3 Ways to Maximize Your Fun at a Water Park

image001In many ways, a visitor to a water park shouldn’t have to maximize her fun; it should be built into the very fabric of the place and the experience that can be had there. From slides to wave pools, a good water park offers a wealth of ways to have a squeal-worthy good time.

That’s especially true of Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. One of the largest and most highly regarded water parks in all of North America, Fallsview is a water park on steroids — even Scrooge and the Grinch would have a great time here. Of course, such a statement invites something of a challenge. After all, how can you have more fun than the most fun? While it may seem impossible to squeeze more fun out of an already exhilaratingly fun experience, here are three methods of fun maximization that just might help you have an even better time at an already stellar water park.

1. Scavenger Hunt

One time-tested way to maximize fun in almost any situation is to add a scavenger hunt to your activity, and, it turns out, a water park is a near-deal scavenger hunt setting. Go easy on the preparation and take an elaborate “I Spy” approach: Decide beforehand what everyone will be on the lookout for (Blue hair? A matching mother-and-daughter swimsuit set? A pool noodle the same color as your Golden Retriever? Someone making a behind-the-back catch of a Nerf football?). Then, snap photos of the particular people, colors, happenings, and the like that fit with your underwater or waterproof digital camera. At dinnertime or whenever you’re done playing, look through the photos to see how everyone fared. Another tactic is to sit down ahead of time and devise a true hunt where someone makes and hides clues that lead you from one fabulous water park activity to the next. It’s a great way to turn a fun time into an even more fun time.

2. Make a Game of It

Of course, a scavenger hunt isn’t the only kind of game you can add to your time at a water park. While you need to ensure that your games are safe ones, there’s no reason a little friendly competition can’t be added into the water park mix. Race against one another while barreling down the slides. See how long you can hold your breath underwater. Declare certain words off-limits — water, wet, laughing, etc. — and try to get your kids to either say them or guess them if you’ve eliminated them from your speech but have kept them a secret. Easygoing games that don’t require any props, save your wits and will, are a great way to increase the fun you’re already having.

image0033. Rest Up

While it may not seem like it, one easy way to get the most fun out of your time at a water park is to make sure you’re well-rested before you go. Water play can be exhausting, and being well-slept and in good health will make sure you make the most of your time in the water, on the slides, in the hot springs, and in the plunge bowl. Be sure to get plenty of rest while you’re on vacation, too, so you never have to take a day off to recover.

While it’s hard to improve on water park fun, you just might be able to maximize it with these three tips.

What to Do When You Spend Halloween in Niagara

image001Halloween can be an especially exciting time for young children. There’s the thoughtful planning stage regarding which costume to choose, and then the moment when it is purchased or, if homemade, finally finished. Getting to dress up on Halloween itself is a thrill that, for many, is only rivaled by the giddy bounty of presents over the holiday season.

When it comes to adults and older kids, Halloween’s entertainment factor shifts gears, but the fun still reigns supreme, and for anyone planning a trip to the Niagara region on or around Halloween, it’s a great place to be. Here is a look at just some of what you can do to enjoy All Hallow’s Eve in Niagara.

Haunt Manor

For lovers of haunted houses and other destinations that try to scare you out of your wits, Haunt Manor is tough to beat. A multiple-themed attraction, it’s both a destination and an event. Choose between haunted hay rides, terrifying trails, haunted houses, and even terrifying corn mazes all staffed with exuberant and frightening actors playing roles that range from monsters to psychopathic killers.

They also have some pretty impressive special effects throughout. If you have smaller children, be sure to stop by during the day for an old-time hay ride that won’t will loads of fun and not scary at all.

Halloween Ghost Tours at Fort George

If you think you’d enjoy a combination of fear and history, you’ll want to get tickets to this two-hour walking tour of Fort George. Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort George is a beautiful, restored, historic military fort that already offers ghost tours throughout the summer months.

When Halloween rolls around, however, the tour guides really up the ante, telling stories too dark and frightening for the regular tour and even letting guests into a building that is off-limits the rest of the time. Tickets for the Halloween tours must be made in advance.

