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Weekend Getaways: Niagara Falls

Having grown up in a small town near Niagara Falls, it seemed like the perfect choice for a quick weekend trip away from Toronto. I was already somewhat familiar with the city, but had never really indulged in all its great touristy adventures.

Leaving Friday afternoon, my boo and I packed our weekend bags into a gorgeous white Honda Accord thanks to Honda, who graciously let us borrow it for the weekend, and headed on the highway south to Niagara. If you're on the hunt for a great road trip car, I couldn't recommend the Accord more. We only had to fill up on gas once on the way back to Toronto after doing quite a lot of driving the whole weekend.

Beyond great gas mileage, it has a push button start (no keys required!), full leather seats, easy radio customization, is very roomy, and most impressively - a rear and side view camera that show you your blind spots when changing lanes or backing up. Such a useful safety feature! And if you or your passengers take your belt off while the vehicle is moving, a ladies voice will suddenly tell you to put it back on. Safety first! 

We arrived in Niagara to stay at a beautiful B&B on a side street away from the hustle and bustle of Lundy's Lane. The Victorian Charm Bed and Breakfast was our first time at a B&B and it was easily the best home away from home experience I've ever had. It will be hard to go back to staying in hotels in the future after the warmth and welcome we received from our lovely host - Anne Marie - who treats every guest as her own family. 

We stayed in her Turret Room, which had a full bathroom, large and super comfortable bed, nook with a table and chairs, and a great private balcony overlooking the street.
 
Her lovely home has seven different rooms to choose from, catering to singles, couples, and families. Her kitchen is open for breakfast from 7-10am - being night owls we were very happy to see a 10am option. Anne Marie is much more flexible than most, in that if you need your breakfast earlier or a little later, she is more than happy to accommodate. Your breakfast will be served overlooking her gorgeous organic garden, which makes it feel like you are in a place far far away from the busy city that is Niagara Falls.

She treated us to different menu options every day, and catered to our dairy and gluten free allergies without seeming the least bit inconvenienced by the request - as so many can be. 

She will also explain all the tourist attractions, locations, great restaurant options, and provide maps and discounted passes for all the attractions. You get the real benefit of staying with a local who knows and loves her city and truly cares that her guests have a fantastic time while in town. I highly recommend staying at the Victorian Charm B&B if you find yourself in the Falls.

Once we settled in, we took to the town to explore. We managed to pack quite a few activities into two days, but you could easily spend a week in Niagara exploring all that it has to offer. 

The Clifton Hill Fun Pass is easily worth the $26 price tag because you get to do all of the following: Skywheel, XD Theatre, Dinosaur or Wizard Mini-Golf, Movieland Wax Museum, Ghost Blasters Dark Ride, and it gives you tokens to use at the Midway. If you purchased all these separately you would easily spend $80. 

The Skywheel was a definite highlight. I love ferris wheels for their adrenaline rush, but they can also be terrifying - the Skywheel is kept in pristine shape and is fully enclosed so you do not feel as scared as you would on the squeaky fair contraptions, and it runs ALL YEAR LONG! I need to try it again in the winter to see how the city looks covered in snow.

If you're into 3D films like my boyfriend is, make sure you hit up the XD Theatre - that was a rush. The Midway is also the most fun you can possibly have on a date, especially when followed up with a round of mini-golf. Ripleys Believe It Or Not was also a trip - where else can you get Zoltar to tell you your fortune? 

We both wanted to do the Journey Behind The Falls before we left. I had done it when I was very young  - like five - and had vague memories of walking in a cave like area but not much else remained. Once there I realized it was actually much smaller than how it felt to my five-year-old brain - but was still incredible. There's no better way to experience the power of the Falls than to step directly behind it and see the water crash down from the inside. 

Since I had been on the Maid of the Mist daytime boat cruise a couple times in my life already, we decided to try out the Hornblower Night Cruise this time, which goes right up to the Falls while it is all lit up and the weekend fireworks are going off. It was a very wet, very romantic experience. Definitely another big highlight of the trip.

If you are willing to spend the extra cash, I recommend the night cruse over the day cruise, especially if you're having a weekend away with your boo. There are few things as romantic as kissing while on a boat, with the Falls crashing down to the left of you and fireworks going off to the right. Also, it has music, snacks, and booze for sale. Party boat for the win. 

We didn't have time to see the Butterfly Conservatory or try the Whirlpool Jet Boat tour among other things, but we did get to explore the Botanical Gardens on a perfectly sunny day, and it was gorgeous. 

While I might recommend staying for a few more days if it is your first time there, or if you're coming from further out - for those of you in the Toronto area - Niagara Falls is most definitely the perfect summer weekend getaway.