Written and photographed by Sandra Ozkur
In the summer, romance fills the air as wedding season is in full swing. When the hustle and bustle of the wedding is over, couples look forward to spending some intimate time together on their honeymoon. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. Newly-weds can nestle in for some private time at one of the quaint hotels or B&B’s, and when it is time to go out, there is plenty to see and do! For leisurely fun, there is an array of fine restaurants, shops, art galleries, theatres, wineries, breweries, and markets to discover. For more rigorous activity, enjoy biking or walking along the scenic Niagara Parkway. Or, take a romantic drive on the country roads that wind their way through the orchards and vineyards. And, at the end of the day cuddle together on a park bench to watch the sun slowly set over the lake.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is approximately an hour’s drive from the Toronto or Buffalo airports. It is one of the oldest and prettiest towns in Canada, and is situated on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the mighty Niagara River. Not only is it picture-perfect, but it also has everything a couple needs to make their honeymoon special.
Jon and Marie-Lynne Vacher of Toronto were recently married, but had only four days for a honeymoon. They decided not to waste any of their precious time in airports; instead they chose to spend their time in one of their favourite towns. “We love Niagara-on-the-Lake because of its charm and character. It seemed like the perfect honeymoon location!” said Jon. The couple exchanged vows at her parents home in the city and the next day loaded up the car with luggage, picnic gear and, of course, their vintage tandem bike and headed out of town.
Asked why they chose Niagara-on-the-Lake, Jon explained, “We originally wanted to go to Europe but didn’t have the time, so Niagara-on-the-Lake was the next best thing. The historic buildings, wineries and countryside remind me so much of France where my relatives live. The vineyards, orchards and gardens are similar to those in the French countryside. Having our tandem bike along gave us the opportunity to get off the beaten path.”
I first caught site of this handsome couple as they rode into town on their bicycle built for two. They were dressed in vintage clothing and they looked like a clip out of an old movie. I approached them as they seated themselves on the patio at Corks Restaurant on Queen Street; they agreed to meet later and tell me more about their honeymoon experience in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We met the next day at Ravine Vineyard and I took their pictures as they pulled in. They told me about the interesting things they were doing on their honeymoon. They love the atmosphere of Niagara-on-the-Lake because it has a grown-up refined feeling, but it’s not stuffy or exclusive. It has just the right mix of amenities for mature couples. There are hotels and inns that offer elegance and luxury or quaint B&B’s that offer a more relaxed experience. Marie-Lynn and Jon decided to stay at an historic B&B for a homier feeling, “There was no T.V. so we played board games and drank wine by the fire and just enjoyed each other’s company,” said Marie-Lynne.
“Every day was an adventure— the first day we rode along the parkway and stopped at the smaller wineries where we discovered rare wines unavailable in stores. Next, we came upon a market where we bought everything we needed for a picnic,” said Jon. Marie-Lynn chimed in, “…and then we found a beautiful spot on the riverbank where we had a romantic picnic— it was just perfect! Riding a tandem bike is the best—we have good conversations and that bike forces you to co-operate and trust each other. I guess it’s good training for marriage! We discovered something special every day. We found a great antique shop in Virgil where we bought a couple of chairs, then coincidently discovered the remaining pieces of the set at another shop. Down the street we ate an amazing lunch at a tiny café called The Pie Plate: their pies are to die for!”
The couple visited two microbreweries, and then stocked up on fresh fruit from the roadside stands before heading back to the Old Town. Later, they attended a Shaw performance at the Courthouse Theatre, followed by an elegant dinner at Queen’s Landing. A horse and carriage ride home made the perfect end to a perfect day.
Marie-Lynn and Jon took it easy on the last day by visiting local art studios. They were in search of a memorable piece that would serve as a reminder of their delightful honeymoon in Niagara-on-the-Lake. After an exhilarating day of gallery hopping, they quenched their thirst at The Olde Angel Inn, where locals gather. “Everyone was so friendly, the fish and chips were delicious, and we had great fun dancing to the live band,” said Marie-Lynn.
One of the couple’s favourite discoveries was the farmers’ market, which is held weekly at the Village Plaza. There, they sampled food and bought fresh produce, preserves and baking from local producers. “What an inviting atmosphere—everyone mingles; eating and shopping while live entertainers perform. The food is superb, and the company great— we sat at the picnic tables for a long time just chatting with people from all over the world,” said Jon.
“We had the perfect honeymoon—it’s hard to believe that we are just a short distance from Toronto! We wish we could stay longer because there is still so much to see and do. We would have liked to visit a spa, seen Fort George, or attended a few more plays, but luckily we can visit again soon and have a bit of a second honeymoon,” said Jon with a grin.