Located an hour and a half from Toronto and only 45 minutes from Buffalo, NY, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picture-perfect historic little town in the heart of Ontario’s wine country. Although April to October are peak tourist season, coinciding with warmer weather and the Shaw Theatre Festival, there are great deals and plenty of activities here in the winter.
There are fantastic deals on accommodations during the winter season in both Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you have been following my travel tips, you already know that signing up for mailing lists and checking out sites like GroupOn are surefire ways to get the best deals. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, I love the Vintage Hotels, which include the Prince of Wales in the center of town, Queens Landing on the Niagara River, and my absolute favourite, the Pillar and Post which has a cozy rustic charm with great spa facilities (don’t miss the outdoor hot spring). There is a free shuttle between all three hotels and anywhere in town, including a few wineries. Regular winter sales are advertised only through the hotel’s newsletter so sign up here.
Just because the grapes aren’t in season doesn’t mean wineries aren’t open and ready to serve up tastings! In fact, winter is the perfect time to check out Ice Wine, a quintessentially Canadian delicious dessert wine. The Ice Wine Festival is on during weekends from January 9 – 25, 2015 and with a $40 Discovery Pass you can check out up to 8 out of dozens participating wineries, each serving up their own ice wine and food pairing ($10 each without a pass). I stopped by last weekend and my favourites were Reif Estate Winery, with spit roasted porketta and ice wine apple sauce, and Peller Estates, where roasting ice wine marshmallows on an open fire was really fun.
Besides indulging in spa treatments or delicious local wine, there are plenty of other things to do around town. The Olde Angel Inn is probably the liveliest place in town for dinner or drinks and it has live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (be sure to ask about the story of Captain Swayze who apparently still haunts the building). The Irish Harp is the other pub to pop into at night, especially when the Irish musicians take the stage.
During the day you can stroll through town wandering into some of the local shops, including Just Christmas for all the holiday decor you could ever imagine, Hatleys for Canadiana inspired clothes and pj’s, Beauchapeau for the most beautiful hats, and Silver Screen for an amazing collection of movie memorabilia. For something more sophisticated, try afternoon tea in the stunning drawing room at the Prince of Wales Hotel, which at $34 per person serves enough scones, sandwiches and pastries to fill you up for both lunch and dinner.
If you have not considered travelling in the off season, Niagara-on-the-Lake might be just the type of short getaway to give it a try.
Have you visited Niagara-on-the-Lake? What are your favourite things to see or do there?