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Toronto/Niagara Falls - Not to be missed?

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Sep 4th, 1998, 07:34 AM
  #1
Donna
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Toronto/Niagara Falls - Not to be missed?

My husband and I are going to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake from Sunday-Saturday at the end of this month. I have read four tour guides, cover to cover, and of course there is so much more to see and do than we can possibly cover in just one week. Would really appreciate tips on what not to miss, what to skip, so we can make the best use of our time. Any fabulous dining experiences would be greatly appeciated as well. We love the "touristy" stuff and bus and boat tours, so if any are more fun than others, we'd love to know.
 
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Sep 6th, 1998, 07:36 AM
  #2
Owen O'Neill
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Definitely take the "Maid of the Mist" boat tour at NF. The walk through "Cave of the Winds" on American side is less compelling but interesting. Free and little known is this: Walk to Seven Sisters Island (Amer. side), walk out the path through the trees to the side facing the opposite bank of the river; there are rocks to sit on with a remarkable view of rapids and fast moving shallow water formations. It's peaceful and and great place for a bag lunch and a quick rest.

In Toronto, there are bus tours of the city - great for an overview. Royal Ontario Museum is worthwhile as is the CN Tower (only if it's a very clear day - otherwise skip it). We went to"Casa Loma", a castle built in the 20's by an industrialist on a hill above the city. It's moderately intersting but lacks the grandeur of sense of history contained in such sites as Hearst castle or the Biltmore estate. I'd leave it in the "only if we have time" department. Believe it or not, the Balta Shoe Museum was highly recommended, but we didn't have time - it's supposed to be fun. The Eaton Centre is just another mall - nothing compelling unless you're a mall junkie. Although it's fashionable in some quarters to pooh-pooh it, I'll recommend seeing "Phantom" at the Pantages. The theater itself is a remarkable facility (daily tours are available for those interested) and I found the show to be a moving event with spectacular sets and costumery. It doesn't have lingering emotional resonance but is still worthwhile. There is a harbor boat tour of Toronto but a better bet might be the Ferry from Queen's Quay to Ward's Island. Walk straight off the dock across the island (it's VERY small). Turn right onto a fantastic boardwalk that skirts the lake's edge almost at water level. Several hundred yards down on the right is a cafe tucked in the trees called The Rectory (which it once was). They now serve pastries, cappucino and light lunch and have a funky art gallery. If the weather's decent it's a wonderful place to sit in the trees and take in the breeze from the lake. Continue down the boardwalk a half-mile or so; there's a pier with a great view of the lake - then straight back across through the garden areas to the dock st Centre Island and the ride back. I would skip Chinatwon if you've been to the ones in NYC or SF. Queen Street West (out as far as Spadina) was fun for funky shops and people watching, likewise with Little Italy (the one closer to downtown - there are two). We heard that "the Beaches" (a residential and business district east of downtown on the lake) was great but didn't have time to get there. Toronto has a weekly arts & entertainment paper called "Now". You might check out their events schedule at www.now.com
Lastly, I highly recommend the comedy show at Second City - we went on Sunday night, which is the touring company's show but I hear the the regular weekly show is also hysterical. Great sketches and remarkably good ensemble improv comedy. DO USE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM. It's clean, fast, efficient and goes everywhere - daily passes are the best value and on Sundays two adults and two kids travel for the one daily pass price ($6.50 Cndn). Be forewarned that long term parking rates vary - if you're quoted a price of $18-20 per day, consider dropping off the bags and parking elsewhere. We found a public parking lot a block up Church from Gerrard St. that cost us $22 for a three day weekend (and the lot directly across the street was $40!). Any public lot on a visible corner in downtown is safe (as is ther city in general).
 
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Sep 10th, 1998, 11:06 AM
  #3
dan
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I have been to Toronto of the places that you mention. You already have some great information. The Royal Ontario Museum is not only recommended; it is a must. I have been to lots of museums all over and found it to be top-notch. Especially see the Chinese exhibit (one of the best in the world), the birds and bat cave, the gems, and the dinosaurs. It also has some good Greek, Roman, and Egyptian. I agree to skip the tower if cloudy. Go across to the islands (great for photos of the gorgeous skyline). If you or your husband like sports, the Hockey Hall of Fame is fascinating and offers a look at an important aspect of Canadian culture (you can see it in two hours or less, including videos). For shopping the Eaton Center has a lot of shops, but I agree it is not that different. The Phantom production is tremendous; I was very glad I went. Do try lots of the different food choices. Toronto is very diverse. Highly recommended are Greek, Chinese, and French. If you love antiques, there is a wonderful antique mall down at the Harbourfront (I have heard that lots of movie stars go there to shop - didn't see any though). Also see Yonge Street after dark.
 
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Sep 15th, 1998, 06:48 PM
  #4
kelly
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Being a native Torontonian myself, I'd recommend seeing the CN tower (it's a must see only if it is sunny and clear). You can have lunch at the 360 Revolving Restaurant. You can kill two birds with one stone - enjoy a delicious lunch with a great view of Toronto. I'd recommend going to the Niagara Falls and taking the Maid of the Mist - not to be missed - you get soaked, the rubber jackets stink, but it's great fun.
Niagara On the Lake is just beautiful. There's may wineries in Niagara on the Lake - "Innilskilin, Cave Springs, etc." If you're interested in wineries these ones are recommended.
If you like musicals, there's many in Toronto currently playing. I'd recommend seing Les Miserables- It's playing at the Royal Alexander Theatre and is within close walking distance of the CN Tower.
Take the ferry over to Centre Island in Toronto. The views of Toronto are spectacular, especially during the evening.
I would recommend a restaurant called North 44 - it's pricey but the food is excellent. I'd recommend recommendations as the restaurant is always busy. Another great restaurant is called Prego. Once again I'd recommend reservations.

