Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls: An 87 Year Legacy of Elegance and Charm

cp_340x345It’s been 87 years since the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview opened its doors to the public, welcoming guests from all over the world to stay in the hotel then known as the General Brock Hotel. Named after the general who valiantly defended Upper Canada during the War of 1812, the General Brock Hotel became an historical institution steeped in a rich history that is still worth revisiting and celebrating today.

The Crowne Plaza was considered to be Niagara’s first luxury hotel at the time of its opening and has hosted a number of notable guests over the years since then. Among them are Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Shirley Temple, Walt Disney, and perhaps most famously, Marilyn Monroe, who stayed at the hotel during the filming of the 1953 film “Niagara”.

Today, the Crowne Plaza continues to uphold its legacy of elegance and charm by offering remarkable accommodation and dining experiences to every guest who comes to stay. Celebrated Chef Massimo Capra has brought his culinary prowess to the hotel’s incredible Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra restaurant and has crafted a menu that showcases the rich bounty of Niagara in innovative and modern Italian dishes.

Chef Massimo Capra has specially designed the Milli-Stratto Lasagna dish currently on the Rainbow Room’s menu in celebration of the Crowne Plaza’s 87th anniversary. It combines 87 layers of hand-rolled pasta, Massimo’s signature bolognese, bechamel, and grana padano to make an incredibly unique and delicious dish.

The Crowne Plaza is a celebrated institution that offers guests incredible 4-star Fallsview accommodation just steps from the thundering waterfalls. So when visiting Niagara Falls, be sure to immerse yourself in the hotel’s rich history and book a stay at the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview to experience all of the luxury and charm for yourself.

A Disabled Person’s Guide to Niagara Falls

cpblog7Traveling can be challenging and stressful for many people, but for those with a disability those challenges are compounded exponentially. A vacation for a disabled person requires much more thought, planning, and research than it might for someone without a disability.

Luckily, Niagara and Canada as a whole strive to make every public space accessible to the disabled, which means that a vacation to Niagara Falls can be simpler to plan and execute than other destinations. If you or someone you’re traveling with has a disability this is a list of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more that can make your visit to Niagara Falls one to remember.

Hotels and Lodging

As any disabled traveler knows, planning ahead is the key to a successful vacation and this planning usually starts with the choice of lodging. Hotels are required to have fully accessible bathrooms in public spaces and a certain number of accessible rooms available. In some cases these rooms are limited so booking ahead is key.

Calling the hotel directly is often the best way to explain your needs and ensure that you book a room that suits you. All hotels also welcome service animals.

Attractions

cpblog8Of course, the main attraction in Niagara are the majestic falls themselves, and all viewing areas are fully accessible to those in a wheelchair, although your view might be slightly cut off by the railing. A great, unobstructed view can be had at Horseshoe Landing Patio Grill at the Table Rock Welcome Centre.

Stick around the Table Rock Welcome Centre for their almost fully accessible Journey Behind the Falls tour. You’ll ride an elevator down and take a wheelchair-friendly path to see the view of the falls from behind, which is always a thrilling experience.

Hornblower Cruises is also fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. The staff is trained and ready to help you board and get into position as you cruise right to the base of the falls. Rain ponchos are provided but consider bringing a plastic bag to cover your electric wheelchair control panel.

Restaurants

Dining options abound in Niagara and most eateries are equipped with ramps and accessible restrooms. A great fine dining option featuring the best of Niagara’s farm to table movement is Windows by Jamie Kennedy at the Sheraton on the Falls. Not only will you be fully accommodated but you’ll have one of the best meals of your life. Another fully accessible fine dining choice is the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Specializing in Italian cuisine this is one of the most popular fine dining choices in Niagara.

For a more casual option you might consider a wonderful craft beer and pub fare at the Niagara Brewing Company or a rock and roll style dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, both of which are fully prepared to accommodate guests with disabilities.

Niagara is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world and the entire hospitality community has worked hard to ensure that visitors with disabilities can enjoy their experience to the fullest. Be sure to call ahead with any questions you might have and book early, then get ready to enjoy a wonderful vacation in Niagara Falls.

Best Places to Catch Live Music in Niagara Falls

CPblog5Sometimes there’s nothing better than finding local venues that feature live music when you’re traveling, and Niagara Falls is no exception. The local casinos always have a great music calendar featuring well-known singers and bands, but nothing really compares to a local band playing to a local crowd and all the fun that results.

While Niagara is by no means a large city, it definitely offers its fair share of small, live-music venues for its size. Whether you’re into country, rock, hip-hop, or something else, Niagara has you covered.

