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The Two Islands That Make Niagara Falls Great

March 1st, 2015

image001Everyone knows about the magnificent waterfalls that give the Niagara region its name and fame. However, not many people know about the large, natural islands that emerge around the swirling, thundering waters of the Niagara River. On your next stay in Niagara Falls, consider exploring either of the following beautiful islands to learn a little more and Niagara history and ecology.

Goat Island

The largest, and most memorable, island in the Niagara River is inarguably Goat Island, which works to separate the large, Canadian Horseshoe Falls from the smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

In the late 18th century, the Seneca, an American Indian group, signed a large portion of land in the Niagara region to the British in reparations for their historical attacks on British traders. One of the victimized traders, John Stedman, claimed an island as his rightful property from the treaty, and he used the land to raise goats. Though the goats died in a particularly harsh winter not long after Stedman assumed the land, the name of the island stuck: Goat Island. Even after New York gained control of the island — and attempted to rename it Iris Island after the Greek goddess of rainbows — locals refused to call it anything but Goat Island.

As Niagara Falls became more popular among tourists, many entrepreneurs imagined Goat Island as an extension of the bustling tourist district. Vanderbilt, the railroad titan, imagined the island as a smaller, more elite attractions space, filled with hotels, shopping, and restaurants. Conversely, P.T. Barnum of circus fame fought heavily to make Goat Island one of the country’s largest circus grounds. Today, Goat Island is legally owned by the State of New York, and it is registered as a part of the Niagara State Parks system. Because the island is open to visitors but bereft of inhabitants, the flora and fauna indigenous to the region have flourished.

Situated between the two groups of Falls, Goat Island offers some unique views of the region; you absolutely cannot miss Terrapin Point, which offers a grand look at the Niagara landscape of New York. You can reach Goat Island via a variety of routes: a foot path, road, and trackless train all cross the thundering Niagara River to deliver visitors to the beautiful island.

Luna Island

image003A smaller spot of land to the north of Goat Island, Luna Island separates American Falls from Bridal Veil Falls. While this location is often overshadowed the grandeur of its larger neighbor, Luna Island has plenty to offer intrepid travelers looking for exceptional views.

Initially called Prospect Island due to the land’s superior views over much of the Niagara region, the island soon became famous for the inimitable moonscapes visible from its lookouts. On bright moonlit nights, many a face turned skyward on Luna Island could see magnificent lunar rainbows through the Falls’ mists. Today, the magnificent fireworks shows and the nightly illumination of the waterfalls and surrounding landscape make moon bows a rare sight — but dedicated visitors may still perceive a dash of color in the night sky.

Tourists can reach Luna Island by traveling to and through Goat Island. Though Luna Island isn’t large enough to warrant a vehicle path, pedestrians may cross a walking bridge to see Niagara from this picturesque space.

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7 Fast Facts About Niagara Falls

February 23rd, 2015

Niagara Falls is a wondrous place due to the astounding power and beauty of its three waterfalls. However, not many visitors understand just how one-of-a-kind the Falls are and how much the northeast relies on them for survival. To inform your next trip to Niagara Falls, here are 7 fantastic facts about our natural wonder.

1. Niagara Falls Has the Highest Flow Rate of Any Waterfall

image001Though in reality Niagara Falls is comprised of three separate waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls in Canada and American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the U.S., all three Falls’ combined boast a flow rate of more than six million cubic feet per minute, which is more than any other waterfall on Earth. However, Horseshoe Falls alone is the most powerful and tallest waterfall in North America.

2. An Island Separates the American and Canadian Falls

Though the place is called Goat Island, the small tract of land between the American and Canadian Falls doesn’t actually contain any goats. At one time, before Goat Island was added to New York’s Niagara State Park, entrepreneurs argued over what the land could be used for; P. T. Barnum heavily campaigned for the island to be used as a permanent circus grounds.

