Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Niagara Falls

cpblog5Most of North America is still under siege by the heat of summer. Many regions have seen above-average summer temperatures and forecasts predict more of the same over the coming weeks. However, if you go by the calendar, fall really is just around the corner and it’s never too early to begin making your plans for a trip to Niagara Falls to see the spectacular fall foliage.

Like many areas in this region of Canada and the United States the transition between summer and fall and the unique makeup of tree species results in the brilliant fall colors that attract visitors from all over the globe. There’s nothing quite like a hike in the woods when you’re surrounded by vivid colors and can feel the crunch of fall leaves beneath your feet.

High season in Niagara begins to wind down at this time so now is the perfect window in which to make preparations for your visit in mid to late October when the colors are at their peak. These are just a few of the best places to see the famous fall foliage for yourself during your visit to Niagara Falls.

Goat Island

Located between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island is part of the Niagara Parks System and is easily accessed from your hotel. While Goat Island isn’t going to offer you extensive hiking options it still has trails to explore and abundant forests for its size. This means you’ll be able to see the fall colors and the falls from one convenient viewpoint. You can also visit the Cave of the Winds here and access the Maid of the Mist boat excursions from Goat Island.

Devil’s Hole State Park

Another of the best places to take a hike through the Niagara region’s most stunning fall colors is Devil’s Hole State Park. A little less crowded than Goat Island, Devil’s Hole offers more extensive trail networks that are dotted with picnic tables and other rest stops that can allow you to make an entire day of your adventure. Many trails follow the Niagara river and offer a great view of the whirlpools that make this park so popular.

cpblog6Queenston Heights Park

Located on the Canadian side of the river is Queenston Heights Park. While the park is better known for its flower gardens, playgrounds, and concerts it’s also the perfect place to pick up the Bruce Trail, which winds through several miles of the Niagara Escarpment, offering wonderful views of the fall colors along the way. The Bruce Trail also passes several of Niagara’s famous wineries so this hike can also double as an impromptu wine tour as well.

So as you watch the mercury continue its upward climb, rest assured that fall really is on its way and now is the best time to plan your visit to Niagara Falls. Not only does this offer you and your family a much needed break after the hectic back to school weeks, you can also cool off and take in the beauty that is Niagara Falls in the fall.

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Canada

cpblog3You’re on the vacation of a lifetime. You’re dining out at a lovely restaurant, the food is divine, the service is impeccable, and you have a sweeping view of Niagara Falls as the sun begins to set. You finish your dessert and drink the last of your bottle of local wine. Then the bill comes.

If you’re American this is where the questions come in. To tip or not to tip?

Gratuities and the practice of to whom and how much can be one of the most confusing parts of traveling. In some countries it’s standard practice to tip 20 percent when dining out, but in other countries the tip might be included in the bill. How can you tell and what should you do during your visit to Niagara Falls, Canada?

We’ve broken some of the most common services that require a tip so you can be confident that you’re leaving the right amount in the right situations.

Dining Out

In many ways tipping in Canada is very similar to tipping in the United States. If you’re dining out at a full service restaurant, 15 to 20 percent of the total bill before taxes is expected as a gratuity. If you’ve received exceptional service then by all means bump that figure up to 25 percent.

If you’ve received subpar service eliminating the tip might not be the best practice. Talk to the management first to see if there are problems within the restaurant that have nothing to do with your server. They may be a few hands short in the kitchen or have a mechanical problem that the server has no control over.

If you’re at an establishment that offers counter service, such as deli, tipping is not required, but you may see a tip jar on the counter. Again, leaving a tip here is entirely up to you but most people simply take the change from their purchase and leave the coins behind as a tip.

cpblog4At Your Hotel

You’re likely to interact with your hotel staff more than you will any other people on your Niagara Falls vacation so it’s important to tip them appropriately. Hotel employees work hard to ensure that each and every guest has a comfortable stay but tipping hotel staff can be a bit confusing.

Porters, the staff members who carry your bags to your room, are generally tipped $1 per bag and you may want add an extra dollar or two if your bags are particularly large or unwieldy.

