Niagara

One of the most loved dog day care centers in Niagara is dogSPAw Niagara. While their specialty is grooming and they don’t offer boarding services they do offer daycare for dogs and their staff are highly trained dog lovers who are on hand to ensure your dog is entertained while you’re out sightseeing.

Dogs must be fully vaccinated and any special needs should be discussed with the staff before leaving your dog for the day.

Traveling with your dog is fun and Niagara is a great destination for dogs and their families. Consider one of these dog friendly options for your next trip.


Hands On: Niagara’s Best Petting Zoos

nfhblog5Niagara Falls is one of the most popular family vacation destinations for a number of wonderful reasons. Aside from viewing the magnificent falls there are many places that will have your children entertained for hours on end, which not only gives you as a parent a little reprieve, but also brings smiles to the faces of everyone involved.

Let’s face it, kids love animals. Even adults love animals and one of the best ways to get up close and personal with many different types of animals is the always popular petting zoo. Your kids can see, feed, touch, and play with a number of different types of animals at one or more of Niagara’s petting zoos, and all of them are perfect for an afternoon of family fun.

These are just a few of the petting zoos in the area, and it might be hard to choose which one to visit during your next vacation in Niagara Falls.

Safari Niagara

Not just a petting zoo, Safari Niagara is home to over 1,000 animals and covers 150 acres. Professional guides will escort you and your family throughout the area, showing off and describing the many different species that live here, including big cats, giraffes, hippos, birds, and a number of reptile species.

One section of Safari Niagara that is sure to appeal to children is Papa Steve’s Family Farm. Here your children can visit a variety of farm animals including goats, miniature horses, chickens, and more. And if someone gets bored with the animals Safari Niagara also offers paddle boating, catch and release fishing, a splash pad, and more.

nfhblog6Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary and Petting Zoo

This 15 acre park houses numerous bird species but is most well known as a family farm and petting zoo. A large pond is home to many types of waterfowl, and children can visit and interact with many types of farm animals like cows, horses, goats, sheep, and more.

There are many trails throughout the property at Happy Rolph’s and they are all safe for wheelchairs and strollers. A snack bar and picnic area complete the picture and the combination makes for a fun morning or afternoon for the entire family.

Marineland

One might not think an aquarium would fall under the petting zoo category, but Marineland in Niagara certainly does. In addition to their numerous fish and marine mammals, Marineland has several herds of elk and deer that simply love people, and they really love people with food.

There are also a number of amusement park style rides at Marineland, as well as dolphin and killer whale shows. If you time your visit right you may even be able to participate in the feeding of their beluga whales. Visit the Marineland website for more information.

Offering your children the chance to interact with animals is a great activity to include in your Niagara itinerary. Be sure to visit one or all of these fun and fascinating animal experiences and we guarantee your kids will have the time of their lives.


Capture the Moment: Lifestyle Photographers in Niagara

nfhblog3One of the best things about any family vacation are the photos that you have to remember the experience. As one of the most photogenic places on earth, Niagara Falls and other locations around the area are perfect backdrops for wonderful snapshots of you, your friends, and your family enjoying time spent together in a wonderful place.

However, there’s just one problem.

No matter how hard you try, someone will always be left out of the photo. Of course, you could pack along a tripod and set it up every time you want your entire group in one photo, or count on the kindness of a passerby to take a photo and hope they don’t accidentally crop someone’s head out. But what if there is a better way?

Hiring a professional photographer for a day is a great way to be certain that all of your photos turn out exactly as you want and ensure that everyone is in place. You can choose any location in the area and come home with much more than photos for Facebook. These are a few local photographers who would love nothing more than to capture your vacation in frame-worthy photos.

Icing Sugar Photography

Wedding photography is the bread and butter for most of Niagara’s professional photographers, but lifestyle shoots are almost as popular. Icing Sugar Photography offers onsite family photography in your choice of location.

The family packages start at $225 and include an hour of photo time wherever you want to be. You could choose the mighty falls as your backdrop, the famous flower clock, or an ethereal shoot at the Butterfly Conservatory. No matter the location, you can be sure that you’ll receive high quality photos of your entire family so you’ll always remember your visit to Niagara Falls.

Sugar Photo Studios

nfhblog4Another of Niagara’s most popular photography experts are those at Sugar Photo Studios. These ladies are passionate about photography and specialize in weddings, maternity, and family shoots. They’re extremely flexible and would be more than willing to chat with you about your ideas and the types of photos you feel would best capture your experience in Niagara.

These photographers love to capture family fun amid the stunning scenery of Niagara Falls, so contact them about availability and photo packages that might suit your needs.

Muir Image Photography

Be sure to book ahead during peak wedding season, as Megan Muir of Muir Image Photography is one of the most popular in the area. Her photos capture all of the fun and intimate moments with her subjects, and the results are spectacular.

She can help you select a location that will suit your needs, and work with you to create a series of photos that embrace the natural beauty of Niagara as well as the personalities of your family or friends. You won’t have to worry about someone being left out of the shot and you’ll have stunning photos that will last a lifetime.

Lifestyle photography and the photographers who love to capture the vacation moments of their clients are becoming more and more popular. Consider hiring a professional during your next trip to Niagara, and come home with much more than just memories.


