* Prices may differ from that shown
Although Dooyoo list this as Canada my review is based on the falls from the USA side of Niagara Falls.
In my opinion there are two earth elements that never fail to stun and amaze! One being fire from lava spewing volcanoes and the other the sound and flow of water whether it be from small streams to major rivers, the tinkling of fountains into ponds to the lapping of waves from the oceans! One amazing sight and sound is from Niagara Falls.
Where are Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls can be found in New York State in the USA and Toronto, Canada with the international border running through them separating the two countries. They can be approached from either side depending on where you are.
The falls are a set of waterfalls that begin their journeys from the Great lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie in Canada and America flowing into the Niagara River. The falls have been around since 11,000 BC when the glaciers melted and formed the river Niagara. The first European to see the falls was a French Priest in the 1675. The French settled in the area in 1678 and then the British in 1759.
My visit to Niagara Falls?
The trip up to Niagara Falls was booked as a surprise visit when I was in New York. I was completely unaware of it until the evening before as we came out of the theatre and was told that we had to go straight to bed as we had to get up at 03:30, which to me is Silly O'clock, to get out to JFK to catch the first flight up to Buffalo.
We arrived in Buffalo just after 08:00 and went to find a cafe to have a breakfast and more importantly some Coffee. We were picked up at 10:00 by a mini bus which then proceeded to pick up other people from a couple of hotels en route to Niagara Falls.
The bus driver was quite a jovial chap and made us laugh with a few funny jokes me thinks he has probably told the same little gems hundreds of times but never the less he was quite entertaining. I have an irrational and severe phobia about snakes and was reassured that we would be unlikely to see any so far north. Blow me down we pulled into a hotel to pick up three people and as I looked out of the window I saw a massive black snake in the grass......well I won't tell you my exact words but suffice it to say it was X rated!
We drove out to Niagara state park along the banks of the fast flowing river. Here we could see some the hydroelectric power stations that utilise the massive force of water from the falls to produce electricity. As we approached the falls you could see the mist rising slightly above the falls but no quite see the falls themselves. The driver stopped at a vantage point so that we could get out for our first view of the falls themselves. The view was beautiful but still a bit limited until we were a bit nearer.
We arrived at the visitor centre where we had tickets to go down to the caves of the winds. We were given a yellow souvenir poncho type thing to wear over our clothes to stop us getting drenched you are also given a pair of sandals to wear both of which you get to keep. You are told to roll your trousers up as they will otherwise get soaked. We then got in a lift to take us down to the viewing decks and walkways below. Approaching the viewing decks you walk through a series of tunnels and you can hear the thunderous roaring of the cascading water.
There is a set pathway to walk along where at various intervals of the walk you get a drenching from some of the cascading water. You are at first aware of fine mist and as you proceed around the pathway you actually get belted by the water falling. Some of it feeling as if you are being massaged quite roughly by jet sprays. You get quite close to the falls right down by the rocks and are within about 20 feet of the crashing water.
After this we returned to the top then walked around to the observation deck which juts out over the water and serves two purposes. The first one being as an observation deck giving you unparalleled views of the falls to the left Canada ahead of you and to the right the fast flowing water below in the gorge and the suspension bridge between Canada and the USA. The second purpose of this observation deck is to transport you by lift down to the landing stage of the maid of the mist.
The Maid of the Mist.
Tours have taken place since 1846 on various boats called the maid of the mist today there are 4 Maids of the mist 2 on the American side that take 300 passengers whereas the Canadian boats take 600. Originally the boats were used to ferry people across the river but once the bridge was built there was no need for the boats so they turned them into tourist boats to see the wondrous falls.
We were issued another poncho type rain Mac this time in blue and told that no matter where you were on the boat you WOULD GET WET but in three degrees of wetness.
1. Inside below deck you would get damp.
2. The middle deck you would get wet.
3. The top deck and you would get drenched.
We chose to go on the top deck because we wanted to experience the force of the falls. There are several boats called the Maid of the mist which pick up people both on the American side and the Canadian side of the falls. The approach to the falls was spectacular passing the bride falls on the American side and seeing the viewing pathways we had visited less than 20 minutes earlier. From this point we got a little damp from the mist emanating from the falls. The boat continued to surge ahead in the swirling waters where they come crashing down from the Canadian side of the falls more properly known as the Horseshoe falls because of their shape.
Approaching the mist which appears like a fine mist initially until you are driven right into it and visibility is somewhat reduced. The mist started off really finely but as we continued we suddenly became surrounded by the mist and ended up quite drenched. It was great fun and the combination of the thunderous sounds of the water crashing down so near is immense. Bearing in mind I am totally deaf in one ear and only have 17% hearing in the other ear the noise to me was incredible so for those with perfect hearing it must have been a massive noise.
The boat seemed to be being thrown around in the swirling waters below the falls and slowly it began to turn and we headed back to the landing stage. This was probably the highlight of the trip to the falls.
We then returned to the top where we proceeded to the American side of the Horseshoe falls and to the viewing point. We took a few photos here and spent about an hour admiring the force of the water and the crashing water going over the rim of the falls and watching the mist rising and falling. It really is quite a phenomenal sight to see and experience the power of the water. Thick dark rain clouds approached and a massive thunder and lightning storm approached so we went back to the bus and were taken into the town to watch a film show about the falls and the mad escapades and facts about the falls. The only thing I would say about the town of Niagara on the American side was that I felt it rather tacky and too much like Margate or Blackpool. Very touristy and did not appear to have much going for it however I don't think I was there long enough to give a good opinion about it but the tacky souvenir shops were abundant.
Would I recommend a visit to Niagara Falls?
Absolutely yes I would although my trip was a whirlwind visit I would love to return and perhaps stay in the area for two or three days. I would have loved to have crossed over into Canada to view the falls from the Canadian side but time did not permit. I thought it was a super visit and although I was absolutely dead beat by time we got back to New York we finally got back to the hotel at 1AM I thought it was well worth the early morning wakening and an unforgettable trip.
We travel to Niagara Falls from a rainy Toronto on the second day of our stay in Canada - a year and a week ago exactly. A slightly mad, jet-lagged idea that each of the adults in the party came up with separately. Having checked out of the hotel in which we spent our first night, we wait for a response from our potential Couch Surfing hosts and instead of hanging round Toronto, we decide to just go for it an visit one of the biggest tourist attractions of Ontario and possibly of the whole North America.
We walk to the bus station across Toronto downtown, the Older Child exclaiming in wonder on the sight of every tall building. The bus leaves in half an hour and the kind clerk in the ticket office sells us a "child" ticket for the Younger Child even though he's twice the allowed age. Soon we are riding the Greyhound. The bus is pretty shabby, despite going all the way to New York, but the seats are comfortable (and noticeably wider than on the Thomas Cook plane that brought us here), fold out far and have quite a bit of leg room.
The rain becomes heavier as the bus moves along the coast of Lake Ontario, so there is not much of a view. We strike a conversation with two fellow passengers, are presented with recommendations for British Columbia and for today's trip to the Falls as well as a bag of salty sesame snaps.
As we get off the bus, the sky clears a little and the driving rain changes to a drizzle. We choose to walk and the river soon appears, with a narrow pavement skirting the very edge of the gorge.
