Meet Lisa Mallett: Niagara Falls Travel Advisor

Lisa Mallett has a passion for travel and exploring new places. She decided it was time to take this passion further by creating a travel blog and becoming a travel advisor based in Niagara Falls, Canada. Due to the pandemic, she’s discovering more about her home and sharing her discoveries with her readers. Once traveling can begin in earnest again, her goal is to build custom travel itineraries for private or group trips to explore Ontario’s Niagara Region. 

Wander, explore, and discover to fuel your soul with travel” — Lisa Mallett 

Meet Glamma Travel, aka Lisa. She is a fifty-something Canadian grandmother who loves being a travel advisor. But don’t judge Lisa by her age or the fact she has grandchildren, as she is not your average grandma. 

You mentioned in Living in a Tourist Destination that you reside in Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. How would an American visitor reach Canada’s Falls area?”

Getting to Niagara Falls is relatively easy; if you are flying we have two international airports within a two-hour distance of the Falls. Toronto Pearson Airport is the closest to Ontario, Canada. There are many transport companies that can provide travel to Niagara. If you live in the USA, you can fly domestic to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Then, either rent a car and cross the border in Buffalo to get to Niagara Falls. Alternatively, you can arrange a car service to transport you over. Of course, if you happen to live within driving distance, you can use your own vehicle to cross over one of our three international border bridges.

US and Canada Border Bridge

When is the best time to visit and why?”

As a travel advisor and local, Niagara is an ideal location any time of the year, depending on what you are looking to experience. Our most popular tourist season is in the summer. During the months of June through September, the temperatures are warm and you can try out outdoor activities in comfort. If you are looking for a quieter time to visit, you may enjoy the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. You can take advantage of more reasonable prices and fewer crowds. We have plenty of activities that you can take advantage of during these seasons and you may find more reasonable prices and less crowding. Winter is cold in Niagara, but if you love snow, it is very beautiful to see.

What seasonal differences are there in terms of things to do in and around Niagara?”

If you are visiting during the summer season, you will be able to experience all the major attractions in Niagara Falls and the surrounding area. There are land and water options, wine tours, and all of the beautiful floral displays will be in full bloom in Niagara Parks. The shoulder seasons offer similar activities to summer. However, the weather may be more of an issue with a wider spectrum of conditions depending on Mother Nature’s mood. During winter, there will be limited outdoor activities. Nonetheless, it is ice wine harvest time and there is a local Winter Festival of Lights.

Niagara Falls in winter

If people plan to spend more time in the area than a day trip, what would you recommend checking out close to Niagara?”

Niagara Falls is right next door to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is where many of our wineries are located. The small village itself is so picturesque, you will feel as if you have stepped back into the Victorian era. The Niagara Parkway is the route between Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it is a beautiful scenic drive as well as a must-see in my humble opinion. Toronto is only about one-and-a-half to two hours north and can easily be driven to by following our QEW highway. The largest city in Ontario, Toronto rests on the shore of one of our Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. It is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture. If you have the time, it is worth spending a couple of days or more visiting. As a travel advisor, I recommend it!

A nighttime photo of Toronto

Foreign tourists are conspicuous by their absence in the Falls at the moment. However, to what extent has the shortfall been made up by those on staycations?”

Niagara Falls generally counts on about 50% of the tourism revenue to come from American citizens. With the international border being closed since March 2020, Niagara Falls has tried very hard to promote itself as a close-to-home staycation option during the months that our pandemic numbers were more under control. Ontario citizens actually do makeup about 70% of the 14 million tourists who visit Niagara Falls in a typical year. However, they only provide about 25% of the tourism revenue. I am not aware of how much revenue Niagara Falls was able to produce in the 2020 season as of yet, but it was most definitely less than a typical year. Until the border reopens, I assume that this trend will continue.

How much is Niagara a victim of its own success? What environmental damage has been done by the mass of visitors rocking up on a daily basis?”

Sadly, tourism definitely has had some negative effects on our environment mostly due to pollution emitted from so many vehicles. Wildlife is rare except in green areas. At one time, there was toxic chemical waste as well as sewage generated from tourists being legally dumped into the Niagara River. I am not completely sure if this practice has been stopped or lessened but I do know there has been an awareness of it made public in recent years.

Niagara Falls Rainbow

How have the Falls adapted to becoming more ecologically sustainable?”

The environment has become a much bigger focus in recent years. Niagara is trying to do its part to help. The role of the City now is to “maintain, preserve, and promote good stewardship of the natural resources within the City for existing and future needs and to protect the diversity and interdependence of these natural areas to maintain and improve their natural functions,” (City of Niagara Falls Official Plan, Section 3).

You mentioned you live in Wine Country. What dishes would you recommend accompanying these vintages? Are there many local gastronomic specialties?”

We have many vintages in Niagara, so this would be difficult to cover in just one paragraph.  Any winery host that you visit for tastings will be happy to suggest food pairings for the individual wines. We actually have a couple of times a year where the wineries all offer wine and food pairing tours. Many of the wineries also have restaurants where they offer a complete food and wine pairing menu. 

Food and wine pairing

What are some of the most outrageous questions tourists ask?”

As Niagara Falls residents, we have heard some pretty outrageous questions. Here are some of the best:

“Do you ever turn the Falls off?”

“Are we in Canada?”

How would you describe the people who live in Canada? What distinguishes them from other countries?”

I would describe the people in Canada as friendly, respectful, and accommodating for the most part. Many would also call us apologetic. Canadians are unique people, especially when compared to our closest neighbor, the USA.

Our government is very different. We are a Commonwealth country led by a Prime Minister, meaning we are friendlier and more accepting of outsiders. On the whole, I believe that Canadians are more educated about the US than US visitors are about Canada, sometimes embarrassingly so. We have a different currency, our national languages are English and French, we have entirely different healthcare and school systems, and even the foods we have in common are not that similar. So even though we border the USA, Canada is a very unique country of its own.

You can find more information and book future travel to Niagara through Lisa Mallett’s travel advisor website. She is ready to help plan the perfect itinerary for Niagara, Ontario, Canada and their stunning wine country.

by Leesa Truesdell