How to be Romantic When You’re in Niagara — With Children

WPblog1Being in love can transform the most mundane experiences into memories that last a lifetime. Cloudy days seem sunny. A mediocre meal takes on the sheen of a couple Michelin stars. A poor performance review at work becomes little more than just a helpful suggestion.

In similar fashion, traveling with your beloved is always a tremendous pleasure, except during those times when travel with your beloved must include an unfortunate caveat: your children.

Can a family vacation ever include romance? It’s all in how creative you’re willing to get. Here’s a look at how you can be romantic when you visit Niagara even when you have your children in tow.

Plan Ahead

While you’re planning your Niagara vacation, why not plan ahead and insert some romantic moments into it, too? From ordering flowers and having them delivered to your hotel room to scheduling a couple’s massage while the kids are at a matinee movie, planning ahead will make sure romance doesn’t take a backseat to time with the kids for every minute of every day.

While the amount of romantic planning you can pull off will directly correlate to the age and dependency levels of your children, there’s bound to be a little romantic wiggle room in your itinerary if you elbow it out early enough.

Be Sneaky

One of the easiest ways to be romantic is to catch the one you love by surprise, and in Niagara, the opportunities are endless. Sidle up next to her while you’re all staring agape at the waterfalls and lace your fingers through hers. Spend a day at Fallsview indoor waterpark and wear your kids out so you can spend a quiet evening in. Send your teenagers out for donuts and coffee while he’s in the shower so you can have a little time to yourselves before they get back to your hotel room. Write little love notes and stow them away in the pockets of clothes she already packed the night before you hop on a plane.

Even when your days and nights are filled with family fun and responsibilities, if you’re sneaky in the right ways and at the right times, you and your partner can still feel as though you’re enjoying romantic moments all over Niagara.

Take a Walk

WPblog2Even if your children are little, you can still head out for a romantic stroll. Yes, they’ll be with you, but Niagara affords plenty of opportunities to revel in natural beauty and the joy of one another’s company that are just as safe and fun for lovebirds as children of all ages.

Spend some time in the Botanical Gardens or wander over to the Dufferin Islands. One of the simplest and nicest places to take a walk is through Queen Victoria Park, where you’ll also have a great view of the waterfalls as well.

Just because you’re on a family vacation to Niagara doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all thoughts of romance. From planning ahead to ensuring some surprise by being sneaky, you and your partner can rekindle your romance even while you head out for your fourth meal of pizza in three days.

3 Niagara Hikes Your Kids Will Love

wpblog1Not every family makes a point to get in some good, daily exercise while on vacation. Worrying about health doesn’t often land too high on most people’s vacation itineraries, after all. That being said, if you’re like most parents out there, the prospect of going a whole week without getting your kids’ heart rates up enough to tire them out doesn’t sound too thrilling.

Sure, there’s the energetic fun to be had at Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and the constant racing away from you whenever you head into a store or attraction, but to really benefit from the lowered rates of bickering and earlier bedtimes brought about through exercise, you’re going to need to aim at something a bit more athletic.

Whether or not your children are big fans of the great outdoors, a hike is a great way to blow off steam, use up energy, and otherwise set everyone up for preserving the peace. Here are three Niagara area hikes that your little ones should be able to do, and they’re likely to love every minutes of it.

Mount Nemo Conservation Area

Okay. So the name of this conservation area is already bound to be popular with most little ones, but bearing the same name as a popular animated clownfish is just the beginning. At just over two miles long, the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club trail is located along the Niagara Escarpment. Set in a forest that at one point follows the edge of an abandoned quarry, the trail showcases some of the least disrupted forest in all of eastern North America, and the thick undergrowth of ferns and moss feels downright prehistoric.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for birds, insects, reptiles, and small mammals throughout the hike, too. You stand a good chance of seeing everything from dragonflies and terns to porcupines and salamanders.

Dufferin Islands Park

Located in the Niagara River just south of Niagara Falls, Dufferin Islands Park is made up of a group of manmade islands that are linked by bridges. While zipping from one little island to another won’t take up too much time or expend too much energy, if you have little ones who love to play hide and seek or I Spy or you take the time to craft a scavenger hunt, the Dufferin Islands make for a great and interactive hike.

