Skyline Hotel & Waterpark Niagara Falls

Unforgettable Halloween Fun in Niagara Falls

pumpkinsIf you’re looking for some unique fun in Niagara Falls this Halloween, try stopping by any of these four exciting destinations:

Fort George

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake offers special candle-lit Halloween Ghost Tours that will take you on a 2-hour walking journey around the Fort George National Historic Site. Many tales of haunting and paranormal activity have been told about Fort George, making it the perfect Halloween destination for people looking to get spooked.

Nightmares Fear Factory

With over 100,000 people having chickened out of their visit, Nightmares Fear Factory has the distinction of being one of the scariest places in Niagara Falls. Stop by with family or friends to experience a haunted house like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Niagara Brewing Company

Stop by the new Niagara Brewing Company craft brewery on Clifton Hill to experience a wide selection of great beer, live entertainment, and a delicious appetizers menu. You can also get into the spirit of Halloween by trying their new and delicious pumpkin ale, which is now available on their rotating taps for a limited time.

Haunt Manor

Haunt Manor Hayrides and Haunted House is located on a 220 year-old farm on Lundy’s Lane, just west of the historic Battle of Lundy’s Lane graveyard from the War of 1812. When you visit the farm you can embark on a theatrical hayride, venture into the corn maze, and enter seven separately themed haunted houses. It’s a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience you won’t want to miss!

How to Beat the Heat This Summer in Niagara

image001While Niagara Falls enjoys much more temperate summers than our neighbors to the south tend to, that doesn’t mean the heat can’t sometimes still be stifling. Temperatures often reach over 80 degrees Fahrenheit at the height of summer, and every now and then, they can hit 90, which means figuring out how to manage the heat — or avoid it — just might be a necessary part of enjoying Niagara Falls. For anyone looking to enjoy a summer trip to Niagara, here are three easy and fun ways to beat the heat.

Fallsview Indoor Water Park

For an option that will beat the heat and keep you in high spirits if it happens to rain, there are few opportunities as perfect as Fallsview Indoor Water Park. With 125,000 square feet of water-based fun, the water park is one of the best places to indulge in watery thrills in all of North America. There’s a gigantic 1,000 gallon tipping bucket, a full-sized wave pool, eight different waterslides — some of which get as high as six stories and can be accessed by rope ladders, two adults-only Jacuzzis for weary parents who need a break, an outdoor play pool that has basketball goals, a year-round sunning deck, and a children’s play area called the Tiny Tots Splash Park. When it’s too hot to brave the day dry, get wet at Fallsview Indoor Water Park.

The Maid of the Mist

image003One of the most iconic attractions in the Niagara area, the captains of the Maid of the Mist have been taking visitors to the base of the Falls for well over 100 years — even Marilyn Monroe took a ride when she was in town shooting the film “Niagara.” A perfect way to experience the power of Niagara Falls, the Maid of the Mist will get you up close and personal, so you can hear the thundering roar and feel the deliciously cooling spray of the water it crashes before you. You’re guaranteed to get wet on this ride, which, on a hot day, is absolutely perfect.

Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks

When the heat has to be escaped, but you aren’t in the mood to get wet, make your way to Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. This incredibly fun, odd attraction has over 100 wax figures spread throughout 16 themed galleries, and because those wax figures need to be kept cool, you’ll never break a sweat in Louis Tussaud’s. See the cast of “Harry Potter,” and take your photo with your favorite comic book heroes and villains. From Oprah and Arnold Schwarzenegger to John Lennon and former president, Bill Clinton, the wax museum has movie stars, music legends, celebrities, and historical figures that are so life-like you’ll be able to pass your photos off as authentic, and you can do it all safe from any sweltering heat that’s waiting outside.

So, take a summer vacation to Niagara Falls. Even in the event of unseasonably warm weather, the area has more than its share of fun attractions to help ensure you and everyone with you easily beat the heat.