Concierge staff should be tipped for exceptional services such as securing tickets that are difficult to get or they’ve planned an extensive itinerary for you, and this tip should be about 10 percent of cost of the services they’ve arranged.

Your housekeepers should be tipped at the end of your stay to the tune of about $3 per night or more if the housekeeping services are exceptional or you’ve had extensive special requests.

Tipping and the customs surrounding it can be confusing for travelers. However, as Canada’s tipping practices are similar to those of the United States that can make it a bit easier to figure out. So enjoy your trip to Niagara Falls and the professional service you’ll find in most establishments, and tip accordingly.

Antique Shops in Niagara Falls Canada

cpblog8One of the best aspects of traveling is the fact that you have the chance to pick up unique souvenirs to remind you of your visit. Some people opt for the ubiquitous T-shirt while others prefer to simply take photos.

However, there are those travelers that are on the hunt for something truly special, and these items can take the form of antiques. Browsing through treasure in an antique store is not only a great way to spend an afternoon but you can also get an idea about the history of a place through the items that end up on the shelves of local antique shops.

If you prefer to look for very special items when you travel and have a penchant for one-of-a-kind treasures, these are just a few of the area’s best antique shops to explore on your next visit to Niagara Falls.

Lakeshore Antiques & Treasures

Located in the heart of Niagara’s wine country is Lakeshore Antiques & Treasures. With 6,000 square feet of shopping space located on one floor and items displayed by 15 different antiques dealers, this behemoth of a store offers anything you could ever want and items you didn’t know you needed.

Furniture, china, glassware, art, and much more is on display here and they also offer sales and discounts throughout the year. They accept all major credit cards as well as U.S. and Canadian dollars.

Niagara Coin and Collectibles

One of the region’s most popular antique shops due in part to its appearance on the television show Pawnathon Canada, Niagara Coin and Collectibles offers high quality antiques of all types. From antique coins and paper money to war memorabilia, jewelry and more this shop is a wonderful place to pick up a souvenir of your visit or an extra special gift for a loved one.

With a staff of antiques experts, Niagara Coin and Collectibles also buys high quality antique items if you’ve got something to sell. Regardless, simply browsing in this shop is a great way to spend some time, especially on a rainy day.

cpblog9Forum Galleries Antiques and Collectibles

Forum Galleries is located in Niagara on the Lake and is one of the most popular antique stores in the region. Interior decorators and designers flock to this store for its beautiful, antique lighting fixtures and other home items, as well as the antique art and other collectibles.

One of this shop’s most unique features is its online gallery where you can view a large selection of the items they have available. While it’s always fun to browse in an antique shop, if you’re looking for something in particular having the option to view items online can make your search so much easier.

Whether you’re on an extended trip or just visiting for a short time, taking in Niagara’s antique shops is a wonderful way to spend a day or two. You’ll find all sorts of treasures that will allow you to always remember your visit to this beautiful and historic part of North America.

3 Reasons to Dine at The Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra

cpblog1One of the best parts of any vacation is the food. Whether it’s grabbing a sandwich from a quirky local deli or treating yourself to a luxury dinner experience, food should always be on your itinerary. However, during your trip to Niagara Falls your head might spin a bit at the sheer number of dining options available.

During your stay at the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls you’ll have access to a number of food and beverage options onsite, but which should you choose? Casual dining options are numerous but if you’d like to get a bit dressed up and experience a culinary wonderland then The Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra should be at the top of your list.

The restaurant’s space is striking with a full view of the beautiful falls and the service is impeccable. But, ultimately, what you’re really there for is the food. Following are just a few of the sumptuous items available on The Rainbow Room’s menus and each one is more enticing than the last.

Cocktails and Wine

Every great meal starts with a great cocktail or bottle of wine, and The Rainbow Room has covered all the bases in that department. With inspired cocktails based on classics to an extensive wine list featuring some of the best bottles from the Niagara region, you’ll want to make your reservation early so you have time savor some of the bar’s best menu options.

