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Niagara Falls Hotel Blog

How to Experience Niagara Falls Without Spending a Dime

December 18th, 2014

SOTFblog3.jpegEveryone hopes to decrease their spending and increase their savings, but no one wants to give up the expensive things that make life fun. New clothes, fun nights out, and vacations are often the first items to go when families evaluate what to cut and what to keep, but as the year draws on, even the strictest budgeters find themselves cheating to inject some joy into their frugal lifestyles.

Fortunately, if you travel to Niagara Falls, you don’t have to feel like you are cheating on your savings. With inexpensive lodging and free activities for the whole family, Niagara Falls will make you feel richer than you can believe. A new year means a new budget, but even if your budget is air tight, we promise you can afford a family vacation to Niagara Falls. Here’s how.

1. Visit the Falls

The city and its residents are so proud of its natural wonder, the three exceptional waterfalls that comprise Niagara Falls, that they want as many people to see them as possible. That’s why there is no charge for seeing the Falls, and there never will be. There are hundreds of parks and walkways situated around Niagara Falls that provide excellent sightseeing, and you can easily spend days (or weeks) exploring the Escarpment for a picture perfect view.

If you are willing to spend a little for a more exclusive view of the waterfalls, seek out tickets for the Maid of the Mist or the Journey Behind the Falls, both of which bring tourists up close and personal with the roaring Falls.

2. Watch in Fallsview Casino

If you are looking for a free activity to get your heart pumping, there are fewer livelier places in Niagara Falls than Fallsview Casino. If you don’t have the cash to gamble in any of the casino’s 150 table games, you can just as easily watch others risk their well-earned dollars and be rewarded with impressive prizes. Plus, the casino has more than 225,000 feet of retail space, and window shopping is always in season.

3. Wander Around Niagara Glen

SOTFblog4.jpegMuch like with the Falls, the city wants visitors to revel in the natural beauty of the region, which is why the green spaces around Niagara Falls are free for adventure. The Niagara Glen is one of the best places to hike in the Niagara area because of its proximity to the Niagara gorge and its wealth of indigenous flora and fauna.

For a little more action, watch the avid boulderers who conquer the park’s cliff faces without aid of ropes; you may be inspired to climb a few rocks yourself. Alternatively, check online for any nearby geocaching, as the park is a popular spot for hidden treasure.

4. Learn at the Niagara Falls History Museum

Niagara Falls has had deep spiritual and natural significance in the lives of every culture that has discovered it, which should the history of the area rich and important to any modern visitor. The Niagara Falls History Museum is devoted to teaching people about the geological and cultural history of Niagara Falls, and its rotating exhibits explore complex concepts like nature and community.

While the Niagara Falls History Museum usually charges a small fee for entry, you can visit for free on Thursday evenings. Sometimes, the museum even presents free movies, dances, or presentations for general enjoyment.

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Celebrating Icewine: Niagara’s 20th Annual Varietal Appreciation Month

December 9th, 2014

SOTFblog1.jpegThe Niagara region is home to almost 14,000 acres of prime vineyard property, and more than 80 amazing winemakers are taking full advantage, growing 32 thriving varietals year-round. This means that Niagara Falls and the surrounding region is a top destination for wine lovers of every shade, from master sommeliers to novice connoisseurs. However, of those 32 varietals, one in particular stands out as Niagara’s favorite and most prestigious wine: icewine.

Icewine gets its fantastic name from the process used to create it: Vintners allow the growing grapes to freeze on the vine during winter, which creates a sweeter, more concentrated flavor in the wine. Originating as a spin on the recognizable riesling varietal, icewine is typically labeled as a dessert wine, though most experts would insist that its sweet flavor can be enjoyed during any course of a meal. In fact, icewine is particularly refreshing as its intense sweet fruit flavors are well-balanced by a lingering acidity, providing a medium to full body that pairs well with salty, spicy, and rich foods.