3. Niagara Falls Has Moved Since It Formed

More than 12,000 years ago, when water first started careening off the Niagara Escarpment, the Falls were situated seven miles downriver, in what is present-day Lewiston, New York and Queenstown, Ontario. Due to efforts to conserve the Falls, they are now eroding slower, with Horseshoe Falls losing less than 12 inches every year and the American Falls down to three to four inches every 10 years.

4. Niagara Falls Is Fed by the Great Lakes

Streams and rivers throughout the countryside empty their water into Lake Superior. From there, the fresh water travels through Lake Huron and Lake Eerie, which channel into the Niagara River. After speeding over the Niagara Escarpment in the Falls, water travels to Lake Ontario, and finally out to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River.

5. A Treaty Specifies How Much Water Can Be Diverted

In an attempt to balance residential water and energy needs and preservation of the waterfalls’ natural beauty, Canada and the U.S. struck up the 1950 Niagara Treaty, which states that during daylight hours between April 1 and October 31 (high tourist season), the Falls’ flow rate should never fall below 100,000 cubic feet per second.

6. More Than 30 Million People Visit Niagara Falls Every image003Year

The revenue gained by local businesses from so many tourists allows the Canadian province of Ontario and the American state of New York to fund public works projects, like infrastructure maintenance and better schools.

7. The First Person to Survive Going Over the Falls Did in 1901

A 63-year-old school teacher named Annie Edison Taylor decided to attempt the trip in a wooden barrel padded by a thin mattress. Though she hoped to gain fame and fortune with the feat, Taylor never did garner much wealth, and is often quoted as saying “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Falls.” Still, others have unfortunately attempted the trick throughout the intervening century in varying levels of success and failure.

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Niagaralicious Launches At Falls Avenue Resort

February 20th, 2015

niagaralicious-2A brand new dining and hotel experience has launched in Niagara Falls, Ontario with Falls Avenue Resort’s Niagaralicious culinary series. This unique dining opportunity allows guests to choose between special dinner menus at the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra, Windows by Jamie Kennedy, Fallsview Buffet Restaurant, and Hard Rock Café Niagara Falls, and pair their culinary experience with accommodations at the first-rate Sheraton on the Falls or Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview. This limited time series showcases remarkable local cuisine and gives guests an unparalleled Niagara Falls experience.

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Give the Gift of Niagara This Valentine’s Day

February 7th, 2015

sotf7.jpegNiagara Falls is an exceedingly romantic destination, which is why countless newlyweds have chosen the region as a honeymoon spot for centuries. Still, the passion of the place isn’t restricted to married lovers; couples of all shapes and sizes continue to flock to the region to experience the region’s romance throughout the year.

The power of the rushing waterfalls, the mystery of the dense mists, and the verdant beauty of the surrounding landscape combine to create an awe-inspiring atmosphere that brings people closer together. Yet, February is an especially magical time, when the already adoring feelings of Valentine’s season work with Niagara’s inherent thrill to inspire love and lust in visiting partners.

If you and your partner can’t make it to Niagara Falls for February 14, you can still capitalize on the region’s romance for your Valentine’s celebration by giving the gift of a future trip to Niagara. Here are the top attractions in and around Niagara Falls that can be presented to your sweetheart on February 14 to be redeemed at a later date.

Spa Date

There are precious few activities in the world more relaxing than a day of pampering at the spa. Presenting your honey with such a precious and meaningful gift will demonstrate your devotion to making him or her look and feel the absolute best. Plus, some spa treatments have been shown to dramatically improve a person’s health; for example. Massages improve overall blood circulation while exfoliating treatments encourage cell growth for stronger and more youthful skin.

Niagara’s Christienne Fallsview Spa is highly rated as one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating places anywhere due to its high-quality treatments and services as well as its magnificent views. You can reserve particular treatments for your significant other, or you can purchase gift certificates so he or she can arrange his or her preferred services.

sotf8.jpegTickets to a Show

A night at the theater is unquestionably romantic. Even while surrounded by hundreds of strangers, when the lights dim and the stage comes to life, it feels as though the show is just for you and your love.

