Niagara Falls- Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls is nature at its mightiest. More than just a look at a waterfall, a visit is a full vacation surrounded by the natural beauty of the area and the luxury that has drawn tourists from around the world.

A great introduction to the Niagara Falls is from the water with tour from Niagara CruisesVoyage to the Falls boat tour visits Great Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the most famous, Horseshoe Falls. Whether you decide to see the Falls in the daylight, illuminated at night, or both, there is no better way than floating up close to the massive wall of moving water. You will almost certainly get wet if you are on the open/outdoor areas of the boat, make sure you wear your (free with purchase of ticket) parka they hand out. If you don’t take the night cruise, make sure you take the time to see the falls lit up at night- it’s a beautiful sight, and one you will be glad you took the time for. Before or after your ride, take advantage of “access to the Lower Landing and Falls viewing area” for a whole different viewpoint of Niagara Falls.

There are plenty of options to get close to the water on foot with the White Water Walk. Viewing platforms and a wooden boardwalk offer an up close look at the trillions of gallons of water that make the “Niagara River’s Class 6 white water rapids”. Rising above you are the walls of the Niagara Gorge, cut down by the power of the river to reveal “410-million-year-old rock layers”. The views you will get on your walk next to the raging waters are breathtaking and like none you will see anywhere else. It’s also a lovely stroll, one that anyone at any age can take.

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If you are looking for a different angle to view the river, try the Whirlpool Aero Car. Over a century old (just celebrating it’s centennial in 2016) the trip takes you over “3,500 feet across the Canadian side of the Niagara River”. You will cross the international boarder between the USA and Canada during your trip. From the antique cable car, you look down over the Niagara Whirlpool, like seeing the eye of a storm from above.

Maybe a peak behind the running water with a visit to the tunnels of Journey Behind the Falls. You can feel the mist as Horseshoe Falls crashes down from 13 stories above. There is an upper and lower observation deck at the foot of the falls, just be prepared to get wet. In Spring and Summer, free souvenir rain ponchos are given out to protect you from the moisture kicked up in the air as water thunders past going 40 mph.

Wondering how Niagara Falls became the wonder that it is today? Take a look at Niagara’s Fury, a 4D, 360 degree movie that will dazzle and engage all your senses. This is a bit different then other tours, as it’s not out “in” nature, but brings nature in to you. The ground beneath you moves as the history of Niagara Falls unfolds. As the story is told, you are “snow” and water mist down on you and your family as you journey through 10,000 years of time, ending up in the present day. Take your souvenir (biodegradable) parkas with you when you leave, you never know when you will need one again.

You can take a break from getting wet and visit the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens just ten minutes north of the Falls. It is easily one of the most beautiful spots in the area, one that might be passed up due to the overwhelming draw of the falls themselves (but should be on your “to see” list). A highlight is the Butterfly Conservatory taking you to a world of tropical plants and colorful butterflies. Flying loose, they float in the air and decorate any leaf or flower they land on. Also available from May to mid-October are guided tours of the Botanical Gardens by horse drawn carriage.

You can get deals and packages and save quite a bit by doing so. If you plan on visiting multiple locations and attractions, or if you are staying for a few days, the Wonder Pass is a pretty good idea.  There are also buss passes and more to choose from- visit the Niagara Parks page for more information and to choose what suits your family’s needs.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Just 30 minutes from Niagara Falls is the historic town of Niagara-on-the-lake. Located where lake Ontario meets the St Lawrence River the town has a story dating back to  1790’s when it was the original Capital of Upper Canada. If you want a cool title, get elected here and be addressed as Lord Mayor. Fort George has been restored to the original condition when it played a role in the War of 1812. The costumes and recreated lifestyle of the time period add to the immersion into local history.

The annual Shaw Theatre Festival, dedicated to George Bernard Shaw, playwright and nobel prize winner, is a great time to visit. Multiple festivals are held in Niagara-on-the-lake throughout the year including events dedicated wine. You might not think of Canada when grape growing comes to mind, but Lake Ontario causes moderate weather in the area so take advantage of the local wineries. Queen Street has shops and restaurants, that will introduce you to other regional favorites.  Stop for an Ontario specialty, Butter Tarts, or for locally made jams at Greaves Jams & Marmalades.