The Waterfront Trail

wpblog2.jpegA trail that covers over 750 miles, you and your little ones can easily catch the section that runs from Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary to Malcolmson Eco Park. Less than two and a half miles round-trip, this portion of Waterfront Trail will take you along the shore of Lake Ontario via parts of the Welland Canal.

You can spy everything from big ships to migratory birds and small mammals along this trail, and when you’ve returned to the start, you and your kids can spend some time at Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary, which houses everything from migratory birds to a playground and petting zoo.

Get in some exercise your next vacation by heading to Niagara and taking in one of these three hikes that your kids are bound to love.

When You Don’t Want to Leave the Hotel: 3 Kid-Friendly Restaurants That Deliver

wpblog6Vacation can be exhausting — especially for the little ones in your charge. After a fun-filled day of sightseeing, zipping down slides at a massive indoor waterpark, and otherwise enjoying yourselves more than you thought humanly possible, it can sometimes feel like tempting fate to also expect small children and even teenagers to have the energy and self-control to cooperate with a sit-down dinner at a restaurant.

After you’ve had a great time, why risk ruining a perfect day with something tailor-made to create conditions most favorable to a meltdown in the evening? Niagara Falls has plenty of restaurants with kid- and adult-friendly menus, and some of the best ones will also deliver food right to your hotel room. From exotic foods to familiar standbys, here are three Niagara restaurants you can patronize from the comfort of your pajamas.

Pho Xyclo

Is there anything better than hot, fresh Vietnamese food delivered right to your door? Popular local restuarant, Pho Xyclo, is a great option when you need a delivery option that’s not just reliable but also exciting. Especially if you have a mix of adventurous and picky eaters to feed, the wide variety of outstanding South Asian dishes, as well as the availability of plain noodles and rice, makes this eatery a perfect match for almost any family’s needs.

They’re closed on Mondays through the winter months (November 1 through April 31) but are otherwise open and ready to make the trek to your hotel room. So, order up something delicious, climb into something comfortable, order up your family’s favorite movie, and dive into some of the best food the city has to offer.

Passage to India

Another popular restaurant, Passage to India serves up fantastic Indian and Pakastani meals seven days a week, all year long. They also make everything from scratch without any MSG, preservatives, or additives, so you can feel good about choosing their food for your little ones. Whether you’re craving vegetable pakoras or tandoori chicken, their food is superb, and it can all be delivered to your room with little more than a phone call.

If one of your little ones refuses to eat anything but chicken fingers, you’re in luck. Passage to India has a small kids’ menu that includes Chicken Strips. They’re open every day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Pete’s Pizza

wpblog8With almost more locations that you can shake a stick at — seven to be exact, although only two of them are in Niagara Falls proper — Pete’s Pizza is ideal for those nights you need to stay in when you also want to make sure you avoid any trouble regarding getting your kids to eat.

Whether you want extra cheese, pineapple, anchovies, or pepperoni, Pete’s can make you a pie to please everyone who’s traveling with you, and on the off-chance someone insists they won’t eat pizza, they also offer wings, chicken fingers, onion rings, and fries. They open every day at 11 a.m., and some nights they don’t close until 4 a.m.

So, go ahead and wear yourselves out. You’ll still get to eat like kings on your Niagara family vacation with delivery from one of these great restaurants.

A Brief Look at Some of the (Many) Kid-Friendly Wineries in the Niagara Area

wpblog3One of the greatest benefits to taking your family vacation in Niagara is that, in addition to the amazing kid-centered attractions for which the area is famous, there are also countless fun things for you and your partner or spouse to do as well. While it’s true that everyone, regardless of age, can have a great time at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum, some adult-centered fun can be hard to include the kids in.

Thankfully, Niagara’s many wineries don’t fall into that category. From tours that even little ones can enjoy and learn from to stroller-friendly paths, here are just some of the wineries in the Niagara Peninsula that you and your kids can wander happily through together.