This is a wonderful way to approach the falls, a walk of about 3 miles along the bank of the river, with not much traffic and hardly any other pedestrians. The street is lined with smart houses, clad in clapboard and with pretty porches, most of them hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, but the real attraction is the gorge. The naked trees and bushes make it possible to look down. There is still quite a lot of ice, accumulating in patches of dirty white and cream, but the water is also visible, greenish blue, opaque and opalescent, even in the feeble winter light.
The Older Child is excited and interested, stopping every few minutes to take pictures with her new(ish) camera. The Younger Child demands to be carried, as it was usual at that stage, but not all the time, so things are not looking too badly.
The curve of the Rainbow Bridge appears eventually round the corner and with it all the gaudy developments of the Canadian side of the river: huge hotels, casino towers, restaurants and other amusements. It's all rather excitingly kitschy: apparent here is America as I imagined it, in all its brash wealth.
But it's enough to look past the bridge and to the other bank of the river to see not just oversized fast food chains, but also incredible, undoubted, overwhelming majesty of the Falls themselves. The roar can be heard before the waterfall is actually visible, and the cloud of mist in the air precludes the actual appearance of the falls too. But then they appear: and, countless pictures, films, postcards and posters notwithstanding, they are still amazing. First the American Falls, at 320m wide, the narrower of the two, but still incredibly impressive. The piles of snow surrounding the waterfall, the icicles and frozen parts of the waterfall itself add to the drama.
We spend a good while staring at and listening to the American Falls and then make our (by now a little bit weary) way to the larger of the two, the Horseshoe Falls located a few hundred metres up the river on the other side of the tiny Goat Island and opposite the Table Rock observation platform and visitors' centre. The Maid of the Mist boats don't operate at this time of the year, and the other Falls-related attraction (the tunnel for example) also seem closed now, so we trample about in growing rain and just look. Despite the clouds of freezing mist enveloping the falls whose middle is completely shrouded and large parts appear only ghost-like, the view is very compelling. I like the Horseshoe Falls better, possibly because there are quite a few angles from which you can see the falls in a natural frame, without any buildings in the background. The winter landscape adds a desolate flavour to the setting and one could - just - imagine that the casinos, hotels and amusements are not there. But one doesn't even need to imagine that - they are there, in all their over the top gaudiness - but it doesn't matter. The phrase "pales into insignificance" seems invented for this setting. The Falls win over the brash resort that grew up to stare at them, every time.
It's raining now, and getting colder by the minute, the children don't want to walk back and neither do we, so after a round of picture taking we catch a taxi to the bus station and take a rainy ride back to Toronto.
I recently spent 2 days in Niagara (Canadian side) as part of a trip to Ontario. I found the falls to be absolutely spectacular during both the day and at night. However I was shocked by how much "artificial" tourist junk the town seemed to have it was full of casino's and junk attractions which had nothing to do the falls or any other natural or historical attractions of Niagara. Aren't great views of the one of the world's most amazing waterfalls enough of an attraction??? Do you really need rollercoasters, wax works, casino's etc to attract tourists? It felt like somebody was trying to milk as much money as possible out of Niagara and had tried to make it into a giant theme park that would have felt more at home in Orlando.
Despite this the view from the river/gorge side footpath is amazing and well worth it and isn't ruined by any man-made developments. Depending on the wind direction you can get very wet just walking past the falls and at night it reminded me of walking around places in the UK in winter with rain blowing in my face and I actually got quite cold.
I took a trip on the Maid of the Mist boat which was well worth it (you will get soaked!) and not too expensive (C$14 if I remember correctly). I looked into the multi-attraction pass that was available but most of the attractions didn't interest me so I just opted for Maid of the Mist on its own. On my second day in Niagara I rented a bike and cycled the 50km round trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake a picturesque town to the North. The trip is mostly flat apart from one major hill midway and is a great way to see Niagara gorge. However for the first few km after the falls there is no proper cyclepath and you either have to cycle on a busy road which has a cyclelane or on an equally busy and narrow footpath.
A number of the attractions in the area are actually a long way from the falls themselves. The park authorities operate a bus to get between them which will be required as some Niagara attractions are as far as 25km from the falls. Some of the multi-attraction passes included 2 days use of the buses which could be useful if you aren't driving or wanting to walk too far.
I was on quite a tight budget and found eating in Niagara to be expensive especially in the downtown area where prices seemed to be really overinflated. However I found that by walking a little way out of town prices dropped dramatically. A row of low cost shops were located to the west of the main town on Lundy's Lane but these might depending on where you are staying and how far you are prepared to walk these might be best visited by car. There also seem to be plenty of expensive restaurants, towers and hotels offering great views of the falls but actually I have to say the view from the walkway along the river is good enough and its free!
I really have to recommend the Continental Pancake House on Stanley street (about 10 minutes walk from the falls visitors centre), they had great massive pancakes for about $6 that filled me up for the whole day! I was also impressed by the Antica Pizzeria on Victoria Avenue just off Clifton Hill (the main tourist area) which did proper Italian style pizza in a wood fired oven for a fairly reasonable price of about $15 per pizza.
I once heard someone say: "Niagara Fall? Don't see the point it's only water..."
How wrong could they be?!!
I have visited Niagara Falls on a number of occasions as I have some family who live just outside Toronto. Every time I visited, Niagara Falls was always in our itinerary at some point and I can honestly say it isn't somewhere I have ever tired to visiting.
Situated in southern Ontario, on the border with New York State in the United States, the falls themselves are huge waterfalls on the Niagara River and are divided into two sets of waterfalls, the Horseshoe Falls which sit on the Canadian side and the American Falls which, as the name suggests, sit on the American side.
It is in a perfect location, only 75 miles from Toronto and only 17 miles from Buffalo in the Sates. The climate is also excellent with very warm summers and cold winters. I have visited a numerous times of year and the seasons always bring a new life to the falls.
I have only ever travelled from the Canadian side and it can be easily reached by car or train from Toronto and the surrounding area. Be warned however as during peak season the roads can be quite busy throughout the day as not only does the main road lead into Niagara Falls, it also leads to the main checkpoint for border entry into the US so expect delays.
Niagara is a long town stretching along the side of the River up to the point of the falls. As you come into Niagara the view is amazing and the falls become more spectacular the nearer you get. However I will go into more detail shortly.
As with most holiday resorts, peak season is the summer months from around June to August so the hotels are usually very busy. However there are plenty to choose from that suit multiple budgets.
The hotels that are located right next to the falls, where most of the rooms have a falls view, are naturally the most expensive. For me the best by far was the Sheraton. Off peak rooms are available from around $89 (Canadian) per night however peak season they can be around $189. Also remember that these prices are excluding tax as in Canada, tax isn't included in prices until you pay, which is the same for whatever you buy so for both rates add around 16% onto the price. I found the hotel to be excellent value with really clean, spacious rooms and the most spectacular view.
If you are looking for more inexpensive accommodation, the Skyline In is also in a great spot, just a 10 minute walk from the falls and directly across from the Planet Hollywood. All the entertainment and amenities are right on your doorstep. Rooms range from around $49 per night low season and $160 high season. There is also a rooftop waterpark connected to this hotel which is amazing for the kids.