 

The 5 Most Beautiful Natural Attractions in Canada

Canada is known for many things, but one of the reasons why many people decide to plan a visit is to take in the country’s natural beauty. Canada is renowned for its multitude of National Parks, each one featuring unique and different natural wonders to take in. For the outdoorsy type, one of Canada’s parks or popular tourist spots is perfect and each of them provides opportunities to indulge in nature and get plenty of fresh air while enjoying the sights. Here are 5 of the most beautiful locations in Canada for the first time or well seasoned traveler.

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Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls are located in Ontario, directly across the border from the United States. They are a part of the large, flowing Niagara River that makes up a 36 mile length along the area. The falls are known for their pretty scenery as well as their high power flowing strength, which is used for hydro power. There are three waterfalls that make up the Falls are named Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Niagara Falls hotel options are plentiful, as the Falls are an extremely popular tourist destination for travelers worldwide.

The Niagara Falls region has tons of entertainment options, from clubs, pubs and shopping malls all the way up to amusement parks and museums. It is also known for its vibrant nightlife with thousands of visitors from the greater Ontario area and Northern United States filing the streets. The region offers the perfect blend of natural beauty and urban charm which makes it a perfect destination for the whole family.

Gros Morne National Park

Located on the coast of Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park offers fantastic views of nature and exciting activities for hikers and outdoorsmen. The park is located in the cold region of the country, and is the second largest park in Atlantic Canada. Summer and spring are the best times are the year to visit due to there being more options of activities when the weather is warmer. During the warmer months, hiking, fishing, boating, and more are available to Park visitors. If you are lucky, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of some of the protected wildlife that roams Canada’s parks.

The Rocky Mountain National Parks

The Rocky Mountain Parks are located in the Canadian Rockies. They consist of four national parks and a handful of other nature parks, each one full of visual splendor for visitors to discover. The area is very diverse, with almost every park exhibiting different characteristics. Hiking, fishing, and other mountainous activities are very popular in this area with locals and tourists alike. The Rocky Mountain National Parks span a large enough space that any number of sports and natural attractions are available to those who wish to see them.

Historic Lunenburg

Historic Lunenburg was discovered and settled in 1753 by the founding fathers. The town itself is full of cultural and historical sites, as well as beautiful natural marvels. Located in Nova Scotia, Lunenburg was a site of the French and Indian War that occurred in the mid 1700’s. Historical landmarks such as battle sites and safe houses are easy to find in this old town rich with the cultural and natural beauty that visitors have come to expect from Canada. Today, Lunenburg is a huge fishing area, where experts and amateurs alike can come partake in the many fish and lakes available. It is known for its large, old shipyards during the 1920’s, many remains of which can be seen today.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise, named after the daughter of Queen Victoria, is located in Alberta, Canada, in the mountains. Lake Louise is well known and picturesque due to the water’s bright emerald coloring, which it gets from the water run off from melted glaciers. The lake sits on a ski resort, which is a very popular pastime during the winter months. During the other half of the year, hiking and watersports abound on and off the lake. Canoeing and kayaking are very big in this area due to the length and speed of the water.

These are only a few of the many natural wonders Canada has to offer. Scenic views are plentiful throughout the entire country and span through all regions and seasons. Winter activities are easy to find in the colder regions with fresh snow and friendly ski lodges at almost every turn. So if you want a change of the ordinary, with a down-home charm, why don’t you head up north and see what this beautiful country has to offer.

The Algonquin Resort in New Brunswick

The summer can be the most exhausting time of the year. Figuring out what to do with the kids, the heat, planning your holiday- you can wear yourself out just thinking about it, and I haven’t even mentioned the events yet. It seems like there are always a million things to do, so many places to shuttle off to, and never enough time to do it all. When you need a break, you want to go to a place where your days were carefree and relaxed, sprinkled with fun and one of a kind adventures. Of course, I am talking about The Algonquin Resort.

