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Southern Ontario

NE PA USA
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62 posts
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Southern Ontario

We will be picking up our friends in Buffalo after they arrive from Chicago. Before heading back to our home in PA we want to enjoy a few days together celebrating our 25th wedding anniversaries. We thought we'd take in Fort Niagara and Niagara Falls for the day (we've all been to the falls before), then move on, and that's the big question. Our friends are from Europe so I want them to see something different this time. We don't want to go to Toronto--would prefer quieter escape. The winery regions look nice--Niagara On The Lake quite pricey. Port Stanley was suggested--is there enough to do there besides the beach? The map program has us take the highways 401 & 403--is there a more scenic drive? Are there places close to Niagara On The Lake that aren't so expensive? I think 3 hours from Buf/Niagara Falls would be our limit, because we'll have to drive home and that would be about 6 hours. Thank you.

Ontario, Canada
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1. Re: Southern Ontario

Just a couple of questions....what type of activities do you like...museums? wineries? culture? nature...? Any children to be considered?

NE PA USA
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2. Re: Southern Ontario

Thanks Van Clan...for your interest in my post.

No children with us this trip. It is entirely to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary (our friends' too). I think we've decided to stay in Niagara Falls and use that as our staging point. Right now I think we will take in Fort Niagara in Youngstown, then cross over at Lewiston. I'm thinking we will spend some time in Niagara on the Lake and also lots to do at the falls--it's been years since my husband has been there, and that was just a quick stop as he passed by on a business trip near Toronto.

I am trying to decide how many days, 2 or three. I am curious about taking a brewery tour, I think the guys would like that. The only one I've found so far is in Toronto--any advice there? I am still awaiting some input from our Swiss friends, but they are pretty flexible as far as interests. I do like history (hence the stop at the Fort Niagara) I may want to check out the forts on the Canadian side, too. Thanks for your help.

London, Canada
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3. Re: Southern Ontario

A stop in Niagara/Niagara on the Lake would be great, especially if you haven't been for awhile. Fort George is worthwhile if you like history, as is the Queenston Heights area.....

niagaraparks.com/garden-trail/queenston-heig…

niagaraparks.com/heritage-trail/laura-secord…

Probably 3 nights would work if you're planning a day trip from there as well.

If you're interested in a brewery tour (we did this with friends for an anniversary) then I'd head toward Kitchener/Waterloo----2 hrs from Niagara Falls. We visited a couple of microbreweries there, and stopped in Elora which is a charming place. Here's a description from a tour company, which you could customize for yourselves by checking the brewery websites:

<<< Some of Ontario’s finest craft beers are made in this beer region. Discover the personal touch in making traditional, hand-crafted beers on a tour of one of these fine craft breweries with a brewmaster or other ‘beer artisan’ and visits to two others. Sample all natural ingredient and exotic beers and enjoy a wholesome lunch at a local pub.

The goal of Grand River Brewing Company is to produce full flavoured beers with alcohol contents less than five percent for today’s beer drinkers concerned about over indulgence. They recently won a gold medal at the 2009 Ontario Brewing Awards for their Galt Knife Old Style Lager. Ever tasted a Bumbleberry Wheat Ale or Highballer Pumpkin Ale? This is your opportunity as you sample at Grand River Brewing.

When founder Philip Gosling opened Wellington Brewery in 1985, his concept was to produce English-style real ales for the Ontario market. These cask conditioned ales are naturally carbonated, served at cellar temperature, and drawn by hand pump. Find out at Wellington Brewery what goes into making their time honored traditional ales and taste some of their fine beers in the Iron Duke House with its ancient beams, roaring hearth and beautiful oak bar.

Brick Brewing Company produces craft quality assured beers including Waterloo Dark, Laker, Red Baron and Red Cap. Brick Brewing prides itself on producing beers that are unique and come from an authentic source. This award winning brewery produces 2.5 million cases of beer a year. Learn what makes this brewery such a great success story as a craft brewery as you taste some of their award winning beers>>>

Here's some info for Elora~

http://www.elorafergus.ca/

http://www.eloramews.com/

Hope that gives you some options....

NE PA USA
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4. Re: Southern Ontario

Thank you Tobe! I went to the Elora website--how nice. Really good suggestion and I have added it to the list. Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of the gorge--looks like the town has a little bit to offer for everyone's tastes.

London, Canada
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5. Re: Southern Ontario

You're most welcome. The Elora area is very nice and as you said, does have a little something for everyone. I did see the Elora Mill is closed for renovations but you should still have several other options for lunch.

It depends what hour you leave Niagara Falls but if you wanted an absolutely fantastic "25th wedding anniversary" lunch enroute, check out Langdon Hall, just outside Kitchener. It's a favourite of ours for dining and overnight stays.....but definitely a splurge. The Wilk's Bar there for more casual dining is also very nice.

http://langdonhall.ca/

Ontario, Canada
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6. Re: Southern Ontario

I totally agree with Elora and the Kitchener area..there is so much to do there. St Jacobs is another neat area ... it is the center of the Mennonite area, and there are lots of things to see and do. check out http://www.stjacobs.com/

If you and your friends are interested in live theatre .. Stratford Ontario is the home of a world famous Shakespeare Theatre http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/ which you will see has a wide variety of productions not limited to only Shakespeare. There are also several backstage tours which are really interesting if you are into that type of culture/experience. www.stratfordfestival.ca/OnStage/beyond.aspx…

As far as your question about Port Stanley... the beach is the primary draw there...although they have some really nice murals on the sides of the buildings.

