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Monday, August 27, 2018

Go wet and wild in Niagara; dark and starry nights at Ontario Parks to wind down summer


   One-Tank Trip for August 25/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   As summer relentlessly continues on its course toward fall, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy some of the best road trips of the season.
   Niagara is always a fun destination and publicist Stephen Murdoch has some “getaway ideas for a last hurrah before summer ends.”
Zipping by the American and Canadian falls on the Wildplay MistRider.
   These include family friendly adventures such as jet boat tours, zip lines and Niagara Gorge hikes.
   Meanwhile, Jeff Brown of Ontario Parks suggests viewing the starry skies at the provincial parks, two of which have been designated dark sky preserves.
   Back to Niagara, rent bikes or go for a family stroll on the Niagara River Recreation Trail, a 56-kilometre paved pathway overlooking the Niagara Gorge.
   Take a road trip along the Niagara River Parkway, adjacent to the trail, between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls.
The scenic Niagara River Parkway travels beside the falls in Niagara Falls. (Barbara Fox photo)
    The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.”
   This is also a “great place to have a family picnic,” Murdoch suggests.
   Then explore Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake to “soak up the history and charm of one of Canada’s prettiest towns,” he adds.
   Once the capital of Upper Canada, Old Town has deep historic roots that stretch back more than 200 years.
   “In addition to wonderful heritage buildings, Old Town has fantastic shopping in its many boutiques and specialty stores, as well as great dining and entertainment, including world-class theatre at the Shaw Festival,” Murdoch said. niagaraonthelake.com
Whirlpool Jet Boats offer “adrenalin-filled trips” along the Niagara River.
   “This has been one of the best summers on record to visit Niagara,” says John Kinney, president of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours.
   The company is marking its 26th wet-and-wild season taking passengers on white-knuckle jet boat rides on the turbulent waters of the Niagara River.
    “The weather has been dry and hot, which makes it even more refreshing going for a splash on the river,” he adds.
   Adventure-seeking daredevils can go on “unforgettable” jet boat rides from the mouth of the Niagara River through the Class 5 Devil’s Hole Rapids and to just below the incredibly powerful Niagara Whirlpool.
   There are three departure points: Niagara Falls, Ont. (shuttle bus from the Floral Clock on the Niagara Parkway to Queenston dock), Niagara-on-the-Lake and Lewiston, N.Y. whirlpooljet.com
The Maid of the Mist tour boat takes passengers to the base of the falls. (Jim Fox photo)
    Stay dry on a “jaw-dropping zipline ride” to the base of Niagara Falls with the Wildplay MistRider Zipline.
   Then, test your skills on an obstacle course suspended over the Niagara Gorge on the Wildplay Whirlpool Adventure Course. niagarafalls.wildplay.com
   Check out internationally renowned magician Greg Frewin’s thrilling show called Wild Magic at his Niagara Falls’ theatre.
   This Vegas-style show incorporates exotic animals and dazzling illusions “that keep audiences mesmerized.” gregfrewintheatre.com

   Lights out
   Enter the dark side as Ontario Parks has its first two dark sky preserves – Killarney and Lake Superior provincial parks – recognized by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
A starry night at Lake Superior Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks - Paula Trus)
    “Protecting dark sky areas allows many birds, amphibians, insects and plants to have important uninterrupted periods of darkness during the night,” Brown says.
   “Ontario Parks is committed to the protection, awareness and preservation of our night skies,” he adds.
   Stars over Killarney will be held on Sep. 22 as expert and amateur astronomers view stars and planets through powerful telescopes and binoculars.
Lights out at Killarney Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks)
   Visitors can experience the park’s new 16” research grade telescope and there’s also a Science North and Killarney experience with dinner.
   Elsewhere, this weekend is the annual Kids Fishing Derby (to age 15) at Wheatley Provincial Park and plan now to experience the fall colours cycling.
   Family cycling and mountain biking trails are open at parks across the province. ontarioparks.com

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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