In part three, our founder Darren Burn heads to Niagara Falls with his partner.
Our founder Darren Burn travelled to Canada with his partner for a week-long road trip to Montreal, Prince Edward County, Toronto and Niagara Falls.
In part three he takes in Toronto and Niagara Falls before nipping across the border to Buffalo.
Up early today saw us drive from Prince Edward County to Toronto. We chose the new boutique Bisha Hotel which rises 44 storeys above the entertainment district. The rooftop bar and infinity pool are just the ticket for relaxing in the bustling city and the fact that many of the rooms are adorned with icons such as Madonna and Michael Jackson are a lovely finishing touch.
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We opted for a spot of shopping at the large Eaton Centre before heading up to the top of the CN Tower for stunning views over the city. We didn't brave the Edge Walk – mainly because it was freezing cold – but certainly something for those looking for a little excitement and the adrenaline buzz. We did, however, jump up and down on the glass floor pictured above!
Late afternoon saw us head to West Queen Street for cocktails at the Queen Mother Cafe. I'd thoroughly recommend their Old Fashioned before heading to Rex's a few doors down for live music. We then had a casual dinner at Khao San Road, known for the best Pad Thai in town.
Head to Casa Loma the following morning. Touted as Toronto's majestic castle, it's a large home turned museum overlooking the city. It's difficult for us Brits to take the history of place like this terribly seriously when most architecture in the country dates back centuries earlier, but nevertheless the tale of financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt who lived at the house is interesting and the architecture interesting.
From there we drove to Kensington Market – refuel on a burrito from Big Fat Burrito. The clue's in the title. And then because we'd heard great things about St Lawrence Market too and wanted to compare them we headed there next. Kensington Market is a mixture of bohemian shops and quirky eateries whilst St Lawrence is a covered market which specialises in all food. Make sure you try Nanaimo bars whilst in Canada – one of my personal favourite before even visiting and one that tastes even better in its native country.
The following morning it was a relatively early start for the drive down to Niagara Falls. It's hard in this day and age of social media to sometimes be wowed by a location, but Niagara satisfies. There's no getting away from the fact that it's become overly commercialised and there are a number of tacky hotels and casinos nearby. Don't stay there would be my tip. Do make sure you see the falls from the Canadian side if you can – much better views. Take a boat ride on the Hornblower if you don't mind getting a tad wet. The fifteen minute trip takes you up close and personal with the falls and you'll be suitably adorned with a bright coloured cagoule. A tunnel allows you to walk behind the falls – though there are only two access points it's worth doing. The highlight of the time at Niagara was definitely having an American man strike up a conversation and ask more about OutOfOffice.com as he followed us on Instagram. Always great to know we're making waves and a difference worldwide!
As I said, I wouldn't suggest staying at the Falls – it's one of those places that after a few hours it's ticked off your bucket list. Instead drive to the nearby and quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Prince of Wales is on the main high street (think a quaint English town) or the Pillar and Post is a short walk off the main strip (with a free shuttle too) and has a lovely spa with it too as well as hot springs – I'm not sure how authentic they were though! Niagara is known for its wine too and indeed this is the reason many people visit. A few to try are Peller Estates, Inniskillin Wines and Southbrook Vineyards. Also try to get to Fort George for a history lesson if you can.
The following day we crossed over into Buffalo in New York State – we had a Janet Jackson concert to attend! The border crossing process was relatively painless though at busy times I'm told it can take up to two hours to cross for non-Canadian and USA citizens. If I'm honest, Buffalo is not somewhere worth visiting in its own right, but it is a good place to drive through if you're choosing to combine your Canadian road trip with Boston or New York. And if you do, then you'd be a fool to not eat Buffalo wings from Anchor Bar which is the home of the legendary meat feast!
Darren previously wrote about the best things to do in Montreal as well as uncovering Canada's hidden gem, Prince Edward County.