Try the Marilyn, which is a tribute to one of The Rainbow Room’s most beloved guests, Marilyn Monroe. This fun blend of sparkling wine, Calvados (an apple brandy), and grenadine will wake up your palate.

Appetizers

Some diners overlook the appetizer menu as their eyes are drawn to delectable entrees but a great appetizer sets the stage for the rest of the meal. The appetizer menu at The Rainbow Room offers just the right Italian inspired dishes and portions to pique your taste buds and have you excited about what’s to come.

Try the classic zuppetta di cipolla onion soup loaded with gooey provolone cheese and perfectly caramelized onions. Be sure to ask the sommelier or your server for the perfect wine pairing as well.

cpblog2Entrees

Like the largest jewel in an already elaborate crown the entree selection at The Rainbow Room is something that you can’t look away from. Utilizing as many local ingredients as possible, the culinary team here has left nothing to chance and have created a menu that is truly humble yet inspired.

From exceptional pastas like the wild boar agnolotti to traditional yet perfect cuts of steak, you may have a hard time choosing just one entree. Try the maple mustard crusted lamb rack featuring local, Ontario lamb as the star of the plate or the pan seared wild scallops, each with a wide choice of sumptuous side dishes.

A divine dinner can make an already great vacation something that you’ll always remember. During your next visit to Niagara Falls make your reservation early so you can get a table with an unobstructed view of the falls and let the staff at The Rainbow Room create an evening you’ll never forget.

Get up Close and Personal With Niagara Falls

cpblog5The Niagara River and the waterfalls that are part of it are steeped in legend and history. As part of the natural flow from nearby Lake Erie, the Niagara River and its mighty power result in the largest waterfall in the world by sheer water volume, and Horseshoe Falls is the largest waterfall in North America measured by height and flow rate.

People have been fascinated by this powerful river and the roaring falls for as long as we’ve had recorded history, and it’s safe to say that people felt the same way even before then. First documented in 1678 by French explorer Louis Hennepin the Niagara River and the falls have been a source of wild inspiration ever since.

During your next visit to Niagara Falls you can see and experience the falls and the river in numerous ways, but if you’re the adventurous type and want to get as close as you can then these are just a few of the best ways to do so.

White Water Walk

Extending 11 kilometers from the falls is the portion of the Niagara River known as the Great Gorge. Trillions of gallons of water rush through this narrow space each day, creating class 6 white water rapids as it passes. Today it’s virtually forbidden to put any sort of watercraft in the river below Niagara Falls, but some people have secured permission in the past, often with disastrous results.

Today you can safely get close to the rapids via the White Water Walk. A boardwalk set up right beside the river, this walk gives you a great idea of just how powerful this part of the river is, and you can see the mighty whirlpool as well. In addition, you can take the Whirlpool Aero Car for a thrilling aerial view of the mesmerizing whirlpool.

cpblog6Take a Boat Tour of the Falls

Perhaps the best known and best loved way to get as close to the falls as possible is by hopping on a boat and heading straight for them. You’ll definitely need the ponchos provided, as the giant catamarans can get about as close to the falls as you’d ever want to be.

The tour encompasses all three of the major falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the mighty Horseshoe Falls. You’ll be inside the Great Gorge on these tours, but unfortunately the boats are not permitted to venture down the river toward the whirlpool. However, you’ll get to enjoy the raw power and beauty of the falls, and if you prefer you can choose a night cruise to see not only the falls but the fireworks as well.

Virtually everywhere in Niagara you’ll have a view of the falls, but it’s something entirely different to be right beside the falls and the river and get a true idea of just how powerful they actually are. Take the river walk or a boat cruise to get up close and personal with the Niagara River and take home memories of the jaw-dropping wonder of it all, and perhaps a few damp pieces of clothing.

Niagara’s Best Summer Hiking Trails

cpblog3One of Niagara’s most appealing features is its natural beauty. The Niagara escarpment which encompasses the entire region creates some impressive geographical features, including the famous falls.

