Destinantion Ontario: Falling For Niagara
By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com
Photography, Niagara Falls Tourism
In the early 1800s, it was the French who popularized Niagara Falls as the honeymoon capital of the world. Since then, thousands have chosen the Falls as their honeymoon retreat. Two centuries later, Niagara Falls is still a popular destination for those who are celebrating their union, and newlyweds receive an official, signed-by-the-mayor honeymoon certificate. The grandeur of the Falls is impossible to duplicate, which is why the movie Niagara, starring Marilyn Monroe, was shot here. Other famous people who have visited the Falls include King George VI (the reigning queen’s father), as well as Princess Diana with Princes William and Harry.
A visit to the Niagara region, located between the south shore of Lake Ontario and the north shore of Lake Erie, encompasses the cities of St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland, as well as the charming towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Grimsby and Fort Erie. A short hop from Toronto on the QEW and you can help yourself to a smorgasbord of experiences, including historical landmarks, wine tours, live entertainment, golf, sightseeing, slots and shopping.
SEE IT ALL
Seeing the Falls by boat has been a must-do tour since 1846. Hornblower Niagara Cruises’ 700-passenger catamaran offers thrilling, close-up tours of the Falls, as well as fully licensed night time Falls’ illumination cruises and Falls’ fireworks cruises.
Helicopter flights over the Falls are the ultimate experience for adventure enthusiasts and rainbow lovers. Niagara Helicopters was awarded a position in the Top 50 Signature Winter Experiences in Canada (FlightNetwork 2016). Helicopter tours are offered throughout the year, including a stunning helicopter wine and Falls’ tour.
A visit to the Botanical Gardens offers guided walking tours around its lush gardens, which includes its world-famous garden of 2,400 roses. The gardens are also home to the Butterfly Conservatory, with more than 2,000 colourful butterflies.
Located along the scenic Niagara Parkway is the Floral Clock. The clock’s face, complete with working mechanisms, is planted twice yearly with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants, arranged in beautiful designs. Built in 1950, the clock is 40 feet in diametre, and is second only to the Falls as the region’s most photographed highlight.
Old Fort Erie, Fort George, Brock’s Monument and Laura Secord’s homestead are just a few of the landmarks that will delight history buffs. The area was also an important stop on the legendary 1800’s Underground Railroad.
In addition to slots and gaming tables, Fallsview Casino Resort presents more than 250 shows each year, featuring stars like Kelly Clarkson, Steven Tyler and Tim McGraw.
Niagara boasts several championship courses, including Legends on the Niagara, Oak Hall Par 3 and the Whirlpool Golf Course, which was designed by golf architect Stanley Thompson and is rated as one of Canada’s most highly rated public golf courses.
The first fireworks’ display took place on September 14th, 1860. The Niagara Falls Fireworks Committee is lighting up the skies with free firework performances from June 12th to September 4th, Monday to Friday at 10 p.m. Each of the 60 shows will last up to six minutes in length.
Less than a half hour drive from the Falls, at the mouth of the Niagara River, is the quaint 18th century town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, often referred to as Ontario’s loveliest town. Home to the renowned world class Shaw Festival, which runs from April through October, the town is an eclectic dining, shopping and sightseeing experience.
For a scenic wine tasting experience, try one of Niagara’s bicycle wine tours. Great Escape Wine Tours offers a variety of options including the Lunch and Winery Bicycle Tour, as well as a Private Bachelorette and Birthday Bike tour.
With all that the Niagara region has to offer, it’s no wonder that there’s a local movement afoot (#Claimthe8th) to declare Niagara Falls the eighth wonder of the world.