Disclaimer: My intention is not to promote local travel to any regions in lockdown, but moreover to highlight this incredible town that will need all support when local travel picks up again. This booking in particular was made several months ago and as per Provincial regulations, short-term rental reservations (like Airbnb) made before November 22 are allowed regardless of when the rental occurs. As further safety precautions, we isolated at home prior to this weekend getaway and ensured we followed all of the Covid safety measures.
Niagara-On-The-Lake is without a doubt one of my favourite towns to visit in southern Ontario. While I have visited the town in the summer and fall months, it wasn’t until recently that I visited during the holiday season. It is THE quintessential Hallmark Christmas movie town. Driving through it, one could easily mistake it for a movie set with its charming horse-drawn carriages and its historic 19th century homes. Most of the businesses are ornately decorated for the holidays. Yes, Niagara-on-the-Lake checks off all of the boxes for the perfect festive town and this past weekend the kid in me relished in all of its Christmas glory.
While there are many options of places to stay including the popular vintage hotels, I wanted something a little more homey for this particular visit. A few months ago when I was looking for the perfect holiday home for my annual family weekend getaway, I channeled one of the characters from one of my favourite Christmas movies: The Holiday. I wanted something cozy that emanated Christmas. I sat at my laptop intently searching (not too dissimilar from a desperate Cameron Diaz in the Holiday) for the perfect ‘home away from home’. Ok maybe I wasn’t as desperate as Diaz’s character but her longing to vacate from her life, was arguably equal to my longing to escape from a tumultuous year, even if just for a weekend. Shortly after, I came across Simcoe Pines. It was exactly what I was looking for; An 1850’s heritage home located in the Old Town of Niagara-On-The-Lake. The first question I asked when I messaged Kerri (the host) was: “What are the chances that you put up a Christmas Tree during the holidays?”, to which she responded: “My mother and I decorate the house and put a tree up every year. It’s the perfect Christmas home”.
Kerri was super responsive, extremely nice and a few weeks prior to the booking, she even sent me photos of the Christmas decor:
“We decorated Simcoe Pines yesterday for Christmas. It’s soooo cozy! Sharing a few pics! “ – Kerri
This hostess with the mostest gets me. And she was so right. It truly was so cozy. The perfect Christmas home in the perfect Christmas town.
Activity: A Mid-Morning ride on a Horse-Drawn Carriage:As a surprise Christmas gift for my family, I organized to have a horse-drawn carriage pick us up in front of our rental home with Sentineal Carriages. Depending on where you are located, Sentineal Carriages will arrange for custom pickups in the area which added to the magic of the experience. I mean, who doesn’t want to walk out of their (temporary) home to find a horse-drawn carriage waiting for them?
It felt special and exclusive. My family was surprised and so excited. We curled up in blankets and made our way through the neighborhoods as well as the main street of town. It was such an enjoyable and scenic experience.
The local homes were decked out in Christmas décor and my imagination ran wild when I pictured what Christmas would be like in some of these homes. It was such an incredible way to see the town.
Lunch at Cannery Restaurant at Pillar & Post:
After our incredible horse-drawn carriage ride, it was time for lunch and we decided to go to The Cannery Restaurant located inside the Pillar & Post Hotel. I arranged for the carriage to drop us off at the restaurant, further adding to the unique experience. Who needs uber when you can get dropped off by carriage, amirite?
The Christmas decor inside the restaurant was amazing. Seriously, this town leaves no stone unturned! It was cozy and warm with a fireplace in each dining area.
Exploring the Old Town:
When a small town has a Christmas Store, you know it’s festive AF! After lunch, we headed to the main street to check out the shops and enjoy the decor. There are all types of bakeries, restaurants and cute stores that are perfect for gift shopping. Most of the stores are decorated with garland and lights and the lamp posts throughout give the main strip a real Charles Dickens-like vibe. It is truly is a scene from a Hallmark movie.
All in all, it was the perfect little Christmas getaway. I encourage you to visit next year. It will not disappoint.
What are your favourite Christmas towns? Comment below!