Just minutes from Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers some of the best live theater in the country. Long ago, the town made a commitment to supporting the artistry of plays and initiated the Shaw Festival, which highlights the importance of theater with excellent productions for the latter part of the year. The 2015 season doesn’t start until April, but on February 14, you can surprise your sweetheart with tickets to any of the upcoming wonderful shows, including “Peter and the Starcatcher” or “Pygmalion.”

Winery Tour

Wine has inspired countless romances, which is why it is the beverage of choice for passionate affairs. Whether the varietal of choice is pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, or icewine, after it is opened, the surrounding atmosphere is sure to become one of love.

After you open your bottle for your Valentine’s meal, you can present your partner with a planned trip through Niagara’s celebrated wine country. The region is becoming so prolific in the wine world that varietals grown in Niagara are competing head-to-head with prominent Old World vintages. A trip through Niagara’s vineyards is certain to instill passion no matter the time of year, which makes it a perfect Valentine’s gift.

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A Niagara Falls Love Story At Christienne Fallsview Spa

February 3rd, 2015

023A2224Dear, Christienne Fallsview Spa – Sheraton on the Falls

Let me give you a glimpse into our wonderful love story and how Christienne Fallsview Spa has played such an intimate role.

I was a widow looking for a soul mate to share the second half of my life with. My now husband was divorced and also looking for a companion…not thinking of marriage, but was blindsided by love.

We both turned to eHarmoney and that is where the conversation started. Our first date we met part way from his home in Ohio and my home in SW Ontario at the Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls. We planned to spend the day…lunch and dinner and an afternoon of conversation to get to know one another.

On the way to lunch in the elevator we saw an ad for Christienne Spa…and we both thought a couple’s massage would be fun.

We went and checked and sure enough they had time for us. It was breathtaking in the Spa and as we stood and looked at the amazing view of the falls…we shared our first kiss…magical!

Fast forward …many rendezvous at Sheraton on the Falls …and to our engagement. We both felt that this is where we wanted to share our vows and commit to each other in marriage. We brought our kids together for an engagement diner and while our girls…both 17 were getting massages in the Christienne Spa my fiancé shared with my boys how he had fallen in love with their mom and what I meant to him…asking them to accept him as a husband to their mom and eventually a friend for them…right there in the same spot we shared our first kiss…very meaningful for everyone.

SpaCoupleMarriedOur wedding day was Oct 4th. We planned to get married outside in the gazebo beside the pool overlooking the spectacular falls. This was not meant to be. It was very cold, windy and rained on and off all day. Plans changed and we went to Plan B…inside in a room with no windows, just our friends and family to share in our vows. We had a sign at the front of the room that said “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.” Our ceremony and our vows were the focus…not the view and our moment was beautiful!

The manager of Christienne Spa, Diana, who is always amazing to work, as well as all her girls, invited us to take pictures in the spa on our wedding day. We had planned this for 5:30 when our guests were at the Cocktail reception downstairs. As our photographer started to shoot the pictures we saw the clouds part and for 15 minutes the most spectacular double rainbow appeared! There we were, on our wedding day in the same spot we shared our first kiss and a double rainbow…breathtaking and magical…a God moment for us!

Thank you to all the staff at Christienne Spa for being part of our wonderful love story. Remember, you don’t get the rainbow without the rain…life can be amazing in Plan B!!

Kim and Joe

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Celebrating Black History Month in Niagara Falls

January 30th, 2015

sheratonblog1.jpegWhile February is primarily recognized as Valentine’s season, the month is also devoted to celebrations of black history. Black History Month is a time for people of all ethnic backgrounds to remember and celebrate African-American history. Though society continues to struggle with race relations in a variety of ways, every February, we can devote time to recalling the successes and losses of the past in order to build a better future.

Though many don’t realize it, Niagara Falls was an important city for African-Americans throughout history. This Black History Month, come to Niagara Falls to learn about the personal and societal struggles of black people who found themselves in this amazing and beautiful region of Canada.

