This is the first in a 3 part series about our family road trip north to visit with family and experience a little bit of our northern neighbor, Canada. Future posts will cover Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.
American & Canadian Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls’ sheer power and size will absolutely take your breath away. Its unique location across the U.S.-Canadian border also presents a juxtaposition of use and development/preservation; the U.S. side reflects a more natural state and the Canadian side offers more opportunities for tourism and family fun. Together, they give the visitor balanced options to build an experience they desire.
After researching at home, we pre-purchased the Discovery Pass, which packages together a plethora of attractions on the U.S. side. There is a super-similar Canadian option as well, so do your research and see which appeals to you. We started our day by using the free on-street parking near the aquarium and taking the trolley (free with our Pass) over to the Falls area. Some attractions are accessed via timed passes; others have to be reserved ahead of time–some advance research about the best time to visit each and how to budget your time is essential. What else is essential? Wearing clothes and shoes you’ll be okay getting drenched in–it’s pretty much unavoidable, and, let’s face it, part of the fun.
Okay, okay, so there’s really not a “cave-cave” you go through for the Cave of the Winds experience anymore but this was at the top of our time at the Falls. You are given a poncho and foam sandals and then descend into the gorge right by the falls to experience it on an intimate scale. Thrill-seekers can stand on the Hurricane Desk and find themselves pounded by the Falls itself. It is simply amazing. If being slammed by a waterfall doesn’t appeal to you, have a seat on one of the benches and observe the many bird rookeries that blanket the rocks at the base of the falls.
Maid of the Mist
The ride on the Maid of the Mist was another highlight from our Package. The voyage starts in a calm area of the river and then brings you quite close to the Falls with all its turbulence and spray. It was far more exciting and dynamic than I expected and brought all of us big smiles.
Tesla at the Top
The Visitor Center and Adventure Theater are at the top of the Falls and include interactive exhibits on the history of the Falls, its ecosystem, and the role Nikola Tesla played in bringing electricity to humanity. After, you can pose with the statue of Tesla outside in the park.
Niagara After Dark
If you are in Niagara Falls after dark, do be sure to check out the illumination of the Falls. Its water is bathed in soft, vibrant colors, igniting your sense of wonder. Check ahead to see if any fireworks displays are scheduled during your visit.
Niagara Power Vista
BONUS: Not in Niagara Falls proper but *totally* worth the drive, especially if you have kids with you, is the Niagara Power Vista. This interactive visitor’s center perched above a river gorge lets you experience the Falls and its hydroelectric power in a fun, science-center vibe setting. Tons of hands-on exhibits teach visitors about electricity and hydroelectric power generation, including a virtual reality ride that jostles you and mists you with water (we had to ride that one three times!). And best of all, for those of us on a budget, it’s free.
Though we only overnighted in Niagara Falls, we had a fabulous time and would love to return to see the Falls in other seasons and explore more of the area attractions.
Thank you for reading Part One of my 3 part series on our Canadian adventure.
Have you been to Niagara Falls before? What did you enjoy there? Please share in a comment.
- Want to read more about fun places to learn about and visit? Check out my posts on Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, and Key West.
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