Saturday, September 5, 2015

12 Highly Recommended Things To Do at Niagara On the Lake

Messy Messy Fail - It's our first day of school without students (professional development) and doesn't our coffee pot poop the bed.  It's six years old so I guess I'm not too surprised.  Thanks Topic (whose mom created and shared this recipe I posted) for the wedding gift!

Tidy Victory - My how the tables have turned - usually I am the one doing whatever I can take to salvage whatever it is that's broken, but I was ready to toss the pot and buy a new one.  My husband thought it may help to let some vinegar sit in the coffee maker for awhile - maybe it was so completely plugged from our extremely hard water that it couldn't make the coffee - and that seemed to do the trick!!!!  What took an hour to brew 5 cups of water this morning now took 10 minutes for a whole 12 cups, money and awesome wedding gift saved!

Last weekend, my husband and I FINALLY got a chance to drop off the beasts and enjoy some time to ourselves sans children.  We spent a long weekend at Niagara On the Lake in Ontario, Canada.  

We were not able to do anything on our actual wedding anniversary, so I planned this trip for the end of August before it came time to go back to school.

This trip was beyond relaxing.

There was no negotiating what food on the plate was going to be eaten, no intercepting toys being flung through the air, no sending anyone to time out.

Just peace, quiet, food, flowers and some amazing sights to see.

We took careful notes throughout the weekend so we would remember want we would want to do upon our INEVITABLE return.

This was just too cool a place not to visit again.

The trickiest part about going there was remembering to pack our passports as it is across the Canadian border.

Here is our list of twelve highly recommended things to do at Niagara On the Lake in no particular order!

<One> Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours - The very name of this company screams thrills and spills.  Literally.  This ride is a very powerful, massive 1500 horsepower boat the HAULS you through class 5 whitewater rapids in the Niagara river.  How can that possibly happen, you ask?  Honestly I do not know, but it does and it is AMAZING.  All I have to say is DO IT!  Just remember to bring a COMPLETE change of clothes, see the pictures in the link and you'll see why.  If you really want to get pummeled with water, be sure to sit somewhere in the front three rows!

The lighter spots were the ONLY dry parts on me after the ride.

<Two> Nina Gelateria & Pastry Shop - I am a huge fan of ice cream, but this gelateria was simply out of this world!  You look inside their freezer case and there had to be at least 24 different flavors of this creamy Italian treat, including the two that I chose for my cone - Tiramisu and Ferrero Rocher.  So creamy, so light in consistancy.  But you can only see for yourself if you go there and try one of their delicious all-natural gelatos.  They also make macarons, pastries, gourmet pizzas and crepes.

<Three> Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery - This was our first taste of NOTL - we crossed the border into Canada around lunch time and made the short drive from the bridge to this beautiful winery.  It was highly rated on TripAdvisor (my go to app for planning this trip).  I wasn't sure what time we were going to visit this winery or if we would even visit it at all, so I did not make a reservation for the on site restaurant as recommended on the app.  However, in lieu of that the winery offers an outstanding brick oven pizza and wine/beer bar on the back patio where there is a gorgeous view of the vines.  My husband and I each had our own pizza - a margarita pizza and a chicken, arugula and goat cheese pizza.  In the next building over, you can have a seat in the first floor farmhouse styled tasting room and sample three wines of your choice.  We bought a couple of bottles for ourselves because they were that good.  We like really dry wine, and that is certainly what they have.  

<Four> Colaneri Estate Winery - This winery happened to be recommended to us by a couple who sat down next to us at the pizza brick oven.  Owned by two Italian brothers, we were taken on a journey by an amazing employee who explained the family's history where every wine label has a beautiful story.  You seriously drive up to this place and it feels as though you are seeing the Emerald City.  When you reach the tasting loft, you can view some of the giant steel vats where wine is made through the enormous windows looking down over them.  

<Five> Just Christmas - Let's just say I purchased Christmas ornaments for everyone in my family for the next three years.  Seriously, there are literally thousands of ornaments in this one store, I have never seen such a Christmasy sight in my life.  My #mindblown moment happened in this store when someone pointed out the decorated Christmas trees hanging from the ceilings to A) save floor space and B) truly let the ornaments hang from the trees.  To top it all off, a giant man with white hair and long white beard in a red suburban with a sleigh and eight reindeer decal on the side parks in front of the store and hops out with white haired wife.  His red t-shirt said something to the effect of "C. Clause - South".  This whole scene couldn't have been planned better.

<Six> Shaw Club Hotel - This hotel is one of several in the downtown village area but has a modern  look versus the victorian and antique style of the others.  With a mid-range price point for the area, excellent location and OUTSTANDING customer service, I would HIGHLY recommend this hotel for your stay if you are looking for the hotel route of sleeping accommodations.  There is a multitude of bed & breakfast locations all around the area, but we opted for this fabulous hotel instead.  Located directly across from the Shaw Festival Theater (see below), they have a delightful lounge area with newer DVD's you can take up to your room for the night, an in house restaurant and bar that has an array of local wines and the most courteous staff ever.  For a stress free stay, book your room here people!