On your next visit to Niagara Falls pop into one of these restaurants or bars and boogie the night away, Niagara style.

Sandstone Grillhouse

Not only does Sandstone Grillhouse serve up some of the best steaks in Niagara, but they often feature live music as well, particularly on the weekends. The bands vary from time to time but mostly offer classic rock and contemporary hits played by a fun and talented cover band.

Open daily from 4 p.m. and with the last seating at 9 p.m. this is a fine-dining restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere that’s perfect for couples and families.

Kelsey’s

Located near Clifton Hill in the heart of Niagara’s action is Kelsey’s restaurant, a no-frills kind of place serving up classic American bar style food with a funky twist, like the Doritos-crusted chicken fingers. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Kelsey’s offers a full bar and live music every night during the high season. If you’re visiting during other times of the year give them a call to see what they have on the lineup.

While things can get a bit loud when the band is in full swing, Kelsey’s is still a great place to bring your kids, especially if they’re old enough to enjoy the vibe of the fun crowd of locals who keep Kelsey’s hopping until the wee hours.

Yanks Old Niagara Bar and Grill

Another favorite of locals and tourists who are live-music fans is Yanks Old Niagara Bar and Grill. Open daily from noon until 2 a.m., this friendly and unassuming local hangout features live bands. However, there is no real set schedule, so it’s best to check with them to see if a band will play on the night you’d like to visit.

Another perk of Yank’s is its reputation for one of Canada’s most famous dishes, poutine. Reviews flood in from all over the internet raving about their version of the classic dish, so even if you don’t catch a live band, definitely stop in for what’s often called the best poutine in town.

Doc Magilligan’s Irish Pub

CPblog6Arguably the best Niagara location for live music is Doc Magilligan’s Irish Pub. Doc’s features a rotating calendar of local bands that perform every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and you can check their calendar here.

Doc’s also receives rave reviews for their food which, as expected, offers some of the most traditional Irish food you’ll find outside of Dublin. Everything from fish and chips to shepherd’s pie to burgers and other sandwiches are on the menu. If you visit one spot for great food and great music, Doc Magilligan’s is definitely the one that will make your day, or night.

Spending a night out drinking, dining, and dancing is one of the best parts of any vacation. Be sure to visit one or more of these locales on your next visit to Niagara.

Niagara Falls Is the New 8th Wonder of the World

CPblog3We all know the world is a pretty amazing place with some spectacular sites, ancient and modern, manmade and natural. Our planet is a glorious place and everyone has their favorite world wonder but as we move toward a more modern era things are changing just a bit.

We all learned about the ancient wonders of the world, which included the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt and the Colossus of Rhodes. The only one on that list still visible today are the Pyramids at Giza and all of these were manmade.

Then we have the seven natural wonders of the world. These include the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. However, people have broken these lists down further to include the wonders of specific countries, and Niagara Falls certainly tops Canada’s version of that list.

But what if we added an 8th natural wonder of the world? How would that work and what stunning, natural site would win? Well, the internet took on this challenge and the winner by popular vote is (you guessed it) Niagara Falls!

So what brought Facebook users out in droves to vote for Niagara Falls as the 8th natural wonder of the world? Let’s find out and give you even more reasons to visit Niagara Falls.

Unique Natural Features

The area around Niagara Falls called the Niagara Escarpment is one of the most unique geologic features on the planet. Formed thousands of years ago by advancing and retreating ice sheets, the Great Lakes were created by the melting ice and the mighty Niagara Falls were an additional result.

Of course, the science behind it is much more complex but to put it simply, the Great Lakes were formed and the Niagara River connected Lake Ontario with Lake Erie. Land shifted and created the series of waterfalls we know today. As far as geology goes Niagara is the clear winner when it comes to natural wonders.

It’s Also Just Plain Fun

CPblog4While not exactly related to the natural aspects of Niagara, one can’t deny the fact that Niagara is just simply a fun place to visit. Taking a boat ride under the falls, dancing the night away at the casino, or making memories with you family, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a visit to Niagara Falls.

Scenic hikes around the area, a day at the indoor waterpark, the superb dining, outstanding local wineries and so much more make Niagara one of the best places for a couple’s getaway, family vacation, or any reason at all. 30 million people per year visit Niagara Falls and with numbers like that you know there’s something special happening here.

They say it’s not official until it’s Facebook official so I guess this is it! Niagara Falls is the 8th wonder of the natural world and there’s no better time to book your vacation to Niagara than now!

5 Fall Concerts in Niagara You Won’t Want to Miss

CPblog1While Niagara is most famous for its namesake mighty waterfalls, there is a lot more to the area than some might think. For instance, Niagara’s music venues feature internationally famous bands and singers year-round which attract thousands of guests.