Hope you enjoy your stay in T.O.
 
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Sep 15th, 1998, 06:49 PM
  #5
kelly
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Being a native Torontonian myself, I'd recommend seeing the CN tower (it's a must see only if it is sunny and clear). You can have lunch at the 360 Revolving Restaurant. You can kill two birds with one stone - enjoy a delicious lunch with a great view of Toronto. I'd recommend going to the Niagara Falls and taking the Maid of the Mist - not to be missed - you get soaked, the rubber jackets stink, but it's great fun.
Niagara On the Lake is just beautiful. There's may wineries in Niagara on the Lake - "Innilskilin, Cave Springs, etc." If you're interested in wineries these ones are recommended.
If you like musicals, there's many in Toronto currently playing. I'd recommend seing Les Miserables- It's playing at the Royal Alexander Theatre and is within close walking distance of the CN Tower.
Take the ferry over to Centre Island in Toronto. The views of Toronto are spectacular, especially during the evening.
I would recommend a restaurant called North 44 - it's pricey but the food is excellent. I'd recommend recommendations as the restaurant is always busy. Another great restaurant is called Prego. Once again I'd recommend reservations.

Hope you enjoy your stay in T.O.
 
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Oct 2nd, 1998, 05:50 PM
  #6
lynne
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I visit Toronto frequently and would agree with the above. As far as the wineries in Niagara I would also recommend Konzelmann...wonder wines. Try to have a meal at On The Twenty in Jordan (just outside Niagara on the Lake). The restaurants in Niagara on the Lake are disappointing and expensive - except The Prince of Wales.
Hope I didn't miss you before you left on your trip!
 
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Oct 4th, 1998, 07:00 PM
  #7
Donna
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We just returned today and had a fabulous time! I am so grateful for the detailed replies, suggestions and recommendations. We were absolutely enthralled by Casa Loma. The architecture is amazing. The gardens and views are breathtaking. We found the history of it fascinating. Most incredible was the beauty and warmth of the home within. We especially liked the conservatory with the spectacular stained glass dome. The CN Tower was, indeed a thrilling experience, especially the "glass floor". The weather was so nice that we did not go inside very often. One inside exhibit, Princess Diana's dresses at Hudson's Bay Company, was one of the highlights of our trip. The exquisiteness of the details (tailoring, beads, pearls, crystals, embroidery) can only be appreciated with a personal inspection. She was much slimmer and curvier than I had imagined from the photos. And, the dresses are breathtaking! The exhibit was ingeniously displayed. We thoroughly enjoyed the Harbor Cruise. The commentary was interesting and very amusing. We went to see Les Miserables at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Not my favorite show, but a fabulous production nonetheless. We were totally impressed with the restaurants. Each one we tried was fabulous: The Roof (at the Park Plaza), La Maquette, Marcel's Bistro, and Le Bodega (where we had lunch on the idyllic terrace). We also enjoyed Movenpick on Bloor for lunch. We happened onto a fabulous quintet upstairs at the Senator one evening, and upon a terrific pianist/vocalist at N'awlins (a wonderfully romantic bar) another night. Cocktails at Panorama on the 51st floor of the Manulife Center as the sun set was a magical experience. Even the "neighborhood" bar across the street from our hotel was great fun. Old standards on the jukebox, "regulars" who treated us like we were as well. We were most impressed, though, with the friendliness of all the people in Toronto. Everyone was so courteous and helpful and friendly. We had stopped in Niagara Falls on the way and hopped on the Maid of the Mist. No smelly raincoats! Now, you receive plastic pullover raincoats (complete with hood with tie) which are recycled. They do the job quite nicely (be sure to tuck everything inside). What a thrill! The Niagara Parks Commission is to be commended for the beauty of the entire area. We were amazed at the number of different vantage points available to enjoy views of the falls. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the prettiest town we've ever visited with the best shopping anywhere! We had lunch at the Buttery,which was very good and pleasant. There are coffee/dessert/snack shops everywhere. We saw Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan" at the Festival Theatre. The production was much more elaborate than I anticipated (incredibly gorgeous sets and costumes) and this was so well produced one actually felt as if they were in the same room as the people in the play. We stayed at the Bond Place Hotel in Toronto, which I would highly recommend. An exceptionally good value for the dollar with inexpensive parking. The rooms are a tad on the compact side, but very comfortable and nicely decorated. The location is excellent - convenient to sights, attractions, neighborhoods, in every direction. I was very disappointed with "Olde Town Tours", expecting interesting narration and a ride through the various neighborhoods - but, it pretty much took us from one hotel to another and, in most cases, the sights, attractions and neighborhoods were quite a hike from the stops. For the price of the tickets, you could just take taxis everywhere for considerably less. We stayed at the South Landing Inn in Queenston (midway between Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake), again a spectacular value for the dollar. The "annex" looks like a nice motel from the outside, but the rooms are all decorated beautifully "country inn" style. We loved this place! Again, thanks to all who responded with tips and recommendations.
 
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