It's rainy here today, so I thought I'd write up our spring break vacation. There's an odd sort of logic to this, because our spring break was also very rainy. We didn't go south like everyone else. We went north! To Canada! Charlie has wanted to visit Toronto for years, and visiting Toronto has been his one tourism request since we arrived on the East coast. I didn't even know Toronto was near Virginia, but it turns out that it's only 8.5 hours away from our part of Arlington. It was cold and wet for most of the week, but I'm so glad we made Charlie's Canadian dreams come true. We had a great time
Plus, they now have passports! We can go anywhere we want in the future!
We stayed in Arlington the first Saturday of our spring break, because we wanted to participate in the March for Our Lives. We procrastinated packing until Sunday morning, so it took us a while to get out of town. We finally packed up the truck and headed north. It was a relief to get out of the city and into the countryside. We stopped for lunch at a little town somewhere along the Potomac river, near where Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia all meet up. There was a little cafe near a marker for the C&O Canal. (I still don't have a clear mental map of the borders between Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It seems like we go from state to state multiple times during any driving trip. It's baffling.)
We timed things so that we arrived in Buffalo, NY around dinner time. The boys both love Buffalo wings, so we HAD to get the real thing in their birthplace. We didn't go to the spot where they were invented, but Duff's, the place we chose, is generally accepted as just as good.
There is a US/Canadian border crossing point between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, so it didn't take us that long to cross over into Canada. The boys were so excited! We had booked a room at the Embassy Suites with a very nice view of the horseshoe falls. The view was spectacular. I've learned that David cares a lot about the view when we stay at a hotel on vacation. I would probably forget to open the curtains if he wasn't with us! The boys care about having separate beds, and this room had three beds, so everyone slept really well the two nights we stayed there.
We spent all of Monday seeing the sights of Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a gloriously sunny day, our only sunny day of the whole trip. I'm so glad the timing worked out so that we had sunshine on our Niagara Falls day. I'm also glad we were there during the late winter season, because the ice around the falls was really beautiful.
We went down to the Niagara Falls tourism/visitor center as soon as they opened. Staying ahead of the crowds is how we roll! (Yes, I know someone somewhere is going to mock me for using this dorky phrase, but I don't care.) It was great to see everything before it got crowded. I'm sure the fact that we were there during off season and well after the Canadian schools' March break was over helped too.
We went down through the tunnels under the falls, saw the 4D movie experience, and spent a long time watching the mesmerizing flow of water. Then we had an early lunch at the nice restaurant right there in the visitor center. We even paid for the tourist photos.
We had plenty of energy left after lunch, so we decide to drive around and explore a bit. We briefly considered spending time at the touristy recreation area, but we just weren't in the mood for mini golf and carnival rides. We tried to find a couple of historical sites, but they were all closed for the season. We ended up on the road to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is also the winery route. I did some quick research on my phone, and we chose a couple of wineries to visit. We hadn't made any advanced plans or reservations, so our expectations were quite moderate. This turned out to be our favorite afternoon of our entire vacation. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and we all enjoyed the wineries more than any of us expected.
We stopped at the Inniskillin Winery first, because I recognized the name. Their tours were all booked, but the boys rambled about outside in the sun while David and I tasted some ice wine. We ended up buying some to take home.
Next, we stopped at the Peller Estates winery. I'd read that they had a bar made entirely out of ice, but I didn't think we'd be able to take the boys into it. They had space available in their next wine tasting tour, and they said the boys could come too, so we decided to go for it. We had to pay the full adult price for them, and they'd just get juice to taste, but we didn't mind. It turned out to be a very interesting tour, and the final stop on the tour was the ice bar. Hooray! I was worried the boys would be bored, but they enjoyed it. The guy kept accidentally pouring wine into Tommy glass. He is very tall, you know. Don't worry. I drank it for him.
The Peller Estates tour guide mentioned that Wayne Gretzky has a Canadian Whisky distillery that is associated with them, and that they send all of the winery's ice wine casks over to them to use. This sounded intriguing to us, so we stopped at the distillery next. It was too late in the day to do a tour, but we did buy a bottle. I figure this is the most quintessentially Canadian purchase of our entire trip - Canadian whisky, created by Wayne Gretzky, and aged in ice wine barrels. It's quite good!
By the time we made it back to our hotel, it was getting close to dinner time. I'd made reservations at the Skylon Tower restaurant, but we ended up canceling. We were tired, and we really didn't want to get dressed up or eat a fancy, expensive dinner. We ended up just going to the steak restaurant in our hotel. The view was lovely, and the food was decent, so it was a nice end to our day in Niagara. We all fell asleep quickly, listening to the roar of the falls.
Onward to Toronto next!