Before you start your engines to head down to Niagara, New York, consider going the other way first. That’s what my daughter and I did recently when we were hunting down awesome deals on clothing, shoes, gift items and also looking for some exploring. I can only imagine how amazing it would be in Watertown, NY for their Black Friday sales.
We live on the eastern edge of the GTA so it’s about equal distance for us to Niagara or Watertown. But here is one of the best parts of going to Watertown – it took us 3 minutes to get across the border! Not even kidding. I’ve waited up to 2 hours to cross at the Queenston Lewiston bridge, the Peace bridge or the Rainbow bridge – it’s a roll of the dice how long you will be. Plus I find all those bridges really intimidating – especially when you get stuck waiting on one – the swaying is nauseating. Check out the official wait times website here to see for yourself.
If you go via the Thousand Islands bridge you’d be laughing. I asked when we were going into the US and then again coming home when the worst times for congestion were and both times the border guards told me it was rare that the waits were more than 15 minutes.
The drive takes you though the natural beauty of the 1000 Islands area where there is so much to see and do on both sides of the border. Check out this link for a list of possible adventures on your drive.
Stay the Night, or Two
Now that the allowances for the amounts you can bring back have increased to $800 (link) , why not book a room and stay the night? Or two? There are great deals to be had and when we went down the Hilton Garden Inn was a great central location to stay at. Not to mention the indoor pool, heated jacuzzi, exercise room and adjustable beds. THE BEDS! So comfortable.
Breakfast is included and you won’t believe how amazing that breakfast is. It’s not your ‘continental’ stale muffins and dismal coffee it is a fully serviced and custom ordered feast. The options were amazing with daily specials thrown in. Fresh to order omelettes or eggs any way you want them. Fruits, yogurt, cereal, make your own waffles, pastries, meats, all sorts of good stuff. I definitely recommend taking advantage of this kitchen – it is so convenient and then you can get on your way to shopping and walking it all off!
In this area you will find all the stores you need with less lineups, crowds and more parking. We spent a lot of time at the Salmon Run Mall. Here you will find a huge variety of stores including the Christmas Tree Shops, Hot Topic, JC Penney, Dressbarn, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gertrude Hawke Chocolates, Yankee Candle and Hollister California. They also have a food court and several sit down restaurant options. Click the link for their directory.
We found lots to love at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates:
The Salmon Run Mall is a nice size. It isn’t so big you will be exhausted by the end and it has all sorts of different options for all your needs. We actually did pick up some Christmas gifts when we went – and I haven’t lost them yet!
If you find yourself with a little extra time, why not try out Escape the Mystery Room for approximately 45 minutes. A good option if you have people with you who aren’t exactly thrilled to be in this amazing retail space.
Other Places We Checked Out
One cannot go to the United States without stopping in to a few classic places. Specifically, Sonic Burger, Dunkin’ Donuts, and the liquor store.
(I may have an unhealthy attraction to Dunkin’ Donuts.)
Can you believe some of these prices?! And the variety of flavours was outstanding.
We recommend checking out Watertown for all your back to school, birthday shopping or Christmas gift giving needs. Or even as a nice break that isn’t too far away. The prices are reasonable, competitive to Canadian prices, and there are some pretty neat differences that are fun for visiting. Not to mention Black Friday!
I’d like to thank the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council for sponsoring this trip. All opinions are my own.