The Halloween 7K and 1K

If you and your family enjoy running or walking — especially for charity — you’ll definitely want to take in the Halloween 7K or 1K held the week before Halloween in Stone Creek, just a 30 to 45-minute drive from Niagara Falls. Participants can make donations or gather pledges for the run, and all the proceeds go to Autism Ontario. In the 7K, awards are given to the top three in five different age groups, and everyone who runs or walks in the 1K gets a medal.

The Rocky Horror Show

image003Take in an evening at one of Niagara Falls most famous theatres. The good folks who are behind the dinner theatre production of “Oh, Canada, Eh?” are bringing in yet another live production of The Rocky Horror Show this Halloween season to raise money for Positive Living Niagara. While the show isn’t suitable for most children under 16, grown-ups have loved this cult classic ever since the movie first came out in 1975. A rock-and-roll musical with threads of horror and camp, it’s a fun way to both do good and have an unforgettable evening.

So come to Niagara for Halloween. Whether you want to feel the fear, take in a run, or get a little history under your belt, it’s a great place to enjoy the holiday.

Experience Canadian Thanksgiving in Niagara

image001Thanksgiving Day in Canada, also referred to as “Action de grâce” in the French-speaking provinces, shares many similarities with the American holiday by the same name that takes place every November. However, that doesn’t mean they provide the same experience. Held every second Monday in October, the Canadian holiday is a celebration of the harvest and other blessings that were experienced over the course of the previous year.

While being invited into the home of someone who lives in the Niagara region to celebrate the holiday would give you the surest taste of a Canadian Thanksgiving, there are still plenty of reasons to plan a trip around this celebratory holiday. Here are a few of them.

Pre-Thanksgiving Brunch

Eat your first Thanksgiving meal at the Queenston Heights Restaurant, where you and your crew can enjoy a spectacular view of the Niagara River. Known throughout the region for offering an award-winning Sunday brunch, the restaurant’s Thanksgiving brunch place on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Bounteous and fine fare is served buffet-style, and past menus have included Roasted Squash Soup, Smoked Ham, Eggs Benedict, Lasagna, a myriad of pies, and warm bread pudding just to name a few items from the spread. The best part is: You don’t have to get up early or make it your first stop of the day. Brunch lasts from 11:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., which means making your way to it can be just as leisurely as you want it to be.

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

You may need to take a long walk between the two, but after you’ve enjoyed brunch, another opportunity to get a Thanksgiving meal arises with Thanksgiving Dinner at Elements on the Falls. Located at the edge of the Horseshoe Falls, this contemporary restaurant offers world-class views and open-flame cooking. Locally sourced, the food at Elements is always top-notch, but the Thanksgiving feast out-does itself.

Reasonably priced for the quality of the meal, you can usually enjoy a three-course Thanksgiving dinner at this restaurant for around $30 per person. Of course, be sure to add in some of their excellent VQA wines. It will up the price, but the experience of eating local food and drinking local wine in celebration of Thanksgiving is worth every penny.

The Traditions

image003While many families have their own traditions that are specific unto themselves, one thing many Canadians do on their Thanksgiving Monday off is go for a walk or nature hike. The air is often crisp and cool without being cold, and the leaves are almost always breathtaking. It’s a great way to pause and in the midst of the fertile world, be grateful for family and friends. Another tradition is to go around the table before the start of the Thanksgiving meal and have everyone state what they’re grateful for.

Finally, just like in America, it’s nice to kick back and relax with some television after the big meal — Canadian football is almost always the top choice. While you can certainly enjoy a game in your hotel room, you may want to head to one of the local sports bars to watch a game with other celebrating locals.

Just one more reason to venture to Niagara during the beautiful month of October, Canadian Thanksgiving is a holiday anyone can enjoy.