For more than 20 years, icewine has grown in popularity to become the most beloved type of wine on Niagara’s verdant shores. This January, the entire region is celebrating its success with month-long festivities held in tribute to this under appreciated and delectable wine. If you foster a fine appreciation for wine, you absolutely must come to Niagara for these once-in-a-lifetime festivities.

The Icewine Experience

All month long at Reif Estate Winery, visitors can sample each one of this exceptional vineyard’s four unique icewines. Plus, expert sommeliers will pair wine with local culinary creations, providing a satisfying tasting experience all around.

Xerox Icewine Gala

On January 9, come to Fallsview Casino Resort to see all 30 of Niagara’s award-winning winemakers showcase their icewines. Top chefs will provide food to balance your palate, and rotating entertainment will keep your spirits up throughout the night. This event is the largest tasting of icewine in the world, so if you are interested in this unique varietal, you can’t miss this gala!

Icewine Dinner With Jamie Kennedy

Owner and head chef at Niagara’s famous restaurant Windows, Jamie Kennedy is Niagara’s expert on all things taste and smell. Fortunately, he is hosting an event on January 16 to celebrate the region’s wealth of delicious icewine with a bevy of tasty treats, including a four-course meal sure to please.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Village

SOTFblog2.jpegThe quaint township of Niagara-on-the-Lake sits right in the middle of the fantastic wine region, so naturally the entire city celebrates icewine with a full city street dedicated to the beverage. During the weekend of January 17-18, historic Queen Street will be lined with booths from local wineries offering samples of their best icewines to date. During the festivities, there will even be a competition for the best icewine cocktail, so amateur mixologists would do well to attend!

Niagara Icewine Festival

For a full weekend at the end of the month, on January 23-24, Niagara Falls will be transformed into a tribute to icewine. Outside you can dine on icewine marshmallows roasted over fire pits and revel in stunning ice sculptures commemorating the region. Then head inside where you can sample all types of wine, including the season’s favorite, and nibble on perfectly prepared foods.

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A Niagara Falls Guide to Staying Fit on Vacation

December 5th, 2014

sheratonblog7.jpegEveryone always says that a vacation is an opportunity to let loose — to relax, eat what you want, and not worry about the consequences. But fitness enthusiasts know what it feels like to skip a workout and overindulge in rich, delicious meals. It is nearly impossible to feel good on vacation when your mind continues to count calories and your body ever so slowly starts to lose its tightness.

That’s why we’ve crafted this handy guide to keep you happily in shape during your trip to Niagara Falls. Relaxing, indulging, and staying fit are entirely within reach if you keep these tips in mind next time you head north to your favorite vacation destination.

Prepare in Advance

Before you leave for your vacation, push your body harder than usual in your regular workout routine. These difficult days of exercise will necessitate a few days off for your body to recover and heal properly, which gives you a fair excuse to stay off your feet during the first couple days of vacation.

Book Active Adventures

Wherever you’re heading, you will be able to find tours or sightseeing opportunities that require a little more work than others. Instead of riding the double-decker bus around the city, buy tickets to walking or biking tours that keep you active while showing you the sights. This way, you can fit workouts into touristy attractions.

Spend Time With the Kids

Children are a bottomless well of energy, and you can use their enthusiasm for activity to bolster your vacation exercise. Run and play with your kids any chance you get, and soon you’ll be feeling your lungs and muscles in ways you never could in a gym.

Niagara has plenty of attractions perfect for little ones, and you, to blow off steam; head to Fallsview Indoor Water Park for some wet and wild activity, or simply romp around Queen Victoria Park in full view of the glorious falls.

Explore

sheratonblog8.jpegYou don’t always need a tour group to get the most out of a destination. Walk around the city and parks on your own to see details a guide likely wouldn’t point out. The forests around Niagara Falls are gorgeous during any season, and there are countless hiking and walking paths that offer stunning views of the falls and surrounding areas. You can bring your family and plan a picnic, or simply branch out on your own to discover the beauty of the region during some simple and enjoyable exercise.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

You can do any or all of the above tricks and still feel unhappy with your level of exercise on vacation. In truth, the best possible advice is what we started with: Vacation is about letting go of your regular worries and enjoying the sights and smells of a place. Try to keep your fitness-related stress under control by remembering you’ll be able to pick up where you left off in just a few days.

