One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
Being a Toronto native I have been to Niagara Falls many times, but never actually spent quality time in Niagara-on-the-Lake. What a completely different experience! There are many ways to experience the region, but here is a list of tips and tricks that we discovered on our getaway:
1. Tour by bike: There are many companies that offer full-service bike tours, but we opted to rent bikes on our own for $15 per person. They provide a map of the area, and you just bike between the wineries. Helmets are available to rent (not mandatory), but think ahead and save some dough by bringing your own.
2. Wine tasting: Our deal from Travelzoo included three tastings at Peller Estates, but we also discovered if you go to the concierge at the resort, they often have additional free passes. We were able to sample wines from Peller, Reif Estates and Ravine Estate Winery -- all for free. Another insider tip -- if you purchase a bottle, the tastings are usually free.
3. Winery tours: Many wineries offer tours of the facilities or grounds. Check schedules ahead of time and map out your route based on their schedules. Some are free, but for those that are not, do a little homework ahead of time and walk the grounds yourself.
4. Dine at the wineries: Many of the larger wineries have excellent restaurants with gorgeous terraces overlooking the fields. These often book up early so plan ahead.
5. Weekday vs. weekend: We visited from Sunday-Monday and noticed a huge difference in the crowds. For a quieter experience visit during the week when the wineries and restaurants aren't as crowded.
6. Follow the Niagara Escarpment & Twenty Valley Wine Route: Instead of taking the highway back to Toronto, take the back roads. Outside of the main Niagara-on-the-Lake region are another 40 wineries, including one owned by golf pro Mike Weir. However, my personal favourite is called Flat Rock.
--Joanna Richler is a Travelzoo Deal Expert based in Toronto. Travelzoo.ca has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.