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Our 2 days in Niagara Falls

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Sep 24th, 2010, 10:19 PM
  #1
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Our 2 days in Niagara Falls

Thanks to the Canada experts ( gary, Oceanbreeze, BAK, et al ) for your input in our planning for our short visit to NF and NOTL Here's a short report on the hotel where we stayed, places we visited and restaurants we dined at. We visited during the Labor Day weekend, Sept 4-6.

Embassy Suites in NF - we had a nice view of the US and Canadian side falls from our room on the 32nd floor. Short walk from the hotel to the NF visitor center aka Table Rock. However, be prepared for the crowd which can be both overwhelming and stifling.
In our 2 days there, there were always a line for the elevator and breakfast buffet. The lobby and hotel entrance is always crowded with people checking in and out. The breakfast line is much shorter if you go early, maybe from 7-8:30. On our second day, we went to breakfast early at around 8 am, we got to pick our table which was by the glass walls overlooking the falls. Breakfast is served at what is The Keg Restaurant at night.

Lunch at Applebee's - this is across from ES. We have Applebee's back home but never dined there. We gave this one a try, expecting a quick, inexpensive diner-type food so we can have lunch out of the way and start with our exploration of the falls. The food was below average and expensive. For 3 pp, we spent more than $50 plus tip for basic diner food.

Adventure Pass - we bought the pass which included 4 populatr attractions including the Maid of the Mist. We bought the pass at the Table Rock visitor center because we were undecided on whether to do just the M of the M or all 4 attractions. In doing so, we ended up paying $2.25/pp for the incline railway that would take us from the Fallsview Blvd area, down to the table rock. If we had bought our Adventure Pass from the incline railway station, we would not have to pay for this because it's included in the pass. Oh well.... Our favorite is M of the Mist. We didnt do the journey behind the falls because we were just tired from all the walking and waiting in line.

Maid of the Mist is fun, a bit scary as we got closer to the falls. The sheer power of the millions of gallons of water falling within 100 ft can be scary to some people ( like me).
We were given plastic raincoats that went all the way below the knees but our faces got wet from the mist. Niagara's Fury is just ok. It's like a 360-film with some special effects thrown in ( fake snow falling and ground shaking ) on how the falls formed some million years ago. White water walk is also just ok. You walk past the river where all the water in NF comes from. There's a wood plank path that winds along the river so it's not slippery and makes it an easy walk. At the end of the path, there is a "bubble gum" memorial. Hundreds, maybe thousands of different color gum stuck on the rock wall. It looked like it all started spontaneously and visitors just kept adding their gum to it. The walk is a bit ways off the waterfalls so we had to ride in the people mover, which is included with the adventure pass.

We finished the 3 NF attractions included in our adventure pass around 6 pm. We're not hungry for dinner yet so we decided to check out Clifton Hill. It was exactly as I had expected - Vegas like neon lights, very very touristy, attractions consist of Ripley's Believe it or Not, Wax Museum and the like. Mostly family restaurants and lots of souvenir shops. As the Frommer's Guidebook says, you either love it or hate it. We are in the latter group.

We decided to return to Fallsview Blvd. around our hotel area to find a place to have dinner. We settled for the Macaroni Grill located at the Hilton Hotel. It's the same Italian food menu as in MG in our neighborhood. only about 50% more expensive. We try not to eat at chain restaurants when we're on vacation but I think in this case, all 3 of us are just very tired, we just want to have something to eat for dinner.

Fallsview Casino Parking - we parked our rental car here. Paid $15 for self parking. We paid inside the Casino. As we were driving out, we realized that we can pay with a credit card by the exit gate, where you insert your parking card. This is what we did the following day, and it only cost us $10. I'm not sure if the $5 difference is because our first parking day there was a Sunday and the 2nd day was a Monday OR if it's cheaper to pay as you exit at the gate.

NOTL-overall, a very charming city by the lake. We enjoyed the scenic ride along the river. Without stopping, the drive from NF is probably only about 20 minutes. Our first stop is Ice Wine House. There was a small group gathered around an employee explaining the Vidal grapes and its virtues. They were very generous with samples. We tried the ice wine slush. It was very good, and sweet. It tasted like Martinelli's apple cider laced with weak alcohol.

Reif Winery - nice winery. As we pulled into the gravel parking lot, there was a walking tour in progress which we joined promptly. It was very informative and interesting. The tour took us to the vineyard where we were allowed to try the grapes hanging from the vines. The grapes were very sweet. Skin was thick so you really don't want to eat this part, We toured the rooms with the oak barrells, the crushing machines, etc. The tour ended in the gift shop, of course where they had ice wine as well as wine accessories and knick knacks for sale. The large bottle of ice wine is about $50. The price was similar at the other wineries.