Summer Exhibits You Won’t Want to Miss

image001When most people think of Niagara Falls, it’s the sights and sounds of its waterfalls that come most readily to mind, but to anyone who’s been on vacation to the region knows, Niagara has a lot more to offer than just one of the world’s most beautiful sights.

Fabulous shows, excellent restaurants, stunning fireworks displays, and vineyards galore are just some of what you can find in one of North America’s most popular playgrounds, and even that more extensive list is just the tip of the iceberg. From art to history, here are some stellar summer exhibits that will more than round out a great vacation for anyone taking a trip to Niagara.

“Sharing an Icon”

Ever since Niagara Falls was “discovered,” it’s been something people wanted to share with others. The temporary exhibit, “Sharing an Icon,” has been installed at the Niagara Falls History Museum as a way to explore the history of documentation and images — from letters and rare and early photographs to today’s ubiquitous social media posts — people from all over the world have made and shared for hundreds of years. The exhibit is up now through September 6. Tickets are just $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for students.

“Art by the Lighthouse 2015”

The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre is an organization within the Niagara region that works hard to promote art to visitors and locals, and one of the ways they accomplish this goal is through their annual show and sale of original art. Located on the beautiful grounds and in their one-of-a-kind building and arts space, the Art by the Lighthouse 2015 exhibit and sale features work by Niagara artists that ranges from sculpture and paintings to glasswork and jewelry. The exhibits and sale take place over the first weekend in August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Getting in to the show is free, regardless of whether or not you buy anything. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the region’s artists’ best work.

“Impersonating 1812”

image003A real-life exhibit that involves fun audience participation, “Impersonating 1812” takes place on one, fun evening at the Niagara Falls History Museum, Thursday, August 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bring the family for a chance to interact with actors portraying characters from the year 1812. There will be a period fashion show, a chance to join the Mini Militia, and everyone will be taught a dance common to the time, as well.

“Bodies Revealed”

Located across from the Fallsview Casino, Bodies Revealed is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that showcases real, human bodies in an educational and intimate setting. Utilizing a unique preservation technique, this exhibit lets visitors experience the human body in a way that allows for deep insight into the skeletal, nervous, digestive, reproductive, muscular, and respiratory systems, as well as an in-depth look at various diseases and health issues. Over 200 bodies are tastefully and respectfully displayed for an awe-inspiring experience unlike any other.

Come to Niagara this summer, and be sure to check out these four exhibits that will expand your knowledge of Niagara and the world around and inside of you.

Animals You Didn’t Know You Could See in Niagara Falls

image001When people plan a trip to Niagara Falls, it’s easy for them to imagine what lies in store. After all, the Falls are among the most iconic and photographed natural wonders in the entire world, and the celebrated wine country is every bit as idyllic as any in France, Italy, or Napa.

That being said, there are plenty of sights in the Niagara region that could easily take a visitor by surprise — the Wheel of Fate, for instance — but some of the most satisfying surprises are the animals you can run across. Here are a couple of animals that you probably didn’t know you could see while vacationing with family in Niagara Falls.

Argentine Black and White Tegu

What in the world’s a tegu? A tegu is a lizard native to Central and South America that’s known for being really large and, when threatened, pretty predatory. Omnivorous and possessing unusually high intelligence, some have been known to seek out affection from humans the way dogs and cats do. They can also be taught tricks and house-trained. Adult tegus can get as long as four and a half feet and weigh up to 15 pounds. While you’re in Niagara, you can see an Argentine Black and White Tegu as well as hundreds of other species of birds and animals at Bird Kingdom, which also has the world’s largest indoor free-flying aviary.

The Giraffe

One of the most readily identified creatures in all the world, the giraffe is an African animal well-known for its remarkable height that comes primarily from its unusually long neck and long legs. Vegetarians, giraffes have to be on constant alert against predators like lions, leopards, and wild dogs. Fully mature giraffes can stand as high as 20 feet and weigh more than 4,200 pounds. They can run as fast as 37 miles per hour, and when they’re being chased, they can sustain a pace of over 30 miles per hour for a few miles. One of the oddest looking creatures on the planet, when you come to Niagara Falls you can see giraffes at Safari Niagara, a nature park and conservation area that boasts an impressive collection of exotic animals.

