We continued our road trip from Ithaca towards west and crossed the bridge with the friendly name Rainbow Bridge where I set foot on Canadian ground for the very first time. Niagara Falls – there’s not much to tell you – I mean EVERYONE has at least heard about them, and being one of the top tourist attractions in the world (among the Top 10) a lot of people have seen them too. That being said, Niagara Falls still hasn’t lost any of its fascination and draws in millions of people ever since. No surprise the area around the iconic waterfalls has developed into a huge playground for visitors of all ages and nationalities. Known as a traditional Honeymoon destination it has become a great place for families and people who look for fun and entertainment – from water parks, museums, arcades but also casinos and all kinds of chain restaurants – kids and kids at heart will find their spot.
However due to our limited time, we came for the natural beauty. As we arrived in the evening we got our first glimpse of the Niagara Falls after dark, just in time when the daily light show started. And because it was high season during the high season (the long weekend where Canadians celebrated Canada Day and Americans Independence Day) it was super crowded, but also we witnessed some beautiful fireworks on both sides of the border. Anyways, the fireworks take place EVERY evening during the summer and shouldn’t be missed! Check schedules for lights and fireworks here.
The US-Canadian border goes right through the Niagara River but you’ll only be able to see the full panorama of the falls from the Canadian side. Both sides offer various options to get as close as possible to the the massive wall of water, either by boat or through an underground tunnel. We picked the latter – but either way, the thunderous sound, the mist, the force of nature will astonish everyone! And on a hot summer day the refreshing shower is just a bonus 😉
The people on the American boat, the “Maid of the Mist” wear all blue raincoats whereas the Canadian “Hornblower” covers its guests in red.
And if you’re visiting the Journey behind the Falls like we did, you get a yellow raincoat 🙂 Yes – the Journey takes you literally behind the falls!
Although the general views and lodging possibilities are better on the Canadian side, I’d say a visit to Niagara Falls would be incomplete without seeing them from the New York side too. Simply because you’ll be right by the falls and get to experience them even closer! Right next to the waterfall lies the beautiful Niagara Falls State Park – America’s first State Park btw – that has lots of pathways and lookout points. It’s truly fascinating and scary to see how fast the current actually moves downwards…
Strangely, the river looks rather quiet and peaceful as soon as you face the “back”. You wouldn’t believe that the water is suddenly going straight down on the other side!
Niagara Falls, New York or Niagara Falls, Ontario are about 7 hours driving from NYC or 2 hours from Toronto, but a lot of people also fly in via Buffalo or Niagara Falls International Airport, both in New York. Don’t forget your passport or ID (for US or Canadian residents only) if you want to cross the border and check entry requirements beforehand. Depending on the traffic, there’s usually a wait at the border, so add an extra half hour to hour to your plans.
While there’s many waterfalls around the planet that claim to be the largest, Niagara Falls is probably the most famous. It’s definitely not off-the-beaten track but nevertheless a place you’ll remember.