We spent just a bit more than 2 days in the Niagara Falls area. Ultimately, 3 days is probably ideal but we kept up a pretty good pace and managed to get through most of what we wanted to see.
There are boat rides from both sides of the border. We had read that the Maid of the Mist from the Canadian side was better, but both sides seemed to take the same route. There were more boats available on the Canadian side, though, which meant it was quicker to complete. From start to finish it took us about an hour to ride Maid of the Mist.
After riding Maid of the Mist, we walked across the bridge to the US side and do some exploring. One of the things high on our list was the Cave of Winds. This was an elevator down to the base of Bridal Veil falls, a poncho and the ability to walk right up to the base of the falls, including the Hurricane Deck. Unfortunately, we found out when we got there that they haven’t allowed people to go behind the actual falls for quite some time for safety reasons.
Even though we didn’t get to go behind the falls, this experience is worth the price of admission. We got thoroughly wet (a bit on purpose) and it was amazing to feel the power of the falls up close. This activity was about an hour long, though could be done quicker since it’s self-guided.
Probably one of the most ironic parts of this trip was the big “No Smoking” sign next to the Hurricane Deck. Not only wouldn’t a cigarette stay lit with all the moisture, I’m pretty sure the wind speed would whip it out of your mouth. It almost knocked us over.
Still on the US side, we took a walk over to Horseshoe Falls, the biggest of the 3 falls. This was a short walk and only took about 30 minutes total. The view from the top of Horseshoe is pretty incredible.
A brief moment of idiocy: Since our hotel was so close to the border we decided to walk across the bridge to the US side. The good folks on the Canadian side have decided to charge a 50 cent toll for people to cross on foot (whereas there is no toll on the US side). The bridge itself was a joint venture between the US and Canada, but the employee who came out to scold/help us was Canadian. First, about half the change machines were out of order and the turnstiles only took quarters.
Then, there was only one lane that accommodated strollers, and it wasn’t working. We put two sets of quarters in with no results. We flagged down an employee that was behind a glass wall to help. She told us that we inserted the quarters wrong, then said we were standing too close to the gate when we put the quarters in. Then, she tried to put quarters in herself, but it didn’t work.
All told, it took about 10 minutes of her time, during which time we didn’t actually see anyone else try and cross. So, not sure how many people they get to pay the 50 cents, but if you’re paying an employee to monitor the station, you better hope for a lot of people to break even.
I’ll cover fireworks, the butterfly farm and Journey Behind the Falls in Part 2.