AAA Travel Tips / Niagara Falls, Off the Beaten Path

Niagara Falls, Off the Beaten Path

AAA/Patricia Miller
By AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
December 06, 2018
Niagara Falls can be a blast, but if you’re looking for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle, drive about 30 minutes north to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a completely different vibe. This postcard-pretty village on the shore of Lake Ontario looks like a Hollywood movie set with charming shops tucked behind gorgeous floral displays exploding with color. Tantalizing restaurants, bakeries and ice cream shops dispense tempting treats, while just minutes away are dozens of wineries where you can sample award-winning vintages to your heart’s content.
Uniforms on display at Fort George National Historic Site in Ontario
AAA/Patricia Miller
Fort George National Historic Site
51 Queens Parade
(905) 468-6614
Contrary to what you may believe about reconstructed historic forts, a visit to this site won’t be a snooze fest. Thanks to a staff of knowledgeable, engaged and sociable volunteer docents, you’ll get a very real sense of what life was like back in the days leading up to the War of 1812. Dressed in early 1800s garb, docents give entertaining presentations on things like shooting a musket and cooking meals in a colonial kitchen using authentic period recipes.
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Sign at The Olde Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario Canada
AAA/Patricia Miller
The Olde Angel Inn
224 Regent St.
AAA Inspector Rating
(905) 468-3411
Everything about this traditional English public house built in 1816, from wide-planked wood floors and brick fireplaces to ceiling beams dotted with brass horse-bridal ornaments, evokes the feel of a Colonial-era tavern, which it actually is. You may even find yourself dining with a ghost; ask about the ill-fated Colonel Swayze when you order. On the menu are favorites like English sausage rolls and shepherd’s pie, and for a little extra you can add a Yorkshire pudding.
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Tea at Prince of Wales Hotel & Spa
AAA/Patricia Miller
Prince of Wales Hotel & Spa
6 Picton St.
AAA Inspector Rating
(905) 468-3246
When lunchtime rolls around, dine like a royal and have high tea in this hotel’s elegant Victorian drawing room. Plucked straight out of “Downton Abbey,” the room oozes old-world elegance and has endless photo ops for your Instagram. Velvet settees, intricately carved fireplaces and plush carpets set the scene for a lovely dining experience. Select your tea from a box of loose blends (served later in Wedgwood china) and indulge in dainty finger sandwiches, tiny cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream served on tiered silver trays.
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BeauChapeau shop in Heritage District in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario
AAA/Patricia Miller
Shopping in the Heritage District
Queen Street
If you believe that no vacation is complete until you’ve gone shopping, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Heritage District, teeming with amazing emporiums, will not disappoint. You won’t find any tacky souvenir stores here; instead, you’ll discover one-of-a-kind boutiques in charming Victorian-era buildings. Head to BeauChapeau for the perfect topper for your head, whether it’s a fedora, Stetson, derby, Panama or beret. Foodies can satisfy their cravings at Cheese Secrets, OLiv Tasting Room and Maple Leaf Fudge (kids will love this too); at Serendipity, The Little French Shop, check out gifts like scented soaps, linens and porcelain displayed in shabby chic cabinets.
Wine bottles at Trius Winery at Hillebrand
AAA/Patricia Miller
Trius Winery at Hillebrand
1249 Niagara Stone Rd.
(905) 468-7123
Take a drive through Niagara-on-the-Lake’s lush wine country to Trius Winery at Hillebrand and get a behind-the-scenes look at how grapes become transformed into award-winning vintages. Follow your guide into the chilled cellar where the liquid is stored in different stages of fermentation in huge oak barrels and stainless steel vats. During the tour, you’ll taste several varieties, including medalists Trius Red, Trius Brut and the sweet yet crisp ice wine. Be sure to book a tour in advance, as they fill up quickly.
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