Before I get into this post fully, it’s time to briefly mention the big life change I made for myself in 2012. After finishing university in 2011, I moved back home for a year to save up money. Shortly after moving back, Brit and I began talking about the possibility of moving somewhere and living together. After discussing options, we chose Ottawa. It was because of this decision that my trip to Niagara Falls even ended up being possible, so here’s the story….
Brit and I found an apartment we could rent starting August 1, 2012, so we jumped on it, even though neither of us planned to actually live there until September. I enlisted the help of my mom, my aunt, and my friend Sylvan (who is friends with Carly & T as well), to move my stuff from a storage locker near Brantford into the apartment in August. From there, I returned to the Toronto area to stay with Sylvan for a few days, tagging along on the Niagara Falls trip that was planned for Carly & T during their stay at Sylvan’s.
Finally – on to the actual day trip!
I had been to Niagara Falls twice before – once during a university trip and once with my mom on the drive home from a Buffalo Bills game – but I had yet to have a chance to actually gaze at the Falls for more than a few minutes. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.
The Canadian side of the Falls features the wonderfully touristy Clifton Hill – a series of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
If you feel like being outside, some good options are wandering the streets, playing Dinosaur Adventure Golf, taking a ride on the SkyWheel and watching the Falls. If you prefer to be indoors, grabbing a bite to eat at the Rainforest Cafe, seeing an IMAX presentation about the Falls, playing in the sizeable arcade, and walking through the always entertaining Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum are all great choices.
I may be biased, but I think the Canadian side of the Falls offers the better view. The Falls are known individually as Horseshoe Falls (mostly on the Canadian side), Bridal Veil Falls (American side), and the American Falls (American side). Regardless of which country you’re in when you arrive, if you have a passport you can cross Rainbow Bridge via car or foot to access the other country.
For anyone who hasn’t been and thinks maybe just looking at the Falls would be boring, the sheer magnitude and height of the Falls is simply stunning to witness in person. As beautiful as pictures are, it doesn’t compare to the magnetic pull of seeing the Falls in person. Every evening, starting at dusk, the Falls are lit up with the hues of a rainbow, gifting the Falls with a fantasy-like quality.
Of course, it would be remiss of me to write this post and not include the attraction most people venture out for – the Maid of the Mist.
The Maid of the Mist is a boat on which you don a blue poncho (seriously – everyone looks like a Smurf) and approach the thunderous Falls.
If you think the Falls look powerful from above, just wait until you view them from the bottom. Being hit in the face by misting spray from the Falls as you gaze up 52 metres (170 feet) at the water churning over the top and crashing into the basin below is a sobering feeling. From that vantage point, it’s hard to believe anyone could survive going over, much less anyone who isn’t protected in something.
The first person to go over the falls was a 63-year-old woman named Annie Taylor, and she did so in 1901 in a modified barrel. She survived this, and cautioned anyone against following in her tracks. An even more miraculous survival story happened in 1960. A scenic boat ride up the Niagara River involving a man and his co-worker’s two children turned into a nightmare when their boat was caught in the current and flipped. The girl was pushed toward shore, and luckily was pulled out by nearby people. The man and the boy, however, were swept over the side. Tragically, the man was killed, but the young boy was found alive and was rescued by the Captain of a Maid of the Mist boat. The young boy was the first to survive going over the Falls with nothing to protect him.
I had never before been on the Maid of the Mist before and loved it. Niagara Falls is one of the top honeymoon destinations in North America, but it’s a great place to take a day trip as well.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? Are you biased like me about the Canadian side being better?