While there is more than enough to keep you occupied while you’re in town, there are times when you may want to get a big dose of nature, and a hike is a great way to satisfy that craving. You’ll have your pick of many local parks and hiking trails, all of which will give you beautiful views of the stunning landscape.

On your next vacation to Niagara Falls consider one of these hiking trails to experience Niagara at its best.

Devil’s Hole State Park

Located on the New York side of the falls, Devil’s Hole State Park is one of the best places for a leisurely hike that’s suitable for most skill levels. One of the best features of this hike is that you can hike down to the river and witness the full power of the Niagara River.

The park also features picnic tables, scenic overlooks, and is a popular fishing area. Leashed pets are allowed and in the winter this is also a popular area for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Whirlpool State Park

Also on the New York side of the river is Whirlpool State Park. The hiking trails here connect to those at Devil’s Hole State Park but, unfortunately, the access by stairs to the river is currently closed for construction and will remain closed until the end of July according to the State Park’s website.

However, the upper trails are still open and make for a great day spent outside in the beautiful scenery. Perfect for families this park also offers playgrounds, picnic tables, and biking trails to enjoy. Leashed pets are permitted.

cpblog4Niagara Glen Nature Reserve

Designated as a nature reserve in 1992, Niagara Glen is one of the most popular areas for hiking on the Canadian side of the river. The hiking trails here are a bit more challenging than the other two parks mentioned, so proper footwear and a reasonable fitness level are musts.

One of the highlights of this area is the overlook to the famous Niagara River whirlpool which is reached via the River Path. There are several other trails to choose from, all with their own unique features. As this is a nature preserve it is forbidden to take anything, including rocks, plants, or flowers.

Niagara Falls Discovery Center

If you prefer guided hikes or indoor nature centers then the Niagara Falls Discovery Center is the place or you. Serving as a hub of sorts for the other state parks on the New York side of the river, the Niagara Falls Discovery Center features an interactive display related to the river and the falls, a theater offering educational videos, and a climbing wall.

From here you can reach a number of hiking trails on your own or with a guide. Be sure to pay close attention to information regarding each trail; some trails are more difficult and have an age restriction for young hikers.

No matter which hike you choose you’ll be able to see the natural beauty of the Niagara area in all its glory. So choose a day, pack some water and food, and get out and explore Niagara in a whole new way.

Have Your Best Niagara Day at Queen Victoria Park

cpblog1Many call it the heart of Niagara and if you’re a nature lover you might call it that as well. Queen Victoria Park is located very near to the falls and offers up a wealth of plants, trees, and flowers that are at their peak during different times of the year. This means that depending on when you visit you could be greeted by tulips in the spring or spectacular carpets of blooms in the summer. Even the frozen winter landscape of Queen Victoria Park has its appeal.

Opened in 1888, Queen Victoria Park was proposed by a three member committee of the Canadian Parliament and construction began in 1887. The park officially opened to the public on May 24 of the following year, the birthday of Queen Victoria.

Today, Queen Victoria Park is one of Niagara’s most popular attractions and sees millions of visitors each year. Be sure to reserve a spot on your itinerary for this beautiful park, and these are just a few of the ways you can spend a few hours or more taking in the lush surroundings during your visit to Niagara Falls.

Calling All Shutterbugs!

Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, any photographer will thoroughly enjoy the numerous photo opportunities located throughout the park. No matter the season the wide array of flowers, trees, shrubs, and bushes will always make for exceptional photos. The rock garden and the rose garden are especially popular.

Since the park is open, try to get there early, not only to beat the crowds but also to capture the early morning light and the mist that floats over from the falls. The resulting photos have a dreamy quality to them that just can’t be matched.

cpblog2Take a Carriage Ride

During the summer months guided horse and carriage are available and there isn’t a better way to see the park. Not only do you get to stay off your feet, but your guide will point out all the wonderful aspects of the park, including the various plants, trees, and flowers you’ll see. The experience is romantic, the horses are well cared for, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy every minute of the ride.

