Niagara Falls is a tourist town plain and simple. It has been so ever since the railroad brought the first load of tourists in 1840. Over 13 million people visit the Canadian side of the falls every year. There are elements of Las Vegas here; neon lights and casinos, plus lots of tacky-tourist attractions.
If you have children there are a zillion things to do: arcades, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Guiness Records Museum, Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks, Imax theatre, Marineland. mini-golf, midways, an indoor waterpark, go-karts, etc. etc. etc.
There are historical points of interest nearby: Laura Secord’s house, Old Fort Erie, the Mackenzie Printery and the McFarland House.
There are gardens: Botanical Gardens, the Floral Showcase, the Floral Clock made of 20,000 blooms, plus nearby nature trails.
Boat rides to the base of the falls run from both the American side and the Canadian side. An Incline Railway will take you down the steep cliff-side to the street and boardwalk that runs along the riverside – but 140′ above it – and there are viewing towers on both sides. This natural wonder has been self-supporting – meaning no tax dollars needed – since 1885.
The Canadian boats give you a red rain poncho, the American’s use blue
(We learned that the fireworks display we enjoyed last night is the longest running fireworks in Canada. They go off every Friday and Sunday nights and on all holidays.)
It would be quite easy to spend a week here doing this and that. We came to see the falls and that is all we did. I know how to prioritize! But don’t get too down on us for not seeing all there is to see. We go about 20 km up the road tomorrow to Niagara-on-the-Lake and will be stopping at some of the historical places and perhaps the Floral Clock on the way. Today though was all about the Falls.
And….we saw them from the street level, from an underground tunnel behind the water, from the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, and lit up by powerful lights at night. It was a grand day! The weather was absolutely perfect too; sunny and warm right into the evening.
The American Falls – Bridal Veil is the one on the far right by itself. The Canadian Horseshoe Falls
We walked the boardwalk from the view of the American Falls to the rim of the Canadian Falls. At this end you get wet from the constant spray.
The Journey Under the Falls takes you by elevator to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. There are three tunnels with openings to the falls. One leads to two viewing platforms; the lowest being 26 ft above the river and the other two tunnels are openings behind the cascade taking you almost 1/2 way round the horseshoe, accompanied by very loud thundering water!
The Skylon Tower is 160 meters tall (575 feet). There are two observation levels – one above the other, one inside and the other outside behind large-link fencing. There is a rotating restaurant at the top so you can see the town and both sets of falls while you dine.
After we had dinner – great Italian food – we walked down the hill to wait for the lights to come on. We had to wait almost 45 minutes but eventually both the US and the Canadian falls were bathed in light. The colors would change periodically so we watched for over half an hour before going back to our room for the night.
As I said, it was a grand day.