Grape and Wine 2011

This year’s Grape and Wine Festival was nothing short of spectacular; with vineyards from all over the Niagara Region featuring their best red and white collections. Dozens of travellers and locals gathered together to test many different types of wines (from Ice Wine to Merlot to Chardonnay).But that’s not all, the live entertainment and the beautiful weather sure made this festival run smoothly.

But this Festival is not just for wine drinkers, this festival was able to provide a warm and safe place for children to play with its child friendly activities. Not to mention many venues featured jewellery, clothes, and toys.

Having spent the last 5 years going to Brock and living in the Niagara Region, it still amazes me how many people participate in this festival. So if you have never been to the festival or you are returning, enjoy it to its fullest because it only comes around once a year!

Mini-Putt at The Super Putt

A date night turned intense mini-putt competition. My boyfriend and I decided it would be fun to play a round of mini-putt and the loser would buy the other a drink. He is an avid golfer and I am.. well.. not. I tried to warn him that I was surprisingly good at mini-putt but I don’t think he believed me until we started our game.

The Super Putt offers 18 holes of different green layouts and is conveniently located down Lundy’s Lane from The BEST WESTERN PLUS Cairn Croft.  Adults play for $7 and Children 12 and under play for $6. The holes all have funny little names. My favourite, Lover’s Leap, involves you shooting your ball over a small stream running through the course. It’s a simple, fun activity that I think many people have forgotten about. I would highly recommend going to The Super Putt on a date or taking the whole family. Spice it up; bet who’s going to win, take blind shots or whatever other creative things you can think of.

So now you’re wondering what the outcome of my intense competition was.  I was beating my boyfriend most of the way; I’m clutch at the close up shots (he was rather impressed). Sadly, on the second last whole, I lost my momentum and he beat me by 3 strokes. Needless to say, that night, I bought the drinks.

Niagara Golf in the Fall

Niagara is known for its world class golfing and beautiful golf courses. When the summer sun is just too hot for you to hit the links… planning a tee time for the fall is the perfect solution!
The courses are less crowded, foliage has started to turn, there is a nice autumn breeze and the sun is still shining. I’m new to golfing so I must admit you won’t see me on the greens anytime soon, I stick to the driving range. But I know that Niagara’s golf courses, from Legends to Whirlpool, are beautiful in the summer or fall.
There are also some really great golf packages available in Niagara Falls- that have your accommodations and tee times all taken care of. The BEST WESTERN PLUS Cairn Croft Hotel is the official partner of Niagara Parks Golf and are specialists in making sure your golf weekend is exactly what you were looking for.

Laura Secord Homestead Tour

If Niagara history is what you’re into, then a visit to the Laura Secord Homestead is right up your alley. Amber and I had the pleasure of getting a tour by an old high school friend of mine and he was awesome! All the staff is so knowledgeable about the house and the artifacts within it. We were very impressed.

We learned that women use to die from cooking because of their large skirts catching fire, that Laura Secord wasn’t recognized for her efforts until the age of 83 and that she nursed her husband, James, back to health after the war without a doctor, along with many other fun facts!

I think that this was one of the better run historical locations that we have visited and felt like I really learned a lot in the 20 minute tour for only $9.50. Visit the home yourself to learn about the first heroin of Canada and the war of 1812!

Morningstar Mill (One of Niagara’s Best kept Secrets)

If you’re looking for a new and interesting place to venture within the Niagara area, Morningstar Mill is the place to check out. This Niagara area attraction has both historical value and scenic/natural beauty. It is a perfect place to take photos, learn about history, practice your hiking skills or even discover 3 beautiful waterfalls; not to mention swim in them.

 The very first reason Hayley and I decided to check out this site was for the beautiful waterfalls that we had heard about. Hayley was a bit nervous, but once she hiked down the gorge she was amazed by the view. I was more excited to be able to swim beneath one of the waterfalls. The water was so warm, and the best part was that not many people know about it, so you can swim as long as you like without getting in anybody’s way!

As we hiked back up the Morningstar gorge, we decided that we would take a tour of the blacksmith shop. It was really cool. We were able to learn about the true history of this attraction and it was really fun. But like all good things, they must come to an end. We will definately come back again!!

Please be advised that the gorge at Morningstar is “Enter at your Own Risk.” So please be careful if you decide to go on this venture. Also **Remember to bring water, wear appropriate shoes, and maybe wear your bathing suit underneath because once you see the waterfalls that lay here, you will definitely want to get your feet wet**

 

A Family Day in Niagara Falls- Queenston Heights

If you’re looking for the perfect place to spend the day; picnicking, biking, playing tennis and hanging out with the family in Niagara, then Google no more. Amber and I have found it, Queenston Heights! Although the main attraction to Queenston Heights is often the historical significance in Niagara, we felt that this was really just an added bonus to everything else there is to enjoy.