However there are a number of local guest houses in the area. I wouldn't like to personally comment on the quality having never stayed in one but some of my Canadian relatives have mentioned that some of them are very reasonably priced for good accommodation. Remember though, there are slightly further away from the resort but no more than a 20 minute walk.
A great website to check up on deals and availability is www.niagarafallshotels.com. I have secured a number of deals from this website and it gives you a good overview of the hotels in the area.
***Things to Do***
Not surprisingly, first on my list is visit the falls. As you walk along the main promenade (don't expect the kind of promenade you see on a beach front, this is much more impressive), the first thing you will notice is how the noise from the falls gets louder and louder the closer you get. By the time you have reached the falls themselves, you will not believe the sheer power of the falls. It is breathtaking.
There are also multiple ways to view the falls. The outlook points on the promenade are excellent and above all free, however if you want a closer experience of the falls, you can take a trip underneath the falls themselves. The Journey Behind The Falls takes you 105ft down into the rocks behind the falls and you can get up really close through some viewing points. You're provided with a very fetching yellow plastic disposable raincoat but you still get absolutely soaked. It's all part of the fun though! It is open from April to December and costs around $13 per adult.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous you can take a trip on the Maid of The Mist which is a boat that takes you up river and extremely close to the falls. It is just the most amazing experience so much so that I can't find the words to describe it. It only operates from mid-April or later depending on the weather, until mid-October. I once visited on the 29th April and as it was still frozen over, there was no excursions expected for a couple of weeks. It costs $14.50 per adult and is well worth it.
I highly recommend taking a walk down to the falls at night. From the Canadian side they are all lit up at night and it is so beautiful. There is also often free entertainment along the promenade.
There are so many other things to do in Niagara I don't know where to begin, Hard Rock Café, the Butterfly Conservatory, Ripley Believe it or Not, Madame Tussauds, the Whirlpool Aero Car, Marvel store, Rainforest Café, casinos, the list is endless.
The only thing that may put some people off is that some of it is a bit tacky. There are your usual souvenir shops and some of the attractions have seen better days. Imagine Blackpool in a much more picturesque setting and better service (sorry Blackpool lovers!).
Niagara Falls is definitely worth a visit for a few days and is a perfect location for a bit of fun and even the chance to pop over into the States. I thoroughly enjoy every visit I make there and would put it on my list of one of THE places to see before you die. If you don't want to stay or enjoy the cheerful nightlife, just go along and have a look at the falls. They are more than worth the trip.
This review is for the American side of the falls. I will be writing another review for the Canadian time in the near future....
So I'd had a great summer and had travelled many a mile and I thought the perfect ending would be a trip to Niagara Falls. I spent 3 nights on the Canadian side and 2 nights on the American side.
So, the American side... oops. You are walking to the falls and the anticipation is growing, you can hear the mighty roar of the water, you get to the fence at the edge of the river and oh, you can't see anything. Such a let down. You can't see the horseshoe falls which is the main one, you can only see the very side and the top of the falls, not the actual waterfall, the most important thing and then with the American and Bridal Falls, you can stand right at the top, in touching distance but again, you can't see the actual falls.
Thankfully, the amazing Maid of The Mist also runs from the U.S side meaning you do get to see and get up close and personal with the falls and is well worth the $15 or so admission charge. You will get wet, but then, it's Niagara Falls so you don't care!
Another superb addition is the Cave of The Winds walk. I paid $8 and that included entrance to the walk, a poncho (not branded!) and some COTW sandals which was great. If I hadn't wore them my shoes would have got soaked. At the end of the walk you can either keep them or donate them back and they are given to charity. The walk itself consists of wooden footpaths that take you to the base of the American falls and picture opportunities are vast. The walk also includes the 'Hurricane Deck' which is right underneath the Bridal Falls is a smaller fall a few yards away from the American Falls. The corner of the deck is right next to the fall and as the water is coming down you if hits the rocks and you get a right soaking. Then you will be thankful for the poncho and shoes. The water, actually, was pretty warm! The walk is great for giving you the opportunity to touch the falls. You can also get some great pictures with the falls and rainbows in the background on nice days.
On Friday nights you can often see fireworks over the falls although they are best viewed from the other side. The falls are also lit up with different colours, again best viewed from the other side.
There is a decent cafe/restaurant which overlooks the falls that also offers the usual gift shop fare.
The surrounding areas left a lot to be desired. It was very run down and most business' seemed to have closed, permanently. Lots of boarded up windows everywhere and to be honest, it didn't seem that safe at all so solo travellers beware. There was a large casino open, which looked fairly new so maybe they are trying to boost the area? Put it this way, 2 nights was way too long.
I stayed at the Hostel International Niagara which is around a 20 minute walk from the falls. Wierd. I have stayed in HI places a lot and they've all been great, this one, in my opinion, doesn't deserve the HI status. Have you ever been in a hostel that tells you to go to bed at 11pm? It was run by a middle aged Chinese lady, who was obviously way out of touch with how a HI hostel should be run. She was nice though, she took me to the train station for $5! We were also told that we should be out of the hostel during the day as it 'isn't open'. Internet access was via a computer in her bedroom! Very limited access to say the least. It really needed a facelift but I did meet some great people there as you often do in hostels. One night, as we were all bored with the falls, we stayed in and had language lessons off each other. And yes I did say bored, there is so little to do it's untrue.
If you are visiting the American side of the falls and are unable to get into the Canadian side then you really only need to be there for a day. Do maid of the mist and cave of the winds as they are great experiences.
I'm giving it three stars as the MOTM and the COTW do not deserve anything lower.
My husband and I were recently lucky enough to go on a tour of Canada. We stopped in Niagara Falls for a few nights and it was one of the highlights of our stay.
First of all, I have to warn you, the resort of Niagara itself is very, very, very tacky. Think Blackpool (no offence mean't - who doesn't love Blackpool for it's tackiness?). It is filled with coffee shops, fast food restaurants and arcades. Strangely enough the falls is right slap-bang in the middle of it!
The resort really doesn't matter as the falls themselves are trully breathtaking. If you do go for a visit don't miss out on the 'Maid of the Mist' boat trip. You donne a plastic hooded poncho, climb aboard the boat and sail right up to the falls. This was the highlight of our holiday. We got drenched, but it was so worth it! We also went on Journey behind the Falls. This isn't for people scared of small confined spaces as you actually go through small caves behind the falls. It was a really different experience.
You can even go for a helicopter ride above the falls which I was told was fantastic.
Make sure you stick around for the evening as they light the falls up in different colours and do a fantastic firework display, one of the best I've ever seen. It was a truly magical ending to a magical day.
Niagara has long been on my 'to do' list, so I was happy for my departure from Mexico to coincide with a stop-over in Toronto and, thus, a trip to the falls. I was lucky to be taken there by a friend I made on my Christmas tour of Costa Rica. As Toronto residents for about 6 years, she and her mother had been there before, but not for some time, and were happy to return.