What to Know About Ripley’s Latest Exhibit: the World’s Smallest Micro-Sculptures

image001Niagara Falls, in many ways, is the perfect spot for strange happenings, odd exhibits, and side-show revelry. After all, it wasn’t just the stunning view that drew people to the area and its waterfalls, it was the mesmerizing feats of daredevilry that surrounded them — and the tales that got told as a result. At the Niagara Fall’s “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!” there are scores of fascinating objects, artifacts, and stories that can be pondered and wondered at every day of the year. But sometimes, a traveling exhibit makes its way to the Odditorium that’s so bizarre and fascinating it warrants its very own special trip to the already fun and mesmerizing museum. Here is a little about what you should expect from the latest Ripley’s exhibit, which is a collection of the world’s smallest micro-sculptures.

How Small Are They?

When you think of the phrase, “world’s smallest micro-sculptures,” it’s easy to skip over just how small the phrase suggests these sculptures are. Micro-sculptures already sound pretty tiny, but these are actually the world’s smallest in that already incredibly-small category. These very rare micro-sculptures are small enough to sit on the head of a pin or inside the eye of a needle. They’re so small, in fact, that to be able to see any of their remarkable detail and complexity, they have to be viewed under microscopes.

Who Made Them?

Made by renowned artist, Willard Wigan, this collection isn’t something that could have been accomplished by maybe any other artist, given the scale. Willard is known to have to enter a meditative state in order to slow his heart rate and breathing down so that he can sculpt in between heart beats as they create too much movement in his hands.

Even outdoor traffic can pose a hindrance to the miniature work, as the reverberations can disrupt his efforts, so Wigan often scuplts at night. A life-long pursuer of making the very small, Wigan started making things in miniature at the age of 5, when he built houses for ants, because he thought they needed a place to live. That early beginning formed the foundation for this remarkable collection that has been called “the eighth wonder of the world.”

How Did He Do That?

Besides the need to be in a state of lowered heart rate and slowed breathing, Wigan also makes use of tools that he made himself in order to accomplish creating the micro-sculptures. The homemade tools include acupuncture needles that have been filed down, diamond shards and splinters, his own eyelashes, and even hairs pulled from a fly. All these tools and more are employed in sculpting and painting these tiny wonders.

Who Owns Them?

image003In addition to the traveling collection, Wigan has sold micro-sculptures to many famous clients, including:

  • Prince Charles
  • Mike Tyson
  • Simon Cowell
  • Sir Elton John
  • And more!

Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see — in person — some of the most remarkable pieces of art ever created by a human being. Take a trip to Niagara Falls, and make a visit to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” You won’t be disappointed.

3 Shows You Have to Catch in Niagara This October

image001One of the best parts about taking a vacation in Niagara Falls is that the waterfalls are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fun. A giant indoor waterpark, stunning, fertile wine country, fascinating history museums, and world-class restaurants all vie for every ounce of your fun-loving attention. Music is also near the top of the list, since hardly a month goes by without the best entertainers and musicians in the world stopping by for a visit. If you’re considering a trip to Niagara this fall, and you love a memorable concert, here are three you won’t want to miss this October, and they all happen one after another.

Mark Knopfler

On October 14 at 8:30 p.m., famed guitarist, singer, songwriter, and frontman, Mark Knopfler, will take the stage at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort — a fantastic venue in which to see and hear the voice of the Dire Straits and, according to Rolling Stone magazine, the man who ranks 27th on the list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” A band that formed in the late-1970s and made music until the mid-1990s, Dire Straits has sold over 120 million albums worldwide to date. They produced hits like “Sultans of Swing,” and toured the world many times over.

Since the disbanding of the group, Knopfler has gone on to produce eight solo records and many notable film scores and compositions. An incredible entertainer whose prowess as a musician is unrivalled, this show should not be missed by anyone who has a soft spot for the electric guitar. Tickets start at $80.

Tony Bennett

Right on the heels of Mark Knopfler comes another world-class performer. Beloved singer, Tony Bennett, performs at the Fallsview Casino for two nights on October 15 and 16 with guest Antonia Bennett, the daughter of the legendary entertainer. Tony Bennett has been a performer of pop, jazz, and show tunes for over 60 years. His first number one hit came all the way back in 1951 with “Because of You.”

