A Biker’s Paradise.
The Niagara region is an idyllic setting for big-city folk to unwind, reconnect with the earth and set-out by bike to discover the various treasures along the narrow swath of land between the Niagara Escarpment and the water that make up Ontario’s wine country. Wine tastings– don’t forget to spit if you’re on the road– are the best way for touring cyclists to experience the grape varietals at the different vineyards.
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The Riverbend Inn and Vineyard is Ontario’s only inn situated on a working vineyard. The recently refurbished, 1860s, Georgian mansion on a 17 acre, riverside estate is less than 3 km south of the historic and picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and about 20 km north of roaring Niagara Falls. The Riverbend’s 21 rooms are large, individually appointed, each with a gas fireplace. The interior is a feast for the eyes with oriental rugs, a grand staircase, glass chandeliers, antique-style furniture and oil paintings in ornate frames. The ambience is at once eclectic and homey. Guests looking for a place to relax can choose from both the piano bar or back patio, which overlooks a charming garden. Rooms from $260 | 1-800-955-5553 | riverbendinn.ca
Across the field of fines sits the newly-built faux-French château housing Peller Estates Winery Restaurant, reputed to be the best in all the land. Chef Jason Parsons concocts evolving, seasonal menus for lunch, dinner and weekend brunches The main attraction, however, is the eight-course Wine Tasting Menu ($80), where a sommelier pairs each dish with a Peller wine. Mains from $33 | 1-888-673-5537 | peller.com
Cycling– This is the raison d’être of the well-paved paths along Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, Lake Erie and the Welland Canal. Local tourism authorities devised a 140-km Greater Niagara Circle Routes Trail System. And they’ve teamed up with Via Rail to create a Toronto-Niagara Bike Train, allowing you to leave your car keys at home altogether. 416-338-0499 | biketrain.ca
Wine tasting– In June, 30 of the region’s wineries participate in the Niagara New Vintage Festival. Later in the season during harvest, go for the Niagara Wine Festival. 905-688-0212 | niagarawinefestival.com
Horseback-riding– Enjoy leisurely rides along the wooded trails of the Niagara Escarpment with a local guide from Niagara Riding Stables. $35 for one hour | 905-262-5101 | niagarariding.com
Relaxing– The Shaw Spa offers a vinotherapy treatment where therapists harness the powerful antioxidants found in grapes and wine to soothe skin and slow the aging process. $110 for 55 min |1-800-511-7070
Hiking– visit the stone cairn in Queenston Heights Park on the southernmost tip of the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 1-800-665-4453 | brucetrail.org
Adventura, Spring 2009