It’s time to plan a perfect Niagara Falls Autumn weekend.
The Falls are always awesome, but when the autumn colours add their sparkle to the view, there isn’t a more spectacular vista in the world. Add to that fewer crowds, lower prices and the harvest celebrations and you have an irresistible reason to spend an Autumn weekend in the spray.
First, of course, you need to walk along the edge of the Falls, to take in the impact of brilliant fall leaves against the blue water and white spray. And there’s often a rainbow, as a bonus. The whole area along the Niagara Parkway, lined by mature trees and wildflowers, presents a fine opportunity for a picnic, a bike ride or a leisurely drive. The Niagara Parks Recreational Trail will take you from Queenston to Niagara-on-the-Lake, traversing one of the most historic routes in Canada. General Isaac Brock rode along this path on his way to meet the enemy, (and his demise) at Queenston Heights, and British soldiers, local militiamen and First Nations warriors traveled up and down this path during the wars of 1812.
Hikers will be in heaven – the Bruce Trail begins at Queenston and leads along the escarpment, meandering through Carolinian forests, past old stone formations and caves, and even circling close enough to local vineyards that a stop for food or a libation is easy.
Hikers and nature lovers will also appreciate the Niagara Glen Nature Centre, where the hiking trails follow the Niagara River and the Niagara Whirlpool, winding past fascinating geological formations and wild flora and fauna. The trails are never more beautiful than they are in September and October.
And even though the season is moving into cooler weather, The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens are still spectacular, with all the late blooming flowers as well as the turning leaves. The Butterfly Convervatory is right next door to the gardens and it is always warm in there if you get chilled. Don’t miss the Reiger Begonias in the Floral Showhouse.
Somehow the cooler weather turns thoughts to hearty meals and comfort food. An Autumn weekend in Niagara is the perfect time to enjoy the area’s fine specialties, paired, of course, with a glass of Niagara wine.
All of the Niagara Parks Commission restaurants are Feast On certified, meaning that they source Ontario grown and produced food and drink. A perfect place to enjoy a classic Canadian Autumng dinner is at Elements on the Falls.
Drive along the Niagara Parks Recreational Trail, venture along the back roads of wine country and stop at roadside stands to scoop up the bounty of Fall – fresh apples, pumpkins, squash, cabbages, ..all the good things that Niagara grows.
Enjoy a Fall Brunch at Queenston Heights Restaurant, while overlooking the Niagara River now at its prettiest. There’ll be hearty seasonal dishes paired with local wines.
Prices are generally a bit lower at this time of the year. My number one personal pick for a stay in Niagara Falls is The Sterling Inn, Niagara’s only boutique hotel, and home to one of the region’s best restaurants, AG at the Sterling.
Another good choice is the Sheraton on the Falls, where the rooms with views of the Falls are the epitome of romance.
For a real thrill, and some history too, take in the celebrations for All Hollow’s Eve at Old Fort Erie, on the evenings of Oct. 21, 27, 28, where spirits walk the halls, Guy Fawkes is burned and there are hair raising tales, told by costumed interpreters.
Feeling the need to unwind? Join the Community Yoga classes at the Niagara Falls History Museum from Oct 5 to Dec 14 for some deep breathing, anxiety reducing, and free, hatha yoga classes.
Even if you just come to look, Niagara will make you fall in love with the season. Easy to get to, easy to love.