Trius Winery at Hillebrand

Stroller-friendly and with a great restaurant to boot, the Trius Winery at Hillebrand makes for a great stop on a family vacation. One of the area’s pioneering wineries, Hillebrand has been in operation for over three decades, and they produce some of the finest VQA wines in the region. They offer talks, tours, dinner events, and more on-site. Take in a daytime tour with your kids, and even if they prove to be more of a handful than you’d hoped, there’s always a delicious tasting at the end that will settle your nerves.

Peller Estates Winery

Another pioneering winery in the Niagara region, Peller Estates is a family-owned and operated winery that has produced many award-winning wines over the years. They have a daily basic wine tour that’s fun and informative, and they also offer pairing seminars for food, cheeses, and chocolate.

The restaurant on-site is one of the finest in the area as well, and lunch and weekend brunches provide the perfect opportunity to sit down for an unforgettable meal with you children, while you all eat stellar food that you get to enjoy paired with Peller wines.

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery

wpblog4One of Canada’s most stunning architectural sites, touring Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery with your children will be an unforgettable feast for their little eyes. One of the most technologically advanced wineries in all of North America, you and your children will learn all about gravity-flow assisted winemaking and the classic vinifera grapes grown on-site: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.

If you want a quick and impressive education for you and your children that will be accompanied by some excellent wine, touring Jackson-Triggs is a must.

Frogpond Farm Organic Winery

Ontario’s first organic winery, Frogpond makes for a perfect family outing because of their commitment to sustainable growing. Not content to just avoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals, the good people at Frogpond actually work to create a sustainable and mutually beneficial ecosystem at their winery, which means you and your brood will spy plenty of birds, bugs, and animals, including guinea fowl, which are kept on-site to eat insects.

Powered by 100 percent–renewable and green energy, Frogpond makes a great tour for anyone who wants to instill in their children the importance of sustainable eco-practices.

So have your cake and eat it, too, when you head out on your next family vacation. When you tour Niagara’s wine country, you can bring the kids along for the ride, the education, and the sights, and you can sample some of the region’s spectacular wine.

Why Niagara in March Is Perfect for a Family Vacation

wpblog1Thanks to the way the school year is structured, most families take their main vacation during the warm summer months, and while a vacation in the summertime has much to offer — bountiful sunlight, long days, fully operating seasonal attractions — there are some downsides to taking your primary vacation as a family during the summer as well.

Whether you’ve got a week off due to Spring Break, or you just choose to finagle a couple extra days next to a weekend, the little-appreciated month of March is actually one of the best times of year for you to take your Niagara family vacation. From the attractions to the rates, here are some of the reasons you should consider heading to Niagara this March for vacation.

The Waterpark

One of the best parts about going on a summer vacation is the water fun that’s available almost everywhere you go. While southern climates can definitely offer some watery fun in the middle of March, Niagara Falls can, too. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is tailor-made for entertainment no matter what the weather outside is like. With 125,000 square feet of water-centered activities including slides — one of which is six stories tall — a wave pool, hot tubs, a splash park, and more, you and your kids will feel like you’ve happened upon a magical summer right in the middle of March in Niagara Falls.

The Crowds

While the energy provided by the hundreds of thousands of tourists who descend upon Niagara Falls every summer is palpable and exciting, one of the main advantages of visiting in March is that those tourists haven’t yet arrived. You and your children won’t have to crane your necks or elbow any strangers to get a good look at the waterfalls, because the amount of people visiting during March is so much lower than it is during June, July, and August.

Take your time and never feel like you’re competing for space. Vacationing in Niagara in March can give you all the breathing room you need.

The Rates

wpblog2Because the crowds haven’t yet returned to the region, many area businesses and attractions provide lower rates in order to attract business during the winter months, and, in most cases, those cheaper rates extend through the month of March.

From hotels and museum entrance fees to airplane and rental car rates, traveling to Niagara in March can help you spend less money.

The Attractions

One of the reasons people often like traveling during the busiest season is because they don’t want to miss out on any of the attractions that might be closed during the off-season. While the winter and early spring does see the closure of the Maid of the Mist, the Whirlpool Jetboat, and the Cave of the Winds, everything else is open and running.