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Ring in the New Year Right in Niagara Falls

December 3rd, 2014
keith

Keith Urban

New Year’s Eve is an exciting time in Niagara Falls, with dazzling fireworks, the Winter Festival of Lights, and ET Canada’s broadcast of the country’s largest televised New Year’s Eve celebration from Queen Victoria Park. This year’s free concert will feature performances from Grammy award-winning artist Keith Urban, Nick Jonas, Lights, and Shawn Mendes.

To stay close to the excitement, guests can book a room at the Sheraton on the Falls, which is located right across the street from the Niagara Falls and Queen Victoria Park. A Fallsview room will provide amazing views of the Niagara Falls and fireworks shows from floor to ceiling windows, making for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience.

Guests can also book the Fallsview Gala Package, which offers one or two nights accommodations at the Sheraton on the Falls hotel, an elegant New Year’s Eve buffet dinner at the Fallsview Buffet restaurant, champagne, a live DJ, and party favours. The fireworks shows over the Niagara Falls can also be viewed from the floor to ceiling restaurant windows.

Niagara Falls is the place to be on New Year’s Eve, and the Sheraton on the Falls has everything you need to celebrate the special occasion!

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Crafting a Customary Canadian Christmas

November 25th, 2014

sheratonblog5.jpegWhile Christmas is a cherished holiday around the world, it seems that every group celebrates it differently. Continents, countries, and even communities craft their own customs, creating what could be conceived as a completely new Christmas in every home. Though the origin of the holiday remains generally the same — the birth of Jesus — every individual pays homage to this event in his or her unique way.

Canadian families from coast to coast have their own Christmas traditions quite unlike many you might find in the states. If you will be visiting Niagara Falls this winter season, revel in the holidays and celebrate Christmas like a true Canadian by learning and practicing these traditions.

Mummering

In the far northeast provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, every year around Christmastime townsfolk dress up in elaborate costumes to pay a visit to strangers’ doorsteps — much like American Halloween. However, instead of the customary “trick or treat” followed by candy, the visitors knock and ask “Are there any mummers in the night? Any mummers ‘lowed in?” which is their way of asking permission to enter the house.

After singing Christmas carols and sharing holiday treats with the resident family, the mummers continue on to the next house, usually joined by one or two of their previous hosts. Mummering is as common among adults as children and works to spread holiday cheer and goodwill.

Taffy Pulls

Alongside regular Christmas and holiday parties, many Canadians plan a Taffy Pull. This modern incarnation is devoted primarily to creating sweet and flavorful treats to give to friends and family. Traditionally, a Taffy Pull was held to honor St. Catherine, the patron saint of single women, in order to connect single women and single men for the holiday season.

Sinck Tuck

Celebrated by the Inuit in conjunction with their Christmas traditions, the festival of Sinck Tuck is more closely related to Europe’s pagan Saturnalia. The Inuit revel in the winter solstice by exchanging gifts with loved ones and feasting merrily on cultural foods, such as caribou, seal, and raw fish.

French Feast

sheratonblog6.jpegMost American families have parties on Christmas Eve, but French Canadians take the day before Christmas much more seriously. Christmas Eve is the time for the biggest feast of the season. The meal includes several courses and usually lasts well into the night — some families even continue to revel after dawn. In customary French fashion, the meal begins quite late at night, after Christmas Eve mass, and requires a large quantity of fine wine and spirits. The main dish can vary, but many Quebec families cook the traditional ragoût aux pattes de cochons.

Cleansing

Evolved from traditional Ukrainian celebrations, some Canadians use the holiday season to cleanse their spirits and bodies for the upcoming New Year. A period of fasting ends on Christmas Eve with a substantial feast of 12 dishes, representing both the 12 lunar cycles of the year and the 12 apostles of Christ. However, the feast does not include meat or dairy because they are less clean than foods from the fields, gardens, and orchards.