Come to Niagara Falls and see creatures from thousands of miles away. Hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and mammals can be marveled over at Safari Niagara and Bird Kingdom.

4 Routes to Hike in Niagara

image001Hiking is one of many hidden pleasures for people living in and around Niagara, and more and more, it’s becoming a popular tourist activity as well, which makes sense. The same geographical qualities that make the area unique — the escarpment that makes the waterfalls possible, the amazing terroir responsible for the world-class wines, the Niagara River, the Niagara Gorge, and even Lake Erie — also make it a wonderful place to get out in nature and explore.

While you can gaze across Niagara Falls and never fail to appreciate the natural world, another way to add to your appreciation of the area is by getting out and going on a hike. Whether you routinely head into the wilderness, or you’re just now getting your hiking boots wet, here are four routes to suit the range of hiking abilities for those who vacation to Niagara.

1. The Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest foot trail. It follows along the Niagara Escarpment, starting in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Queenston Heights Forest. It’s a wealth of wonders, from the animals and birds you can spy along it to the remarkable flora — some rare — that flanks the trail and changes over the miles. If you’re looking for a way to experience Niagara that’s a bit unusual and will also get your blood pumping, tackle part, or all, of the Bruce Trail.

2. Niagara River Recreation Trail

A paved trail that’s eight feet wide, this popular recreational trail makes biking, running, walking, hiking, rollerblading, or getting around in a wheelchair a breeze. The Niagara River Recreation Trail is open all year-round and can accommodate hikers of all skill levels, and it wanders through 35 miles of absolutely beautiful countryside. Running parallel to the Niagara River, it stretches from Historic Fort Erie all the way up to Historic Fort George.

3. Niagara Glen

image003Niagara Glen Nature Reserve is one of the best remaining preserves of Carolinian forests in all of Ontario, and it features an excellent trail that wanders right through luscious, thick trees. The two and a half miles of path undergo an elevation change of over 200 feet, and the terrain can become quite rugged and steep at times, so don good footwear. You’ll see massive boulders, fascinating wildlife, and stunning flora as the Niagara Glen is one of the most pristine preserved spaces in all of the Niagara Escarpment.

4. Adam Dopko Access Trail

A side trail that cuts off from the Bruce Trail, the Adam Dopko Access Trail allows for a unique experience of the Niagara Escarpment’s geology. Somewhat challenging and delightfully rugged, this trail goes through part of the Woolverton Conservation Area, a passive nature area of 46 acres. Besides seeing an abundant number of Sugar Maples, birds, and other animals while you’re walking, you’ll also see some of Ontario’s best examples of mantled plains, terraces, and escarpment slope. Be sure to take a Bruce Trail map with you to find your way, and wear good hiking shoes or boots.

Hiking Niagara isn’t just a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise while on vacation, it also provides a window into the region’s rich and unusual geographical history and thriving natural spaces.

Nowhere Else on Earth: a Wine Tour of Chateau des Charmes

image001For many visitors to the Niagara region, a tour of a winery or two is a regular and popular part of any self-respecting Niagara vacation itinerary. After all, Ontario wines, and Niagara Peninsula wines in particular, are recognized as some of the finest and most distinct in the world. However, not all wine tours are created equal.

Sometimes, a winery or winemaker goes the extra mile to see to it that guests learn about a place and process in a way that far exceeds what a standard tour offers. The Nowhere Else on Earth Wine Tour at Chateau des Charmes is underway right now, and it provides visitors with that kind of uncommon experience. Here is a little bit about Chateau des Charmes and the family that founded it to whet your appetite for the tour should you plan on visiting Niagara during the month of June.

Founded in 1978 by fifth generation winegrower and Frenchman, Paul Bosc, Chateau des Charmes is a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery that is a rare jewel among the many gems in Niagara’s wine country due to both the expertise in winemaking and farming that is practiced there and to its vitis vinifera — a species of grape vine native to the Mediterranean region, southwestern Asia, and central Europe that also happens to be the species used in the production of some of the finest European wines.