Summer is generally the most popular time to see one of these concerts but the fall calendar is also full of music fun and makes for a great excuse to plan a trip to Niagara Falls. If you’re a music lover or just want to add a fun evening to your Niagara itinerary, consider one of these upcoming shows.

Tim McGraw

One of the best and most talented stars of country music will grace the stage at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort on November 5 and 6 this year. With a dedicated following and over 14 albums, 10 compilation albums, and 67 singles to his credit this is one show you won’t want to miss.

Because the show takes place at the casino the minimum age for entry is 19. Tickets can be purchased at the casino or through Ticketmaster and start at $150.

The Beach Boys

Everyone’s favorite good times’ rock band is coming to the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort for three nights, September 29 and 30 then rounding out the party with a final performance on October 1. Expect to hear all of your favorite hits from this group that has had sold out performances around the world for more than 40 years.

Again, the minimum age for entry is 19 and tickets can be found at Ticketmaster.

Rascal Flatts

This popular country band from the 2000s is back in the spotlight and you won’t want to miss their shows at the Fallsview Casino Resort on October 4 and 5. With over 20 million records sold these guys are amongst the most popular country music bands of all time and their live show is sure to have the audience dancing and singing along to some of their most famous hits.

Admission is for those 19 years of age or older and tickets are available on Ticketmaster or at the casino’s box office.

CPblog2The Doobie Brothers

If you grew up in the 1970s or are just a fan of great classic rock you won’t want to miss this two night performance by the Doobie Brothers. Still one of the most popular bands from their era, the Doobie Brothers are best known for such hits as “China Grove” and “Black Water.” Don’t miss out on your chance to see this band perform live!

Contact Fallsview Casino Resort for more information about ticket availability.

Foreigner

Perhaps the most exciting of the upcoming shows at Fallsview Casino Resort is a special two night acoustic-only event by the iconic band Foreigner. Best known for their heavy guitar driven hits you’ll be able to experience your favorite hits in a completely new way. Held the evenings of November 11 and 12, this is one Niagara concert you don’t want to miss.

Tickets are available to those 19 years of age or older at the box office or through Ticketmaster.

Reasons to Take a Day Trip to Buffalo, New York

cpblog7Niagara Falls and its immediate surroundings have enough activities and sights to keep you busy for days but many visitors combine their Niagara Falls vacation with day trips to some of the surrounding regions. While most choose the wine country and scenic byways north of Niagara toward Ontario there are many other areas to be explored.

One of these is Buffalo, New York. The city came of age during the early industrial revolution in the United States and while it still holds a great deal of that blue collar charm Buffalo has seen a resurgence in tourism and attention in recent years, mainly due to its lively arts scene and beautiful neoclassical and art deco buildings.

If you’d like to spend a day exploring this rugged yet interesting little city these are just a few of the activities available.

Buffalo Zoological Gardens

Buffalo is the proud home of third oldest zoo in the United States and one of the most well-respected in the animal welfare category. A wide array of animals call this zoo home, including endangered Siberian tigers, alligators, amphibians like the poison arrow frog, and birds such as the vulture. The zoo offers rotating special exhibits throughout the year so check their website for more information.

cpblog8Old Fort Niagara

The strategic location of upstate New York was not lost on early settlers in the United States and Fort Niagara has seen several conflicts, skirmishes, and wars and has been in operation since 1679. This sprawling site not only allows visitors to tour the existing structures but also participate in guided tours and historic reenactments.

The curators also house and display an impressive collection of tools, firearms, and other instruments that were vital to life at the fort throughout its tumultuous history. Special events take place throughout the high season so visit their website to see if any of these appeals to the history buff in your family.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Buffalo is also home to the Albright-Knox, a world class art gallery that draws upwards of one hundred thousand visitors per year. Specializing in modern and contemporary works the museum houses permanent and rotating collections that include works by Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and many more. 19th century artists such as Gauguin and Monet are also on display as well as pieces by Picasso, Matisse, and Miró.

A Tour of Downtown Buffalo

No visit to Buffalo would be complete without a tour of the historic downtown section of the city. Gorgeous art deco buildings await you on each corner. Guided tours of the city are available on various days throughout the month highlighting the impressive architecture but you can always hit the streets on your own go get a feel for this hidden gem of a city.

Exploring the surrounding area can be one of the best parts of any vacation and the Niagara region is no exception. Carve a little time out of your itinerary to visit the unexpectedly classy city of Buffalo and learn more about what makes it so special.

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.

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