In other words, you can still see: Journey Behind the Falls, the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum, Bird Kingdom, the Butterfly Conservatory, all the wineries, the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, the waterfalls, Niagara Gorge… seriously, the list is a very long one.

So try out a new vacation timeline this year. Instead of taking your vacation during the oft-traveled summer months, head to Niagara in March where you and your kids can have a less harried, still perfect family vacation.

Experience Magical Holiday Savings at Falls Avenue Resort

FamilyWavePoolMake a getaway to Niagara Falls the highlight of your holiday season with Falls Avenue Resort’s amazing Holiday Magic packages, starting from only $189! Choose from accommodations at one of four Falls Avenue Resort hotels, including Skyline Hotel & Waterpark, Clifton Victoria Inn, Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview, and the 4-Diamond Sheraton on the Falls, and also receive four two-day passes to the 3-acre Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.

The waterpark has been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Award for three years in a row and continues to be a family-favourite attraction for visitors and locals alike. You will step out of winter and into warmth to experience 16 thrilling water slides, a giant wave pool, 1,000-gallon tipping bucket, adult-only Jacuzzis, and so much more.

RacingSlidesYour Holiday Magic package will give you access to even more excitement with four passes to the Adventure Heroes Laser Ride, Wild Safari Mini Golf, Combat Bumper Cara, and a magnificent magic show on select dates. And for unbeatable savings on spectacular Fallsview dining experiences, you will receive a Kids Eat Free Meal at the Fallsview Buffet Restaurant or the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra, as well as a Kids Eat Free lunch or dinner at Planet Hollywood.

Visit Fallsview Indoor Waterpark to book your Holiday Magic experience and warm up to incredible savings on amazing Niagara Falls family getaways!

Kids’ Books to Help Get Your Little Ones Excited About Niagara Falls

image001Going on vacation with your children or grandchildren is one of the greatest pleasures — and challenges — life affords. The excitement of a brand-new place, the possibility of making brand-new friends, the thrill of kid-centered entertainment like arcades and indoor water parks — for most children, vacation holds a wealth of potential that the rest of the year is unable to touch. Get your little ones even more excited about your upcoming vacation to Niagara Falls with these great kids’ books centered on the region.

“Where Is Niagara Falls?”

A book that reaches way back into history to tell the story of the area’s eponymous waterfalls, kids can learn tons of fun facts and stories about Niagara Falls in “Where Is Niagara Falls?” From how the waterfalls were formed to the way in which they will one day disappear, the book gives a fascinating overview of geography that’s always interesting. Additionally, it covers a lot of the daredevils and their schemes that helped make Niagara Falls famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The Niagara Falls Mystery”

A Boxcar Children’s classic, The Niagara Falls Mystery tells of the Boxcar Children’s very first trip to Canada. At first, the attractions of the town and region hold sway, but when a friend of Grandfather’s invites the children to come and help him out in his fascinating souvenir shop, all sorts of troubles arise. Valuable pieces and artifacts begin to disappear from the shop, and it’s up to the Boxcar Children to hunt down the person behind it. For kids who love a little whodunnit in their reading, this book is a pure delight.

“Field Trip to Niagara Falls”

image003Perfect for children in second through fourth grades, the always-exciting world of Geronimo Stilton — a mouse who gets himself into all sorts of trouble along with his nephew, Benjamin — is the narrator for this mousy adventure set in Niagara Falls. Kids will love the way this class field trip goes wrong as hijinks and mischief look as though they may force Geronimo to go over the world’s most famous waterfalls in a barrel — just like the daredevils of Niagara Falls’ yesteryear.

“The Wild Water Mystery of Niagara Falls”

Another fast-paced mystery set in Niagara Falls, this story follows siblings Grant and Christina as they set out on vacation with their grandparents, Mimi and Papa. Numerous highlights from the Niagara area form the backdrop of the mystery and story, which makes this a great read for kids who want to get a sense of the place ahead of time. Secret rooms, famous forts, and a giant Ferris wheel all come into play as Grant and Christina and their grandparents work to unravel The Wild Water Mystery of Niagara Falls.

