An Ideal Vacation: Ontario: Niagara Falls!

Hi folks!

Today’s Ideal Vacation location is my own dear province: Ontario!  Since I have visited a few places around this province, I’ll start by introducing the one I know best:

Where to visit:

  • Niagara Falls

What to do:

  • Butterfly Conservatory (as long as you’re okay with butterflies maybe landing on you!):  It’s a lovely slice of enclosed rainforest with a vast selection of colourful butterflies to stalk.  It’s hard to go and not leave a happier person!
  • Journey Behind the Falls:  Here, you really get a sense of how powerful the Niagara Falls Horseshoe waterfall is, as well as the tremendous speed with which all that water falls every second.
  • Maid of the Mist:  Although locals tend to roll their eyes at this one for its “hokeyness”, you really get different perspective from a boat about these falls.  I lived near Niagara Falls all my life and only truly understood the immensity of them when I went on the Maid of the Mist when I was about 16.  You won’t believe the wind!
  • The “old casino” (Casino Niagara):  More unique and pretty than the new casino on Murray Hill, Casino Niagara at 5705 Falls Avenue still houses many slot machines (the only thing I’ve ever dared to play), as well as some tables for that other gambling stuff.  It also has an interesting and functional art display of different-sized flat screen TVs so you can keep up-to-date with your favourite sports teams.  Plus, it’s just a few steps away from…..
  • The Hershey Store:  While everything is expensive here, if you have a few extra bucks to splurge in the summer, try one of their chocolate-dipped strawberries (ask for it *freshly* dipped, trust me!) and/or a chocolate milkshake.  No matter your chocolate tolerance, you will get a sugar overload!  It’s an awesome place to take a date, hint hint.
  • Go up to the Observation Deck at the Skylon Tower:  Sure, it gives you an amazing view of Niagara Falls, but what people often forget is that the viewing deck is all around the tower, so you can see far into the distance in all directions and can admire all the local landscape.  This used to be the tallest building at Niagara Falls, and is starting to be dwarfed by the (kinda ridiculous, if you ask me) massive hotels….. so if you’re one to appreciate history and architecture, this is the place you want to support!  If you’re feeling like an unforgettable meal, make sure to go to the restaurant up top too; they have incredible food!
  • Margaritaville:  This restaurant is new as of last summer, but had my attention from the beginning.  One of the famous international chain of Caribbean-themed restaurants created by everyone’s favourite beach bum, Jimmy Buffett, has opened across the street from the new casino on Murray Hill.  Everything I have ever tried on this song-inspired menu has been sensational, and served in the most amusing atmosphere you can imagine.  Pirates on stilts making balloon animal hats?  Sure!  Giant tequila bottle pouring into a monster-sized blender?  Of course!  Every restaurant is themed uniquely for its location, so there’s even a shout out to Niagara Falls by way of enormous large screen waterfall projections.  I believe they have live music every night, and Jimmy himself has been known to show up and play a spontaneous set!  (Just don’t expect it — that’s only happened once so far!)

 

Well, I’ve got a list started anyway.  I do love playing Tour Guide for friends who’ve never been, so expect to see more updates to this list in the future.  Feel free to add your own as well!

As this was only about Niagara Falls, I will try to get to other cities in the coming days, but I’ll need your help too!  Tell me which cities in Ontario you love to visit and why!

Best T.O. Resto (for home-cooking): The Intro

Hey all!

I’m taking a break from the Ideal Vacation series to bring you a new challenge: I’d like to create a series of entries that’ll serve as a resource to find awesome home-cooking restaurants in Toronto, Ontario.  To start off, I’ll pick an area of the GTA, and let you know where my favourite place to eat is, and why.  You can tell me if I’m nuts, or if you know of a better place.

Toronto sometimes gets a reputation for being a bit uptight, and it’s not hard to understand why: costs are sky-high for real estate in this busy city, so you gotta be good to make it.

However, you don’t have to be expensive, posh, or even that great of an atmosphere to have really good home-cooked food.  Although it’s sometimes nice to have a fancy meal out, with so many of us 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-generation Canadians living here, there’s something to be said for having a meal that reminds us of chowing down at the family dining table growing up.

I have explored some areas more than others, so if your fave spot doesn’t make it here, I might not even know about it!  If you have a suggestion of a place, tell me here and I’ll make sure to try it in the next few weeks.  Also be sure to include your favourite dish, so I can know what to order!

Day 1: The First Full Day

Today, we met up with our hometown friends (yes, from Canada) for breakfast on the boardwalk. Continue reading