Monday, April 16, 2012

Top Five Places You've Never Heard of In Niagara Falls

1. Get your Zen in Gear

The last thing you might expect to find in the hurly-burly of Niagara Falls is a true and authentic Budhist temple, but there it is, looming elegantly right beside the White Water Walk. The Cham Shan Temple, also known as the World Peace Ten Thousand Buddas Sarira Stupa Temple, sprawls across three acres of land on the brink of the Niagara River. Its purpose is to "facilitate the expounding of Dharma and the propagation of Buddhism."The temple is open daily (9am-5pm, no admission charge) and tours are available on weekends from June through October. While the temple isn't on any of the tourist maps, it is a fascinating place to visit, and perhaps to take some time for quiet meditation. A special and unexpected experience. Just be mindful that this is a place of worship and respect its sanctity.

(Photo courtesy of Cham Shan Temple)

2. Really Really Get Away From It All

If life is getting too hard to handle, head for the Falls and the serenity of the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre. This peaceful Carmelite Monastery is surrounded by twelve acres of spacious grounds for walks and contemplation. Retreats and workshops are conducted year round in the areas of personal development, inner healing, prayer, and spirituality. One of the current workshops is a "weekend exploration of the nature and dynamics of anger and the myths and misconceptions associated with the forgiveness process. Through mini-presentations, scripture references, personal reflection and group discussion participants will gain a better understanding of the process and how it operates in their lives. Meals can be taken in silence or in conversation. You will leave with both insights and tools for the journey." The weekend, including accomodation and meals, is $50. Contact the Monastery to book a workshop or to arrange a personal retreat.

(Photo courtesy of Mount Carmel)

3. Best Secret Place to Propose, or Fall in Love.

R5 - This is a hidden night club/bar that only those in the know would find. It's tucked behind the elevators on the fifth floor of the Fallsview Casino Hotel and it is probably my favourite romantic place in Niagara Falls. The bar is small and cosy, with comfortable couches and a fab patio, with views of the Falls, the illuminations and the fireworks. I vote it the best place to propose in North America.

4. Spy a Slaty-Backed Gull or a Common Merganser

Spend the night for $8 (plus tax) and discover a pristine nature preserve at the same time as you get to know The Falls. Navy Island is a nature preserve that lies seven miles above the Falls. It is only accessible by boat, and there are no facilities, but you can arrange to camp there overnight with a special permit. It is a nature lover's, bird lover's and fisherman's paradise, perfect for a quiet and tranquil commune with nature, right in the middle of one of the busiest tourist areas in North America. Who knew?

(Photo courtesy of Oli-Oviyan)

5. Get Your Man (or Woman)!

We've always been just a little bit afraid, and a lot impressed, with the iconic Mountie, with his ( or her!) big hat, crimson coat and shiny boots. Here's your chance to get up close and personal with one or to introduce your kids to their real Canadian idol. Have your picture taken with your arm around a Mountie! At the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Store in the Table Rock Centre, located at the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, you can meet with a real, in-the-flesh Mountie, ask questions and take a photo. Hours during the summer are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of electricnadine)

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