Peller Winery - largest one we visited. They had a huge gift shop and sold wine-related accessories and knick knack, including their house brand ice wine and red and white wines. Tip; in the basement, they had wines that are on sale, for about 20-30% less than the prices upstairs. This is where I bought my ice wine for $40 for the large bottle.

Downtown NOTL-parking was surprisingly not that difficult to find. We parked in the metered street parking. We went inside the Pharmacy museum/store where they had those old apothecary jars and a nice display of vintage pharmacy paraphernalia. Another stop at one of the shops for ice cream. The main drag had a lot of interesting little shops that make for great window shopping. We didnt buy anything. We were going to do our shopping in NYC where we are headed.

Old Village Winery Restaurant - this is where we had dinner. The menu is italian, food is much better than the chain-MG. Prices are reasonable. We ordered linguini with clams, pizza for my teenaged daughter and a fish dish for my husband. The restaurant is away from the main drag on Old Missisauga Road. Nice rustic, rural feel drive to the restaurant.

Fireworks by the Falls - we made it back to ES by around 8:30 pm. We watched tv in our room while waiting for the fireworks. The display started around 10 pm which we watched from our room. The falls are illuminated in different colors at night which gives it a dramatic glow. They turn the lights off sometime around midnight.

We enjoyed our brief visit . If i were to re-do anything, I would probably stay at NOTL and drive to NF.
flyme2themoon is offline  
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Sep 25th, 2010, 06:14 AM
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Glad you enjoyed it. We always go after labor day weekend and it's not crowded. Reif is probably my favorite, we just went there last weekend.

Parking at the casino - the rate changes all the time. Last year on a Thursday it was $5 all day and on Friday it was $10. This year on Friday it was $5 all day and on Saturday it was $10. It tells you the price as you pull in so it doesn't matter where you pay. We have a Players Advantage Card and my husband gambles a little for fun so we've never had to pay. Last Saturday he only gambled $5 and we didn't have to pay the $10 so we did save.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 06:45 AM
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A lot of people choose the chain restaurants near the Falls because they are comfortable with name brand or have one near their homes... but this is the definition of Tourist Trap... prices can be double for the same garbage...

Some of the best food in Ontario is in the Wine region away from the Falls and you would pay the same price for quality dining as the crap they sell in the tourist area...
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Sep 25th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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What's the pizza place right near Clifton Hill with the wood fired pizzas? We had lunch there last weekend and the pizza was pretty good. 1 pizza plus 1 salad plus 2 non-alcoholic drinks came to $24. I thought that was great and just the right amount of food for lunch for two.

I also think we had a reasonable lunch at Shoeless Joe's at the casino one time, is that a chain? I don't believe we have that in the US, well not where I live at least.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Amelie, we didnt linger at Clifton Hill so couldnt tell you the name of the pizza place. The price sounds reasonable though.

Corrections:

The name of the restaurant in the NOTL region where we had dinner is Old Winery Restaurant on Niagara Stone Rd ( not Missisauga Rd. although Missisauga becomes Niagara Stone Rd )It's in an old brick warehouse. Food is good, great ambiance and price is reasonable.

Sorry for the inaccuracy - I posted very late last night.

Additions:

Tim Hortons-we're in Canada so a trip here is a must. My daughter had iced capp several times, her favorite. It's like a frap smoothie but with the right amount of sweetness.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 09:48 AM
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I was asking gary the name for anyone who reads your post in the future for ideas, but it's called Antica Pizzeria.
It's not actually on Clifton Hill, it's on Victoria Ave. close to everything (Fallsview hotels and the falls).
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Sep 25th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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flyme, Thanks for your report! So happy that you enjoyed your visit. Was 2 days enough, too many or just right?
OceanBreeze1 is online now  
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Sep 25th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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Sorry for the bad grammar in my above post! Did you need more than 2 days?
OceanBreeze1 is online now  
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Sep 25th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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2 days was just right for NF and NOTL. 1 full day at the falls to see all the attractions and another full day for NOTL. if we had decided to visit St Catharine's and the locks, then 3 days would be more appropriate.

just curious, those charming houses along Niagara Parkway on our way to NOTL from the falls ( north of the falls area ), they're expensive houses no? guessing probably upwards of $1-1.5M? i was daydreaming about having a vacation house there that i could visit twice a year. of course, that's just in my dreams.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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You are correct... the Water side homes are a bit pricier...
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