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How to Pack for Winter in Niagara

November 14th, 2014

sheratonblog3.jpegDecember anywhere north of the Equator signals the definitive end to shorts and T-shirts and a time for sleeves and boots. However, if you’re planning a trip to Niagara Falls, having the appropriate clothing is crucial to having a good time exploring the city and surrounds. More often than not, vacationers cram as much as they can into their suitcases in anticipation of every climate contingency and barely wear half of what they bring. If you’re struggling to pack your suitcase for Niagara’s winter weather, read on for tips and tricks to fill your suitcase with clothes you’ll actually use.

Understand the Weather

Most travelers liken Niagara Falls to a real-life winter wonderland, as the chilly climate transforms the landscape into a glittering and gleaming world. The Niagara River usually freezes solid, and ice forms all around the city and surrounding region, creating dramatic natural sculptures and excellent sight-seeing.

While snow does fall — around 50 inches, on average — the rushing falls warm the air enough to prevent snow from becoming prohibitive, meaning it remains easy to get around the city and surrounding regions. Winter tends to get windy around Niagara Falls, which makes the air nip at exposed noses and fingers. The actual temperature lingers around the freezing point during the day, with temperatures dropping sharply when the sun sets.

Pack Right, Not Light

Winter clothes are going to be bulky and heavy, which means it’s more important than ever you consider what exactly is going into your suitcase. Make sure you don’t procrastinate packing for any winter vacation, and follow these tips as you plan what to bring.

Invest in light and warm clothing. Outdoors retailers are filled with clothes to keep backpackers dry and warm in any climate. Because backpackers don’t have much space to carry everything they need in the wilderness, this clothing tends to be thin and lightweight while incredibly insulating.

Wear bulky items instead of packing them. Your heavy boots and puffy winter jacket probably won’t fit in your suitcase, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take them with you. In fact, the bulkiest items will likely be incredibly useful during cold Niagara nights exploring the Winter Festival of Lights. These items can be worn on the plane or in the car and save you crucial inches or pounds in your suitcase.

Use compression bags. Sometimes called vacuum-seal bags or space bags, any container that can be made smaller through suction can easily be adapted for use in travel. You can pick and choose what items you need compressed; it might be wise to separate your outfits into different packages, or organize parcels of bottoms, tops, and miscellaneous items.

sheratonblog4.jpegResist the urge to pack everything. While it may prevent the need for tough decisions before your vacation, packing your entire wardrobe isn’t economical. If you have trouble deciding which clothes you should and shouldn’t bring, consider the following:

  • You can mix and match individual clothing items to create entirely new outfits
  • You can wear clothing more than one day in a row, especially in cold weather
  • You don’t need two of the same items, like two pairs of black pants or two blue blouses
  • You can employ layering to create a fashionable and warm look with more options

Niagara has a mild winter in comparison to regions of Canada even 20 miles away. However, if you don’t pack right, you’ll be left in the cold — literally.

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An American Thanksgiving in Canadian Niagara Falls

November 9th, 2014

sheratonblog7.jpegThanksgiving is a uniquely North American holiday. Something about gathering the family around a feast of turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and corn speaks to Canadians and Americans in a way the rest of the world just doesn’t understand. While Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, American Thanksgiving is coming up fast. This year, you can make Thanksgiving unforgettable by celebrating with your family and friends at Niagara Falls.

Stunning Natural Scenery

If Niagara Falls is known for anything, it’s the area’s unique natural wonders. Niagara Falls, if you didn’t know, is a one of a kind attraction. The thundering water of the Niagara River rushes over the edge at a rate of 100,000 cubic feet per second. There are three sets of falls that make up the Niagara Chain, but Canada’s Horseshoe Falls is the most iconic and most impressive. A network of easy hiking paths and walkways allow visitors perfect views of the falls from virtually all angles — interested parties can even travel beneath or behind the falls for an exclusive experience.