I had originally planned to take a one-day guided tour from Toronto, which would have cost about $70 and involved an early-ish departure. We left a little later, just after 9am, and this was a good choice since we missed most of the commuter traffic. The drive from the city is quite long - over 2 hours - and the scenery is nothing really special, but that didn't matter. I was just excited to be off to see the falls at long last. As we approached all the usual markings of a North American tourist trap started popping up: cheap motels, all-you-can-eat buffets and numerous tourist information offices. These aren't quite like in the UK, where they tend to be council run, but are independently owned and operated and therefore generally trying to sell you something. That said, the one we pulled into happily gave us a free map and circled some places of interest. They also offered free loos - something people like my mother would very much appreciate - and there was a small shop where you could pay typical touristy things, from ponchos to postcards. If you didn't want to purchase here or in downtown Niagara, most of the stuff could also be bought at the airport and in the city of Toronto.
We drove for a few more minutes and then parked behind the Skylon Tower, in a cheap all day car park. The only problem was, the machines' card readers were all broken, and we struggled to find anywhere nearby to get change as this wasn't any kind of 'official' car park, but just really a gravelly space someone had roped off. From here, we walked round the tower and onto Niagara Parkway where I could finally hear, if still not see, the falls. We passed the Casino, and then stumbled upon the 'Falls and Firkin' which I just had to take a picture of - those firkins get everywhere!
There is a walkway that takes you to the incline railway for access to the lower level, and though it takes barely a minute (57 seconds, in fact), I was very happy to go on this since I'm a sucker for any kind of funicular or mountain railway. It costs $2, or if you have an all day transport ticket for the People Mover system, you can hop on for free. The railway is the world's slowest incline railway, with a maximum speed of 190 feet per minute, though the distance it covers is only 10 feet. It can take 40 people each trip, and you can fit in children's pushchairs, but it's not wheelchair accessible. If you don't want to pay the couple of dollars it costs, you can descend via some steps, though I didn't see any right nearby. We rode down and then walked back in the direction we had come, though now on the water level, stopping for numerous photos of both the Horseshoe and American Falls which had become clearly visible as well as audible by this point. Nothing quite prepares you for your first glimpse of the millions of cubic feet of water flowing over every minute, and when you can only see the top, you do have to wonder where it all goes at the bottom, and why the level doesn't rise quickly given the sheer quantity of the agua. It looks like a Sci Fi movie where the Earth begins to cave in on itself.
People had always told me the Canadian side was better than the American (and therefore to go from Toronto, not New York State). This had led me to believe the whole thing was bigger than it actually was. You can quite easily see the two falls at the same time as you walk along from Canada, and while the American Falls are a bit obscured if you're actually ON the American side, they have a snazzy look out tower that juts out over the water allowing you to lean round a bit. We decided to shun the Journey Behind The Falls walk and head straight for the key attraction: The Maid of the Mist. Again, I'd not got it quite right in my mind, as I somehow thought there was just one. Now with hindsight, it's clear that given the huge numbers of passengers leaving from both countries, they need to have more than one boat in operation, and so they do, but they call them all Maid of the Mist so no one feels let down. The cost is currently $14.50 (Canadian) from the Canadian side, or $13.50 (US) leaving from the American side. We had no trouble getting tickets because though busy they had lots of windows open, and we were soon winding down paths and descending in lifts to get to the dock. On the way we were given free (and stylish) MOTM ponchos and posed for photos they would photo-shop while we were on the trip, ready to flog to us when we returned.
Immediately upon boarding, everyone rushed upstairs trying to get a place at either side of the ship where they could firmly plant themselves and their cameras. This was a little annoying given the size of several families (both in terms of people and waistlines), with everyone apparently needing to be right there at the edge, just like in airports when they all have to be next to the luggage carousel, less they miss a bag as it slowly trundles past. Still, they'd all paid for their tickets so had as much right as anyone. We, on the other hand, were two rather short and small girls, so we wormed our way in among the tubsters without them really noticing. The boat goes quite close to both the Falls, and the amount of spray is amazing, meaning we got quite wet and appreciated those ponchos. At the same time, it was tricky to work out how to take photos without damaging your camera / having every shot ruined by drops of water on the lens, but in the end we either shot through the ponchos themselves, or shielded the cameras carefully. The trip wasn't long but is definitely a must-do, as unless you too fancy going over the Falls in either a boat or a barrel, this is the closest you'll ever physically get to them. In fact, when you look from dry land before or after your trip, it's quite scary how close the relatively small boats get to the relatively massive waterfalls, though it doesn't feel quite so out of proportion when you're down there sailing towards them.
Afterwards, back on dry land, we went to explore the little town centre and have lunch. The main stretch of Clifton Hill, which runs at a right angle to the river, has a distinct Blackpool / poor-man's Las Vegas feel to it, complete with seedy motels and 'interesting' attractions. These included a Guinness Book of Records museum, Brick City (a faux-Legoland set up), a Haunted House, a maze and a big wheel. if you do fancy any of these it's worth getting a free local guide either from a box on the street or a tourist info centre, as almost all attractions have money off coupons on offer. The ones that don't, of course, being the unmissables like the Maid of the Mist and the Journey Behind The Falls, since people will pay for these even at full price. The street also had a few shops and lots of mainly-chain restaurants, and we managed to find lunch quite easily. I would recommend the Dairy Queen, but that's not saying much. I would pretty much always recommend a Dairy Queen.
Done with downtown Niagara but not with our day, we collected the car and set off north. Our first stop was the Ten Thousand Buddhas temple and exhibition, which Linda had been to before and wanted to revisit. It was a bit of an odd thing to find by the side of a main road, but was really interesting inside. We even talked the crazy American curator guy into opening up the temple itself for us, and giving us a quick tour. It was hard to tell what was 'real' and what was the gift shop, but by far the most outstanding feature was the central Buddha made of green bronze and weighing a whopping 7 tons.
On we went, stopping briefly at Souvenir City. This includes a glass blowing factory outlet with mini demos and some fancy ass pieces on sale (though Murano this ain't) and also a Marketplace Restaurant and souvenir shop with Chocolate World. At least that's what they sell it as - in reality, Chocolate World is just a corner of the shop where they, erm, sell chocolate. Sure, some of it was fancy imported European stuff, but I still think it's a bit of a con to call something a chocolate WORLD and not at least offer free samples.
A few more minutes up the road and we pulled into the Botanical Gardens for a picnic snack. These are beautifully maintained and go on for acres - it was getting late by now and we only had time to explore briefly but you could have spent at least half a day here. Entry is free, and there is a cafe on site. Back in the car we drove a little further up the road to the famed Floral Clock. Exactly as its name suggests this is a working clock made of around 16,000 pretty planted flowers and two massive, non-growing arms. It was great to look at, but difficult to photograph as it's too big to get in many a shot. We solved this by climbing up precariously on the semi-fixed dustbins nearby, for a bird's eye view.
Our final stop was the 'quaint, European style town' of Niagara on the Lake, which could not be more different from downtown Niagara. The main road is lined with antique shops, boutiques, a theatre and many, many eateries featuring fancy ice cream (I had birthday cake flavour, despite my lunch having been nothing more than a monster Cheesecake Oreo DQ Blast), afternoon teas and lush looking lunches. Despite being a clear tourist trap, it seemed rather sweet and had a nice, refined feel to it after the brashness of our earlier destination.