Over the course of his illustrious career, he has won 17 Grammies — 18 if you count his Lifetime Achievement Award — and two Emmy Awards. His is both a Kennedy Award Honoree and a NEA Jazz Master. When it comes to songs that reflect the heart and soul of the American popular music catalogue, few can sing them like Tony Bennet. Tickets to these two shows start at $70.

image003Peter Cetera

Finally, October 17 at 9 p.m. brings Chicago frontman, bass player, and songwriter, Peter Cetera, to the theatre at the Fallsview Casino Resort. A Grammy Award winner, he is famous for penning songs like, “You’re the Inspiration,” “Will You Still Love Me,” “Glory of Love,” and “Next Time I Fall,” and he is just as well known for his successful solo career as for his time with Chicago. For anyone who treasures the best-known love songs of the ‘80s and ‘90s, this show is not to be missed. Tickets start at just $35.

Come to Niagara for the beautiful views, and have the time of your life with some of the best musicians, songwriters, and singers in the world.

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark Wins TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Award

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark has won TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Award, making the list of The Top Ten Amusement Parks and Water Parks in Canada for the third year in a row.

FamilyWavePool-minThe waterpark is a unique 3-acre all-ages destination located directly across the street from Niagara Falls that features 16 thrilling waterslides, a 1,000-gallon
tipping bucket, giant wavepool, year-round outdoor activity pool, plunge bowl, sundeck, adult-only Jacuzzis, and much more.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by TripAdvisor for the third year in a row and to be featured on the list of Top Ten Amusement Parks and Water Parks in Canada. The entire Fallsview Indoor Waterpark team works hard to provide unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experiences for people visiting Niagara Falls, and we deeply value all of the feedback and reviews from TripAdvisor travelers,” says Sarah Vazquez, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at Falls Avenue Resort.

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is connected to the 20-acre Falls Avenue Resort, which features some of the city’s best dining, entertainment, and hotel destinations.

4 Reasons to Attend the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition

image001The Niagara region is host to some pretty spectacular events. There’s the Peach Festival each August that brings its wealth of entertainment, delicious food, and endless peach-centered treats. Every June brings another round of RibFest where piles of smoked meats, delectable barbecue sauces, and friendly competition are par for the course, and each January brings back the Icewine Festival as the region celebrates another bountiful harvest of frozen grapes with which to make a bounty of sweet, delicious wine.

September’s Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, however, is in a class of entertainment all its own. If you’re looking for a unique experience to couple with your Niagara vacation, head to the region September 25 through the 27.

What Is Steampunk?

Steampunk originated as a subgenre of science fiction, and it’s marked by a blend of fantastic, technological, and Victorian-era elements. Far from being just a literary genre, however, steampunk has taken on a life of its own in film, design, music, fashion, and even video games. For lovers of the Victorian Age who also happen to love technology, it’s the best of both worlds.

For the visitor to Niagara who’s looking to experience a unique subculture in one of the world’s most beautiful locations, the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition can’t be beat. Here are four reasons, among many, to attend.

1. Professor Wick’s Mind Bender Alley

Professor Wick’s specialty is amazing and mystifying the human mind with everything from psychic phenomena and kinetic sculptures to illusions and brain teasers. Levitate. Have your body cut into two pieces. Let a world of mystical technology keep you alive while your head is separated from your body. In Professor Wick’s Mind Bender Alley, almost any amazing feat is possible — at least from a photographic standpoint.

2. Mental Floss Sideshow

image003Similar in theme, tone, and presentation to the sideshows of old that used to accompany carnivals and circuses, the Mental Floss Sideshow features feats of physical dexterity, tall tales, snake oil peddling, ancient and mythical artifacts, and much more. A fascinating duo that performs under the names Dr. Charlotte Tan and Professor Archibald Floss, the Mental Floss Sideshow has been traveling the land for 10 years. Their show is fun, fascinating, and wholly unlike anything you’ll see at the exposition or anywhere else for that matter.

3. Iluminaire Entertainment

Toronto-based aerialists Miranda Tempest and Taliya Cohen perform a stunningly beautiful aerialist show that’s part trapeze-like whimsy and part Cirque du Soleil. A combination of extreme technical skill and theater, the two aerialists are teachers and performers who have traveled the world with their act, delighting and amazing everyone who sees their show.

