Niagara Region – ideas for free time

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There are a whole host of waterfall related attractions at Niagara and the Adventure Pass is a great way to access the main ones: the White Water Walk, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury and the Hornblower Cruise. You just have to take a deep breath and go with the flow here – it is generally bursting at the seams with visitors, but amongst these various attractions there is a lot to learn about both the natural and cultural history of the falls – for example, the mind-boggling statistics of how much water passes through here and the weird and wonderful world record attempts that have been made on both ascending and descending the falls.

To get away from the crowds you don’t have to go far along the Niagara Parkway. Just ten minutes away are the serene Botanical Gardens and the magical Butterfly Conservatory, where thousands of colourful butterflies are bred and nurtured in a huge tropical greenhouse with pathways and interpretive information throughout. A little further on is the iconic Niagara Clock – a unique, 40-foot wide floral timepiece.

Pretty Niagara on the Lake is the kind of place you can easily lose a couple of hours, and more than likely spend a few dollars. Here you will find a delightful complement of charming little shops selling everything from bespoke hats and hand-crafted jewellery to giftware and quality antiques. If the temptation is too much then you can retreat to one of the many lovely cafes and just watch the world go by. There is also a nice waterfront path which skirts the shoreline, bordered by trees and parkland, and with extensive views out across Lake Ontario – on a clear day you can see the silhouette of Toronto on the other side.

Finally, this whole area is an excellent fruit growing region and you will often see stalls on the side of the road selling a selection of locally grown items. This also means fantastic wine and there are a number of distinguished vineyards in the region, most with open cellar doors and a few with restaurants that will happily serve you a delicious, wine-matched lunch.

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