From winery tours and tastings to fine dining, Julian Hitner plans out the ideal day in Niagara...
24 hours in Niagara
At the intimate Harbour House hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of Ontario’s prettiest little towns, wake up to a luxurious breakfast of freshly made scones, seasonal egg dishes and excellent cappuccino. After a stroll around nearby Paradise Grove Park, head to Hidden Bench. With luck, owner Harald Thiel will be on hand to pour his wines, which are arguably among the finest in Niagara, if not all of Ontario. Next door is Thirty Bench, highly regarded for its single-vineyard Rieslings and icewine. Views throughout these pastoral parts of the Niagara Escarpment are superb, especially around Pinot Noir producer Flat Rock Cellars.
For formal lunching, Inn on the Twenty is outstanding, while next door is a wonderful Inuit arts shop. Alternatively, a visit to White Meadows Farms provides a definitive Canadian experience. However, a 30km detour to Kitchen 76 Restaurant at Two Sisters Vineyards for its exquisite casual fare near the Niagara River is well worth the journey. Though only open for lunch on weekends, biodynamic producer Southbrook is also ideal, and gives a chance to try its incredibly unique Chardonnays.
Evening and overnight
After an afternoon appointment at Five Rows Craft Wine and an addictive slice of pie and a hot drink at The Pie Plate Bakery and Café nearby, a leisurely stroll around Niagara-on-the-Lake (possibly including a stop at Fort George) is always a winner. Or for a bit of culture, buy tickets to a play at the renowned Shaw Festival held every spring through to autumn. For a memorable dinner, Treadwell Cuisine at 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa is one of the most luxurious institutions on the peninsula. Between all this, a visit to Niagara Falls, plus the icewine festival if travelling in January, is a must – cosy garments and all.