20140820_152600This resort is amazing. The staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and will help take care of everything for you. Not only is the resort elegant and historical, but they offer amazing perks to make your stay as carefree as possible. You have  the option to hit the greens, go to the spa, take in a game of tennis, and enjoy the indoor or outdoor pools. Then retire to your room, where you will enjoy a historical look and modern conveniences. Some of the rooms offer panoramic views of the picturesque Passamaquoddy Bay, which is lovely.

20140821_072903In addition to offering lovely rooms and a true feeling of luxury, the variety of experiences available for guests offers something for everyone, the kids, the golfers, the lovers and the adventure seekers.  The food at the resort is top notch, with several restaurants to choose from, as well as buffet style options. Children’s menus are available as well, although I always reccomend you have your kids try something fun and new while traveling.  Why not experience new food while in a new place?
pic6The spa offered so many more services than other resorts I have visited- from make up to hair, hands and feet, massages and so much more. You can truly enjoy a day of complete pampering at The Spa at The Algonquin Resort.  The rooms are also perfect for relaxing- quiet, dark when you want them to be, and spacious.  There are kitchen areas with refrigerators, counter tops, a separate eating area, microwaves, and more, making eating in while on vacation an easy option.
20140820_16003820140820_160047If you feel like a getaway is in order to refresh your spirit for the new year, The Algonquin Resort located in New Brunswick’s charming town of St. Andrews by-the-Sea, is absolutely a lovely place to go to relax and unwind or discover a fantastic adventure.  Hang out in the resort, then go exploring in the town.  There are some fun and unique things to do with your family that you won’t want to miss, like whale watching in the Bay of Fundy on the the Jolly Breeze and vising the at Kingsbrae Garden.  Make sure you scheduled time for lunch there- you will get a fun surprise!  Alpacas come and eat on the field just feet away from the tables.  (Far enough so it’s not weird, close enough so it’s fun.)
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DIGBY PINES GOLF RESORT & SPA

  Located on the western coast of Nova Scotia, overlooking the Bay of Fundy, the Signature Resorts of Nova Scotia property is the perfect escape for travellers looking for a secluded getaway. With a rich history dating back to 1929, the property is comprised of a main lodge which includes 85 guestrooms and 31 independent cottages ranging from one to three-bedroom accommodations.

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            “This new alliance with Choice Hotel’s Ascend Collection is a great way for us to reach a growing audience of travelers who appreciate the distinct characteristics only found in independent hotels,” said Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle.  “With summer upon us, we look forward to sharing Digby Pines with guests who will enjoy the magnificent scenery and local attractions, including our golf course.”

            The hotel’s resort amenities include a classic 18-hole Stanley Thompson golf course and an onsite Aveda spa, offering guests a full range of treatments. Nearby whale watching excursions lead the list of family friendly vacation highlights.

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            Digby Pines features two restaurants – Churchill’s Restaurant and Lounge and the 19th Hole Clubhouse & Eatery – serving classic dishes with a modern twist as well as local fare including freshly caught seafood and the area’s world renowned Digby scallops.  Additional amenities include an outdoor heated pool, complimentary bicycle lending, a fitness centre and banquet and conference rooms for groups up to 250.

            The property is conveniently located close to area attractions like Fort Anne, Port Royal and the Bear River and Annapolis Highlands Wineries.  Visitors will find Digby Pines easily accessible by car from Halifax and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and via ferry from Portland Maine and Saint John New Brunswick.

            Reservations at Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa can be made by calling 800.4CHOICE or by visiting ChoiceHotels.ca/cna66.

Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa

Nestled in a setting so lovely you might never want to leave is the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa. Located in the scenic town of Digby, Nova Scotia this resort offers a one of a kind stay with the natural beauty of the area, the superb amenities and the unforgettable hospitality of the staff.

nova scotia hotelsDigby Pines features rooms and cottages to accommodate your needs. From luxurious king size beds to cozy little twins, the rooms are charming, very comfortable, and handsomely appointed with all of the great things you want on your trip. Flat screen tvs, phones, hair dryers, wireless internet. Cottages include fireplaces and verandas as well.

