Niagara Falls

How does one describe Niagara Falls-  Do you say it’s ‘the famous waterfall’? Do you say its a combination of three waterfall:  the Canadian Province of Ontario (Canadian Horseshoe Falls) and the US state of New York (American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls)? It’s all of these and so much more. I was totally mesmerised by what my eyes saw. The sound of the water falling at such heights and hitting the bottom with so much force and continuously doing,  made me blessed to see this God’s beautiful creation. 

I maybe biased when I say this but for me Canadian Horseshoe Falls is hands down a prettier view as compared to the American Falls. My visit was from the Canada side and below details are all from Canada.

During my research I read that the height of the American Fall ranges between 21 to 34 m (70 to 110ft) and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls drop an average of 57 m (188 ft). 

No matter which angle I stood to see the fall, my mind and eyes were just trying to take in how something like this can even exist after so many years. Many people have Niagara Falls in their bucket list, for me I had it ticked off not once but twice. I could visit Niagara Falls again and again and still be bewitched by the beauty of it. I saw many people posing in front of the falls but for me initially was just putting the camera aside and enjoying the beauty of the whole place.

TIME TO VISIT NIAGARA FALLS

My first visit to this beauty was in March (day trip) and the second one in July (weekend trip). I enjoyed it more in July. The best times to visit Niagara Falls would be from June to August simply because this is the summer time and the winds blowing along the waterfall can make the place more cooler.

If you love flowers then I would suggest visiting in the spring as they have colourful plants making the surrounding even more prettier. 

During our July visit we did experience crowds but didn’t feel it much as the area is huge and plenty to do.  

Niagara Falls is equally beautiful at night with the lights being illuminated on the fall  combined with colourful firecrackers.This is another thing I would recommend you think of doing as it is a completely different experience as compared to the day time visit. 

TRAVELLING TO AND AROUND NIAGARA FALLS

Those who have read my blog know how much I love using the public transport. I feel the place is understood and enjoyed so much better. Our day trip was with our friends in their car and July was via public transport. We are permanent residents of Canada so we had our own apartment and did a weekend trip here. If you are on holidays then also our approach is very much possible. 

Once you reach Niagara Falls there are Wego buses which will take you around from one destination to the next. You will have to buy the passes from the Table Rock Welcome Centre (next  to the horseshoe fall). Wego buses have four different lines (namely green ,red, blue and purple ) all of which start or end at the Table rock. Upon buying the ticket you receive the bus timings, maps and routes to plan helping in your tour. Personally I found the Wego buses very efficient and fun to ride in. There were times especially in the afternoons when the buses were packed but the frequency was good so we didn’t struggle that much.

WHERE TO STAY IN NIAGARA FALLS

There are a number of hotels to chose from. Should you want to stay near the fall then your best bet would be Hilton Hotel, Four Points Sheraton, Oakes Hotel, Marriott Hotel and Embassy Suites Hotel Tower Hotel. We stayed at Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview. Don’t let the name mislead you there is no falls view here but it’s a walkable distance to the fall.  Since we went during the peak seasons we got best deal here hence opted for it. We stayed in 2016 so I guess the hotel might have changed since our last visit. When we stayed we didn’t have much issues with the room. We were mostly out during the  day and overall happy with our room. 

For cheaper hotels you can plan your trip in winter if you can bare the freezing temperature.

THINGS TO DO IN NIAGARA FALLS

TABLE ROCK

It is said that a there was a large shelf of rocks which fell out from the Canadian shore in the 18th century resulting in the Horseshoe Falls. Table rock at that time was the main vantage point for tourists. I have spent quite a few hours here because of its various views:  on the top the drop of the fall and bottom, the cruises providing a closer look and experience of the fall. Table rock is still a popular viewing platform of the fall.