Cool lighting on the outside of every door!
<Seven> Shaw Spa - Upon arrival, we were presented with a credit for the hotel's spa and duh - I JUMPED ALL OVER THAT!  I was able to make an appointment at 8 AM Sunday morning (hubby slept in while I got pampered!) for a Choco Express 25 minute facial - man was it worth it!  I had to apologize profusely for being a couple of minutes late (left my new Target capri leggings in the truck) but was swiftly whisked downstairs to a dimly lit room where Kathryn treated me to a chocolatey experience unlike any other.  The products smelled so unbelievably good, she had to remind me not to lick my lips as they were not edible.  This was a last minute game-time reservation, so I couldn't try any of the other wonderful services the spa has to offer, but I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed.  

Clearly this is not me but probably what I looked like while getting my facial.

<Eight> See a Performance - There are four professional theaters all within walking distance of each other with MANY performances throughout the year.  These include the Shaw Festival Theatre, the Courthouse Theatre, the Royal George Theatre and the Studio Theatre.  How stupid of me NOT to take advantage of attending a performance while we were there but I completely overlooked this highly renown aspect of the region.  We were even told that you can often purchase tickets the day of (although you may sit separately).  

<Nine> Olde Angel Inn - I had made reservations for a really nice meat & potatoes dinner on Saturday night to celebrate our anniversary (a month later), but I had heard the Olde Angel Inn was a great place for a delicious pub dinner.  We walked right in to a table and enjoyed delicious individual pot pies - I had chicken with peaches under a gold puff pastry, hubby had a steak pot pie.  With some tasty beer and a hot dinner, we ended a terrific first day in NOTL on a full-tummy note. 

<Ten> Zee's Grill - Hindsight is 20/20, but I do believe it is quite safe to say that based on this amazing breakfast, we should have eaten at this place for ALL meals (except the Angel Inn, of course).  I had made our "nice dinner" reservations at a more expensive, larger restaurant.  The meal was very nice, the service was wonderful, but not quite worth the price that was paid.  Had we known how tasty, friendly and OUTSTANDING Zee's Grill would be, we would have simply dined there.  And it was in our hotel to boot.  Money doesn't always get the best!

<Eleven> Maison Apothecare - Stand on the main drag of the village and take a deep whiff - do you smell lemon, mint & rosemary?  If so it's probably coming from this amazing place - a tiny, ADORABLE storefront absolutely LOADED with the most amazing smells you have ever smelled.  I'm the type of person where a nice smelling environment can change my mood like that - I could have just sat in this store forever, breathing deeply in through the nose, out through the mouth.  The lovely shop owner showed me some of her products including a nifty yoga mat spray (too bad I have no idea where my yoga mat is) that can double as a room spray, carpet refresher, made completely from all natural oils.  I ended up buying Boo Boo Stick for the toddler's Christmas stocking (he's obsessed with his injuries) and a little gift for a friend.  I even bought an amazing lip balm for myself that smells like buttery mint cookies!

<Twelve> Just Walk Around and Look at the Amazing Flowers - As in everywhere you look, there they are - planters, baskets, beds, just EVERYWHERE!  It is a gardeners dream.  I was beyond inspired when I saw all the colors and textures.  Too bad it's the end of August.  Next year for sure!

Before closing out this post, I'd like to add another fantastic place to visit which is NOT in Niagara On the Lake, but across the river on the American side in Youngsville.  Old Fort Niagara is a restored 18th century fort where you can tour the soldiers barracks, see live musket and canon firing demonstrations and enjoy the beautiful view of the Niagara River emptying into Lake Ontario.  This place was our first stop on our way to NOTL and MAN we took in so much history and spectacular scenery.  We were able to get a boat load of great shots (as you can see below) while learning some really interesting facts about how the fort, originally French, was taken by the British.

All original objects, of course.

Never really thought about what would happen should this giant canon suddenly tip forward.....
Authentic revolutionary kitty cat.

A shot I got from the tower opposite the barracks.
Volunteer in full uniform giving a musket demonstration.

Well my friends, this post took quite some time to put together - sorry for the delay.  But I do hope it is useful in your own Niagara On the Lake Trip planning!

Are there other NOTL locations you would recommend for our next trip?

Where was your favorite anniversary getaway?

Linking up with....

The Diary of a Real Housewife

My Pinterventures


the cape on the corner said...

wow! looks like you had a great time. i've never been, but i wish i would have gone when i was at niagara falls. oh, to have been a wine lover then, lol. glad you got to enjoy a relaxing time away.

Lisa O'Driscoll said...

It looks amazing and though I've never been, I plan to go sometime, especially after looking at your pix! Thanks so much for sharing with Share The Wealth Sunday!

Ash and Crafts said...

Yum! The gelato and pastries look so good! Thanks for sharing with us at the Merry Monday link party. I hope you'll join us again next week. Sharing your post on Twitter!

Love My Mess said...

Hi COTC, thanks for reading, it was soooooo lovely and I would HIGHLY recommend a visit next time you are in the area. I've got to get to Philly! :)

Love My Mess said...

Lisa, thanks for reading my post, happy to share you've GOTTA GO THERE! Thanks for the linky party :)

Love My Mess said...

A&C thanks for checking my post out - that gelato was such a treat, sooooo creamy and delicious, I'd never had it before! See you on Merry Monday again and thanks for the linky party! :)

Carlee Scharnhorst said...

Hooray for working coffee pots and kids free vacations! It looks like you guys had an amazing time. Now I am ready to schedule a vacation!

Love My Mess said...

Hi Carlee - YES you do it, we love our kids but sometimes you just need some adult time, am I right? :) Thanks for stopping by!