The winemaking undertaken at Chateau des Charmes follows an Estate Winery model, which holds that the best wine is made by winemakers who also grow their own grapes. To that end, Chateau des Charmes sits amidst 220 acres of vineyard, where over 30 vintages of grape are grown and cultivated, and over the years, the Bosc family has worked tirelessly to find which spots throughout their vineyard work best for which grapes, a process that has resulted in exceptional wines of remarkable character.

image003Committed since the very beginning to sustainable and land-centered growing practices, the Boscs are charter members of the organization, Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario, a consortium of wine growers who believe that large-scale, industrial farming and the use of pesticides and herbicides is not only harmful to the environment, but that it’s also harmful to the character of the grapes used to make wine, because it compromises the integrity of the unique soils and waters that nurtures them.

The “Nowhere Else on Earth Wine” Tour is an opportunity to experience Chateau des Charmes and the Bosc family in a more intimate way. A guided tour that lasts approximately one hour and 15 minutes, attendees will learn the history and practices of the family and the winery, while getting an exclusive look at the vineyard and the winery’s winemaking process. There will also be a tasting at the end of the tour of three of Chateau des Charmes’ finest wines. Running now throughout the month of June, the Nowhere Else on Earth Wine Tour takes place every day at 2 p.m. Get your tickets early, because spots on the tour do sell out.

4 Reasons to Bring Your Bicycle to Niagara Falls

image001Cycling is becoming almost as popular in the Niagara region as touring vineyards and rubbernecking at waterfalls, as more and more visitors to the region discover the hundreds of miles of trails that meander throughout the area.

Regardless of what kind of cyclist you are, there are scores of opportunities to experience the place, whether you’re looking for a unique way to sightsee or you’re looking for a genuine challenge. For the tourist who wants a vacation unlike any other, here are four reasons you should bring your bicycle with you — or rent one when you get here — when you come to Niagara Falls.

1. Family Fun

As long as your children aren’t too little to put in some mileage, there are trails throughout the region that are safe and fun for families. One of the best parts of a family vacation is undertaking a new experience together, and even if you’ve never gone on a group bike trip before, Niagara is a great place to try your hand at your first one.

Head out on the Friendship Trail if your children can put in at least 10 miles. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, this wide, paved path runs between Port Colborne and Fort Erie along a former Canadian rail trail. There are plenty of stops and detours along the way to lakeshore beaches, restaurants, and the like, too, so you can easily make a day of it. If your children are younger, consider biking just part of the way along the Niagara River Recreational Trail.

2. It’s Built-In, Fun Exercise

For some reason, bicycling through lush and fertile farmland doesn’t feel much like exercise, and that’s part of the beauty of biking Niagara: The sights, sounds, and smells of the region come alive when you’re enjoying them in the open air. It’s a great way to get around and experience the place, and because it provides such a rich, fun, and exciting experience, the fact that it’s also exercise will rarely cross your mind.

3. It’s a Bicycle-Friendly Place

image003More and more, bicycling throughout all of Canada, and especially Ontario, is getting easier as more and more people participate in cycling and more and more trails and routes open up. Whether you prefer mountain biking, road cycling, or sticking to paved, specialty trails, the Niagara region has opportunities for you, as well as tours, group rides, and bicycle shops.

4. The Pace Suits the Place

One of the best parts about exploring a region by bicycle is that doing so invites a pace that allows for a totally different experience than what can be had when you travel by bus or car. Instead of racing through the countryside, passed ditches of wildflowers, and acres of ripening vineyards, you’ll actually notice the colors and textures within the scenery. You’ll spy birds in nests, and see and hear farmers at work in their fields. Instead of treating specific parts of the region as worthy of being destinations, you’ll experience it all as worthy of attention due to the slower and simpler pace that traveling by bicycle affords.

So, bring your bicycle to Niagara the next time you book a stay, and experience the region in a completely brand-new and revelatory way.

