DREAMSCAPES FALL/WINTER 2021
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NIAGARA FALLS WINTER PURSUITS: GO FOR THE THRILLS AND DINING
 
(2021 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: ILONA KAUREMSZKY



Come winter when the white powder dusts the landscape in a blanket of snow, wildlife sightings might not be what you expect to see on a visit to Niagara Falls.

But there we were. Beneath an indigo sky, we huddled around a great burly moose that was illuminated in bright white lights along the Niagara Parkway, inspecting a 6-metre-tall light installation, which was only a teaser for the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights.

Millions of lights adorn fanciful figurines during Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival along the mighty Niagara River. It’s all part of the annual light show that dovetails with the nightly Falls illumination of the Canadian Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil Falls.

Winters are also a special time to explore the area. Here are some ways to fuel winter fun around Niagara Falls:           

TROPICS ARE FUN

Go for the climate-controlled interior beneath this glass-ceiling structure and aim your camera at the bashful butterflies that flutter and land without notice. On the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly Conservatory, which has a humid environment surrounded by lush foliage, can be that tonic on a cold winter afternoon.

At the Floral Showhouse, you cannot get enough of the fragrant blossoms and canopies of green at this year-round greenhouse. With the roar of the thundering Horseshoe Falls right by, a detour to this bloomy bonanza of tropical plants, succulents, including more floral frills, makes a fabulous addition to a Niagara winter itinerary. The Christmas season is especially festive. Watch for holiday displays of poinsettias, and rows of cheery florals studded by sparkling lights. Located in Queen Victoria Park, flower power thrives and brightens any harsh winter day.

Now, imagine a jungle and a waterfall all indoors! At the Bird Kingdom, this aviary oasis in a multi-level rainforest is tucked away from the madding crowds around the brink of Niagara Falls. Located in a historic building, you could spend hours at “the world’s largest indoor free-flying aviary.”

LIGHTS, POWER AND ACTION: Illuminated Niagara Falls

Whether you take a drive through Queen Victoria Park or stroll along the majestic river, by evening this winter wonderland takes on a whole different ambiance. Colourful lights cascade by a trio of Falls in a nightly light show.

Magic Power

Think of the roar of the Horseshoe Falls and now immerse in its full power as you wander inside the old Canadian Niagara Power Generating Station, a historic powerhouse that once contained the world’s largest generators of their kind. Inside the stone fortress, the refurbished 1905 Beaux arts revival station is home to the Niagara Parks Power Station, a new interactive venue. You can observe some of the watery wonders from this mammoth behemoth once harnessed here.

Blade Action

Lace up the skates and make figure eight shapes at Wayne Gretzky Estates. The hat trick winery is sure to instill fun at this rink amid the vineyards. There are l’après skate diversions too around a fire pit plus themed nights on weekends. It could be Friday Date and Skate or Saturday DJ Night.

NIAGARA ON THE MENU

With ample restaurants in the Niagara Falls area the dining competition can be fierce. Here’s a Niagara winter taste sampler:

Reach for the Top

Nothing beats a night out more than a dining spectacle at an award-winning local eatery. From the flickering votive-lit table settings, diners at AG Inspired Cuisine are sure to be dazzled by the culinary artistry from ace chef Cory Linkson. As one of Canada’s top chefs (his resto is rated # 2 this year by TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards for the Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the country), expect only the finest. In this dinner affair, the red curtains are drawn and the private dinner booths are offset in deep Bordeaux like a sassy red wine. Every dining detail is carefully sourced. Even the lamb for the chops once grazed the sweet grasses at a local winery estate 30 minutes away. If you’re looking for a local restaurant that ascribes to the 100-mile diet, the menu and the VQA wines here will not disappoint.

Ice Wine Central

Away from the chilly icicles of the Niagara cataracts, there’s an ice wine experience waiting to be discovered. Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is an ice wine haven of wineries specializing in the frosty-picked grape harvest, and stay for a memorable foodie feast. Surrounded by vineyards, Peller Estates Winery has a winery estate restaurant that radiates a sophisticated ambiance evident by the stellar wine pairings that nicely dovetail with the vine-to-table menu.

Where There’s a Fireplace

Walk among the old rafters of a revived flour mill and prepare to feast on Feast On cuisine at the Flour Mill Scratch Kitchen Restaurant. Part of the province’s premium culinary program of Feast On, culinary minds meet here for the local bounty, which comes in spades. Diners can enjoy the ambiance at the city’s only restaurant with a burning fireplace or head outside to the Canadiana-inspired wooden cabins, decked out in faux sheepskin and heaters to indulge on a prix-fixe menu of seasonal goodies.

Hot ’n’ Sizzlies

A carnivore extravaganza waits at Brasa! The popular Brazilian steakhouse located inside the Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel and Suites will certainly have you loosening your belt. With triple A Angus beef from Alberta to dine on, arrive hungry and get ready to watch a parade of knife-wielding gauchos (cowboys) swoosh by with skewers of meats, seasoned to perfection. Poultry, pork, sausage, lamb and chicken are on offer with ample steak choices.

That’s Amore

One family-operated restaurant will make you feel like you’ve walked inside their home. At Casa Mia (my home) Ristorante, the Mollica family welcomes their loyal patrons to dine on favourite Italian dishes crafted like Nonna would but with a modern twist, thanks to son, Chef Claudio. Away from the brooding tourist chasm surrounding the Falls, this tucked-away culinary gem has elevated the food experience in a setting that has serious foodies gather at a southern Italian villa. Between white columns, wooden tables that are matched by a sky-high ceiling draped in Mediterranean blue with flirty Italian music to boot, guests can indulge in La Dolce Vita amid a grand piano and a framed repro of the Mona Lisa. Casa Mia Ristorante is a destination all on its own.

Restaurants with Views

After a day tackling the entertainment thrills on Clifton Hill, famous for its kitsch museums, you’ll undoubtedly have worked up an appetite. Conveniently located at the base of Clifton Hill, inside the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, head to Massimo’s Italian Fallsview Restaurant. It’s come-as-you-are at this casual family-friendly restaurant from acclaimed chef Massimo Capra.

For refined dining ideal for canoodling couples, special occasions, and memorable meals where the views of the Falls (all three) are the star attraction, you will definitely enjoy an evening out at the Watermark Fallsview Restaurant! Toast each course with fine locally sourced wines as well as other top-shelf international vintages. Seating is window or private balcony booths at this multi-levelled eatery atop the Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel and Suites.

Travel Planner

For travel information and dining details see Niagara Falls Tourism niagarafallstourism.com

OPG Winter Festival of Lights, November 13, 2021–February 21, 2022 wfol.com

Niagara Parks niagaraparks.com

 
 
 
 
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