NIAGARA FURY

Here we got to experience the 4-D experience of Niagara Falls. This one is included in the Adventure Pass. We do receive a blue poncho here to wear which gets you to wonder what are you heading into. The whole 360 degree multi sensory theatre was amazing – sure woke up the kid in me! They show a short video explaining the formation of Niagara Falls and then experiencing the Fall with effects like rain, snow, lightning and rumbling under your feet. I have read many adults complaining over how boring it was but I wasn’t one of them.

WHITE WATER PARK

Got a chance to witness the Class 6 white water rapids. The walk along the Niagara river with their various viewing platforms made us see nature’s power up close and right at river’s edge. This is another one which is included in the Adventure Pass. The walk can be done by anyone as its wide enough for wheelchairs and strollers. I would recommend everyone to do this as it gives a different feel to Niagara Falls.

JOURNEY BEHIND THE FALL

This is the third attraction included in the Adventure Pass. I was a little scared before doing this. Imagine going down 50 meters (164 feet) below the Horseshoe Fall in a tunnel which takes you deep through the rock and in addition to having a husband who is claustrophobic. Well we decided we are not missing out on anything and began our journey. There are many things to see below: Information on the tunnel walls; a platform besides Horseshoe Fall; a tunnel which takes you little closer to the fall and lastly a tunnel with a  view just behind the fall. At the end of the tunnel there are two viewing platforms. Here we received the yellow poncho which is definitely needed as you do get wet by the unexpected rapid waves.

HORNBLOWER CRUISE

By receiving a red poncho for this attraction no need to be shocked that you are about to get wet. Seeing everything from the top, sides and at a distance, now imagine going towards the Horseshoe Fall and experiencing it on you. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this experience was- one which should definitely not be skipped. When we visited in March we didn’t get a chance to do this but in our July visit we decided we are not missing out on it. There were mist and winds when on the cruise but the boat was as steady as a rock. This was another one which is included  with the Adventure Pass.

FALLS INCLINE RAILWAY

This is mostly there for tourists who have their hotels at the top or parked their car in the parking lot hence to avoid the steep hill you can take this lift at a small fee to reach the table rock. If you have the Adventure Pass then this ride is included.

WHIRLPOOL AERO CAR

3500 feet across the Canadian side is this panoramic view of the water below and  surrounded by lush scenery. We saw amazing views of the Niagara whirlpool from the aero car. Another attraction which we had in our Adventure Pass. There is an instructor and if your lucky, as we were, you might get a little history to the place as well.

BUTTERFLY CONSERVATORY 

This is included in the Niagara Park pass, which we visited during our March visit. When they say there are over 2000 free flying butterflies they actually mean it. It is said that there are over 45 different species of butterflies . There were butterflies of all sizes and colours. They were decorating the leaves with their different colours and some even sat on us when we passed them. This was definitely the first time for me seeing so many butterflies all in one place.

FLORAL SHOWHOUSE

For someone like me, who loves gardens and flowers, this one was not to be skipped. They had a huge collection of orchids, succulent and tropical plants which were beautifully displaced in between miniature railroads and houses. There were also flamingoes made from flowers reflecting the changing seasons. This is also included in the Adventure Pass.

Some other attractions to try out which we didn’t get chance to do due to lack of time are:

Floral Clock – Just ahead of the butterfly conservatory is the floral clock. I had read that there are flowers being planted around a working clock giving it a clock look. This attraction is free of cost.

Botanical Garden-  This includes beautiful gardens. Some say it’s maintained well, others say it’s not. Admission is free here,  however a nominal parking charge per hour is there.

Mistrider Zipline & Whirlpool Adventure Course- Near the Hornblower Niagara Cruise is the Zipline. Whirlpool Adventure course is said to give thrilling experiences of suspended obstacles and ziplines in the midst of nature. I have read there is a long wait to do one so plan accordingly. It costs extra to do this.

Marineland – Thrilling rides, underwater viewing of whales,dolphins, walruses and sea lions can all be enjoyed here.

