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There is no major airport in Niagara Region; however, you can get there easily on flights to three nearby airports: Toronto Pearson International (airport code YYZ), John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (airport code YHM) and (across the border in the United States) Buffalo Niagara International Airport (airport code BUF). If you'll be arriving at Buffalo make sure you take extra care that you have all the necessary identification documents to enter Canada and return to the United States.
In Toronto, Air Canada and Star Alliance flights arrive at Terminal 1 while all other carriers arrive at Terminal 3. (Terminal 2 is no longer used.) The airports in Hamilton and Buffalo are smaller and have just one terminal building. Niagara Airbus provides shuttle bus service from Toronto and Buffalo and limo service from Hamilton to all parts of Niagara Region. The trip from Toronto will take 90 minutes to 2 hours (depending on traffic) and costs between $65 to $75. Travel time from Buffalo will vary greatly depending on wait times at the border but expect the trip to take at least 1 hour and cost at least $70. Hamilton airport is no more than an hour away from most points in Niagara Region. A limo will cost approximately $120.
While you can get around the region by bus and taxi, renting a car makes a lot of sense and gives you maximum flexibility. Major rental companies are located in each of the airport terminals. If renting in Buffalo be sure to let the rental company know you will be taking your vehicle across the border into Canada. (Additional fees, insurance or restrictions may apply.) And no matter how tempting the Wine Route is, please don't drink and drive.
You can take the Westbound GO train to Burlington and then take a GO bus that drops you off at Fairview Mall. VIA Rail has twice daily service between Toronto to Niagara Falls and the ride takes about two hours. The train station in Niagara Falls is within easy walking distance of downtown. Some hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake offer a shuttle service from the station. 5-0 Transportation also offers a shuttle service from Niagara Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake, departing from the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal at 10:15am, 1:15pm and 4pm daily, and leaving from Fort George at 11am, 2:15pm and 5pm. The fare is around $19 for a return trip.
With the Niagara region being just over 100 km's from downtown Toronto, you can be here in just over an hour. If you are coming from the United States make sure you have the necessary identification and that you allow plenty of time to cross the border. Citizens of the United States do not require a passport to enter Canada by land. The Tourism Niagara website is an excellent source of up-to-date info on crossing the border including documentation requirements and border wait times.
All of these B&Bs are gay or lesbian owned and operated, however, just The Oasis welcomes exclusively gay guests. Wile all the rest are obviously gay-friendly, they cater primarily to a mainstream clientele.
Niagara prides itself on the quality and freshness of its food and wine. Not surprisingly, there are a number of superior restaurants that play to this strength. Many of the wineries also have restaurants and are good bets for a decent meal. Most restaurants in Niagara Falls tend to cater to the waves of tourists, so you'll find many familiar (if somewhat unexciting) chain options to choose from.
Even though there really are only a couple of gay bars in the region, you'll be comfortable at most bars and clubs, particularly in the tourist-friendly areas of Niagara Falls and Niagara-On-The-Lake.
History Lesson -
The region is rich in War of 1812 history. Visit now peaceful and quiet scenes of major battles at Queenston Heights, Lundy's Lane and Fort George. The Laura Secord Homestead is just one the interesting stops on the Niagara Heritage Trail.
There's all manner of shopping to keep you hopping. Niagara Falls features everything from the kitschy souvenir shops in the Clifton Hill area to excellent deals at the outlet mall in Lundy's Lane. For a change of pace, stroll along Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake to pick up fresh fudge, local jams or chachkas like some new decorations for your Christmas tree.
Shaw Festival -
One of North America's best theatre events, the Shaw Festival features plays written or taking place during the lifetime of the festival's namesake. This season's highlights include Wonderful Town, A Little Night Music, The Little Foxes and a concert version of Follies.
Wine Route -
The Wine Route includes some of Canada's best wineries as it traces three trips through the region: Grimsby & Beamsville and Jordan & Vineland, both just west of St Catharines as well as the vintner-rich area around Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Once almost a bigger draw than the Falls, Crystal Beach near Fort Erie still retains the charm of its heyday in the late 1800's. Today, the beaches around Wainfleet near Port Colborne are popular with the local gay boys.
As you might expect, many of the festivals in the region have a connection to the bounty of local food and wine. The Niagara Ice Wine Festival (in January), the Strawberry Festival (in June) and Niagara Wine Festival (in September) are just some examples. Check out music and local theatre festivals over the summer or the Winter Festival of Lights over the holiday season.
Slots and Shows -
If the Falls aren't excitement enough, stop in at the nearby Casino Niagara or the Fallsview Casino to try your luck. While both casinos feature entertainment in addition to gaming, the Fallsview has a strong line up of familiar names throughout the year.