Day over, we headed back into Toronto, arriving back around 11 hours after we left following a lot of traffic. Organised tours tend to promise to get you back by 6pm or as they put it, 'ready for a night on the town', but I'd take this with a pinch of salt, as Toronto commuter traffic can be a nightmare. We did most of the things the tours do (and more besides) with the notable exception of a stop for Ice Wine tasting. It's a delicacy of the area, but something I had absolutely no interest in doing, so I was pleased to be able to bypass this, and throw in more interesting stops like the Temple and (again) Dairy Queen instead. You can stay in Niagara and there's certainly enough stuff to fill a couple of days if you have the time, but if you're a little pushed it is, as we found out, an easy enough day trip from Toronto. We went on the day before a long weekend, and in mid-summer, but it still was not horribly crowded and we didn't have to wait long for anything. There are loads of others things we could have done, from going jet-boating down the river to cruising across in a caged cable car thing, but these would have been optional extras, and in my mind could never replace the perennial favourite that is the Maid of the Mist.
My overall opinion of the town was that it was commercialised but nowhere near as bad as I had feared. Things were reasonably priced (even the boat trip, pleasing after the shocking cost of attractions in Toronto itself), there was a lot of choice, and it was a very attractive place. I can see why it draws so many people year after year, and am so happy I got to tick it off my list.
Breathtaking. Magnificent. Awesome. Just a few of the many words that have been used to describe Niagara Falls and all of them true. But Niagara Falls is such a spectacle that it's difficult really to try to sum it up in words. You just have to see it and feel it for yourself. Because it is so much more than a visual feast.
I used to work in the travel industry and people used to say, when booking trips to Niagara, "I bet it's an amazing sight" and that's true, it is. But it's so much more than that; it's an invasion of the senses (which sounds a bit cliched I know) but I think people often forget about the sounds, smells, etc. of a place.
When I first saw Niagara I thought "wow" but my overwhelming memory of it is the noise. I visited 5 years ago and I can still recall the noise of SO much water crashing over the edge and meeting the river below.
The Maid of the Mist boat trip is fantastic. They issue everyone with plastic macs (they looked a bit like bright blue bin liners) and, in an effort to look macho, quite a few blokes just carry them instead of putting them on; by the time we got off our boat everyone had donned them. You get SO wet! And that's just from the spray - you actually don't go that close to the falls; you couldn't, of course, so much water coming down on top of you would sink the boat in a nano second and it would never resurface. But it is amazing to feel how soaked you get and then stand and watch other boats afterwards and notice how far away from the falls they are. The spray from the falls is enough to soak you through. And, while on the boat, you have to shout to make yourself heard. My husband and I visited Niagara as part of our honeymoon and we were yelling at the tops of our voices "Amazing isn't it?!" Not quite the romantic vision I'd had in my mind's eye!
There was a rainbow dancing about in the mist too; there's nearly always a rainbow at the falls and it all adds to the beauty of it.
It's true that the Canadian side of the falls (the horseshoe) is much better than the American side and it certainly has the most visitors. I was a bit disappointed I didn't see Superman there, but never mind.
After our Maid of the Mist trip, we took a helicopter flight over the falls. I was not looking forward to that at all; I hate flying and had never been on a helicopter before. But it was fantastic. It's quite pricey as it's only an 8 minute flight but as a once in a lifetime thing, it's worth it. You get a perfect view of the horseshoe from above it and a sense of just HOW much water there is. However, I still say the Maid of the Mist is better; you feel the falls on your face, the noise of it crashes through your eardrums; it's a rush that you just don't get on the helicopter.
There is a downside to Niagara and it's an area called Clifton Hill: think Vegas only smaller. Bright neon lights flashing, amusement arcades, tacky shops, and waxwork museums containing waxwork figures that bear no resemblance to their living counterparts whatsoever. It's sad that Niagara has this blot on its otherwise pristine landscape; it should never have been allowed! You should visit Niagara for the falls, but amazingly, of the 12 million people who do visit each year, 5 million go nowhere near the falls! I find that very sad!
After spending my 3 days in New York on my 3 part holiday to the US and Canada in September 2000 the next destination was Niagara Falls. This was the second part of my journey on my first trip to both USA and Canada and a very interesting trip. I had gone on holiday with my Dad whilst I was at Uni.
**Where is Niagara Falls and what is so special**
Well Niagara Falls is in Canada in Ontario just over the border form New York State and not too far from the big city of Toronto. Niagara Falls is most famous for the dramatic falls on the river Niagara which runs between the Canadian and US boundaries. Niagara Falls lies on both sides and the Buffalo side of the falls are less commonly visited although probably equally as brilliant to visit. The falls are separated by Goat Island and Horseshoe Falls. Niagara falls is a natural phenomenon and the second largest falls in the world. Apparently you can see between four and six million cubic feet of water go over its crest every minute. They are 188 feet high and the rim of the Horseshoe Falls is 2200 feet
**How we got there**
As we had already been in New York for a few days we then got a blue van to La Guardia Airport which took a strange detour through some of the rougher areas of Queens! La Guardia is quite a nice smallish airport for New York and was nearer to New York than JFK where we had flown into from Brussels/Manchester. We boarded a flight to Buffalo in New York State as the flight was some silly cheap price one way. From Buffalo we booked an airport transfer van to take us over the border to our hotel in Niagara Falls. Buffalo Airport was not that far from Niagara but like is said in my New York review the people on the passport control in Canada were a little miserable with us and not very welcoming to tourists and ended up with another stamp on my passport from them.
**Where we stayed**
We booked into the Marriot Courtyard in Niagara Falls and this was a far pleasanter experience than the tourist hotel disaster in New York which was improved by the Days Inn relocation to Times Square. I didn't book the hotels my dad did so it was pot luck on what I was going to get and this was a pleasant surprise. After the disaster in New York my dad decided to try his luck with reception and cheekily ask what free upgrades were on offer and I flashed my airport badge as I worked at the airport part time too. Well something worked as we got upgraded from a twin room to a massive suite type room with a Jacuzzi in the room and a queen bed and a king bed. Well we were stopping for 3 days and so that was a nice change form the previous hotel and for free!! The hotel was located just up from the main streets of Niagara and a walk down the steep hill to the bottom where you could see the falls but this was a bit of a hike. There was also one of those courtesy style buses that took you down to the main resort and dropped everyone off at their hotels which we used frequently. The hotel had all the mod cons and pool etc but I don't recall using it. The breakfasts were to die for though and was my first proper taste of the all American and all Canadian mammoth breakfasts. I adored the waffles and scrambled egg and bacon and used to pile on the whipped cream on the waffles then help myself to all the glorious fruit.
**Niagara the Town**
Before getting to the falls we also made it to the town for a spot of tourist shopping as this was not a far walk form the hotel. To be honest and I might sound a little nasty but Niagara as a town reminded me of Blackpool and the tourist shops were so tatty and tacky but it was all part of the experience! The shops that are nearer to the river and the falls are better than the ones on the steep street that winds up to the hotel we were in. Of course there are some nice shops here and more expensive ones too!
**The River and View**
Even just walking down to the river the views are great and there are nice gardens and walks. There are also nice places to eat down here and I got a few steaks or too. There is also a Casino which I visited and won about a 100 Canadian dollars in whatever that is worth nowadays! I took endless photos of the views form this point and enjoyed the nice sunny September weather. You can also look through those binocular machines over the river and falls for a better view. Apparently the best view is in the skylon tower where there is a restaurant but I remember this was a tad expensive and booked in advance.
