Hi Guy! This weekend I have a very busy schedule planned so I thought I quickly use the few hours I have this early morning and post details about the second leg of my fall foliage trip in Ontario, Canada.
My family members know how quick and tiring this trip was, partially because of my work schedule and partially because I didn’t want to impose on people I was staying with. In St. Louis (See Here), I stayed with a friend, and in Ontario I stayed with gem of a couple, my sister’s in-laws. This trip was so hectic that I actually cried on one of the flights like there was no tomorrow. Trust me, it was more cathartic and then painful. And trust me, I was sitting in the last row, in front of the bathroom, so it is highly doubtful anyone got uncomfortable with my emotional display.
Anyways, so in Ontario (Toronto area) I went for almost 4 days and based on my experience, I would recommend you to go for at least a week to really see all the sights Toronto and its surrounding regions have to offer. Do note that if you are trying to see fall foliage go towards the end of October rather than the middle, which is what my ambitious-self did. For those of you who are fall crazies and want to know, I saw only a glimmer of the brilliant fall Ontario is known for, but don’t worry, I have a returning trip all planned out.
On the first day, my sister’s in-laws (who I will call aunty and uncle, from now on) drove me around the neighborhood of Oakville and its surrounding boroughs. If you have family like me who live in Ontario, then stay with them because that can save you the hassle and the money for gas, car rental, public transportation, and hotels. If you don’t have this luxury then I highly suggest to stay in Toronto and get around by their vast public transportation.
In and around Oakville, we visited an antique store, which I absolutely adored. It is called Clappison Corners Antiques (See HERE) and it is in the borough of Millgrove (in the city of Hamilton). This place was absolute darling and my readers know how much I adore antiquing (See Here) so it is no surprise I bought myself a beautiful tea set over a 100 years old. If you are ever at that place, do consider looking into furniture as well. It has some of the best I have seen. And lastly bargain.
The second day, when there was no rain in the forecast, we decided to drive to Niagara Falls. For those of you staying in Toronto, note that their is train that can take you there from the city. So you do not need a car to actually go there. The drive from Oakville to the Falls was around 1 1/2 hours and driving around Lake Ontario was quite pretty. When we reached the landmark, I decided to take some pictures of “the first look” but they didn’t come out well. There was a wall fence there built for safety. I did see a glimmer of the top of the falls and I was just a little excited. The real draw of the Niagara Falls is the power and might of the water gushing from the river and over the edge, which I observed once I got closer. That can’t be observed from the car and you have to be practically next to it to see it (because of the wall and other obstructions like shrubbery). The bottom 1/3 of the falls was covered in mist and on a sunny day you can see rainbows. Even though the rainbows weren’t there, I wasn’t disappointed. The beauty of falls were just enough for me.
We went inside the Table Rock for refreshments aka Tim Hortons and a bathroom break. Then our first stop was the “Journey Behind the Falls”, which I 100% recommend (See HERE) . We went to Niagara Falls early in the morning and on the off-season so the wait time was absolutely none. We breezed through the ticket line and got our ponchos and then went down the rock in a wet elevator. The elevator door opened and I was in a cave with screaming water sounds in the background. There are three points of interest and they are pretty easy to find. In two of them, you are literally behind the falls, but in the first one people can come out and take pictures practically next to the falls. Please note: YOU WILL GET WET. Sooo wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
Next on the agenda was the Hornblower boat ride (See HERE). This is about a 20 minute walk from the “Journey Behind the Falls” and totally doable because the whole time you are walking you have beautiful vistas of the falls. If you are visiting from the American side, the company that will take you close to the falls on a boat is called Maid of the Mist. From the Canadian side it is called the “The Hornblower”. Again, crowds weren’t bad and it wasn’t humid, thank God. However, I wish I had come later in the month because then the juxtaposition of the brilliant reds, yellows, and browns of the trees with the rushing white waters would have been a phenomenal sight. We had a quick lunch in one of the cafes and boarded the boat. On this boat ride, you get great views of the American-side falls, called the Bridal Veil and the Rainbow Bridge. Do note that if you come on Fridays and Sundays, you can see a spectacular light show from the Rainbow Bridge. Just look at the website for dates and schedule (See HERE). The highlight of the boat ride (they are many) is the Canadian falls aka Horse-shoe. You are literally meters from it and getting soaked. The best part is when the boat is turning around and you get swept away (don’t worry, it is not dangerous at all. I saw kids there). Upon our wet arrival to the port, we saw people zip-lining and listening to live music. It was quite a fun and happening scene.
On the drive back, my aunt showed me this spot (trust me you can’t miss it) that looked like the Fisherman’s Wharf (in San Francisco) of Ontario. It was highly touristy, and had fun museums and restaurants. Honestly speaking, it looked like a tourist trap and I would only point it out if you were staying there for a couple of days or if you had kids terrified of the falls.
The third day, I decided to visit downtown Toronto. The first thing we did was to go up the CN tower. I would recommend to go ahead and get tickets to all the levels. The observation deck is quite lovely and the views from it reminded me of the Sears Tower in Chicago. There is also the famous glass floor area where you can test your nerves and take fabulous pictures of conquering all your fears of plunging to your death. JK. The sky pod is pretty neat and offer higher views, but my favorite part was seeing the observation deck from the top. You literally feel like you are on the top of the world. My favorite part of the whole trip was the glass elevator. I would say make a video rather than take pictures. The ride is quite spectacular and not for the kids or the faint-hearted.
After the CN Tower, we took an Uber (we were pressed for time) and went to Old Town, which houses the St. Lawrence market. It was closed since it was a Sunday, but if you go any other day, you will see a farmer’s market kind of situation there. The architecture in this area is particularly spectacular because you can see the old buildings mixed with the new, sleek ones. In that neighborhood, we had lunch at this great Turkish restaurant. I believe it was called Paramount Fine foods. Totally recommend it.
After lunch we took an Uber to the Distillery District. This was a great location. Literally you look like you stepped back in time and are in a Charles Dickens novel. Old brick buildings, cobbled walkways, and smoke chimneys all make this trendy and chic neighborhood a must for travelers. We walked around and took pictures. I do recommend a great little find of mine. In one of the streets, there is a tea shop called Maisonette (see HERE) that sells handmade artisan tea. The sales lady was old and super knowledgeable about the brand and sweet like the tea there. The decaf tea we got from there kept us warm in an otherwise cold weather. I took pictures of the area with my DSLR, but have had no time to upload them so no pictures. Sorry, guys! Do look on Facebook or Instagram in the coming weeks for some throwback pictures.
From Distillery District, we took Uber to Nathan Phillips Square, which seems to be in the heart of the Financial District of Toronto. The Canadian City Hall plus the Parliament Building is there as well. The funnest photo opportunity is the big and colorful Toronto sign, which give you a reason to take creative pictures with your camera phone. There were some homeless people there as well (maybe protesting? lol), which was quite…um..charming. JK. We sat around there for about an hour because I was so tired, but if you are in the mood for shopping, the famous Eaton Mall is right in the next block.
Well, guys this is the end of my Fall Foliage 2017 trip. Although I didn’t see much fall in the foliage, I had a great time discovery Missouri and Ontario (both which I never visited). I hope I have given you some inspiration to be impetus and visit these two places. Happy Traveling!!!