4. Mike Petersen’s Good Old-Fashioned Punch & Judy Show

Mike Petersen brings a rare treat to the exposition: one of the most revered and historical puppet show traditions in the world. It’s 350 years old! Kids and adults will love this show with its cast of colorful characters. Petersen is a seasoned theater actor and puppeteer whose abilities easily keep everyone engaged and entertained.

So whether you’re on a lovers’ getaway or bringing the whole family, head to the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, where entertainment is both out of this world and from days gone by.

What You’ll Find at the Marshville Heritage Festival

image001Niagara Falls has long been a family-friendly destination. From the giant, indoor water park to the bevy of miniature golf courses, kids of all ages can find plenty to do and enjoy. While any time is a great time to take a family vacation to Niagara Falls, the first weekend in September is especially ideal, because Labour Day weekend is always when the Marshville Heritage Festival takes place.

Now in its 27th year, the Marshville Heritage Festival exists to showcase what life was like for a typical Wainfleet farm family back in the late 19th century. To accomplish that goal, over 400 volunteers band together — the vast majority of them in period costumes — to recreate the activities of daily life and work as it would have been experienced over 120 years ago. If you ever wanted a reason to be thankful for today’s modern conveniences, while simultaneously feeling nostalgic for a past that’s long gone, the Marshville Heritage Festival is an ideal destination. Here is a closer look at some of what you can expect to find at this year’s festival.

  • Hands-on demonstrations. Throughout each of the festival’s three days, ongoing demonstrations about everything from blacksmithing to musket loading will take place on the grounds and in the buildings.
  • Restored heritage buildings. 15 restored period buildings can be toured on the festival grounds, and they each have different displays and activities in them to shed further light on life in the 19th century.
  • Delicious food. Like all festivals, the Marshville Heritage Festival does a great job of feeding guests, but unlike most festivals, this one has a pig on a spit, apple butter, and soup cooked over an open fire.
  • image003Worship. Attend an old-time worship service on Sunday.
  • A juried craft show. Over 100 makers, crafters, and artisans will be on-site selling their wares.
  • Entertainment. Each day will have a slew of entertainment from live music to horse and wagon rides.
  • Raffles. There will be at least two raffles that take place over the weekend: one for a genuine Amish quilt, and the other for a canoe that will be built on-site over the course of the weekend.
  • Real trades. There will be a working sawmill and a fully operational blacksmith shop on the festival grounds, and both will be running during the weekend.
  • Car Show. While they hail from the 20th century and not the 19th, the festival car show is always a big hit. On Saturday, it will feature cars made before 1950. On Sunday, the cars featured are from 1950 to 1974.

Located in Wainfleet Village, the Marshville Heritage Festival takes place over the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Labour Day Weekend every September. It runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. Tickets are $6, and children under 10 get in free. If you’re interested in a Niagara vacation that’s educational, fun, and totally unforgettable, be sure to spend at least a day in the charming village of Wainfleet at the Heritage Festival.

Free Niagara Fun Nobody Knows About

image001Family vacations aren’t cheap, and while traveling in the off-season, packing daily lunches, hitting matinee shows, and putting other cost-saving measures to work can help you spend a little less, your best bet is to travel somewhere that’s more affordable than your average family vacation destination spot.

Well lucky for you, the Niagara region is such a place thanks to the wide variety of free fun that’s readily available, and while some of it is well-known — the fireworks that take place over the waterfalls each night during the summer and the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens to name a couple — there are some lesser-known freebies that are just as fun. From wandering among the delicious offerings at the weekly farmers’ market to taking a lakeside carousel ride, here are some fabulous and free activities.

Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market

Open every Saturday from 6 a.m. until noon all year long, the Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market has been taking place for over 50 years. During the long growing season, you can find everything from peaches and plums to tomatoes and kale — perfect fare for a picnic in one of the city’s parks. You can also often find local cheeses, meat — including a butcher — and wine. While the warmer months do mean more of a selection, even if you’re visiting Niagara in the dead of winter, the farmers’ market will be open, and there will be something there you and your brood will want to see and eat.

Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary and Animal Farm

image003Located in St. Catharines, this 15-acre municipal park sits along the shore of Lake Ontario and is home to some of the most interesting animals, birds, and plants in the entire region. The animal farm has a petting zone that includes rabbits, horses, pigs, chickens, sheep, llamas, goats, and more. Native birds, ducks, and geese all make their home in and around the sanctuary’s pond, and migratory birds and waterfowl also pass though. The park is home to one of Canada’s largest and most exotic flowering rhododendron collections, as well as evergreens, willows, and other plants. It’s a great place for marveling at the natural world.

Great Mountain Ginseng Farms

This Niagara-on-the-Lake attraction is a Chinese owned and operated commercial ginseng farm — one of the largest in Canada. Whether or not you and your family are fans of ginseng, a visit to the farm will still give you all an insider’s view into how it’s grown and harvested, and if you’re looking for a sweet treat, they make an amazingly tasty ginseng candy.

Lakeside Park Carousel

Another St. Catharines’ treasure, the Lakeside Park Carousel isn’t exactly free, but at $0.05 a ride, it might as well be. Located in quaint Port Dalhousie, the carousel is great to ride after a walk or picnic or as part of a family scavenger hunt. Be sure to hit it on the weekend, however; it’s only open Fridays from 4pm to 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Head to Niagara for the family vacation of your dreams, and enjoy plenty of fun that’s free and off the beaten path.

The Best Toy Stores in Niagara

image001That Niagara is a great place to go shopping probably comes as no surprise. After all, the region caters to millions of tourists every year, and just about every type of entertainment imaginable is available. Whether you’re looking for a bottle of rare Ontario wine or a snow globe of the city skyline, you can probably find it somewhere within the Niagara Peninsula.

However, shopping for toys isn’t your everyday shopping excursion, regardless of whether you’re a child or a grown-up, and a good toy store promises to be its own worthwhile experience. Whether you’re traveling to the Niagara region with your children on a family vacation or you just want to be sure to get some amazing presents to take back home to them, the Niagara Falls area is home to a decent variety of pretty stellar toy stores. Here are some of the finest — each one sure to have something your little one or little ones will love.

Turtle Pond Toys

Located at 6380 Fallsview Boulevard, Turtle Pond Toys is both a great toy store and a fantastic hobby and game shop. Find your favorite monument or building in the Lego Architecture line, or pick up some 3D puzzles to keep you and the kids occupied on an upcoming rainy day. They also have a wide array of games, stuffed animals, and action figures. Especially if you and your children enjoy goal-oriented toys, Turtle Pond Toys shouldn’t be missed, and because it’s in such a central location, it’s easy to find and get to when you’re out and about.

Big B Comics

A comic book store of epic proportions, Big B Comics is where alternate universes and parallel universes are taken as seriously as the one in which we all currently reside. The third location in the Big B family, the Niagara Falls location opened in 2012, and they’ve been a hit since day one. Find rare gems from the Marvel universe, or pick up that graphic novel your teenage daughter has been dying to get. The store is a veritable feast for readers of comics, but they also have specialty toys and clothing — most of it comic or graphic novel related.

Learning Express Toys of Niagara Falls

image003Located just over the border in Niagara Falls, New York, Learning Express Toys is a classic
neighborhood toy store. The workers are knowledgeable — they call themselves “toy experts” — and many of the toys and games can be handled and played with ahead of purchase, as they pride themselves on providing an interactive experience. Games are routinely demonstrated, and they have an excellent selection of toys, games, skill builders, and more from all over the world. If you’re looking for a unique gift, this store is a great choice.

Toys R Us Express

While it’s smaller in size than your standard Toys R Us, the Express version still has plenty of toys, games, stuffed animals, and more. While you won’t find one-of-a-kind items at this toy store, if you’re in a time crunch but still want to find the perfect gift, Toys R Us Express can be trusted to have a selection that most kids will love.

Just because you’re in Niagara doesn’t mean you have to forget the toys. Head to one of these four excellent shops for games, toys, puzzles, and more, whether you need a gift or a fun way to spend an afternoon.