At the end of November, the Niagara region transforms into a wonderland. During late fall, trees’ leaves turn vibrantly red, and flaming leaves litter the ground to make seasonal confetti and free keepsakes. As the temperatures drop for winter, visitors might even get to experience a white Thanksgiving, as snow can hit the Niagara region earlier than it would anywhere in America.

Wonderful Regional Wines

Niagara is world-renowned wine country, as the fertile soil and warm climate provide perfect growing conditions for a bevy of wine varietals. Most of the local wineries have won major awards for more than one of their wines. The art of making icewine has been perfected by the area’s vintners, but you’ll find winning vintages in more familiar reds and wines as well. Vineyards are welcoming and gracious to guests looking to sample world-class wines; many estates also have on-site restaurants where visitors can dine on expertly paired dishes with their famous wines.

Fresh Local Foods

sheratonblog8.jpegAs previously mentioned, Niagara Falls is exceedingly fertile, but farmers and ranchers grow more than just wine grapes. Orchards and farms make a patchwork of the landscape, providing the region’s restaurants with the freshest and juiciest ingredients possible. Travelers can visit one or more of the area’s orchards to pick fresh fruit and fraternize with farm animals in petting zoos. Most farms open for tours also offer tourists souvenirs in the form of jarred goods like jams and honeys from ingredients grown on the premises.

Remarkable City Restaurants

If you are still looking to craft your own Thanksgiving dinner while you’re on vacation, Niagara Falls has all you could possibly need: amazing food, astounding wine, and awe-inspiring views.

However, if you are looking to take a break from the stress of the kitchen during holiday season, any of Niagara Falls’ five-star restaurants will sate your appetite for a Thanksgiving feast. Jaime Kennedy, Massimo Capra, and more world famous chefs have restaurants in hotels around the city, and the fare is always top tier. Whether you’re eating in or out this Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re in Niagara Falls.

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Niagara’s Winter Wonderland: The Winter Festival of Lights

November 7th, 2014

sheratonblog1.jpegWinter in Niagara Falls is truly stunning. The bright white snow and shining ice turns the landscape into a wintery paradise. However, most visitors during this season don’t come for the gleaming beauty of the day — instead, it’s the glinting of the night that inspires wonder. During the winter season, Niagara Falls’ nights are filled with glitter and magic as Ontario Power Generation decorates the city for its annual Winter Festival of Lights.

What to See

By a wide margin, Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s largest celebration of the season, as it attracts 1.5 million eager visitors every year. The festival has been in operation for over 30 years, which means it has had time to perfect the subtle art of dazzling and amazing with light and sound alone. More than three million twinkling tree lights and 120 animated displays are placed along a winding five kilometer route that accommodates both vehicles and pedestrians.

The exhibits cover important and interesting topics, such as Canadian wildlife and world religions, as well as simple and pleasant shows celebrating the joy of the season. Additionally, every Friday at 9 p.m., the glimmering ground lights are supplemented by a stunning fireworks presentation that lights up the surrounding countryside in bright bursts of color.

Where to See It

The festival consumes a large portion of Niagara Falls, meaning you are never far from a fantastic display of holiday and winter cheer. While the following are the locations of visitor and local festival favorites, they are by no means the only places you’ll find lights.

Dufferin Islands. These manmade islands connected by a series of land bridges are a quintessential slice of Canadian forest during the day, but at night they light up to become the setting of Ontario Power Generation’s Great Canadian Outdoors. You and your family will be able to spot modern and prehistoric indigenous wildlife shining through the trees and along pathways. Look for moose, wolves, beavers, and whales, but don’t miss out on the dinosaurs brought to life just for the festival.

Fallsview District. Illuminating crosswalks and pathways around Niagara’s bustling tourist area, giant gusts of wind and snowflakes make Niagara feel even more like a bright winter wonderland. Plus, visitors to this area will be delighted to see the giant Skylon Tower lit decoratively for the season.

Niagara Parks. Throughout Niagara’s countless parks and green spaces, the festival educates and enlightens with exhibits on the many religions of the world. See baby Jesus in his creche, pilgrims making their way to Mecca, and a giant menorah, each commemorating a major religion celebrated within Canada’s borders.