“ABACA Flows Over Niagara Falls”

This beautifully illustrated children’s book is perfect for anyone who wants to get a little bit more information about the region’s history. From daredevils and Native Americans to the colonial wars that affected the region, this book provides plenty of history to help orient young ones to the place they’re about to visit.

Get your children even more ready for Niagara with these great Niagara-centered children’s books.

On Enjoying the Farmers’ Markets in Niagara This Winter

image001One of the most appealing parts of the Niagara Peninsula is its mild climate and lengthy growing season. Sheltered from the cold that much of the rest of Canada must suffer through come wintertime, the region is able to grow grapes for its award-winning wines alongside a bounty of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and fish throughout the year. From plums and nectarines to winter squash and tomatoes, what’s in season is always changing, but the region’s farms, vineyards, dairies, and orchards are nevertheless always producing.

For the visitor to Niagara, it may seem like winter is an unlikely time to pay any attention to the area’s farms, but with plenty of year-round farmer’s markets, there’s actually a lot to discover, purchase, and taste that’s grown and made right here. If you’re planning a trip to Niagara in the next couple of months, here’s a look at what the region’s farmers’ markets have to offer.

The Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market

Open every Saturday from 6 a.m. until noon, the Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market sets up behind the Niagara Falls History Museum. During the cold winter months, you can still expect to get choice cuts of the finest in Canadian meat and poultry, as well as delicious local breads, cheeses, pickled and preserved goods, and much more. There is often live music to enjoy as well. So, grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, and go for a stroll among the vendors. Then, once you’ve polished off a pastry or two, head over to the Niagara Falls History Museum for local lore and legend.

St. Catharines Farmers’ Market

Located in the charming downtown of the city right next to City Hall and the Courthouse, you can hit up the St. Catharines Farmers Market on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. In addition to fresh-baked bread and pastries, the winter experience of this market often includes a gratifying mix of the following: a wide variety of local and imported meats, seafood, and chicken, delicious ready-to-eat Lebanese and Mexican food, fresh flowers, spices, jellies and jams, wine, root veggies, and even jewelry.

Welland’s Market Square

image003A year-round Saturday market located at 70 Young Street in Welland, Welland’s Market Square enjoys the distinction of being the Niagara region’s largest farmers’ market. Committed to promoting sustainable agriculture and a sustainable local economy, the Welland market has been in operation non-stop since 1907.

Find everything from ready-to-eat fare and natural, local cheeses to apples, beets, cabbages, and fresh-cut meats. While the crowds aren’t as big at this market during the winter, plenty of locals still use this market as their grocery store throughout the year. A great place to leisurely people watch amidst the pleasures of well-crafted and carefully grown food, if you’ve only got one Saturday to spend in Niagara come to Welland Market Square between 6 a.m. and noon.

Even when it looks like Old Man Winter is at the height of his power in Niagara, plenty is being produced by the region’s farms and artisans. Head to Niagara this winter, and be sure to set aside some time to experience our fantastic farmers’ markets.

5 Tips for Dining Out With Children When You’re Visiting Niagara

image001One of the best parts about visiting Niagara is getting to partake of the fantastic food that’s so readily available throughout the region. Whether you want traditional Canadian fare, haute Italian cuisine, or farm-to-table delicacies, there are ample opportunities to let your palette have full rein in regards to your schedule and plans.

Oh, that it could also be so for the foodie with small children! If that’s you, don’t give up hope just yet. If you’re heading to Niagara for a family vacation, it actually is possible — at times — to have your cake and eat it, too. Here are five tips for dining out with your kids in Niagara that will let you experience some of the flavors of the place.

Early Dinner

  1. The finest restaurants in the Niagara region, almost without exception, begin taking reservations for dinner as early as 5 p.m. While the ambience and lighting are decidedly different at that hour, the food and service are still exquisite. Plus, the dining room will have few other patrons, so if your little ones holler excessively, decide to run amok, or otherwise make a scene, you won’t ruin anyone else’s meal.

2. Distract! Distract!

Going out to eat can be downright boring for young children. Talking? Sitting Still? Being Quiet? To a 4-year-old, those are just synonyms for “boring.” Instead of expecting your children to tough it out or act like little grownups, bring an arsenal of fun to every dining experience. From coloring books to plush animals, arm yourself with non-noise-making entertainment that can occupy your child for at least an hour.

