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Family Travels: Niagara Falls + Toronto in 5 days. Part 1.

Today I'm covering my version of our family travels: Niagara Falls & Toronto in 5 days.  You see, the kids and I have very different opinions of what was awesome on our trip last week and maybe you agree with them.  You can read what they picked as their top 10 here. But maybe you agree with me.  So here's my version of the good, the bad and the really awesome.



Day one.  Travel Saskatoon to Toronto via WestJet.  2.5 hours.

I like travelling with my husband because well, he's my husband but also because he upgrades us to Plus when we fly because he's tall and doesn't fit comfortably in regular seats.  So on our early morning flight on Willis' 9th birthday, we were front row and the kids loved it.  Doesn't hurt to get water bottles, free food and drinks on top of all the leg room.  Once the crew found out it was his birthday, they gave him extra special treatment.  I can see why this was on his highlight reel.  Mistake #1 came when we landed in Toronto and went to fetch our rental car.  A couple weeks back, I had found the cheapest rate via Expedia.ca for a car rental at the Toronto Airport.   Totally high-fived myself for the find, even though the price of 375$ felt a little pricey for 5 days. Maybe it wasn't.  Once we arrived, we couldn't find the place so I called and low and behold you had to hop on the monorail over one stop, so I quickly cancelled that, thinking we would just pop in to one of the places on site.

Nope.

First two places didn't have cars available, so then I tried to book online only realizing after that I had booked at the Calgary Avis location...finally the third location we tried had  car available but it was twice the price. Frick. But we went with it, taking back that high five. So lesson learned, just because it says Toronto Airport , doesn't necessarily mean Toronto Airport. Once over that road bump ( I have also thusly decided that I would do horribly on Amazing Race), we drove the 30 mins to Oakville to visit with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  After a lovely visit with family, we headed off to Niagara Falls for some family fun.

We stay at the Sheraton on the Falls and had our room upgraded through the American Express SPG card with a falls view.  That was amazing, especially when we could watch the awesome fireworks on the Sunday night.  A little thing like that was one of the highlights for me...no need to even leave our room with that stunning view.  We also had a view of Clifton Hill and all it's activity.  I was actually surprised at how busy it was-it almost felt like Vegas minus the 8 lbs Margaritas and scantily clad ladies.


We spent our first day at the FallsView Waterpark which is attached to the hotel, which was on the kids' highlight reel but not mine and then supper at the RainForest Café which I remember Christy always talking about but we hadn't been.  That was a cool (and expensive) experience.

Day two: Niagara Falls

We got out early to beat lineups and go on the SkyWheel (Lucia's pick) which was really neat, there is also dinosaur mini golf and a volcano shooting out fire right next to it, so tons to see, especially the view of Niagara Falls.  After that we ventured down to the packed waterfront to find our way to the cruise (Willis' pick).  Biggest lesson learned over the 5 days is to book all tickets online so you can jump the long lineups to purchase tickets.  The boat ride was about 20 minutes and was really neat to get right into the falls, and also refreshing because, holy was it hot.  We headed for lunch after to the buffet in our hotel, one of the recommends from my aunt.  We had a beautiful view as we ate and it wasn't too busy, which was nice.

The rest of the afternoon was spent out of the sun, at the waterpark, again.  Which was just okay, but the kids loved it and that's all that matters.  Our next stop was the Butterfly Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Niagara Falls which was a win and a fail.  A win because man, was the Botanical Garden beautiful (Dan and I love going to places like Butchart Garden in Victoria or any gardens when we travel.  In fact, one of my favourite memories is just sitting and reading in a garden in San Francisco and doing the same in Central Park).   It was also fun because apparently there were a lot of really cool Pokémon on the track.   It was a fail because of the Butterfly Garden- Willis lost his mind.  He couldn't handle it, which I guess we should have foreseen as he hates all bugs.  Now my little bug squisher, Lucia, loved it...but I spent all my time trying to make sure Willis didn't swat and kill a butterfly, that it was hard to enjoy.  Plus it was expensive for the 30 mins it took us to (speed) walk through.