Niagara Falls’ Best Wedding Florists

NFHblog1Aside from the falls themselves, if there’s one thing that Niagara is most famous for its weddings. People from all over the world come to Niagara to celebrate their nuptials, and as we all know there is a lot of planning that goes into a wedding, and a destination wedding can prove to be a bit more complicated.

If you’re the type of couple that prefers to do their own wedding planning then you’ll know the challenges that you’ll come up against. Luckily, wedding vendors in Niagara make it very easy to get everything in place for the wedding of your dreams.

As flowers are one of the most important aspects of any wedding, we’ve come up with a list of some of the best florists in the area and any of these are sure to provide the blooms and greenery to make your special day a lot more colorful.

Fleurish Design Studios

Elegant and classic, Fleurish Design Studios in Niagara specialize in wedding arrangements and bouquets, and create beautiful, one of a kind floral designs that will take your breath away. From handheld bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids to boutineers for the men, the professionals at Fleurish will work closely with you to create the colors and styles to perfectly compliment your wedding theme.

They’ll also help you assess your venue and create stunning centerpieces and other arrangements that you may need for the church or reception location.

Wine Country Floral

Another of the area’s most popular wedding florist is Wine Country Floral, the exclusive florist for Vineland Estates Winery. They pride themselves on their one-of-a-kind arrangements and delight in using seasonal blooms and greenery, as well as cutting from their own gardens.

They service venues across the Niagara region and their florists offer professional consultations to ensure that the end result are the flowers you’ve always dreamed of. In addition to exquisite bouquets, they will also design and arrange blooms for your ceremony and reception locales, as well as flower crowns, boutonnieres, and any other flower request you may have.

nfhblog2Crescent Gardens Florist

Serving nearly every wedding venue in the region, Crescent Gardens Florist is one of the most popular choices amongst brides in the Niagara region and for destination weddings. Each arrangement is carefully handcrafted using only the freshest flowers, many of which are sourced locally.

Crescent Gardens will take charge of all the floral needs for your wedding, including bouquets, centerpieces, church flowers, floral archways, and more. In addition, because they are so familiar with the venues in the area, their professionals can guide you on style and design choices that will suit your personal taste and accent your wedding location beautifully.

Following in the footsteps of countless brides and grooms who have tied the knot in Niagara, a wedding here is definitely an event to savor for a lifetime. If you’re planning a Niagara wedding and need to have your flowers and arrangements professionally designed and created, any of these florists will suit your needs perfectly. And once you’ve place your flower order in the hands of one of these local florists, you can relax a bit and move on with the other plans for your special day.


Niagara Falls’ Best BBQ

nfhblog7Aside from the famous falls, one of the best reasons to visit Niagara is for the food. The region boasts a number of restaurants running the gamut from quaint cafe to five-star luxury. In addition, you’ll find most cuisines represented here, whether you’re in the mood for Thai or Mexican or anything in between.

However, one of the most popular types of cuisine in the United States and Canada is the simple, comforting, delicious BBQ. Made famous in the Midwestern and Southern portions of the United States, many would call BBQ an art as well as a style of cuisine, but we just call it delicious. On your next visit to Niagara Falls be sure to try one of these BBQ restaurants for a truly savory experience.

Jeffro’s BBQ

Hailed as Niagara’s original southern BBQ joint, Jeffro’s BBQ serves up classic Southern style BBQ dishes and all of the traditional and yummy sides to go with it. Brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and ribs grace the menu along with burgers, salads, and drool-worthy appetizers like the brisket poutine.

On Tuesday evenings the locals descend upon Jeffro’s in their classic cars and a special menu is rolled out to celebrate. This is not only the best place to get BBQ in Niagara, but also a great way to get to know some of the people who call this area home.

Brickyard Pub & BBQ

Just a short distance from Niagara Falls in Lewiston, New York is Brickyard Pub & BBQ. With all meats smoked on site for 14 hours over a blend of hickory and fruit woods, this BBQ is the real deal. They also offer an extensive beer and bourbon selection.

Brickyard offers a delightfully big menu with a wide variety of smoked meat dishes, ribs, burgers, salads, and the side dishes you’d expect with good BBQ, such as coleslaw, beans, and mac and cheese. For those of drinking age in the United States you can even have a shot of bourbon as a side dish. Brickyard also sells their homemade rubs and sauces so you can take a bit of Niagara BBQ home with you.

The Great Niagara BBQ Company

nfhblog8While not strictly a BBQ joint in the way the other two places on this list are, The Great Niagara BBQ Company still fits the bill and has served many, many happy customers. They offer the traditional dishes you’d expect from a good BBQ restaurant, including pulled pork, ribs, steak. Their menu also includes a fun appetizer called the Pulled Pork Sundae, which consists of delectable pork layered with mashed potatoes and baked beans, served up like an ice cream sundae.

Unlike their counterparts, The Great Niagara BBQ Company offers a nice selection of hot dogs, including a “create your own dawg” option. Beans, pulled pork, cheeses, and sauces are all available add-ons that result in a one of a kind comfort food experience.

When in Niagara Falls you’ll have more food choices than you might expect. However, do yourself a favor and visit one of these BBQ restaurants during your stay and get a true down-South experience.