**Seeing the Falls and more**
We booked into one of the tours where we got a red double Decker bus that took us out of Niagara to the Spanish Aero car although it wasn't working at the time! If I recall we did the red double Decker bus ride to the Spanish aero car and the country views of Niagara and surrounding area in one day. We went to see a butterfly sanctuary. On the other day we did the tour that took us to the maid of the mist and the walk behind the falls. In the other day we did. A big tip is to take a waterproof coat or buy a poncho thing as you get wet on the boat and also on the walking part.
The trip on the bus out towards the Spanish Aero Cars was nice and we got a tour of the Ontario state and what Niagara had to offer. It was lovely in the fall and I remember going to some nice country style tourist shops and buying maple syrup. It was also nice being on a traditional old British red double Decker bus.
The walk behind the falls was a good tour and the man who was our guide was very informative and we did keep our poncho things on as it still got wet behind here. In this trip you get into a lift and go deep down under 150 foot to get behind the falls. You go through a little tunnel and get to see the falls from observation decks looking directly behind the falls. I did feel a little claustrophobic going down in the lift but once under ground I found it truly interesting on my little journey through something so extraordinary.
We then went onto the maid of the mist boat to the horseshoe of the falls. This was an absolutely amazing experience and I got soaked somehow under the ton of water falling down. I got my photos taken though which were not that fetching in a poncho! It is an amazing natural beauty site to see though and one I will always remember.
Well we were here for 3 days and 2 nights and got to go on a nice nature style drive and saw peace and tranquilly after the hectic stay in New York. We also got to see the Falls and go on the boat tour and behind the scenes as well as pulling in a bit of tourist shopping, a stop at a casino and a nice few steaks. The Hotel was fantastic and worth the money (as my dad sourced this it must have been some kind of deal!). The free upgrade made the stay even more brilliant too. From here we got a blue van thingy again this time to Toronto Airport for phase 3 of the trip.
I would truly recommend a visit to the falls as the wonders of it is remarkable and there are some other natural beauties to see too. The falls are one of the great sites the world has to offer and there are other interesting trails and tours to take in this area. The town is a bit ''tatty'' but it is quaint and like good old Blackpool to me. I would recommend the Marriot I stayed at or any of the nice branded chains. Some hotels have better views of the falls than others. I would recommend going here on a stop off if going somewhere else in Canada or possibly New York like we did. I am not fully sure what the Marriot Hotel cost me as I just handed over my money for the full trip but it isn't that expensive and they do B&B deals. Try your luck and see if you can get a free upgrade as it worked for us! This is one of the better hotels I have stopped in stateside or Canada!
**Book or Plan**
You can book the flights yourself like we did and tailor the holiday to suit you then use Expedia, Opodo or Hotels Web pages to get the Hotels you want. Or you can use specialist tour companies that do multi city trips to the US and Canada. There are many options to pick but shopping around is best to get a good price as airfares to the US and Canada are quite high this year. Although the Hotels are still relatively cheap compared to the UK and the quality often exceeds UK Hotels for less money!
I travelled to Niagara Falls last year whilst visiting Toronto and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The Falls are around a 2 hour drive from Toronto around Lake Ontario and are located right on the USA border.
My husband had visited the Falls as a teenager, and he told me that from his memory there was really nothing there apart from the Falls themselves. This is completely untrue nowadays though and Niagara has a lot of the feel of a mini 'Vegas' with casinos, luxury hotels, shops and restaurants. It really has all the look and feel of a full-on resort. They even have some original red London double decker buses running around the resort which is weird to see in Canada!
Of course the main attraction is the Falls themselves, and they are truely speactacular. You can see all the pictures in brochures but seeing them in real life is something else. We were lucky to be there on a picture perfect scorching hot day with clear blue skies which added to the effect. The great thing was that the spray from the waterfalls was blowing towards us and it really cooled you down in the 30 degree heat! Once we had finished gazing at the view and taking pictures, we bought tickets for the Maid of the Mist which is the famous boat tour that takes you right up to the waterfalls in the river beneath them. This is great fun but the crew make sure you get totally drenched! It is amazing how loud the falls sound and the immense power of the water. We also walked under the Falls which is where you go down in a lift to underground caverns that take you literally underneighth the waterfalls. This is also pretty good and gives you a different perspective of the falls.
The ticket prices are pretty hefty as I recall but then seeing the falls is usually a once in a lifetime thing and so is worth the money. The food outlets and souvenir shops are also quite highly priced as you would expect at a key tourist destination.
There are lots of other tours you can take if money is no object such as taking a helicopter ride over the falls which must be amazing. Then there are lots of attractions in Niagara resort such as the Bird Kingdom, waterparks and of course the Casino.
The whole place is so busy and buzzing in the summer and packed with tourists of all nationalities. This means that there are often long queues for the tours and a lot of waiting around required, but it is worth it.
The areas around Niagara Falls are also really lovely with lots of wineries and the stunning Niagara on the Lake which is a pretty village/town a few miles from the resort.
I would recommend a visit to Niagara Falls if you get the chance as I don't know how anyone could fail to love it.
As I live about 20 minutes away from Niagara Falls in Buffalo NY I have visited the falls on numerous occasions but it never fails to impress me with its sheer magnitude and breathtaking view.
There are two sides to the Falls, The American Side and the Canadian Side, I would recommend visiting both but the Canadian side is where the true experience is, you get a far better view and the Canadian side is a lot more tourist driven and built up with more features and attractions.
Once on the Canadian side you'll find lots to see and do, even some theme park attraction rides set along Clifton Hill, and of course if you visit Niagara Falls without riding on the Maid of the Mist you have really missed out, its a boat ride that takes you along the river to the base of the falls to really give you a close up perspective of the falls, you will get wet thats for sure, but remember it doesn't run all year round ( winters in this area can be brutal ) so the best time to see the area and ride on the mist would be the summertime, it is more expensive to be here in the summer but its worth it.
Bring a good camera, bring a video camera and make sure you enjoy all there is to see and do in the "Falls"
Visiting Niagara Falls for the first time evokes dreams that have been instilled upon the conscience. Whether you have been told tales or seen shots in Hollywood movies, it is a tourist attraction that everybody has some knowledge of.
Getting there -
I started off in Toronto and joined a bus running day trips to Niagara. There is a different viewpoint if you travel from America where day trips are available from New York. However, I had been led to believe that the experience is enhanced on the Canadian side.
The trip that I took was with JoJo Tours and runs daily from Canadiana Backpackers Inn on Widmer Street, downtown Toronto (http://www.canadianalodging.com). Although, there are two other tour companies who pick up from this hostel, the time that JoJo left suited us far better. I was staying with my friends when we booked this tour the night before, so you don't need to be staying at the hostel to join. However, you may need to book earlier in advance during the busy seasons. This tour cost 40CAD, but is 50CAD, during peak times.