The Underground Railroad

By 1800 the northern states — comprised of everything from Pennsylvania to Maine — were working to abolish slavery, but most of the rest of the country, continued the practice until the Civil War. Worse, the so-called free states tolerated the injustice to encourage the low price of necessary crops raised and harvested through slave labor. Plus, even slaves who earned freedom continued to be persecuted throughout the country, and some were even forced back into slavery by loopholes in the law.

It should come as no surprise, then, that both free and enslaved African-Americans sought independence from slavery in America. Canada, which was then still under British rule, abolished slavery back in 1834, but had been working on legislation since the late 1700s that would grant freedom to slaves. Thus, through a network of secret trails and safe houses called the Underground Railroad, thousands of slaves journeyed northward for the possibility of freedom. During the 20 years the Railroad was in operation, it is estimated that 30,000 souls made the trek, and many of these were channeled directly through Niagara Falls.

sotf6.jpegSites in Niagara Falls

Though slavery itself was short-lived in Niagara Falls, the city’s vital role in providing freedom to American slaves has secured its place in black history. Niagara Falls and the surrounding region celebrate this heritage in a variety of sites dedicated to preserving history and educating visitors.

Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University. This gallery is well-known by locals for showing some of the most moving collections, and it continues to impress with its exhibit entitled “Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara.” This collection contains photos, documents, and other artifacts from the period that tell personal stories of runaway slaves, and visitors can also learn more through paintings and videos throughout the gallery.

St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3. A small town on the edge of Lake Ontario — just a short drive south of Niagara Falls — St. Catharines was one of the first Canadian stops for traveling slaves. However, well before the Underground Railroad, some of the town’s first settlers were African-Americans who fought in the American War for Independence. Proud of its black history, St. Catharines Museum is largely devoted to educating about the prominence of its black community in the past, present, and future.

Niagara Falls History Museum. Niagara Falls’ largest museum also pays tribute to the region’s important past with a standing exhibit devoted to early black history. Alongside extensive looks at the geologic development of the Falls and the prominence of hydro-electricity, visitors can engage with stories of slaves risking life and limb in pursuit of liberty.

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Niagara Falls’ Most Romantic Wines for Valentine’s Day

January 22nd, 2015

sotf3.jpegWine is an exceptional beverage. Research shows that drinking a glass of red wine every day holds myriad benefits, from potentially lowering your cholesterol to keeping your memory sharp, due to the resveratrol leeched from the healthful grapes. Still, it is the romance of wine — not the science — that attracts most drinkers. Wine has a long history of uniting people and igniting passions, which is why it is always the drink of choice on Valentine’s Day.

This year, if you want your February 14 to dazzle your darling, bring your significant other to Niagara’s wine country. With more than 400 acres of land devoted to growing the world’s most perfect grapes, Niagara can offer wine-tasting experiences like nowhere else in the world. Familiar varietals chardonnay and merlot join creations unique to the region, like icewine, so visitors have the opportunity to drink a wide variety. Plus, exceptional chefs flock to the Niagara area for its fresh and plentiful produce, so your wine will be able to pair perfectly with an extraordinary meal.

While the dreamy scenery can be enough to lull any lover into a close embrace, the right wine at the right time will create an ambiance of pure passion. Here’s what to serve your lover during your Valentine’s trip to Niagara Falls to ensure a February 14 you’ll remember for a lifetime.

1. Pinot Noir

Inspiring passion in wine enthusiasts across all borders, the pinot noir grape inarguably creates the most romantic wine of all. This type of wine is marked by its especially rich fruity scents and flavors, including red berries and black cherries, as well as the earthy notes of mushroom and forest floor.