The carriage tours of Queen Victoria Park are available all year, weather permitting. Visit the carriage company’s website for more information about availability and prices.

Go on a Picnic

One of the best ways to experience any park in any location is to simply pack a lunch, perhaps a bottle of wine, and head off for a picnic. With its expansive lawns and numerous shade trees Queen Victoria Park is an idyllic locale for a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature.

Druxy’s Famous Deli is a great choice for picnic eats and isn’t too far from the park. Stop in, grab some sandwiches and other munchies, and wander the park to find the perfect spot. Don’t forget your picnic blanket and a book. You may find yourself so entranced that you don’t want to leave.

Parks are a wonderful way to experience a city, and Queen Victoria Park in Niagara is no exception. Be sure to save some time for this gem during your next visit.

¡Hola! The Best Mexican Restaurants in Niagara Falls

CPblog7Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines around the world, and if you have a craving for tacos or tamales while you’re here, you’re definitely in luck. Niagara Falls offers a wide range of cuisine choices and Mexican food features prominently among them.

Many immigrants from the country of Mexico have made Canada their home and they’ve brought their food culture with them. Therefore, you can expect authentic Mexican dishes, tasty margaritas, and all of your other favorites along with great service.

During your visit to Niagara Falls be sure to check out one of these top Mexican restaurants and see what the fuss is all about.

Taco and Tequila

The name of this Mexican restaurant pretty much says it all. They offer some of the most popular Mexican dishes and serve up huge margaritas to match. Try one of their famous appetizers like fresh chips and homemade salsas, tostadas, and molletes, which are toasted slices of bread topped with deliciously seasoned black beans and melted cheese.

If you make it past the appetizers and have room for main dishes your options are almost endless. Enchiladas, fajitas, carne asada, and chile rellenos are on offer, as are tacos with fillings like traditional beef, chicken, fried fish filets, and spicy chorizo. Taco and Tequila also offers burgers and salads for anyone in your group that isn’t fond of Mexican food. But really, does anyone not like Mexican food?

Cabo Cantina

A little more high-end with prices to match, Cabo Cantina offers up inspired Mexican dishes that are definitely worth the money. Here you’ll find traditional recipes that make good use of the abundant local ingredients found in the Niagara region. Mole dishes, steak, chicken, and seafood are among the most popular, and all ingredients are combined into true Mexican delights.

On Fridays and Saturdays Cabo Cantina morphs into one of Niagara’s hottest nightclubs featuring live bands and DJs. The full menu is available until 10 p.m. and the appetizer menu is available until 11 p.m.

Don Wong Mexican Asian Market

CPblog8A Mexican Asian fusion restaurant is not something you see every day, but Don Wong Mexican Asian Market is one of those places that just sounds too good not to try. While they’re a little heavier on the Mexican than the Asian, which is evident by their wide selection of burritos and tacos, they frequently tell their customers via social media when they’re serving up pork dumplings and Chinese barbecue so if you’re in the area you won’t want to miss that.

They also offer take out, which can be just what you need after a long day of sightseeing in Niagara Falls.

Sometimes when you’re traveling you want to try new and different foods, and sometimes you just want something familiar and comforting. If Mexican food is on your mind be sure to check out one of these excellent Mexican restaurants to get your fill of tacos and burritos, and delicious margaritas to wash it all down.

Are We There Yet? Drive Times to Niagara Falls

CPblog5One of the best reasons to choose Niagara Falls for your vacation is its close proximity to many major cities in the northeastern portion of the United States. This means that it’s often cheaper to drive rather than fly, and who doesn’t love a road trip?

As airfare prices continue to rise and those pesky fees for everything just won’t go away, driving to Niagara Falls is often the best choice, especially for families and groups. Why fly when you can drive for a fraction of the cost?

We’ve put together a small list of drive times from some major cities near Niagara Falls, as well as a few interesting stops along the way.

New York City

Google maps shows the drive time from New York City to Niagara Falls as six hours and nine minutes without traffic, via toll roads, and covers 409 miles. The easiest route takes you through eastern Pennsylvania and western New York on your way to Buffalo, and Niagara just beyond.

