Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls

Old Feb 20th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls

I promised my daughter we'd take her to Montreal this summer (she's studying French in high school).

We're in northern Virginia. We'll drive up through Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls, then down through Boston, spending a few nights in each area.

Any suggestions for things to do, see, and/or where to stay for three or four nights in Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls?

Thanks,
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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The Finger Lakes region has - the lakes of course - and wineries - of course. The Corning Glass Museum is spectacular and Corning is a central placce to stay. I highly recommend Watkins Glen State Park - an amazing walk though cliffs and waterfalls that is not what you would expect - and inexpensive. Niagara Falls has casinos that draw big crowds. The US side is quieter and you can walk practically to the edge of the falls from Goat Island. The Canadian side provides a great view of the big falls, Horseshoe Falls and there is the Maid of Mist Boat Ride. I wouldn't miss the greenhouses south of the falls. Don't stay in Niagara Falls. Continue north to the Niagara Glen parking lot (across from the golf course) and walk down to the shore the rapids on the amazing paths. Then continue your drive to Niagara on the Lake. Stay there in one of the lovely hotels and enjoy the town. If the Shaw Festival is open, taken in a play (reserve in advance). If you want to practice French, go past Montreal to Quebec City and beyond, finding a smaller place where few people speak English. In Montreal, people respond in English in most cases if your French doesn't sound right.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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I agree that Niagara-On-The-Lake is a much nicer place to stay than Niagara Falls itself and the drive up there from the falls is quite nice, also.

There are plenty of hotels and IMO the closer you stay to the so-called "downtown" the better but if the Shaw Festival is on then you need to reserve in advance. Some people find the place to be almost contrived and "touristy" but Niagara Falls really IS "touristy" and on steroids.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 09:24 AM
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Thanks,

It sounds like Niagara-on-the-Lake is the place to stay. We'll plan to leave Finger Lakes early in the morning, spend the day in and around the Falls, then continue to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the night.

I had planned on Watkins Glen Gorge for a hike. I saw pictures and it looks great. We'll also spend at least one day visiting wineries. I was thinking Geneva area to stay, it didn't look like there were many lodging choices around Watkins Glen. Is there a lake/wine trail you would recommend over others?

It looks like it's hard to avoid the Shaw festival. We'll probably be there second half of June and all but a couple of shows start earlier than that. They all seem to go until at least August. Any suggestions on picking a show/theater to see while we're there?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Actually Watkins Glen now has one of the nicer places to stay in the Finger Lakes area:
http://www.watkinsglenharborhotel.com/

Out of Watkins Glen just head north on Route 14, over a dozen wineries along the way up to Geneva. Glenora Winery on the way up has very nice accomodations and restaurant:
http://www.glenora.com/

Weekend rates are very high at both of these places and often require two night stays.
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Old Feb 24th, 2013, 04:20 AM
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Just and aside: The Canadian French spoken in Montreal is a far cry from the Parisian French language your daughter is likely studying but it'll be a great trip anyway.
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Old Feb 24th, 2013, 04:22 AM
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You might consider visiting Quebec City, a much different experience than Montreal. While in Montreal, make sure you visit the old city of Montreal. It's quite lovely. Bon voyage!
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Old Feb 24th, 2013, 05:23 AM
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There are many really good wineries in the Niagara Falls/ Niagara on the Lake area. You can go to many right along the parkway that runs between the two areas or venture off to nearby Jordan / Beamsville area for more wineries in a beautiful setting. If interested I can give you some recommendations.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 11:32 AM
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outdoor1,

Yes I'm open to suggestions for Jordan area (I didn't spot Beamsville on the map, is it the same area?).

EmilyPost,

Yes, I think we're modifying our trip to go north to Quebec City, which brings up the question of nice towns to see in the triangle that includes Toronto, Quebec City, and either St. George's or Sherbrooke - we still need to decide which would be the nicer route toward Boston.

Dave,

Thanks for the suggestions, they both look very nice - I haven't checked availability yet.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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Here is a link to Angel's Gate winery with directions from Niagara Falls. It is in a beautiful setting and they offer Terrace Lunches in the summer. http://www.angelsgatewinery.com/. Very close by is Meglomaniacs. They make my favourite Ontario wine.. There is a link to many nearby wineries on the Angel's Gate link as well.
If you don't feel like driving too far there are many wineries very close to Niagara on the Lake. Peller estate has a pricy wine tasting dinner menu, and very reasonably priced tastings. Lainey, Strewn, and Mary Niessen are all worth a stop, and be sure to stop by the Ice House right on the parkway for an ice wine slushie and other ice wine tastings.

All the wineries have wine route maps, and may have special events going on as well.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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You should not make a special trip to Sherbrooke. I can't comment on St George but Sherbrooke would be a miss as a vacation destination for me. We visit family there every year because we are obligated to do that! There are some beautiful lakes nearby, however. Is that what you intended to visit in that area?
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Old Feb 27th, 2013, 06:33 AM
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This trip is pretty spread out over a few thousand miles, so I hope you have scheduled at least two to three weeks... if so, add a day or two in Toronto after Niagara before continuing to Montreal and Quebec City... then cut down through Northern NY to get to Boston... lots to do and see and this is well worth taking the time... have fun
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Old Feb 27th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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EmilyPost,

Not really, scenery is nice and we also like walking/trails. My 81 year-old mother is very fit and a great walker - but I wouldn't take her on anything that I'd consider a serious trail.

For this trip, a nice town, with a French feel, where we can stop for a look around, a decent relaxed meal, and a B&B for the night would be ideal.

garyt22,

I'm thinking 17 days, though I can go a little longer if I need to. I'm ready for two killer drives - roughly 8 hours from our home to Finger Lakes area, and better than 9 hours from Boston home. Other than that, I'd like to keep the daily miles reasonable and have several places where we stay a few days rather than one nighters.
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Old Feb 27th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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Publius: I assure you, Sherbrooke is not what you're lookng for.
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Old Feb 27th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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EmilyPost,

I'll definitely not plan on spending time there then, thanks.
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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I didn't mention my mother earlier. This trip was supposed to be just our teen daughter, my wife and I. I asked my mom for advice because I thought she had been just about anywhere you can drive to (as well as much of Europe). Turns out she hadn't been to Quebec Province at all and wants to come along.

She's actually a great traveler so now my daughter has to share a room with Grandma.
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Driving your own car? Talk to your insurance agent about your car insurance in Canada. Make sure everyone has their US Passport valid at least 30 days past your expected departure from Canada.
You could also drop into New Brunswaick and get to Boston by way of Portland Maine.
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Old Mar 5th, 2013, 05:28 PM
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Check with your insurance agent for anything funky regarding your insurance but we've followed this advice:

http://www.carinsuranceguidebook.com...ance-in-canada
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 01:25 PM
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tomfuller,

I checked out the Passport requirement and verified with Canadian Border Security. U.S. Citizens don't need a passport, but are required to carry proof of citizenship.

My wife and I have current passports but our daughter's expired last year (we probably won't get her a new one since she won't need it for this trip, we'll bring her passport and birth cert.). My mom also has a passport, not sure if it's current but expired will work for this trip.

I would have thought you needed a passport, it seems like the airlines require one - but apparently not required to drive.

I'll check with my insurance carrier - good thought.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 01:46 PM
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"For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document. The only exception to this requirement is for U.S. citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) who need only present a birth certificate (original, photocopy or certified copy), Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or naturalization certificate."

Is your daughter under 16?

Are you certain an expired passport works?

Does anyone know what an "Enhanced Drivers License" is?
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