However, the pinot noir grape is especially difficult to grow, and not all wine-growing regions are able to produce high-quality crops to turn into wine. Fortunately, Niagara’s verdant valleys are a haven for most varietals of wine, and Niagara winemakers seem to have no trouble creating excellent pinot noirs. Recently, 2027 Cellars began to shine as a top producer of fruity, aromatic pinot noirs, but Tawse and Redstone wineries both have a long history of producing complex, layered wines of this varietal.

sotf4.jpeg2. Chardonnay

The popularity of this white wine shouldn’t discount its ability to incite romance. The prominent oaky flavor is developed by variable undertones of lemon, vanilla, grass, or others. In addition, the velvety mouthfeel of the wine generates a luxurious sensation in the drinker.

One of the biggest benefits of chardonnay is its versatility in food pairing; thus, interested tasters may do well to find a vineyard that offers a restaurant for on-site pairings. Still, the highest-rated locations for chardonnay are Malivoire Wine and Hidden Bench Vineyards.

3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Affectionately referred to as “cab sav” by avid drinkers, cabernet sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine highlighted by its flavor profile full of dark fruits. Most winemakers include the scent and taste of black current, cherry, or blackberry; however, to round out the experience, many cabernet sauvignons also include notes of black pepper, tobacco, or licorice.

The full body and maturity of cabernet sauvignon wines will enhance the fondness and commitment between two lovers on Valentine’s Day. Rockway Vineyards is creating fascinating red blends using its best cabernet sauvignon grapes; meanwhile, Two Sisters Vineyards has developed a cab sav icewine that is being hailed as purely decadent.

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Brand New Microbrewery Opening in Niagara

January 20th, 2015

brewery-headerIn May 2015, Falls Avenue Resort will be opening Niagara’s newest microbrewery, located just steps away from the Sheraton on the Falls hotel and all Falls Avenue Resort accommodation, dining, and attraction options.

Working with brewing industry veterans, Niagara Brewing Company will utilize locally sourced ingredients to create first-rate craft beers in a unique location, just down the street from the amazing Niagara Falls.

Niagara Brewing Company is the latest addition to the Falls Avenue Resort complex, allowing guests of the Sheraton on the Falls to experience the exciting craft beer movement right in the heart of the city.

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Elvis Lives! Niagara Falls’ Elvis Concerts

January 16th, 2015

sotf1.jpegFire Eyes. The Pelvis. The King of Rock and Roll. Elvis Presley inspired dozens of nicknames in the middle of the 20th century, and he earned every last one of them during his reign as singer, actor, and superstar extraordinaire.

Elvis remains one of America’s most infamous celebrities, and his story and music continue to be celebrated around the world. This February, Niagara Falls is hosting a pair of tribute concerts for visitors to reminisce on the glory of the King.

Elvis’s Elevation to Eminence

Elvis Presley may have died a king, but he was born a pauper. The only child of unambitious parents, Elvis’s grew up in less than humble surroundings, first in Mississippi, and then in Memphis Tennessee. As his father jumped from odd job to odd job, Elvis developed a devotion to one interest in particular: music. Spending hours longingly watching the blues musicians perform around Memphis’s entertainment district, Elvis cultivated an appreciation for a variety of sounds and began to create a style all his own.

Elvis rose to prominence as one of the first movers and shakers in the music industry, not only for his signature swiveling dance moves but for his popularization of a new and exciting genre: rock. An amalgam of country music and rhythm and blues, both of which were Southern regional music unknown north of Virginia and west of Texas, rockabilly music (which would later be clipped to “rock” by its fans) was instantly catchy due to its up-tempo and backbeat-driven sound.

At the ripe age of 18, Elvis spent his first few minutes in a recording studio taping songs for his mother; however, while he sang, the studio manager noted his unique sound and excellent voice. Not long after, Elvis found himself fronting a band of four. Then, in 1956, Elvis recorded his first breakout hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” which would secure his place in the halls of history.