Depending on your route you could stop in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, or any number of state and local parks along the way. Play around with Google maps to find the best route for your trip.

Boston, Massachusetts

The drive time from Boston, Massachusetts comes in at 7 hours without traffic and the route covers 468 miles. The suggested route passes through Springfield, Massachusetts, home to Six Flags New England, and Syracuse, New York, where you can visit the Erie Canal Museum.

This drive is especially beautiful in the fall, and again, there are numerous parks and trails along the way where you can stretch your legs and take in the beauty of fall in New England.

CPblog6Cleveland, Ohio

One of the nearest major cities to Niagara is Cleveland, Ohio. This drive takes just over three hours without traffic and covers just over 200 miles. Via Interstate 90 East, this route cruises along the shores of Lake Erie which finally tumbles over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario.

Take your time along this route, as you have plenty of it. The parks along the lakeshore are perfect for picnics and hiking, and you could even try your hand at birdwatching or fishing with the proper license.

Washington, D.C.

About the same distance from Boston, the drive from Washington D.C. to Niagara takes just over seven hours and covers 400 miles. This might be one of the more scenic drives as Interstate 80 passes right near the Allegheny National Forest, one of the jewels in the United States Forest System’s crown.

Unless you’re on a deadline, it might be best to overnight near the National Forest so you have ample time to enjoy it before you complete your trip to Niagara Falls.

Some say that getting there is half the fun, and this is especially true of a road trip to Niagara. So pack your car, set your playlist, and head off to the adventures that you’ll find on the way to your final destination.

Co-Working Spaces in Niagara Falls

CPblog3Vacations are supposed to be about fun, relaxation, and spending time with family and friends. In fact, that’s exactly what most vacations are. However, as the way that many people work has changed, and as more people work remotely there are new and different ways that people approach work and their time off.

And let’s face it, some people just can’t step away from the laptop no matter how hard they try.

While people taking a vacation in Niagara Falls could easily work from their hotel room, co-working spaces have popped up all over the world and offer a more office-like atmosphere that can help some feel more motivated. These spaces feature desks and chairs, reliable Wi-Fi, snacks and coffee, and payment plans can be by the hour or by the day.

So if you absolutely have to work, these are some of the best co-working spaces in Niagara Falls.

Cowork Niagara

Part of a member cooperative, Cowork Niagara is one of the most popular places for freelancers and entrepreneurs to work, network, and collaborate with other like-minded people. The offer printers, meeting rooms, a library, a projector, and more.

As a cooperative, a membership is required, and while it’s not clear if they offer short term memberships, Cowork Niagara is worth checking out while you’re in town.

CPblog4Fueled Minds

Fueled Minds is another co-working space in Niagara and features a number of amenities to suit any worker’s needs. They offer shared desks, private desks, meeting spaces, and equipment for presentations, free coffee, Wi-Fi, and 24-hour secure building access. They even offer a shower, bicycle storage, and access to the kitchenette.

Even if you just need to use the space for a short time, you’ll meet local freelancers and entrepreneurs in the area which is a great way to network and perhaps even bring new ideas back to your office or place of business at home.

Crowne Plaza Business Center

Of course, if you prefer to stay at the hotel, the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls offers an onsite business center for guest use. A copy machine, fax, desks, and Wi-Fi are available for any guest who needs to work during their stay. Starbucks is onsite for your caffeine needs, and you can have lunch at the Rainbow Room when all that working has made you hungry.

In addition, if you choose to work at the business center at the hotel, your family can relax by the pool or explore nearby until you’re ready to join them for some vacation fun.

Working while on vacation might not be ideal, but for some people it’s just unavoidable. As more people work for themselves or in another non-traditional job setting, 9-to-5 simply isn’t the rule anymore; in fact, it could be considered the exception. However, you can be sure that you’ll have access to either co-working spaces or the hotel’s business center while you’re here, and you can keep up with your work and enjoy the beauty of Niagara all at the same time.

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