SPECIAL UPDATE: ABOUT US

Who is Circus Living?

We are in the middle of a theme overhaul which means in the near future, there will be more posts on where our true passion and interests lay and that is, with monsters, magic, ghosts, fringe science, and the unexplained. Soon, we will be posting our new vision and mission, and where we are ultimately heading with our new site, Circus Living 2.0. To keep updated on our progress, we urge you to
join our mailing list.

  
Join our mailing list!

Attractions




   Visit our sister site Getting Primal!

Family Skate n' Wine at Ravine Vineyard (NOTL, Ontario)
1st entry for Circus Living's special feature 'The Hidden Gems of Niagara'


Ravine Vineyard located in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

Somewhere in our plans for 2015, I promised more entries on things to do around our hometown of Niagara which do not involve the common tourist spots. From my own experience, I have always found it difficult to find anything online to do around the Niagara area which did not involve the falls, attractions in Clifton Hills, or the wineries. When I tried to look for something new to do this past weekend, the Ice Wine Festival was recommended to me...I mean, who has not heard of the infamous Ice Wine Festival? If you have not, just type 'Niagara Falls events' into your google search and I am certain it will pop up as one of the top search results. We've been to the festival a few times before (pre-Paleo days) and I can honestly say the adults had a lot of fun...as for the kids freezing their bums off while the adults joyfully sip and taste ice wine samples, not so much. The event is catered more to adults and couples, less to families. From our experience, winery-type events and wineries in general cater to the adult crowd and are less family-oriented.

Ravine Vineyard, however, is a winery which attempts to cater to families as well as adults. For the winter season, they have constructed an outside ice skating rink for anyone to use for free. It is located right on their winery's property so if you fancy some wine tasting afterwards or simply want to head indoors to warm up, their tasting room offers a variety of wines ready for your tastebuds complete with a cozy rolling fire burning in the hearth.

We headed there with Papa (great grandpa) a couple of weekends ago because Ronan and Kiarra wanted to go skating. We stumbled across the skating rink in our search to find a rink that would accommodate skating aids. Most if not all indoor arenas simply do not permit it in the Niagara Region. I am not sure as to why but I imagine it is because the arenas would be concerned about them taking up too much space.


Ronan learning how to skate at Ravine Vineyard

Ronan had a lot of fun despite his frustrations at first at not being able to stay on his feet. Kiarra was coming down with a cold and was cranky as hell because we had visitors over until late the night before. As like any parent concerned about breaking kids' bedtime routines, we tried to shoo them away but our close friend's wife who we were meeting for the first time was heading back to Kenya two days after, and we would not be able to see her again until summer. So bedtime was later than usual for the kids and Kiarra felt sick the following day. Needless to say, she was not up for skating and complained about being cold, hungry, and tired. Seamus was also coming down with an illness of sorts (ah the joys of daycare!) so he could not participate. I bundled him up in his blankets instead and he was all cozy and toasty in his stroller.


Skating with papa and dad at Ravine Vineyard's skating rink

The Ravine Vineyard's skating rink is open the same hours as their retail store. Their retail hours are from 10 am to 6 pm daily during the Winter season. The rink does depend on Mother Nature so as long as it stays cold, it will stay open. It will likely be available until the beginning of March or mid-March. It is always best to call them to confirm first before you visit.

We visited on a Sunday morning around 10:30 AM and we had the skating rink all to ourselves. Most people who were visiting were there for the ice wine tasting - we visited during the Ice Wine festival. When I posted about the outside skating rink on a Niagara family group online, I found numerous members of the group were not aware of the skating rink - a hidden gem so to speak.

If you are planning to visit the outside rink, I would ensure to really bundle up since we found that it was breezy at times. A Niagara mom asked me if they offered skate rentals and for anyone else wondering the same thing, the answer is no. The outside rink is an informal makeshift rink made available for visitors to use for free.  And what I mean by informal is you will need to bring your own skates and helmet - there is no equipment rental available here folks. There are a few used skates shops in the Niagara region selling skates for $15+ so if you or your kids need skates and are concerned about costs (yes, skates can get quite expensive!), I would start there. They sell helmets in the used skate shops as well.


The rink at Ravine Vineyard

All in all, Ravine Vineyard's skating rink is perfect for families and couples. For couples, I think it is a great spot for a date idea - skate, wine and then dine at Ravine Vineyard's restaurant. Just imagine taking in the cool winter breeze while you skate outdoors with your loved one (in my case, my loved one would be doing triple axles and skating circles all around balance-challenged me - he took figure skating and is a bit of a show off)...and then once you have gotten your fill of skating (in my case, my show off husband) and the fresh cool air, imagine participating in some wine tasting to warm up your insides...and then top it all of with a delicious meal at the restaurant complete with gorgeous views of the vineyard. The restaurant is open Wednesdays to Saturdays for lunch, 11 am to 3 pm, and dinner from 5 to 9 pm. On Sundays, they are open for brunch from 11 am to 3 pm and dinner from 5 to 9 pm.


Papa taking a breather at Ravine Vineyard

What about during the spring/summer season? Ravine Vineyard caters to families as well during the warmer months, and here are just a few examples of the family-oriented activities they have available,

1) For pizza lovers, they have an outdoor pizza oven located in their own backyard! Their pizza oven opens on the Victoria Day weekend (May 16-18, 2015) 
 
2) During the summer their backyard is open for families to enjoy. They have picnic tables set up, ping pong tables, and soccer balls available for their guests. Their restaurant also has 2 outside patios - the first located outside their Retail Tasting Bar & the second, located outside of their Restaurant. 
 
3) They have a very large Canada Day celebration, which includes live music, homemade food off the grill & wood oven pizza followed by a grand fireworks display. 
 
4) They also have classes open to Wine Club Members that are very family friendly such as Apple Pie school, Pizza-making class and ping-pong competitions.

So there you have it, a hidden gem we gleefully discovered in the Niagara Region. So, if you are interested in some free ice skating plus some wine tasting and a meal to top it off while it is still cold outdoors, what are you waiting for? Ravine Vineyard is just the ticket.


The view at Ravine Vineyard


To find out the next Niagara family-based attraction we will be featuring in our 2nd installment of the 'The Hidden Gems of Niagara'  feature, make sure to stay tuned by liking our page on facebook!