We drove up Friday morning and left Sunday afternoon. We dedicated Friday as our "picnic/relaxation" day. First stop was to some of the local bakeries and butchers. Hendrick's Valu-Mart is right in town and is always reliably stocked with great local food. We walked down to the lake and set up on a picnic table that had both a view of the water and a gazebo below where a couple was getting married. Then, honestly, we just wandered for a while and enjoyed the sights of the picturesque town. Check out our blog post of window shopping to see what we saw.
On previous visits we tended to stay to the main strip for meals. You can find a lot of great restaurants and even luck out with a great view of the sunset over the lake while you eat (like at the Niagara Golf and Country Club). We wanted to try something different, so instead we ventured away from the lake and had an excellent meal at Backhouse Restaurant, a newer spot within walking distance of the cottage. We finished off our evening back at the cottage with a bottle of local wine that Fil and my mom had picked out for us (thank you!) and watched Netflix on their very, very comfortable couch.
Saturday morning, we woke up early and cooked a big breakfast - we needed it for the big day of biking we had planned. We mapped out a route and set on our way. Our plan was to bike all the way up Niagara Parkway, and stop at every winery we passed by. Then, we would stop at York Rd (in Queenston) and turn around to come down the concession roads to have a late lunch at our favourite winery, Caroline Cellars.
As I said, this was the "plan". In reality, we had to stop for lunch much sooner than expected. You see, there are a lot of wineries worth visiting, and each place tends to provide a generous pour in their tasting flights. Fortunately, the streets tend to be very quiet and cars rarely pass by on the country roads. We made it to Caroline Cellars safely and recuperated with one of their famous poutine specials. If memory serves, the special that day was Buffalo Chicken poutine and it was to die for.
We got back on our bikes after lunch, but vowed to hold off on doing any more tastings until we were back at the cottage. We were able to recover our plan and head back up Niagara parkway to visit more wineries. At some, we even got a tour of the estate - shoutout to Frog Pond farm with their organic wines and Reif Estates with their gorgeous terrace. Once our backpacks were full with our newly purchased bottles, we headed home.
For dinner we went to the Silversmith Brewery, which is a short drive away. We make a point to go there every time we're in NOTL because the restaurant is in a refurbished church. Their food is always excellent but their menu is never the same from one visit to the next.
After that, we drove back to the cottage to abandon the car and set out again, looking for some live music. About 10 minute's walk away, Oast House brewery was hosting an outdoor party. A bluegrass band played on a wooden stage while the brewery served southern-style barbeque. We ate so much, despite already feeling full to the brim. The beer didn't help, either, but when in Rome...
We kept our Sunday simple. Initially, we wanted to go to Niagara Falls, but we were too exhaused after a busy Saturday, so instead we hit the main strip again and did some shopping. I bought a huge selection of gourmet jams from Grieves and my partner stocked up on British candies. Right outside of town, on the way back to the city, we stopped in to the outlet mall and did some more shopping. Here's the strangest recommendation I have for you, dear reader: check out the Bass Pro Shops outlet. Although I'm a city-person through and through, I love checking it out. It's such a treat to see the spectacle of wilderness gear - if you've never been, it's probably hard to imagine why this is noteworthy, so you'll just have to see for yourself.