Niagara Falls is said to be the Honeymoon Capital of the World so it seemed only fitting that the World’s Longest Honeymoon visit this breathtaking region. So when our wedding anniversary was approaching, we decided there was no better time to go…especially while the falls were frozen! On the HoneyTrek we’ve been to the great Igauzu Falls and Victoria Falls, but never had we seen such a cascade encrusted in massive glaciers. This would be our winter wonderland, akin to our outdoor winter wedding on that snowy day in 2011, so we packed our ski coats, snowshoes, and champagne and came here to celebrate our anniversary and to fill the missing piece of our honeymoon.
Now how did Niagara get the title “Honeymoon Capital”? Turns out a few prominent figures set the trend back in the early 1800’s; Vice President Aaron Burr’s daughter as well as Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother celebrated their marriages here. Then the Erie Canal opened up and a flood of couples came here to honeymoon in this fashionable spot. But the real answer is…there is just something so romantic about this waterfall. The fact that the combined cascades have the greatest flow rate in the world and make up the largest falls in the North America, amplifies all the best things about a waterfall: the roar, rainbows, mist and smiles that ensue.
The power of the falls has lured more than historic honeymooners to the area. With that kind of available energy, industrial sites were popping up all around the river until 1885 when Niagara Falls became the first State Park in America. To preserve its natural beauty, notable architects and landscape designers like Central Park’s Frederick Olmsted created a beautiful park that lets you walk from Prospect Point, over the river, and around Goat Island to enjoy the falls up-close and interrupted. Standing at the edge, watching icebergs float by and plummet into the river had us captivated for hours.
Canada didn’t get the full memo on preserving the natural integrity of the falls and they have chain hotels and casinos hovering over their side of the falls. On the New York side, hotels are more discreetly along the edge of Niagara State Park, with the premier address being The Giacomo Hotel. We were lucky enough to stay at this boutique hotel, a two minute walk from the Niagara Falls State Park and with great views from their penthouse lounge. The original Art Deco design, modern decor, and top-notch service was a total treat. They even surprised us with a little anniversary gift bag of sweets.
Niagara Falls has an fabulous foodie scene, solidified by the recently opened Culinary Institute (right across the street from The Giacomo). We went to their restaurant Savor for an incredible lunch and wandered the halls, peaking into test kitchens and wine labs. Next time we are coming back to take classes!
Further complementing the culinary scene, is the fact that Niagara county yields incredible wines. Situated between the Niagara escarpment and Lake Ontario, the area receives a micro-climate that allows even this far northern zone suitable for vineyards. From Canada to New York, there are over 100 wineries, producing not just ice wine but excellent Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Riesling, and Syrah. We took a cruise down the Niagara Wine Trail and had a great tasting and chat with the owner of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards.
We’ve done wine tours by bike, bus and limo, but in Niagara winters, it’s all about the snowshoe. This is not typically done, but when we ran the idea by the lovely husband and wife team of Schultze wines, they completely agreed it would be the best way to explore the vineyards. We went up and down their rows and stopped by a stream for a little picnic with ice wine.
After dinner at the cute tapas bar Wine on Third we went to see the falls at night. This is such a unique and fabulous thing that happens at Niagara Falls; they don’t let the falls get hindered by darkness, they glorify them with spectacular lighting. A rainbow of colors bring new dimension to the water but the most surreal of all is when the white light hits the ice and the whole landscape takes on an ethereal glow.
We love a good brewery—especially the small ones that really open up their beer making process for the public to enjoy. Woodcock Brothers Brewery in Wilson, NY is such a cool spot where their restaurant looks right into their tank room and guests can enjoy a pint while taking a tour. We had a delicious burger and an excellent flight of beers (HoppyCock and Devil’s Hole Black IPA were our favorites!), followed by a private tour. Master brewer Matt invited us down to the floor to try his soon-to-be released XPA, right out of the tank! When you go to Niagara, lookout for this great new brew!
There is nothing like a helicopter ride to get a true feel for a landscape—especially something as spectacular as Niagara Falls. National Helicopters offers the longest flight route, so with their “Grand Tour” we had a 20+ minute tour (with insightful commentary by our pilot Andy) flying over Lake Ontario, Fort George, wine country, the escarpment, then up the Niagara River and the Falls for views from every angle.
Flying up the Niagara river, we passed the spectacular American and Bridal Veil Falls and did a loop over Horseshoe Falls which stand at 188 ft tall x 2,600 feet wide. The aerial perspective, seeing how the Great Lakes and rivers all come together to feed the falls then come cascading down in one dramatic finale…unreal.
For our anniversary dinner, everyone recommended we go to to the ultra romantic Carmelo’s in Lewiston. Walking up Center Street, we were completely charmed by this historic town, then the inviting interiors at the restaurant had us swooning. We toasted our stay in Niagara with local wines and a filet mignon with blueberry-balsamic sauce, and salted caramel torte for desert.
Niagara Falls reminded us that whether it’s an anniversary or just a great weekend together…”life’s a honeymoon!”