Niagara Falls was a breathtaking and beautiful experience. I can write a thousand words on the mysterious, majestic creature that it is, but instead I will sum it up and just say GO! Everyone needs to see it at least once. You don't need to spend a lot of money investing in the tours and commercialism that surrounds it. You can simply walk up to the edge and view all the falls for free. We went during the off season so no fireworks nightly, but they didn't need it. They have lights and it's beautiful to watch and fall asleep to.
We walked from our hotel down to the viewing area and that is where I'll share some recommendations. We were staying at the Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls and should have done more research because we just assumed we could walk straight down the hills to the viewing platform but ended up walking about two miles parallel through the city and a park to finally get down to the park entrance. The little trolley you can ride straight down was closed for the off season, but on the way back up we latched on to the souvenir shops wifi and realized that the shuttles will drive you for free the same distance we had just walked...oh well. The shuttle stop is right outside the souvenir shop and the main hub where you purchase tours, so getting back to the hotel was a breeze.
Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls
I was terrified of getting a bad room or picking a bad hotel because one FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and two all hotel websites are going to show you the best case scenario pictures that might make things appear better than reality. I was extremely relieved after checking into this hotel though. Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls did not have a double sided hallway which looked weird at first but completely made sense once walking into the rooms. There is not a bad room in this hotel because every room faces the falls. There were floor to ceiling windows and it was the perfect distance away from the falls the you could see everything beautifully.
This hotel definitely has their priorities straight with the huge windows and private in suite lounge area facing them. I started reading our first night and had to put my book down because it was just such a beautiful sight and a once in a lifetime experience. My husband and I ended up falling asleep in the chairs to the sound and lights of the falls. The next day after all our walking around town and exhaustion and cold wearing us down, the bathrooms at the hotel are heavenly. There was a shower and a Jacuzzi tub that I took full advantage of. The rooms are extremely welcoming, comfortable, and spacious. I definitely hope to revisit the area and stay at this hotel a second and third time.
Lastly, we had a breakfast included and it was AMAZING. We had a buffet certificate which unlocked so much food we didn't eat again till much later in the day. The waitstaff was superb and friendly not only making sure we were taken care of, but enjoyed bragging about the falls and making sure we didn't miss any of the top things to do in the area.
When researching the Niagara area, I came across the term "ice wine" several times, but assumed it to be a slushy type ice that was flavored with wine. I was so wrong and it was freaking DELICIOUS!!! On our last day before flying back we hit as many wineries as we could. We were definitely interested in the Peller Icewine Lounge, but it didn't open until later in the day, so we only did a sampling there. All the wineries we went to were gorgeous. I've never been to an area with so many choices in wineries so close together. They were all located in mansions and all the grapes were grown onsite which made for beautiful estates.
Our favorite by far was Inniskillin. We toured there along with our tasting, which is where we learned truly what ice wine was for the first time. We had our tasting, then googled how many bottles you can legally bring back through customs and bought the maximum allowance. :) This is another location where the wine was delicious, but the staff made it even more memorable. We were given a tour by a young man who was going to school to be a winemaker and his passion for wine was infectious. We stayed after the tour and had another set of tastings from him to make sure we tasted every single thing they offered. They had a great souvenir shop, several choices of aged wines, picnic tables, wifi, and so much more. The best part about this winery is it is one of very few that you can actually find in the states. We happened across a bottle in Specs a few months after we got back and it was a flashback of great memories.