Guest Post By: Cass Zawadowski, Travel Writer & Author of SoLong Travel Blog
If you’re an avid traveler and adventure-seeker like myself, you spend every waking, free minute you have Googling destinations, with the sole purpose of building out your ‘must visit next’ list. So it might come as a big surprise when I say my most recent ‘adventure’ happened to be just an hour’s drive outside my home city, in the beautiful region of Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL). If you can believe it or not, I’ve made my way through most of Europe, and have even found myself solo in some of the most desolate places in Africa, but I’d never been to NOTL. That is, until last weekend.
When my boyfriend suggested a Niagara getaway, I was skeptical at first. I mean, I’d always imagined it was the “picture perfect” summer weekend trip. But in early March? Gah! What could there possibly be to do? I am always up for being proved wrong. And let me tell you, this was definitely a case where I was.
Allow me to share:
It started with a relaxing mid-morning drive along the QEW, and into the Niagara region following Hwy 55. We stopped just before town, and paid a visit to the Jackson Triggs winery, where we treated ourselves to a three-flight wine tasting and some very cozy views. From there we made our way into town and checked-into the famous Prince of Wales, also known as Canada’s oldest hotel (a fun historical fact I didn’t know until I found myself socializing with guests in line). The vintage-meets-modern feel at the hotel immediately had our attention. The staff was more than eager to please us, and ensured our weekend was set off on the right romantic/relaxing foot.
After settling into our room, we headed for a stroll in town, taking in some unique galleries, a cheese counter, and a ‘few’ moments spent salivating over the delicious windows at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Back at the hotel, we admired the grounds before freshening ourselves and heading to dinner at Kitchen 76 at Two Sisters Vineyards.
Just a short jaunt from the main part of town, a long driveway greets you, lined with blossoming trees and tiny white lights. It’s a very regal and charming welcome, to say the least. Once inside we snuggled into a booth, as our wonderful server (Pat) guided us through the wine list and the Italian-inspired dinner menu. We settled on glasses of Cab Franc and Arancini to start with, followed by a delicious thin-crusted, pizza topped with unique ingredients and drizzled in chili sauce (my addition!).
The restaurant was full, but not overcrowded, and guests, both local and from outside the Niagara region gabbed over booths and glasses of wine. We made friends with the couple next to us, who turned out to be frequent mid-winter NOTL visitors.
The next morning started with breakfast in bed, at which time we were also granted a late check-out. This of course allowed for a little extra luxuriating in the room before heading to the reception desk. Upon our departure, we were gifted with beautiful box of chocolates and biscotti, a very warm thank you for visiting.
Before hitting the road back to reality, we grabbed teas at Balzac’s café across the street, and headed down to the waterfront for a hand-in-hand walk and some picturesque scenery.
Beyond its charming people and romantic vibe, NOTL, might best be visited during the winter. It’s definitely an over-looked season to visit. Think about it, fewer tourists means: greater hotel selections, with option for late check-out all at very reasonable prices, extra attention from wherever you visit (hotels, wineries, cafes, bars), and great reservations (if needed) upon request.
Other than the Shaw Festival, I see no reason why summer in NOTL would be any more enjoyable than the winter weekend getaway we had. It’s true what they say: some of the best and most memorable adventures to be had, can be found right in your backyard, and when you least expect. If you haven’t explored wine country, grab your decanter (and mitts), and go!
Cass Zawadowski is a travel writer and author of SoLong Travel. You can follow her on Instagram at @solongtravel
Have any photos or videos of your visit to NOTL that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.
Thanks for reading. NOTL also hosts an Ice Wine Festival every January. Read our Blog Post for our review of the Festival.