While Elvis appeared in 31 movies and performed 1,159 concerts across United States and Canada, during his career, the King never played for audiences in Niagara Falls — until now. Come to Niagara Falls this February to see Presley on stage, crooning your favorite tunes.

sotf2.jpegElvis: The Way It Was

On February 6, Elvis the Pelvis will come to life to delight audiences in the Greg Frewin Theater. Award-winning tribute artist Steve Michaels is world-famous for his masterful impersonation of the King of Rock and Roll. Not only does the music transpose listeners to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, but Michaels’ high-energy act and the show’s perfect costumes and scenery recreate the feel of a true Elvis concert.

Tickets are on sale now, and children as well as adults are welcome to join. The performance will be accompanied by dinner, so come hungry.

Elvis: Aloha

The following night, February 7, Elvis will mount the stage once again to woo audiences with another round of his record-shattering hits. Michaels will be joined by horns and gospel singers as he recreates the King’s famous 1973 “Aloha From Hawaii” concert.

This show will also take place in the Greg Frewin Theater, with dinner at 6:15 p.m. and the show at 7:30 p.m.

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How to Afford the Honeymoon of Your Dreams

January 9th, 2015

SOTFblog8.jpegIt is supposed to be the most fantastic vacation you’ll take in your lifetime, but for many modern couples, the honeymoon after the wedding is going on the backburner. Factoring in the decorations, attire, entertainment, and more, most modern weddings cost around $25,200 — and that’s without the expense of an exotic post-wedding trip. With the tradition for parents paying for the party long gone, couples today are having a hard time scrimping and saving enough for their nuptials, let alone an extravagant vacation afterwards.

Luckily, if you have your heart set on a lavish honeymoon, you don’t necessarily have to let your fairytale wedding suffer. With a few simple tricks, you and your new spouse can have a fun and romantic trip that you’ll be talking about for the rest of your lives.

add It to Your Registry

Since cohabitation before marriage is increasingly common among the current generation, most couples don’t exactly need typical items you might find on gift registries of the past: fine china, silverware, kitchen gadgets, etc. Thus, instead of simply doubling (or tripling) the junk in your house, you and your beloved can request wedding guests contribute a monetary donation to your honeymoon fund. In lieu of physical gifts, most attendees will likely be generous with their contributions, and you may be able to scrabble together enough for a luxury vacation from your wedding guests alone. More likely, however, you and yours will have to match what others have provided to procure enough funds for honeymoon extravagance.

Follow the Dollar

While the American dollar is impressive currency in many regions of the world, it certainly has lost its power in many others. For example, traveling to Europe will severely damage your savings, as the dollar is only worth about three-fourths of a euro.

Still, there are plenty of marvelous destinations around the world where you can get more bang for your buck. Niagara Falls is world-renowned as the Honeymoon Capital of the World because of its cheap prices and excellent attractions, but you may also look at more exotic locales like Eastern Europe or South America.

If you’re willing to be open-minded, you and your significant other could opt to drop the whole expensive deluxe vacation in favor of a nearly free honeymoon. There are plenty of cheap alternatives, from road trips to camping, for couples willing to have a more unusual honeymoon.

Stick to a Budget

SOTFblog9.jpgeNo matter how you are financing your vacation, you and yours should make a clear budget of how you are allocating your honeymoon funds. Armed with a carefully planned list of expenditures, you are less likely to overpay in certain areas, like food or souvenirs, and are more likely to enjoy your time with your new spouse. Here’s how to craft the perfect honeymoon budget:

  1. At the top of your paper, write down your total amount available for the trip. Having this number in an easily visible area will remind you what you have to work with.
  2. Make a list of all possible expenditures during your vacation. While transportation and food are going to be your biggest costs, don’t forget any of the little things like forgotten sundries, travel books, and souvenirs.
  3. Budget more money than you expect. Especially for food and gifts, you will likely be enticed by sights and smells more when you are away on your trip, so having a little wiggle room in your budget is important.

Of course, the best and hardest step in using a honeymoon budget is sticking to it while you’re away. If you fight off the happy delirium of the honeymoon fugue state, you should be able to spend smartly and stay in the green for the duration of your vacation.

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