20140822_145840Several dining options are available such as Churchill’s Restaurant and Lounge, a Nova Scotia restaurant, Terrace Cafe – enjoy your dining experience outside on our terrace and the 19th Hole Clubhouse & Eatery. {The food at all 3 places was exceptional!}

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Jolly Breeze- Whale Watching on the Bay of Fundy

Disclosure- this was part of a media trip.  All opinions are my own and honest. For more information, please see “I Disclose”.

Please read the whole article on This Girl Travels!

whale watching in the bay of fundySometimes you find a special place.  One of those places that not only makes you slow down and really appreciate where you are, your surroundings, and the people you are with, but that will also truly make memories that will last the rest of your life.  The kind of place you frequently find yourself saying “do you remember that time when…..”   One of those places is Canada’s beautiful Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia has the highest tides in the world, with rises that swell more then 50 feet in some places during high tide.  There is diverse and flourishing sea life in the Bay of Fundy, as well as (as would be expected) a large fishing and lobstering community.

Should you find yourself near the Bay of Fundy (or should you desire to find yourself there), some experiences are not to be missed.  First, bring your appetite, as the seafood fresh and delectable.  If you are so inclined, you can catch your dinner yourself- there are fishing excursions available, or you can rent (or bring your own) kayaks or canoes.  With water, water, everywhere, watersports are plentiful and easy to come by- in many places, you will see signs for fishing and aquaculture wherever you look.

low tide bay of fundyIt is an amazing thing to walk on the ocean floor when the water has receded away.  You can do this yourself, or under the eye and guidance of a tour group or guide.  For me, this was the only option, as I was not familiar with either the area or the tides, and didn’t want to find myself (or my young son) washed away with the next one.  Another perk to being with a tour guide is that they can point out all sorts of fun things that I would not have noticed or been able to identify on the ocean floor- different types of seaweed, crabs, and shellfish.  We took a great tour called “Plankton, Periwinkles, and Predators” that we booked through our hotel in Nova Scotia, the Digby Pines (http://www.digbypines.ca/).  The hotel was beautiful, with tons to do for families both on the grounds and nearby, and the rooms were clean with various sizes available, including cottages for rent.  You can also book the tour independently however, via www.GaelTours.ca. Led by a father/daughter duo, you and your family will explore the area from the very top (where no water reaches) down to the very bottom, where water has only recently drained. It gets a bit soggy, so bring your puddle-jumpers and pants you don’t mind getting dirty in.
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Top 5 Attractions in Toronto with Kids

Once Winter has rolled around, there are fewer places on earth better than Toronto for getting your family into the holiday spirit. Every year, there are multiple seasonal events that are fantastic fun for kids and a darn good time for grown-ups too. Here are five of the best.

Toronto Christmas parade in 2008.

Holiday Parades
Every year, the Greater Toronto Area holds weekly Santa and Christmas-themed parades that are pure joy for little ones, featuring as they do, lights, music, floats, marching bands and a host of colorful characters—including the guest of honor, Santa Claus. The parades and events take place in 23 different locales, every Saturday, in and around Toronto, throughout November and into early December. The event not to be missed in 2013 is happening at The Junction Train Platform on December 7th between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Arrive early to meet Santa and his elves, enjoy story-time with Mrs. Claus and spend the rest of your day indulging in gift-shopping, craft workshops, or perhaps watching some seasonal dancing.

Cavalcade of Lights
The lighting of the tree in Nathan Phillips Square has been dazzling families for almost half a century now. These days, the focus isn’t only on the holiday tree though, thanks to the spectacular fireworks display, wide variety of family-friendly live music and ice skating rink dance party that all come with the event. A celebration of this magnitude may be a little overwhelming for younger children, but your pre-teens will be in heaven. In 2013, the Cavalcade of Lights is happening on November 30th, starting at 7 p.m.
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