The road to Niagara -
JoJo's coach, which takes a maximum of 14 passengers, provided insightful information on the road down. Everybody on the tour was asked to provide a sound bite about themselves to help get to know each other better. The driver was also respectful of those wanting quiet time. I enjoyed hearing the stories of all the people who had tried to come up with their own unique way of taking a trip through the falls. From sitting inside a barrel to jumping over the edge in a canoe, there are certainly a few mad people out there that would attempt anything! I can't remember the exact odds of survival, but I seem to recall that it wasn't very high! The scenery isn't much to write home about on the way so if you're tired, try and get some shuteye here! The highlight was the very industrial town of Hamilton, which doesn't say much. It takes a couple of hours to get to the stop off point, Cliftonhill, which is within walking distance to the falls. Those who are not doing a helicopter flight are dropped off here. Everyone else was taken up to the helipad. JoJo's waits for this to finish, before taking you back to Cliftonhill.
Helicopter flight: -
There is a very famous and historic boat tour at Niagara. This goes by the name, 'The Maid of The Mist'. In season, you can experience a good soaking by travelling through the Falls on a half hour trip. It is North America's oldest tourist attraction, dating back to 1846. Unfortunately, it only runs from May 2nd this year, meaning that I missed out on this experience.
As I touched down in Toronto in mid-February my options were limited. I took a 12 minute helicopter flight over the Falls instead. This was with Niagara Helicopters Limited and cost 85CAD, roughly £45. The price seemed good value to me, although it summed up what a great price it was for the tour itself. The pilot was very friendly and welcomed us on board. We took off and seemed to follow the curvature of the Falls, as we listened to information through our headsets. In the winter Niagara is a sight to behold. There were rainbows popping up left, right and centre, while the showpiece itself looked frozen as the mist arose. We continued on to the Horseshoe Falls which is the most impressive of the three falls, until we returned. It is a worthwhile experience for the views alone. You can see as far as the American side, and thrills are provided when the pilot dips the chopper to get closer to the natural wonder.
However, I have a major criticism of the company because of their treatment of their customers. As I waited for my turn on the flight, I witnessed a group of Japanese tourists being shoved around as they came off their one. They looked decidedly bemused, and my friend who stayed back even said that one of the guides was making jokes about them while I was away. It was highly unprofessional. Even when I got on I was quickly put into position, without a word of warning. We were to pose for a group photo, but nobody had made us aware of this part of the deal, and there was no way I was going to purchase a photo from them when I could take my own camera on board the helicopter with me. I did receive a certificate for my flight, but it didn't make up for the bad taste left in my mouth. Sadly, I believe that this is the only company offering helicopter flights and if they had some competition, they may be forced to step up to the plate. If you happen to be heading over there at the beginning of May, I would thoroughly recommend that you choose the Maid of the Mist, as they have no customer service skills. Just make sure you wear a poncho!
You are given three hours to explore before the coach picks you up again. One hour in Cliftonhill can seem like an eternity! It is a tacky, tourist trap which has all the fast food joints that you can imagine. My Canadian friend and I went to play the Galaxy Golf crazy golf course in neon lighting. This is just as crazy golf should be! It was space themed, and provided many alien creatures to hit your ball through, so you won't hear me complaining, even though I lost controversially on the last hole! Our guide did tell us that there was a haunted house worth having a look in if you like to be scared, as it has a good record of customers running out before the end, or even being sick. I quite fancied this challenge, but it didn't seem to be open, probably due to the season. There were also a couple of photo opportunities outside the guinness book of records store, where you can sit on a chair belonging to the record holder for being tallest man in the world.
As we walked along the pier taking in the awesome presence of the falls as a backdrop, I came across albino squirrels for the first time. Maybe, they are just weathered in to the conditions!
Try not to look down from the main viewpoints as much as possible if you're scared of heights - it is here that it hits home just how far the drop is, as the noisy water crashes around you. It was about minus 10 every day that I was in Toronto and it didn't get too much warmer in Niagara, although we picked a good day without rain. I think if I was ever to go back, it would have to be in the Summer as the cold nap got the better of me at times, but if you want some amazing pictures of the falls with minimal effort, then you are guaranteed a winter wonder show.
Niagara On The Lake: -
This is one place that we never had enough time. I think we had about an hour in what is a very picturesque English Victorian style village. There are no chains here, hallelujah! We found a café straight away which had gorgeous rhubarb and strawberry tart, and the locals in most shops were very friendly and full of chat, especially if you find the Irish bar! We only had time for half a pint but it was a worthwhile experience. We also saw coyote and deer on the way. Our guide told us that this was the first time she had seen coyote in the wild in almost five years of doing the tour!
Ice Wine: -
Our final stop was well worth waiting for, as we drove into sample some of Niagara's famous ice wines. The setting has the perfect temperature to suit these dessert wines. They are made from frozen grapes on the vine. We got to taste different reds and whites, with crackers provided, over the course of half an hour. If you want to try their famous icewine you have to pay an extra surcharge of $3, but you get a better pour for the money. I really liked the taste, but it is really sweet and I don't think I could have drank much more than what was given to me. This is probably why it is classed as a dessert wine. With Mother's day around the corner, I couldn't resist snapping up a wee bottle to take home for her to sample.
JoJo Tour's was a very well run independent tour company, and I'm sure that if you were to choose them they will add to your enjoyment. I felt completely satisfied, having spent a day in and around Niagara. I picked up some nice souvenirs and met some nice new people. Car hire is another option if you want to have your own time to explore, but I didn't feel like there was much left to be seen. The tour was well structured and allowed us enough time to do our own thing.
Total cost of trip
JoJo Tours - $40
Niagara Helicopters Limited - $85
(You can get a $10 discount from this website - http://www.niagara-helicopters.com)
Galaxy golf - $9
Icewine tasting - £3
Purchase of miniature bottle of ice wine $6.
Total cost - $143, which converts to around £74
Overall, a hugely enjoyable experience, at minimal cost. Niagara Falls is such an impressive natural wonder that I can't bring myself to knock a star off, simply because of a bad experience that JoJo Tour's could not have possibly foreseen.
I went to Niagra Falls 3 months ago and I loved it! I went with my best friend and my parents we stayed on the Canadian side. Although some people might think of it as tacky I think it was beautiful in every way. There was so much to do I was never bored and there was lots of people walking. I usually drive and I don't like to walk but it was so fun. if you drive you wouldn't be able to see all the sites and stores they have. The boat ride through Niagra Falls was the most amazing thing I've seen in all my life! you could practically touch the falls. Also the street close to Niagra Falls called Clifton Hill was so amazing there was so much to do there was arcades, shops, museums(like world records and wax museums and a ripleys museum),and rides such as a giant ferris wheel that has air conditioned containers and a ride called the pile driver. Also all the street posts had baskets of beautiful flowers(that were real). Finally I want to say they have all kinds of hotels and places to eat so it's good for eating what you like and staying in budget. All and all I had a wonderful time.
Niagara Falls has two falls, on the Canadian border you have the Canadian falls which can be viewed from Buffalo in America, on the other side is the Horsehoe Falls. When you draw closer to the falls your eyes eagerly await the breathtaking site, that is exactly what it is, tons of water falling down at such a speed that even though you are many miles away observing you feel the water mist on you. The falls have a permanent rainbow above them which is beautiful. By the end of an hour you are drenched by the mist spray. We were lucky enough to be driven there by relatives otherwise I do no think it would have been possible for us to go there, from Toronto it is an incredible distance and many people take coaches out to Niagara to view this splendour.