3. Do Lunch

image003Lunch doesn’t get nearly as much love as it should, but to a family with small children, it can be a great time to eat well without risking the loss of mind that can accompany a later in the day and more time-consuming meal. Whether you hit up the fun and unforgettable Flying Saucer Restaurant or the delectable restaurant at Ravine Winery, do so at lunch for a fast and delicious meal even your kids will enjoy.

4. Make Sure They’re Hungry — But Not Too Hungry

One key to getting your little ones to enjoy a meal with you is to make sure they’re in need of one. Keep snacks before and between meals to a minimum, so when you sit down to eat, their interest is piqued. Of course, interacting with a hungry child requires walking a fine line. Don’t let your wee ones get too ravenous, or you may have the equivalent of a rabid, cranky housecat on your hands.

5. Take It to Go and Go on a Picnic

At the end of the day, it might not be possible to go out to eat with your children at the restaurants you long to enjoy when you’re in Niagara. If that’s the case, order food to go and head to an area park. While the presentation of the food will be lesser, the taste, aromas, colors, and ingenuity will still be in place. If the weather allows, spread out a blanket, let the little ones run and scream like maniacs, and savor the region’s fare in the great outdoors.

Eating in Niagara is a treat everyone should get to enjoy regardless of how old their kids are. Follow these five tips, and you just might get to enjoy a few world-class Niagara meals with your children.

3 Ways to Make This Year’s Winter Festival of Lights Unforgettable for Your Family

Millions of people come to Niagara Falls each and every year to experience the region’s breathtaking waterfalls, wide array of award-winning vineyards, and all-around fantastic entertainment offerings. During the holiday season, the cascades, the wine, and the entertainment are still available, but even more fun is added. The Winter Festival of Lights is also underway, and it’s one of the best holiday experiences that can be had in all of Canada.

image001Each year from late November until early January the tourist district of Niagara Falls, the Dufferin Islands, and parts of the Niagara parks are all aglow with millions of holiday lights twinkling amidst a three-mile-long route of illuminated displays. If you’re looking for a brand-new family holiday tradition that lets you visit Niagara each December, the WFOL definitely promises to be an experience your entire brood will love year in and year out.

Of course, there’s no reason to avoid trying to improve upon an already good thing. If you’re headed to the region for a holiday getaway, make the WFOL even more interesting and unforgettable by adding these three fun games into the mix.

A Scavenger Hunt

Whether you play a simple game of I Spy, while you drive through the WFOL, or you actually craft a genuine scavenger hunt that lets your entire family cut loose in Niagara Falls, a little friendly competition always enlivens a family vacation. Use smartphone cameras to document predetermined objects or people ranging from the world’s largest illuminated Canadian and U.S. flag display to a woman wearing a fur coat, or hide objects ahead of time in out of the way places, and give out clues for you’re the rest of your crew to try and hunt them down.

Ugly Holiday Sweater Competition

Whether you all go shopping at a thrift store or flea market before you embark on vacation, or you spend a day looking among the thrift stores and vintage shops we have here, challenge everyone in your family to find the ugliest holiday sweater they can. At a predetermined time — say dinner at a local, casual restaurant — have everyone go to the bathroom and switch into their sweaters. Then, have everyone rank the family sweaters by secret ballot to determine whose is the ugliest. Make sure you have a worthy prize for the winner!

The License Plate Game

image003A classic road trip game, the license plate game is a group quest to find as many license plates from as many places around the country and globe as possible. Because the WFOL is so well-attended by visitors from all over North America, your family could find cars from all over along the lighted display route. Bring along some lawn chairs, pack some blankets, fill your thermoses with hot cider or hot cocoa, and set yourselves up with a good view of the road in Queen Victoria Park. Over the course of a couple hours, see how many different license plates you can spy from around Canada and the U.S.

Niagara Falls’ Winter Festival of Lights is one of the highlights of Canada’s holiday season. Make it even more unforgettable for everyone in your family by including a bit of friendly competition.