That’s exactly what Laura Lucas, Head of Educational Tours here at Halsbury, recently went to find out!
Upon arrival in Toronto, we were met by our guide for the weekend – the amazing Pam!
After the long flight, and transfer from the airport, we were delighted to arrive at our home for the next 2 nights – the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. It’s a large historic luxury hotel, located right in the heart of Downtown Toronto, opposite Union Station. We were welcomed with drinks, before having a short time to explore the hotel and settle into our rooms.
The evening began with a short coach transfer to the foot of the CN Tower. We were quickly whisked up to the restaurant in a glass-fronted lift, giving spectacular views over the city by night.
The restaurant is revolving at the top of the tower, giving you a 360° view of the city as you eat. After the meal, we went down to the observation platform, where you have the opportunity to view the city again – this is the more popular option for our groups that travel to Toronto and would be a fantastic opening visit to the city.
After the early start, long flight and 5-hour time difference, we were all ready to return to the hotel once the meal had finished – and ready for our adventures the next day which, we had heard, involved a surprise new way to view Niagara Falls!
The journey to the other side of Lake Ontario took around 90 minutes or so and gave us a chance to view the landscape once you leave the bustling city centre of Toronto. Along the way, Pam pointed out all of the different wineries that tourists can visit as part of the Niagara Vineyard Trail. Some had some really strange names!
Upon arrival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we visited the Peller Wine Estate. Perfect for adult groups, our visit included a guided tour of the estate, with some wine-tasting on the way, and ended with a delicious three course meal.
Each course was paired with one of their own wines, and we ended with a glass of the Ice Wine – when the grapes are harvested at night when the temperatures reach -10° to create a very sweet dessert wine.
We left the winery and started to make our way to Niagara Falls – certainly the highlight of the trip for me!
However, en route we were informed that we would be viewing the spectacular falls from a new perspective – by helicopter!
After an anxious wait, I was finally on board the helicopter and we began the amazing journey over the world-famous Falls. While listening to the commentary, the accompanying views of the Falls were simply spectacular – something I will never forget!
After the group all landed back on solid ground, we headed off to the tourist area near the Falls. There was just enough daylight left for us to see the Falls, getting close enough to feel the spray and hear the deafening roar of the water rushing over and down to the lake below.
Despite the freezing conditions, I stayed out by the Falls for quite a while, enjoying my time and taking photographs, before dashing into the Visitor’s Centre nearby to warm up! In the centre, there are cafes and shops, where you can buy souvenirs of all varieties, and companies offering a variety of other ways to visit the Falls – going out on the famous “Maid of the Mist” boat rides, walking behind the Falls, or even a zipline across!
I imagine that, in the summer, it would be the most amazing place to explore. In the middle of winter, however, the spray from the Falls was falling as snow, with many trees and buildings completely covered as if they were part of a backdrop for the film Frozen!
We then headed back to Toronto, eating at the comically named “Loose Moose” restaurant, just down the road from our hotel. Here, we were treated to huge burgers, and enormous portions of fries and nachos. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was very lively.
After an early start, and still trying to adapt to the time difference, we headed back to our hotel.
With a somewhat more relaxed start to our final day in Toronto, we checked out of the hotel after another delicious buffet-style breakfast. We were surprised to walk out onto the street and be greeted by falling snow!
Our driver for the day was very experienced at driving in such conditions, and we were soon on our way. The morning’s plan was to have a coach tour of the city, with Pam giving us details of all the major sights. She had an anecdote for every area of the city, and her knowledge and humour were second to none!
After a final meal with Pam, we had a short amount of free time to explore the Eaton Centre – a huge shopping mall in Downtown Toronto. This is the perfect place for groups to have a final stop before returning to the airport. There are shops for everything here, so plenty of opportunities to purchase that last souvenir bottle of maple syrup.
The journey back to the airport was smooth, despite the weather, and we all bid a fond farewell to Pam. She was an incredible guide for our group and really made our flying visit to Toronto completely unforgettable.
The trip to Toronto was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I thank all involved from Lime Management and British Airways for memories that will last a lifetime! Toronto is a fantastic city for visitors of any age and is certainly high on my list of recommended destinations for our school groups!