Skylon Tower- It has an observation deck plus a revolving dining experience with the view of the fall.


Niagara Helicopters- As the name suggests it’s a ride in the helicopter to see the view of Niagara Falls from the top 

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark- Have read there that there are 16 thrilling waterslides to enjoy in here.

OUR ITINERARY IN NIAGARA FALLS

Day 1

  • Took an early morning 6.00 am Greyhound Bus from Bay Street, Toronto.
  • After 1.5 hour of bus ride reached Niagara Falls bus terminal at 7.30 am
  • Decided to walk along Niagara Falls to get to our hotel. Note bus services are available but hadn’t started by the time we reached. 
  • Made our way to Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel and left our bags at the receipton.
  • Walked to Table Rock welcome desk to buy Adventure Pass, map and Wego travel passes and bus timings.
  • Enjoyed the Canadian Horseshoe Falls from Table Rock
  • Took the green Wego bus to the north to White Water Park. Enjoyed the walk and saw the class 6 water
  • Took the green Wego bus to the south and came back to table rock. 
  • Walked to the Journey Behind the Fall. Spent sometime here.
  • Walked back to Table rock welcome desk to head to the Niagara Fury. Enjoyed the 4D experience.
  • Either take the green north Wego bus/ walk to the Hornblower cruise. Enjoyed the cruise.
  • Headed back to the Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel –  checked in, freshened up, rested and had lunch.
  • Walked to Falls Incline Railway to head down to the Table Rock
  • Strolled around Table Rock and enjoyed the evening view of the fall.
  • Had dinner at Boston Pizza 
  • Enjoyed the 10.00 pm fireworks and view of the Fall which was lit up with rainbow colour.

Day 2

  • Checked out from hotel and left our bags at the reception.
  • Had breakfast at Tim Hortons which is walkable distance from Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel.
  • Walked to Table Rock to catch the North green Wego bus and made our way to Whirlpool Aero Car. Enjoyed our ride here
  • Took the North green Wego bus to Butterfly Conservatory. Spent some time here.
  • Took the South green Wego Bus to Floral Showcase. Explored the place.
  • Had lunch and spent more time at Table rock.
  • Walked back to the hotel and picked up our bags
  • Since it was last few hours here we decided to actually walk back to Greyhound bus stop. 
  • Took the 5.15 pm bus from Niagara which reached Toronto at 7.15 pm.

THINGS TO NOTE IN NIAGARA FALLS

  • Since it’s a tourist destination most of the restaurants can be expensive. I read after my visit there were cheaper restaurants which are further away from the fall.
  • If you plan to do most of the things then adventure pass would be the best to buy as it covers most of the tourist attractions.
  • In the Hornblower Cruise you are definitely going to get wet so avoid carrying your personal belongings which you don’t want to get wet. Advisable to have an extra pair of clothes to change into.
  • Whirlpool Aero Car you have to take the stairs down and climb back up again.  So those who have which problems walking might find the attraction difficult to do.
  • Some of the attractions might have a wait time. Those with impatient kids might have to find a time to visit when its less crowded.
  • You have to stand in the Niagara Fury attraction a few chairs put at the sides. Again those having issues standings might have to wait till you get a chance to sit.
  • There are discount coupons in the welcome centre, go through the ones you might want to use as they can come handy.
  • There is TIF (Tourism Infrastructure Funding fees) or DMDF (Destination Marketing and Development Fees) which everyone has to pay. This is usually collected by the hotel you stayed in. As per my understanding, this has now been changed to Municipal Hotel/ Accommdations Tax which is $2 per night per room. TIF/DMDF has requested by many to be removed as it is not legal. I didn’t know this during my visit and paid for it. 
  • Greyhound buses you do have to come early to get good seat as its a  on first come first basis.
  • Since we were based in Toronto we didn’t have to worry about cross border visas or currency conversions. Depending on your situation plan accordingly.