Niagara-On-The-Lake


Then we went for a most beautiful drive to Niagara-on-the-lake on a curvy, scenic road through vineyard after vineyard..Inniskill...Two Sisters...A winery tour would have been on the list had the monkeys not been with us.  There were also tons of little markets along the 30 minute route.  To be honest, if I could re-plan this trip, I would have booked us in at the historic Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara on the Lake and just drove into the Niagara Falls instead.  It was also very busy in Niagara on the Lake but there were so many cute little parks and their downtown made me feel like I was walking on a movie set....almost had a Gilmore Girls, Stars Hallow vibe.

niagara on the lake

We found a little diner to eat at and then headed back to the hotel in Niagara Falls.  Sunday night was the fireworks display over the falls and it was something spectacular!

2 days went by very quickly and after having drove around, there are tons of things I saw that I wish we would have done.   Also, I didn't realize it would be so expensive, so I was always making mental notes of cool places that were free.  So this is what I would do the next time:

  • Journey Behind the Falls instead of the Cruise or the SkyWheel. You get the same, if not better view and you can go behind the falls.  Plus its cheaper.

  • A walk through Nature Glen.  It looked beautiful from what we saw just driving by. Plus it's free and it's exercise.

  • Botanical Gardens. We only covered a quarter of the space- it was an ideal place to be on a hot day.  Lots of trees = lots of shade.

  • Winery tours!

So there's Part one: Niagara Falls for you.  Friday I'll cover our trip to Toronto.

Comments

  1. I've never been to Toronto or Niagara Falls and would love to go someday. Sounds like a wonderful trip! The views from your hotel room are amazing and that Niagara on the Lake town looks so cute!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

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  2. Those views, oh my goodness I bet they never got old did they?!

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  3. Living on Cloud Nine15 August, 2016 00:04

    The Views, the smiles, the pure joy of traveling....making memories is the biggest joy in life!! Funny story, my husband and I stayed on the NY side and it was the worst dump we'd ever stayed in, they call that side the ghetto Falls, I heard the Canada side is 1000 x's better....see you guys do everything better in Canada!!!

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  4. Niagara Falls is such a great place to visit... The wine tours are so fun but maybe not for the kids lol
    Miss you guys already!

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  5. Rainforest cafe.... Birth of my first coveted water bottle.

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  6. I've only been to Niagara Falls once, and it was a really quick side trip. Love the view from your room. And I laughed about Willis and the butterflies - Conner was the same way when he was younger. Wonder how he'd like it now :)!

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  7. Love this little recap! And that's too funny about the conservatory. I've never been to that one but I find they're usually very highly priced for a quick visit!

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  8. This looks amazing. We've never been. So with you on the gardens and beautiful places to just chill. Butchart Gardens in Victoria is still one of my favourite places. Loved the views. FRICK the car rental drama!

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  9. Wow these pictures are gorgeous!! Looks like a great trip!

    Shauna

    www.lipglossandlace.net

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  10. Wow that view for lunch is incredible - I can see why you picked that hotel to stay at, wow! :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

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  11. What a trip- and talk about some VIEWS! Niagara is stunning. I'm sure this will go down as a fun memory for the kids! :)

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  12. What a great trip! I love botanical gardens too, too bad you and to speed through it in 30 minutes...I'm thinking we need more than one day there when we go, hehe...and let's do the wine tasting! :) Can't wait for part 2!

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  13. When we go next time I need to visit the botanical gardens! We loved the Journey Behind the Falls, it was great!

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  14. Good to hear that the Behind the Falls was good- it will have to get done next time

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  15. I agree- Butchart is my favourite place. I could just lay on the grass forever and read books.

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  16. I could have just ate in that resto all day

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  17. lol- Willis gets creeped out by spiders, I'm sure he'll never change.

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  18. Yup, all the attractions added up in the end. Yikes.

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  19. OH, but the wine tours would be amazing with the blogfriends!

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  20. Yup, knew I thought about you for a reason.

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  21. bahhhahah- ghetto falls. That's good. We'll give you a good tour of the falls in May!

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  22. I never got tired looking at that water.

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  23. […] Monday I covered the first leg of our trip with a stop in Niagara Falls.  Today I want to cover my […]

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  24. Is Niagara on the Lake where we are thinking of going next year?? I hope so! It looks so cute!

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Have a lovely day!