Amber and I started our day taking a walk around the parks paths and making a stop at the Brock Monument. You can freely enter the monument to read up on how Sir Isaac Brock helped Canada gain control of the Niagara River, or pay $3 and climb the tower all the way to the top (it’s a long way up: 185ft). All along the paths there are different plaques describing various parts of the battle.

When you go… pack a lunch, a tennis racket and a Frisbee! There is a children’s splash pad, swings and a playground, currently being renovated, that the kids can play on (Amber and I really enjoyed the swings while we were there). We also saw an adorable family all on bikes getting ready to ride the paths! If only we had brought our bikes.

Don’t be thrown by the historical aspect of Queenston Heights, enjoying a day outside with friends and family is what it’s all about!

Floral Clock

For those of you who don’t know what the Floral Clock is… it’s exactly what it sounds like; a large fully functioning clock made out of flowers.

Let me start by saying that Amber and I were a day too early to see the clock in full bloom. But because of this, we got to see the students from the School of Horticulture planting all of the flowers. We got a sneak peak of what the design would be this year as well. We learned that each year there is a different design and this year it’s celebrating The School of Horticulture’s 75th year. If the back door is open, take a look at pictures of all the designs back to 1950 and the workings of the clock.

This attraction is free to the public, free parking and offers some beautiful picture taking opportunities. Check the floral clock out on your drive down the Niagara Parkway!

Niagara Botanical Gardens

A stroll through the Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens is ideal for someone looking for ideas for their home garden or someone who will appreciate the beauty of a variety of flower species. The 40 acres of gardens are maintained by the students of the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, acting as an outdoor classroom for them.

Amber and I went earlier in the summer, so some of the gardens had not been filled. There were beautiful red, pink and orange roses in bloom when Amber and I stopped by for a walk through. The students were out and about working on the gardens and I know they are going to look beautiful when finished. We had a peaceful walk through the gardens and took a little break to take in the beauty and just watch people pass by. This is not the place for a family adventure but a great place for a couples getaway, to take in the gardens and enjoy one another’s company.

The Botanical Gardens are located along the Niagara Parkway and if you want to take an adventure through the Butterfly Conservatory, it’s located right in the gardens! Another stop along the Niagara Parkway is right down the way at the Floral Clock.

I scream, Hayley screams, we both scream from ice cream!!

Nothing is better than an ice cream on a hot summer day, therefore Hayley and I went out to search for the best ice cream in Niagara. Hayley had suggested we go to the Avondale Dairy Bar. So we got into “Bertha” (my mini-van) and began to travel to ice cream heaven. This famous ice cream parlour is found in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

With a slight right turn we arrived at our destination. I could not contain my excitement for one more moment. As soon as we entered the ice cream parlour I race to get in line and decide on the flavour of ice cream I want to get. I decide on mint chocolate chip; my very favourite ice cream flavour. As the ice cream dipped down my hands in the hot summer heat I felt just like a kid again.

Along with the array of ice cream flavours and the seating areas inside and outside the parlour, Avondale Dairy Bar also had swing sets for the kids to enjoy—even though we are no longer kids it was important for us to swing and eat our ice cream at the same time.

After cleaning myself up and throwing away my napkins, it was time to leave.  Although I was sad to leave, I was excited to visit again, which I am sure will happen more than once this summer.  It is important to make one of the things you do in Niagara Falls, Avondale Dairy Bar.

Things to do in Niagara- Fort George

IMG_8671The Niagara region is rich with history, from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and there are many historic sites, churches, military forts, and architecture dedicated to exploring it. Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie were both sites of significant battles during the War of 1812. That’s exactly why Amber and I decided to start our adventures visiting Fort George.
As a Niagara Falls local, I remember visiting Fort George in elementary school so I was excited to go back. I had forgotten how nice of a drive going out to Niagara-on-the-Lake was. The roads are quite and beautifully lined with forest and glimpses of the Niagara River below.
When we arrived about 30 minutes later, we parked for free (later discovered it is $5.90/car, I guess we lucked out that we didn’t get towed). We walked past a school group and were pretty tempted to join in on their tour, but we didn’t. The fort area is rather large inside with 8 beautifully restored buildings. You are able to walk around the fort and check out the different informational stations at your own pace, with costumed staff around to give more insight. Amber took the time to read more of the fun facts than I did; she’s a little more into history than I am.
My favourite part was when a group of soldiers walked by. If you ask Amber she’ll tell you that it actually scared me a little bit- I was just pretending. I ended up getting a picture with a handsome soldier, didn’t catch his name. Although we didn’t get the chance to see them, there are also regular military and military music demonstrations that would definitely be exciting.
It’s in a great location to check out many of the fruit stands along the way, the Laura Secord Homestead or one of the many wineries. Stay tuned for these adventures in the future!