We had limited time there but did manage to go on one of the Maid of The Mist tours by which you are taken in an open small boat type of ferry right out to the falls, you are provided with raincoats made of plastic in either blue or yellow. In my opinion you should go on this tour as soon as you arrive so that you have the raincoat for the remaining part of the visit. This tour is great you get right up close to the falls , it is very thrilling and a once in a lifetime experience. You can take photos from here, provided you do not drop it into the water!!
There is a gift shop selling all gifts and souvenirs from fridge magnets of the falls to sweatshirts to mini paperweights. The cashiers at the gift shop like to ask customers where thay are from in order to get a prespective of how far visitors have come to view the falls. There is also Skylon Tower located opposite the falls to get a more panoramic view of the falls to take fabulous photos.
A short drive a way from the falls you will find place to eat and drink with various pizza outlets and burger joints together with endless entertainment venues with arcade games and rides. On the other side you can find the floral clock which is made up of entirely flowers with real hands, the clock does actually work! Other attractions include the butterfly house, museum, bird house, behind the falls, to name but a few. These were unfortunately closed when we got there because in September these attractions close at 6pm. One thing that you must do if you can manage it is stay at Niagara until the sun sets, then you can see another spectacular sight, the falls illuminated in neon lights, this takes place every evening and makes an all round perfect end to a fab day.
Niagara Falls has two falls the Canadian Falls and the American Falls, I visited the Canadian Falls which are also described as the Horseshoe Falls due to the shape of them.
At 52m (170ft high) they are slightly higher than the American Falls located on the Buffalo Side in America which are 56m (189ft high) and 12,000 years ago the Canadian falls were located 7miles downstream from their present location and less than 10% of the water flows over the American Falls with the blance flowing over the Horseshoe falls (Canadian Falls) and it is the massive volume of water that provides the fantastic green colour of the water.
***History Of Niagara***
Almost 12,000 years ago the first humans arrived in Niagara, which witnessed at the same time the birth of the falls. As you would expect the land was very different back then consisting of a spruce forest. During this time the Niagara was inhabited by the Clovis people who were nomadic hunters.
By 9,500 years ago the forest covered most of Ontario and lasted between 3,000 to 300 years ago.
At the beginning of the 17th century European explorers and missionaries arrived, in May 1535 Jacques Cartier set off on a Round The World trip departing from his home country of France but never reached the falls, Etienne Brule, the first European to see Lakes Ontario, Erie Huron and Superior, may also have been the first to behold the Falls, in 1615.
In the 1820's, a stairway was built down the bank at Table Rock and the first ferry service across the lower River began. By 1827, a paved road had been built up from the ferry landing to the top of the bank on the Canadian side. This site became the prime location for hotel development and the Clifton was built there, after which the Clifton Hill is named.
Niagara has perhaps the most complex transportation history of any area in North America. The first Welland Canal was completed in 1829. Between 1849 and 1962, thirteen bridges were constructed across the Niagara River Gorge. Four of them remain.
Tourism began to the falls in the 1820s.
***Getting to Niagara Falls***
Niagara Falls is approximately 90 miles from down town Toronto and there are plenty of ways to get there I was fortunate enough to have a limo to take me around the sites of Toronto as I was there with work but the drive from my hotel, the Delta Chelsea was approximately 40-45minutes.
Alternatively if you are feeling brave hire a car for the day (rates vary) Follow the QEW south in the direction of Fort Erie. Take the McLeod Rd. exit at Niagara Falls. Turn left on to McLeod Rd and follow it until it turns into Marineland Parkway. Turn left at Rapidsview. Follow this road along toward the Niagara River. Turn left onto the Niagara River Parkway. Continue driving past a large power station on your right. You will see another power station on your left. Turn left to find Fallsview Parking.
I was lucky to be on a Travel Education offered by bmi so we had our very own private limo driving us around so we certainly saw this site in style.
***The Maid of The Mist***
The Maid of The Mist is Niagra's most popular attraction since 1846 and has attracted millions of visitors, and to get the most out of Niagara falls a maid of the mist trip is a must.
Hear the thundering falls echo agaist the rocks located at the bottom and feel the mist as the Maid drives you closer to the falls that you would ever though possible and is the main advantage to purchasing a ticket for the steamboat.
Purchase tickets in advance from www.maidofthemist.com or alternatively purchase tickets from the ticket booth located at the bottom of Clifton Hill. They accept Cash, Visa, Mastercard but they do not accept cheques. You will receive a ticket, exclusive poncho and a Maid of the Mist postcard.
Adult $13cdn //GBP6.00
Children (6-12years)$8 cdn // GBP4.00
Children 5 and under are free of charge.
Open daily from 9.45am to 7.45pm times may vary due to seasons, check on their website before you set off to ensure that the service is operational during your visit.
I have to say that if you are going to go to Niagara Falls the Maid of the Mist is a must, it is an amazing experience and you also get and audio guide to tell you more about the history of niagara and some of the amazing survival stories of Niagara. There are plenty of people on the boat so you need to get to the front and stay there if you are as short as me or your pictures will have lots of blue ponchos in your view, the photographs that I got were out of this world and will provide me with a great memory and I hope to go back again soon.
Tel: 905 358 5781
Fax: 905 358 8527
***Niagara at Night***
Niagara Falls looks stunning at night time with their seasonal fireworks and illuminations.
Niagara Falls Fireworks and Illumination Schedule 2005.
Jan 1-18 5pm - 10pm
Jan 19-Feb 28 6.30pm - 10pm
Mar 1-31 7pm - 10pm
April 1-30 8.30pm - 11pm
May 1-Aug18 9pm - Midnight
Aug 19 - Sep 30 8.30pm -Midnight
Oct 1-31 7pm - Midnight
Nov 1-14 6.30pm - Midnight
Nov 15-Dec 30 5pm - Midnight
Dec 31 5pm - 1am
Niagara falls are illuminated nightly until at least 10pm Jan through to Apr and until midnight for the rest of the year.
Free Fireworks are over the falls every friday, sunday and holidays May 20-Sep 4 and following the fireworks there is a free concert commencing at 8pm.
There are plenty of viewpoints around Niagara and some amazing photo opportunities, but for an even better view there is the Skylon Tower which was opened back in the Autumn of 1964 and is known to be the tallest structure in Niagara.
Having visited Niagara falls twice now, each time the sight has took my breath away it really is awesome, then my mind goes into overdrive thinking what would happen if the little maid of the mist boats got sucked in by the sheer power and then I get scared!
You must make this a stop off points when you visit as this site simply cannot be missed.
Its natural beauty will leave you breathless and wanting to know every little bit of its history.
Niagara Falls is a set of massive waterfalls located on the Niagara River in eastern North America, on the border between Canada and the United States. Niagara Falls comprises three separate waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian Falls), the American Falls, and the smaller, adjacent Bridal Veil Falls. The Falls are located 16 miles (26 km) away from the U.S. city of Buffalo and 43 miles (69 km) from the Canadian city of Toronto. The Falls formed after the receding of the glaciers of the most recent Ice Age, as water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls is very wide. With more than 6 million cubic feet (168,000 m³) of water falling over the crestline every minute in high flow, and almost 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m³) on average, it is the most powerful waterfall in North America.