4 Reasons to Spend Canada Day in Niagara Falls

image001Canada Day is arguably the most important national holiday on the Canadian calendar. Marked and celebrated every July 1, it’s the day Canadians across the country gather together to shoot off fireworks, attend parades, wave flags, eat poutine, and otherwise cultivate an intense amount of pride in their homeland and heritage.

While the nation has many notable places to celebrate the day of Canada’s independence, including its major cities, Niagara Falls is, without a doubt, one of the finest. Not only does it maintain more of a small-town feel, but because it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the world, Niagara Falls really does know how to throw a party. Whether you’re a fifth generation Canadian or you’ve never before set foot on our friendly soil, here are four reasons you should spend Canada Day this year in Niagara Falls.

1. The 5K Run/Walk for St. John Ambulance

Just in case you need to start your day of revelry out with some exercise or an act of good citizenship or charity, the 5K Run/Walk for St. John Ambulance has you covered. St. John Ambulance is an organization that trains people in first aid, safety, and health in order to improve communities all across Ontario. Trainees routinely assist with disaster response, therapy dog services, search and rescue, and more. Registration for the run/walk is at 8 a.m., and the race begins at 9 a.m.

2. The Parade

Any Canada Day Parade is worth attending, but the Niagara Falls’ parade is one of the country’s more notable ones. Starting at 11 a.m., you’ll see classic cars, marching bands, floats, costumed characters, and more Canadian flags than you can shake a stick at for over an hour as the parade runs along Victoria Avenue and finishes up on Queen Street.

3. The Free Stuff

image003One of the best features of celebrating Canada Day in Niagara Falls, is that it can be enjoyed without spending hardly anything. From the free parade and free fireworks to the free, live entertainment that takes place on multiple stages throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the day’s celebrations are truly for everyone, but the free stuff doesn’t end with those usual suspects. You can also eat free birthday cake at City Hall at noon, enter a free raffle for prizes, get free caricatures done of you and those traveling with you, and you can also enjoy the free water station set up near the free children’s inflatables, free rock climbing wall, and free face painting located at Queen Street and Erie at the former Rosberg Family Park.

4. Extreme Entertainment

In addition to live music on the main stage at City Hall, the parade, a car show, and the free birthday cake, Niagara Falls is bringing an extreme form of entertainment to its Canada Day festivities. Music by Eclipse and DJ Boogie will form the soundtrack to some impressive extreme sports demonstrations including BMX bike stunts performed by the Krusher BMX Stunt Team, jaw-dropping skateboarding tricks from the people at Niagara Falls’ Antigravity Skate Shop, and basketball aerial acrobatics by the gentlemen at Slam Dunk Entertainment.

For an unforgettable Canada Day experience, head to Niagara Falls this July 1.

What’s Happening at the 2015 Niagara Literary Arts Festival

image001Niagara Falls and the region surrounding it are well known throughout the world thanks to the impressive display of Nature’s power that exists in the Falls and the remarkable breadth and depth of world-class wine grown throughout the Niagara Peninsula. For most people visiting Niagara, these two attractions are almost always near the top of their must-see and must-do lists, which is as it should be — the wine and roaring waterfalls are second to none.

But Niagara is a place that is rich in other ways, too, which is why, in the winter of 2010, the people behind the Niagara publishing house and magazine “Grey Borders” decided to start up an annual event held throughout the Niagara region that would not just celebrate Canadian literature, but also the literature of Niagara. If you love literature, readings, book signings, and being introduced to new writers, you need to book a visit to Niagara Falls during the month of June so you can take in the annual Niagara Literary Arts Festival.

Now in its fifth year, the NLAF is a 100 percent volunteer-run literary festival that spans the month of June and Niagara and offers free or nearly-free events the entire month. While it has not yet reached its long-term goal of being able to feature one event a day in every Niagara municipality for the entirety of the month of June, its current offerings are still impressive.