When, and How Much

sheratonblog2.jpegThe Winter Festival of Lights is impossible to miss, and when you stay in Niagara Falls’ tourist district you’ll be minutes from the fairyland’s main thoroughfare. This year the festival is in operation from November 15 to January 12, so you still have plenty of time to see the magic for yourself.

In order to make the festival available to one and all, Ontario Power Generation does not charge an entry fee to parties of any size or age, but they do encourage donations: between $5 and $10 dollars per car and as little as $1 per individual bus passenger.

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Making a Difference with ManiCURES

October 30th, 2014

Manicures logoThe Christienne Fallsview Spa and the Sheraton on the Falls hotel are pleased to have participated in the Canadian Cancer Society’s ManiCURES campaign during the month of October, exceeding fundraising goals in support of the fight against breast cancer.

The ManiCURES campaign asked teams of men to sign up and have their nails painted pink at a participating salon or spa across Ontario as their team’s fundraising goals were met. Numerous schools, workplaces, salons, and spas got involved, with male participants wearing their pink manicures throughout the entirety of the month.

Check out pictures from the campaign on Twitter by searching #pinkManiCURE, or visit the Canadian Cancer Society  for more information on the campaign.

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Considering a Winter Wedding? Niagara Falls Has It All

October 29th, 2014

sheratonblog5.jpegWeddings are stressful and costly, especially during the high wedding season of late spring and early summer. Vendors are difficult to work with because of their widespread demand, and family members are difficult to corral due to the start of vacation season. This is why many savvy couples choose instead to plan their wedding for the winter, when things cool down (metaphorically and literally) and a marriage celebration stays well within cost.

Niagara Falls is an excellent location for a stunning and serene destination winter wedding. From the unparalleled natural landscape to the bevy of attractions to keep all guests entertained, Niagara Falls can deliver on every wish a betrothed couple might have.

Niagara Falls Is a Winter Wonderland

Winter is a brilliant season to get married, and that’s even truer in Niagara Falls. The landscape is covered in a soft blanket of white making everything a bit more magical and austere for your special day. The trees and ground glint with freshly fallen snow, and icicles cling to eaves creating glittery natural garlands wherever you go. Travelers may even get to witness Niagara Falls completely frozen — a once in a lifetime opportunity to see unlimited power stopped dead. Anyone who loves the quiet beauty of winter will love celebrating their love and family in the frosty loveliness of the Niagara Falls region.

Niagara Falls Is Budget Conscious

sheratonblog6.jpegBecause winter is the off-season for most places in the world, you can definitely stretch your wedding dollar farther in the winter. Must-haves like venues, catering, and florists usually charge less during the winter because they have fewer clients demanding their time, meaning savvy wedding planners will be able to snag great deals on amazing places and products. Winter is also Niagara Falls’ off season; while plenty of travelers still make the trek to Niagara Falls to have a one-of-a-kind experience, there are markedly fewer tourists that usual during this season, as the cold can be daunting for some. However, the chill in the air can be exhilarating, and many find that the nip at their nose makes them feel more awake and ready to explore, especially with the lack of crowds.

Niagara Falls Is Accommodating

As previously mentioned, Niagara Falls isn’t nearly as busy during the late fall and winter months, so many of the most luxurious hotels have wide open books. Even if you expect 500 attendees, there is plenty of space in the area’s top hotels, and there are venues large enough to host thousand-person conventions, let alone a wedding ceremony and reception.

Moreover, Niagara Falls is designed to oblige all manner of travelers; thus it contains myriad attractions and entertainments to suit any interest. Your more outdoorsy attendees will love traversing the frosted wilderness and seeing Niagara Falls from all angles, while your cultured guests will revel in the fresh, local food and wines available at the city’s highest rated restaurants an vineyards. There are museums, arcades, rides, and more around Niagara Falls, so visitors can pick and choose their favorite attractions while you relax before your big day.

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