NE PA USA
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7. Re: Southern Ontario

Hi Tobe,

I checked out the Elora/Fergus website for some more information and it looks charming and I think the pubs, shopping, and architecture look very interesting--with a feel of Ireland/Scotland. The Gorge is also a draw, as we like that kind of thing. I am just trying to put the itinerary in order, and now wonder if we should spend a night in up in Elora, too. I'm sure we'll find a place to eat lunch with all the pubs there.

I appreciate you input.

NE PA USA
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8. Re: Southern Ontario

Thank you Vanclan. I liked what I saw about St. Jacob's, too and looking at the map, we could still go to Elora. Funniest thing was while looking at the map, I noticed the town of Elmira north of St. Jacobs. We live just a 30 minute drive south of Elmira, New York, just over the PA border.

We have some Mennonite and Amish in our area here, but more scattered, so this might be nice to show our friends.

That whole area is appealing from St. Jacobs to Elora and the Gorge. I may have to rethink the Niagara Falls portion, or add on another day....

Thanks so much. These were much better suggestions than Port Stanley--I like the lake/beach but if it rains, there aren't a lot of options there.

London, Canada
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9. Re: Southern Ontario

If you don't mind staying in 2 spots I think the idea of spending an overnight in the Elora/St. Jacobs area for brewery tastings, shopping and sightseeing is great, and would significantly cut down on wasted driving time going back and forth to Niagara Falls for the 3rd or 4th night. It's a terrific area and if you wanted to reach as far as Stratford, it's well worthwhile for lots more than theatre.

Sometimes where you find accommodations will determine what your plans will be, so have a look here:

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g679248-Elora_Ontario…

www.ontariosfinestinns.com/inn_members.asp

This is a new property on the Ontario's Finest Inns website....good location for you too.

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g735506-d148342…

Even staying in Kitchener/Waterloo or Guelph or Cambridge would give you more options (and still less driving time) if you wanted to stay in more of a company hotel like the Four Points Sheraton in Cambridge.

Lots of options to narrow down. :)

Ottawa, Canada
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10. Re: Southern Ontario

Hi UkieFinnGirl,

Welcome to the ONTARIO TRAVEL FORUM

As always… Great ideas here from my esteemed colleague TOBIE (lol can`t believe how often he and I see things the same way).

I LOVE the Stratford & St Jacobs Area… and I LOVE the Niagara Region… (so as always my own plans for 2011 include visits to BOTH areas !!)

So, YES it is a tough call to say which is a better option for you… although as already noted the Niagara Region “can be” EXPEN$IVE

So I can see where wanting to divide your time between the two might be a good option.

BUT, when it comes to “Romance”… I`d have to say that the Niagara Region would be able to “sway” my decision a bit more… lol, there is a reason this area is the Honeymoon Capital of North America !!

What I am most concerned with at this point in time is this statement…

˂˂ I think we've decided to stay in Niagara Falls and use that as our staging point. ˃˃

This would certainly work for seeing the sights of the Niagara Region… and there is a ton of stuff to keep you all busy for the 2 or 3 Days that you have for this visit.

BUT I wouldn`t count on the Niagara Region (particularly NF) being a good spot as a “base camp” if you want to explore farther afield up in the Stratford & St Jacobs area… for that you`d want to look at accommodations in that region (there are some nice Hotels and B&Bs up that way).

Alternatively… if after your research you find that staying around the Niagara Region makes the most sense for you all logistically… then you might want to consider looking at a Vacation Rental property… getting a cottage / house in wine country could work out to be considerably cheaper split between you all vs looking at Hotel, Country Inns, or B&B accommodations…

And the nice thing with a Holiday Rental is you literally can have this great space all to yourselves… so a fantastic way to unwind… or catch up with what both couples have been doing… no other guests to bother… and you can even save a bit of cash (and have some fun) by cooking a meal or two together.

There are a HUGE selection of Rental Properties in the Niagara Region… you can find listings here on TA (look for the HOLIDAY RENTALS Tab to the left of the screen on the NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE TRAVEL PAGES)…

TA – NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE TRAVEL PAGES (Tourism) = tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g154999-Niagara_on_th…

OR… try an On-Line Search for other Listing Websites (VRBO = Vacation Rentals By Owner) is a HUGE Website… and very popular one

Although, I must say that one of the most comprehensive lists for the NOTL area can be found on the NOTL Tourism Website (put together by the Chamber of Commerce)

Niagara-on-the-Lake Tourism – Accommodations (Private Vacation Homes) = niagaraonthelake.com/page/properties/Private…

Hope this is helpful,

Cheers!

Wine-4-2