Let’s Include St. Catharines and Hamilton for even cooler options…
The holiday season is over and done with, and it’s time to settle in to the pattern of cold and snow that is a Canadian reality.
Keeping busy with activities and outings that are fun for the whole family will help keep the winter doldrums at bay. Here are a few options that my wife Sherry and I enjoy, along with our two sons…
When you have a babysitter available, the Cannery Restaurant at the Pillar and Post, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is perfect.
It’s a beautiful, warm setting that will make you forget the snow outside. Using as many local ingredients as possible, the portions are perfect, the service impeccable and if you can get Grandma and Grandpa to babysit, the rooms at the inn are worth turning dinner into an overnight escapade.
In Hamilton, there is a long list of great restaurants to choose from, but here are my top three, in no particular order:
- NÀROMA pizzeria — this is pizza with a twist. The owner, Mario Spina, studied under the masters in Naples, and his variations on traditional recipes from Naples and Rome are delectable combinations.
- La Luna — Lebanese food done well. Falafel, hummus, baba ghanouge… you can practically taste the warmth of the country of origin on some of these well-known recipes.
- The Ship — Pub food, kicked up a notch. The gourmet burger menu alone will have you in the car and on your way.
And in St. Catharines, you can’t go wrong with some classic Italian fare, at Johnny Rocco’s Italian Grill. Try the “Nonna’s Smashed Meatball panino”: you won’t regret it. They also have a location in Niagara Falls.
You may think that Niagara Falls is just a summer destination, but you’d be wrong. There is a lot to see and do outdoors in the Falls area. Such as? The Winter Festival of Lights until the end of January is always a big draw, with over 2 million lights to delight.
If you’re outdoorsy, Hamilton Conservation has a long list of winter activities, including ice fishing, pond skating, cross country ski trails and snowshoeing. You can even try your hand at winter camping. Hike out to Tiffany Falls and watch ice climbers in action, right on the frozen falls.
From the Fallsview indoor waterpark to the Butterfly Conservatory and the Bird Kingdom, there are a lot of great indoor activities, for those days in Niagara when the weather is just too frightful to even considering venturing out for outdoor activities.
Another great option is to take in a hockey game: it’s all the fun and excitement of the greatest outdoor sport without the pain. The Niagara Ice Dogs have regular fixtures at the Meridian Centre, in St. Catharines. It’s an affordable way for the whole family to enjoy a high quality, action packed hockey game.
St. Catharines also has another fun indoor sport: Sky Zone. When the kids need to burn off a lot of winter energy, but skiing isn’t their thing (or yours), Sky Zone trampoline park is the perfect answer. They can jump until they can’t jump for another second and you’ll be guaranteed a quiet evening.
Going Back In Time
The St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre is worth exploring. You’ll get a true sense of the development of the area, including exhibit items from some of the city’s most famous and well known landmarks, and the canals in particular.
If your kids are studying Canada’s role in slavery and the Underground Railroad, there’s no better resource. Finally, if you’re into lacrosse, the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame is in the same place, including historical details of how the sport evolved.
Stop in at Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle for a taste of the how people lived, above and below stairs, in the late 1800s. It’s Hamilton’s answer to Downton Abbey and the 18,000 sq. foot castle is worth a trip.
If you’re more about science and technology, with a smattering of history, head to the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about steam powered machinery is there.
Catching Some Deals
When all else fails and a little fashion is required—and my wife can confirm this for you—the Outlet Collection at Niagara is the place to go.
The largest outlet mall in the area, with 100+ brands, there’s something for everyone. A little Ralph Lauren? A little Columbia? Maybe something from Coach? Aren’t you surprised that I could rhyme those off to you? (Believe me, so am I)
Whatever you choose to do this winter, indoors or out, there are so many options, right around the corner. No need to travel to Toronto in the ice and snow, risking an accident. Stay local, shop local and have fun.
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