As someone who loves to travel abroad, I made one of my goals this year to explore more of my own country.
It can be easy to forget that adventure lies within our own backyard! Less than two hours outside of Toronto, Niagara Parks offers unparalleled views, one-of-a-kind experiences and award-winning culinary sensations. With a diverse range of attractions, the Niagara Region has many heritage sites, scenic parks, gardens and activity hubs for visitors. Follow along as I delve into the natural wonders of the Niagara Parks.
With breathtaking views and exceptional service, the Niagara Parks Queen Victoria Place Restaurant is the perfect spot for anyone to enjoy a relaxing lunch or unwind from a busy day of sight-seeing.
We enjoyed views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls from the restaurant patio and indulged in a delectable charcuterie board, boneless ribs with seasonal vegetables and a creamy slice of cheesecake.
Niagara Parks’ Table Rock House Restaurant is situated on the upper level of Table Rock centre, overlooking Niagara Falls.
With a bright and luxurious interior, the setting felt very intimate and offered the opportunity for people watching from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Featuring the freshest ingredients from locally-sourced farmers, every dish is not only reasonably priced but tasty.
A quinoa salad appetizer, beef tenderloin entrée and apple barge dessert to finish—I was happy as can be!
Table Rock House Restaurant has a wide selection of world-class VQAs. The restaurant’s wine flights give guests the opportunity to taste four different kinds from Niagara’s best local wineries.
There’s nothing like Queenston Height Restaurant’s award-winning Sunday Brunch, where you can feast on everything from artisan breads to Niagara cured meats to double-smoked bacon and locally-sourced cheeses.
This is the perfect spot for brunch with friends on a Sunday.
If you venture past the Niagara Parkway, you can visit the Niagara Gorge, which is filled with trails, nature centres and new attractions. With its stunning views, the Niagara Gorge is home to one of Niagara Parks’ top attractions, the Whirlpool Aero Car.
The antique cable car is suspended above the gorge and offers spectacular views of the swirling Niagara Whirlpool.
In one trip, you’ll cross the U.S.-Canada border four times! Plus, the Whirlpool Aero Car is included as part of the Adventure Pass Plus.
Just 10 minutes north of the Falls, the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens offer serene walking paths, beautiful flora and plenty of greenery spaces.
This is perfect for a summer picnic, lounge in the shade or an afternoon stroll.
The Butterfly Conservatory is located on the grounds and is the largest of its kind in Canada. It houses more than 2,000 butterflies and comprises 45 different species.
It’s hard not to feel like you’re part of some sort of fairy-tale when hundreds of beautiful butterflies are fluttering past you at every moment.
Travel back in time to find some notable pieces of Canadian history
Located in the charming community of Queenston, you’ll discover 500 years of printing history in the restored home of William Lyon Mackenzie who was a publisher, rebellion leader and Toronto’s first mayor.
A short walk down the path, you’ll find the restored Laura Secord Homestead, where you’ll be enchanted by stories of the war heroine’s adventures.
Although nowadays she may be closely associated with chocolate, Secord is a war hero for her efforts during the War of 1812 when she walked 32 kilometres to warn a British Lieutenant about a planned attack by the Americans.
Sail under the stars of Niagara Falls and watch the sparks fly overhead!
While the Falls Fireworks Cruise offers plenty of options for daytime excursions where you can experience the Falls up close from the Canadian side, I recommend sailing under the stars for a memorable firework show overlooking Niagara Falls.
This night-time cruise offers starry skies, panoramic skyline views and stunning illuminations! Be sure to extend your sailing time by signing up for the night cruise and you’ll get a chance to experience a firework show like no other. Make sure to book your tickets in advance for the fireworks cruise because tickets sell out fast!
A more recent experience available in the area, Namaste Niagara opens up some of Niagara Parks’ most spectacular locations for an unforgettable wellness experience at the edge of the Niagara River. The program has two different activities which are available during the months of July and August.
The first program is yoga at Journey Behind the Falls and I cannot recommend this activity enough. Not only is it a spectacular way to experience the sheer power and raw beauty of one of the Natural Wonders of the World without the crowds, the 45-minute yoga session is the perfect way to start your morning. They offer classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m.
The second Namaste Niagara wellness program is the guided meditation at White Water Walk. Another beautiful location to enjoy as you start your day in the most peaceful way. The guided meditation class continues on a walk along the boardwalk and out to viewing platforms along the way. There are four guided meditation workshops offered during the summer on select Sundays.
Be sure to check niagaraparks.com/namaste in advance for the schedule and to book your ticket.
Following each yoga and meditation session, you can enjoy a locally-sourced brunch at the Queenston Heights Restaurant.
Summer sun, cold drinks and beautiful scenery — is there anything more you could ask for? How about some free live music?
Every Saturday night, you can find free concerts on the Niagara Stage located in Queen Victoria Park.
The performing artists are part of a Canadian Music Series which highlights performances that have been recognized by the Polaris Music Prize.
This was the perfect place to relax and unwind after dinner and before fireworks started at 10 p.m. Plus, it’s a great way to show up and support Canadian talent! View the schedule on niagaraparks.com/niagarastage to find out who’s playing.
Located at Journey Behind the Falls, Night Lights allows you to experience a colourful illumination of the Horseshoe Falls’ rushing waters as a light display gets projected onto the Falls.
Prepare for even more beauty as the sky above fills with Niagara’s fireworks display.
From the food to the wellness experiences to the Canadian history, Niagara Parks has so much to offer visitors coming from abroad and locally. Don’t be afraid to look beneath the Falls to uncover some of the most unique experiences you will have to date!
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.