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.

5 Things You Have to Do at Marineland

image001One of the best parts about vacationing in Niagara is the sheer amount of activities and amusements the area affords. From family vacations and business trips to honeymoons and college road trips, anyone can find a reason or 100 why Niagara makes for the perfect place to relax, kick back, or rendezvous. Marineland is but one of those hundreds of reasons why a trip to Niagara should be on everyone’s to-do list, and when you visit it, here are five things you have to do.

1. Feed a Beluga Whale

Marineland is aptly named for a host of great reasons, but their beluga whales are one of the most exciting as they currently have the largest collection of beluga whales anywhere in the world. These unique-looking and playful creatures are a highlight of the many creatures that call Marineland home, and not only is there underwater viewing available so you can see them in the water, but you can also get tickets to one of the many touching and feeding sessions that happen throughout each day.

2. Ride the Sky Screamer

Head 450 feet into the sky on the world’s tallest triple tower ride. Marvel at the amazing view at the top where you’ll see the thundering Niagara Falls and the Niagara landscape and city skyline. Plummet straight down — and up again — at speeds that reach as high as 60 miles per hour. It’s just one of the many amusement park rides available to guests at Marineland.

3. Check Out the Wildlife

Marineland isn’t just a place where marine animals are revered, cared for, and showcased; it’s also where land animals are valued and accessible to guests. Bison, deer, elk, ducks, and more are easily found and even petted in certain areas of the park. Especially if you have young children, petting a deer makes for an unforgettable Niagara experience.

4. Eat

image003One of the greatest pleasures of life and vacation is eating, but, sometimes, vacation can make mealtime a bit of a struggle since it’s hard to remember to always plan ahead for it. Well, Marineland has you covered. There’s no need to pack a sack lunch or leave the park to eat and return. The cafeteria-style restaurant has more than enough variety to please everyone in your party.

Choose between fair-type food like nachos, hot dogs, and pizza, or eat something more in keeping with a traditional meal like a salad, rotisserie chicken, hamburger, or soup. You can also get coffee, sodas, and beer. If you get hungry out and about in the park, there are also numerous food kiosks that serve everything from popcorn to ice cream cones.

5. Applaud the Trainers

Imagine a life where, everyday, you went to your job “playing” with sea lions, killer whales, seals, and walruses. Sounds great, doesn’t it? The marine animal trainers at Marineland are front-and-center in the lives of all the animals that live in the park, and while most guests only notice them at shows, the work they do keeps animals healthy, water clean, people safe, and much more. When you take in a show, keep in mind the importance of the trainers, and when it’s time to clap for the animals, give their human helpers some applause, too.

Head to Marineland for these five reasons and more, and experience a part of Niagara that will delight everyone in your group.

When You’re Headed to Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and Your Kid’s Afraid of Water — 4 Tips

image001Heading to Niagara Falls to enjoy Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is a great family vacation idea. No matter what time of year or what type of weather, you and your little ones are guaranteed to have all sorts of fun — with one caveat: If someone in your crew has a fear of water that keeps her from being able to relax — even in skill- and age-appropriate water settings — it can greatly reduce the quality of everyone’s vacation.

If you’d like to take a vacation to Niagara Falls, but you’re worried that you’ll have to skip or micromanage the water park, don’t despair. There are oodles of tricks you can put up your sleeves that just might finally put the problem to bed. Here are four of them.

1. Lessons

You may have tried swim lessons in years past, but just because your child didn’t like them three years ago is no reason not to try again. Children are always changing, and as they gain new skills and have new experiences, things that once terrified them might now only scare them slightly. Contact your local YMCA or parks and rec department a month or two before your trip, and get your little one in for some one-on-one swim lessons. It may be all he needs to relax and learn to love the water.

2. Water Aids

From foam noodles to goggles and water wings, get your hands on every conceivable water aid you can. The sheer number of them may be enough to make the whole fear of water seem comical. Have her practice wearing them around the house, in the bathtub, and in the car, and while she does, talk about how the water aids make being in the water safer, more colorful, and more fun.

3. Storytelling

Sometimes, a child’s imagination has gotten the best of him — in a negative way — in regards to a specific fear. Have him tell you why he’s afraid of water, and then, encourage him to tell a different story — one that hasn’t happened yet — about having a good time in the water. Show him photos of the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, and have him imagine playing in the various areas with his siblings or other children. Invite him to change his story about water from one of fear to one of fun. This approach will also enable him to get familiar with the water park long before you arrive, which can also greatly reduce any anxiety he may have about it.

4. Don’t Pressure

image003While getting your child to overcome a fear of water is something that needs to happen at some point, it may be that it won’t happen on your preferred timeline. That’s ok, and it doesn’t have to derail everyone else’s fun at the water park. Simply explain to the one who’s afraid that she can read books or draw during the time her siblings are rocketing down the slides. Sometimes, when a child is presented with options that don’t feel pressuring, she’s able to draw upon her own resources of courage and strength to try something difficult. Of course, she may not want to do that, too. Either way, the no-pressure approach will keep everyone’s stress levels low, which is always a good vacation goal.

Don’t let a little fear of water get in the way of your family vacation at the water park. Try these four tips, and you just might succeed in frightening the fear away.

Essential Tips for Having the Best Niagara Family Vacation Ever

image001Family vacation disasters are never any fun, regardless of the fantastic stories they can offer up years down the road. Whether due to food poisoning, lousy weather, an epic argument, or transportation woes, a fun and carefree family vacation beats one beset with difficulty any day.

For the family en route to Niagara, it can seem impossible that any potential mishap might lurk in your sure-to-be-fun future. Niagara is arguably one of the safest bets a family can make when it comes to ensuring a good time, but a little just-in-case planning can still go a long way. From guarding against motion sickness to being prepared for a rainy day, here are a few essential tips to having the best Niagara family vacation ever.

Don’t Get Sick

One of the worst ways to spend your vacation is sick — any kind of sick. While, sometimes, there really is nothing you can do to guard against falling ill, a little preparation helps. To that end, be sure to do the following:

  • Get plenty of rest. For a couple weeks ahead of your arrival and while you’re here, try and sleep at least eight hours a night to keep your immune system healthy.
  • Take motion-sickness medicine. Whether your youngest gets sick on car trips that last over a half-hour or you’re nervous about what the rides at MarineLand might do to you, be on the safe side: Give or take Dramamine ahead of time.
  • Wash your hands. It’s a good practice to employ anyway, but starting a few weeks before your trip, wash your hands more often than you regularly do to keep nefarious germs at bay.

Have Rainy Day Plans

image003In general, Niagara boasts mild weather no matter what the season, but that doesn’t mean your vacation won’t be met with some rain, snow, or other unsavory outdoor weather event. Plan ahead with an itinerary that includes rainy-day events. Plan to take in another day at Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. Keep a dinner theatre show as an option. Pack a puzzle, your raincoats, rain boots, and umbrellas. Being prepared will help keep all of you from feeling like you missed out if the weather turns sour.

Include Everyone

It can be tempting to make all the plans regarding where you’ll go without inviting comment, but it stands to reason that including your children and partner in the mix will make for a better time had by all. Get on the computer together and research about all Niagara has to offer.

There really is something for everyone: nature lovers, history buffs, animal nuts, shopaholics, oenophiles, and much more. By including everyone before you leave, not only will you get any serious discussion or arguing out of the way before you leave home, but you’ll also help ensure everyone has the vacation he or she wants to have.

By choosing to vacation in Niagara, you’re already ahead of the curve when it comes to having a great family vacation. By following these three tips, however, you’re doing yourself one better and making sure that nothing can keep your fun from flowing freely.