From poets and novelists to collaborative arts initiatives on the cutting edge, this year’s literary arts festival will take place in cafes, malls, museums, and pubs throughout the Niagara region as the NLAF continues its upward and forward momentum. Here are just some of the authors you can look forward to at this year’s festival:

  • image003Stuart Ross. A Canadian poet, fiction writer, creative writing instructor, and editor, Ross was born in Toronto but grew up in New York. His work has won numerous awards including the 2010 ReLit Award for Short Fiction, the Elaine Mona Adilman Award, and the Exist Through the Gift Shop Award.
  • Shirley Camia. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Camia is a broadcaster and journalist, who just released her debut collection of poems, “The Significance of Moths,” to rave reviews.
  • Lindsay Jack. A performance artist and community organizer from St. Catharines, Jack is a poet who specializes in slam poetry. Jack founded the Kitchener Waterloo Poetry Slam and Brock Pride’s Outspoken series. He has received a Word of Mouth grant and was a finalist at 2013’s Canadian Individual Poetry Slam.
  • Keith Henderson. A Montreal native, Keith Henderson is the author of three novels and an award-winning collection of short stories. He teaches English Literature in Montreal at Vanier College.
  • John Terpstra. A Hamilton, Ontario native, Terpstra is a poet, artist, woodworker, teacher and cabinetmaker, whose collections of poetry have won numerous awards.
  • And many more!

Whether you love poetry, fiction, romance novels, or travel writing, the Niagara Literary Arts Festival has something for you somewhere in the Niagara region throughout the entire month of June.

Relax! 5 of the Best Spas in Niagara

image001One of the primary reasons people head out on vacation is to leave the stress and demands of everyday life behind, and while there are scores of ways to effectively relax — lay by the beach, shut off your cell phone, and take a yoga class, to name a few — one of the most popular and straightforward ways to get stress and tension to dissipate is to spend a day or afternoon at an excellent spa.

If you’re planning a trip to Niagara to get some much-needed R and R, make sure you check out these five fabulous Niagara spas.

1. Christienne Fallsview Spa

Located at the Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls, this world-class spa offers tremendous packages for total relaxation that can be experienced in full view of an amazing view of the Canadian and American Falls.

Whether you partake of a massage, a pedicure, or a total body treatment, this spa’s unique location and view of the Falls provides for a spa day truly unlike any other.

2. Spa on the Twenty

Located in Jordan, this spa sits jus across the street from the much-loved and regaled On the Twenty Restaurant, which means you won’t have to travel far after your day of pampering to enjoy a world-class meal.

Surrounded by a garden with a gazebo and a well, the spa specializes in vino-therapeutic treatments thanks to their relationship with Cave Spring Cellars Winery. From body wraps and facials to massages and reiki, you can easily spend the day here in total bliss.

3. Secret Garden Spa

Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Secret Garden Spa is one of the finest spas in all of Canada. Contemporary and sleek, the spa has been designed for true relaxation from the chocolate and earth tone color scheme woven throughout the space to the Relationship Packages offered to couples looking to rejuvenate together.

Secret Garden makes use of all natural products, including green, white, and red teas for some of the finest beauty treatments available.

4. Serenity Spa by the Falls

image003One of the highest-ranked spas in all of North America, this Niagara Falls spa offers services and packages that include body treatments, manicures, pedicures, facials, and much more. Most of their services are undertaken with rich, restorative Moroccan oil, which leaves skin supple, soft, and youthful-looking and feeling.

Be sure to partake in one of their signature treatments: The Waterfall Bliss is a 90-minute, one-of-a-kind facial that involves double exfoliation and multiple masks that will leave your skin fresh and revitalized.

5. 100 Fountain Spa

Ranked as the highest ranked spa in all of Canada in 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s 100 Fountain Spa places guests in the ultimate lap of luxury with a hot spring, salt water pool and high-end services and treatments.

At over 13,000 square feet, this spa ensures you and your loved one or friends can enjoy a day of ultimate pampering without ever feeling rushed or cramped. Scrubs, wraps, facials, massage — whatever it is you’d like to indulge in can be had at this luxury spa.

Recover your equilibrium at any one of the five fine spas the next time you make your way to Niagara.