Both sides of Niagara Falls – New York and Ontario – are spectacular. This was our first visit to the area in more than five years. This trip was during the winter. After spending the first several days in the USA, we stopped over in Canada, settling in at the Sheraton By The Falls (www.niagarafallshotelsheraton.com).This place has a lot of things going for it, notably a passageway to North America’s largest indoor water parks and, if you are lucky, a breathtaking view of the actual Falls.
The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark (www.fallsviewwaterpark.com) is over 125,000 square feet of water park fun across from the Falls. Located on the Falls Avenue Entertainment Complex, this is North America’s largest indoor waterpark and hotel complex. It offers 16 waterslides (some up to six stories high), a 1,000 gallon tipping bucket, a full size wave pool, oversized adult only whirlpools, the Planet Hollywood Beach Club, a beach house, a tiny tots play area, a year-round outdoor pool and sundeck, the Canadian Plunge Bowl and the Fallsview indoor beach. The waterpark features direct connections to the Sheraton, the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Skyline Inn. Admission is $34 per person. There is also a $10 fee ($5 refundable) for a small locker.
Niagara Falls, Ontario is home to the Winter Festival of Lights from early November until the end of January each year. There are lots of events, concerts, activities. The newest other activity is skating at the TD Rink at the Brink -an ice rink right beside the Falls( http://www.wfol.com/TDRINKatTheBrink/index.html). Also taking place in January is the Niagara Ice Wine Festival ( www.niagaraicewinefestival.com), which takes place in Twenty Valley, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and St. Catharines. February brings The Days of Wine & Chocolate (http://www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/dowac.html) , which pairs 25 VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines alongside decadent chocolate pairings. This takes place each weekend in from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m.
I know that we will have to go back again in the near future during a warm weather period. With attractions like Marineland, the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour, Casino Niagara, Niagara Parks Conservatory, Skylon Tower, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Imax Theatre and the Clifton Hills “fun” district, it is no wonder why the area attracts more than 20 million visitors annually. Incidentally, when we were there the attractions were all going full tilt. Between visits to the wax museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the 4D rides, the Fudge Factory and the Hershey Store and Canada’s only Ruby Tuesday restaurant we managed to spend a lot of money in a short period of time.
Tourism Niagara (www.tourismniagara.com) is responsible for promoting all 12 municipalities that make up the region of Niagara and they do a fabulous job. Check out their website, which will lead you in the right direction. There are over 60 wineries you can tour. The performing arts in Niagara includes several facilities that offer wonderful performances, including the Niagara Symphony, Shaw Festival, and the Centre for the Arts of Brock University.
Attraction destinations include the Welland Canal Centre at Lock 3 and Welland Mural Route, the Niagara Wine Route, the Niagara River Parkway, Niagara’s Freedom Trail and the Bruce Trail. Of course, it is the spectacle of the Falls itself which proves most breathtaking. To some, Niagara is the aroma of ripening grapes and the taste of succulent fresh fruit. For families, it is theme parks, 20 historical museums and two reconstructed forts. Sportsmen can take advantage of over 40 golf courses, 30 private campgrounds and fishing on Lakes Ontario and Erie. To newlyweds, Niagara is the honeymoon capital of the world! Gamblers get their fix at Casino Niagara and the Fort Erie Racetrack.
Marineland (www.marinelandcanada.com) is indeed the area’s biggest tourist attraction. At Friendship Cove you’ll enjoy the largest whale habitat in the world. It is surrounded by walkways for above water and dramatic underwater viewing of these amazing marine mammals. Best of all, guests can have the chance, and unique thrill, of being able to feed and touch these friendly ocean giants. Arctic is home to the belugas. Sky Screamer – the world’s highest triple tower ride, will take you over 137.2 metres (450 ft.) skyward giving you a thrilling ride not to mention a spectacular view of the Falls and surrounding Niagara landscape. Marineland has several Jewish school groups and camps that book day outings each year, primarily originating from Toronto and New York. Marineland is open from mid-May to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.
Don’t miss the historical ride aboard the world famous Maid of the Mist (www.niagaraparks.com), which is accessible via both the American and Canadian sides. Since 1846, millions of visitors have enjoyed the Maid of the Mist boat tours. The powerful diesel-engined boats take visitors to the base of the American Falls and then on to the basin of the magnificent Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Water rushes all around as you “soak” in the excitement and feel the thunder of the Falls. It’s a half hour thrill of a lifetime! Reusable, souvenir rain coats are provided with admission. Trips run approximately every 15 minutes from the Canadian and U.S. sides of the river. And feel the thunder and explore the Journey Behind The Falls. You emerge far below the rim of the gorge. Before you, the mighty river explodes after free-falling more than thirteen stories. The sound is deafening, the sight, awe-inspiring. And this is only the beginning.
The Clifton Hills district is a strip of the major attractions and dining facilities of Niagara Falls for the entire family. A number fall under the auspices of the Clifton Hill Group (www.falls.com) and include the amazing Guiness World Records Museum, the Haunted House, Cinema 180 Adventure Dome, the Fun House and Mystery Maze. And don’t miss out on the MGM Experience which features the MGM Great Movie Journey, the Dino Island and 7th Portal 4D moving theatre rides, the Ride Over the Falls experience and the Pink Panther Balloon Ride.
For more information, call Tourism Niagara toll free at 1-800-263 2988. Stop at the Niagara Gateway Information Centre located at the Casablanca exit off the QEW in Grimsby where Tourism Niagara operates a year-round information centre. Travel counselors can assist you with finding same-day accommodations at discounted prices, booking sightseeing tours, purchasing passports for wine events and even getting last minute theatre tickets. As well, visitors can save even more by purchasing discount tickets at Gateway for Niagara’s most popular attractions. The Centre is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. and 8 am to 8 pm during July and August.