Around the US,  New York

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a famous waterfall on the border of the USA and Canada. Everybody has heard of it, right? I had heard about it all my life, which is why I wanted to visit and see it in person. But when I went to plan my vacation, I found that I knew almost nothing about it at all!

The Niagara River is the border of the state of New York and the Canadian province of Ontario. All of the water in the Great Lakes flows through this river.

Did you know that there are actually three different waterfalls that comprise Niagara Falls? About 500 years ago, an obstacle in the river caused it to split into two different channels. The channel with the most water running through it is situated on the Canadian side of the river, forming Horseshoe Falls. These are the falls that are pictured in most of the photos you see of Niagara Falls.

The other, smaller channel forms American Falls, with a tiny piece separated from the main flow that is called Bridal Veil Falls. These two falls are on the American side of the river. Here we are standing in front of the American Falls. The thinner falls at the far right side of the photo past the branch is Bridal Veil Falls.

We are standing in Canada, with the American Falls in the background. The funny thing is, because of the horseshoe bend in the Canadian Falls, the view of them is great from Canada also. That is probably why Fallsview in Canada is a bigger tourist attraction than Prospect Point Park on the American side of the river.

Since we all had passports, we decided to stay in Fallsview. The line to get through the border was fairly long, but once we got to the window, entering Canada was no problem.

There are many great hotels with amazing view of the Falls, but they were above our budget for this trip. We chose the Ramada Hotel on Stanley Ave, which was more budget friendly. I wasn’t quite sure how far away it was from the falls, but it turned out that it was within walking distance, and also had a bus stop right out front.

We arrived in the evening, and the kids were tired, but Greg and I wandered down to the Falls to see how far it was. We took Stanley over to Robinson, and then straight on down. At the end of the road was a stone staircase that led down through some lots of trees to Queen Victoria Park. You could make a case for it being kind of creepy, but I think that was all in my mind. We did see a critter or two scamper away as we passed.

The Park opens up onto Niagara Parkway, which you have to cross to get to the best viewing points. Finally we were rewarded for the journey short walk.

I didn’t know the Falls were so colorful at night!

And they have fireworks every summer night at 10:00 as well!

The next day we decided to buy an Adventure Pass for admission to several attractions. The cost is $65 CAD for adults and $43 CAD for kids age 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free, and we had two of them! Remember, the price is in Canadian dollars, so right now, the exchange rate would make the tickets approximately $49 and $33.

The Pass includes the bus for two days, which was essential to get to some of the attractions, as well as nice to get to our hotel when our legs were tired.

We started with the Hornblower Cruise. The entrance is at the bottom of Clifton Hill, which is a street full of dining and activities. If you have extra time, there are some fun activities to do there, including the Niagara Skywheel, the Wild West Coaster, and the Movieland Wax Museum, among others.

But I digress. After a shortish wait for the Hornblower, you put on your red ponchos and hop on the boat for the cruise up the Niagara River. YOU WILL GET WET! That’s why you have your poncho.

It’s fun to get close to the Falls and experience their power.

Next we headed to the White Water Walk. This attraction is 4 km from the Falls, so you’ll want to take the bus. The line for the attraction wasn’t very long, but it moved pretty slow, because everyone must go down an elevator to get to the boardwalk that runs along the river. You can’t see the Falls from here, but you can see the churning Niagara River. It’s a nice relaxing walk, and there is a viewing area where the river spurts up that is fun to play in.

Next up was the Journey behind the Falls. This attraction takes you up close and personal with Horseshoe Falls from an observation deck that is quite close to the Falls. This line was long, possibly because it was later in the day, and we waited quite a while.

We wore yellow ponchos for this attraction, and we needed them! Besides the observation deck, there are a couple of tunnels that take you to a peekhole where you can see…… the backside of water.

The last attraction on our Pass was Niagara’s Fury, a 4D movie where – you guessed it – you get wet. Blue ponchos were handed out for this attraction. There is a cute cartoon that you watch while you wait that describes how Niagara Falls was formed. Then you enter the main theater and stand on a platform while the movie rages all around you. It’s fun for the big kids, but my littlest granddaughter didn’t care for it.

If we had been in Fallsview longer, we would have chosen the Adventure Pass Plus, which also includes the Whirlpool Aero Car, the Butterfly Conservatory, and the Floral Showroom, plus 4 heritage sites. But Niagara was only one stop on our New York tour, so we skipped the Plus.

Have you been to Niagara Falls? Did you view the Falls from Fallsview, or Prospect Point Park? I’d love to hear about the experience on the American side of the river!

23 Comments

  • Lisa Manderino

    This a bucket list dream, I almost got to go a few years ago but on our road trip my husband injured himself and we could not make it! Someday, we will go!

  • Stacey

    We’re planning on a New England road trip next summer, and we’ve been discussing stopping at Niagara Falls on the way back. This post is really informative. I hope we can work it in!

    • Taci- Life Beyond Zebra

      This looks so cool. I have always wanted to go. I never knew you could get so close! Now I want to go more.

  • Cynthia

    So fun! I would love to make it to Niagra Falls. I really enjoyed hearing about your visit. They are so beautiful all lit up and what a special bonus that you get to see fireworks in the summer! Thanks for sharing!

  • kmf

    I love waterfalls and didn‚Äôt realize how little I knew about Niagara Falls. Thanks for the educational post and photos…especially love the colorful image at night.

  • Pam

    I love the falls – we have been talking about planning a trip there in the near future with the kids. Maybe next summer.

  • Amanda

    We went a couple of weeks ago for the first time. We saw it from both sides. Different experiences. Love your night photos. I had no idea ūüôā

  • Hera

    Would love to see Niagra Falls, good to know which side to see. The night lights on the falls are so cool. Appreciate the helpful review of what to expect

  • alison

    Oh I so want to visit Niagara, we keep talking about it and just have to pick a long weekend to do it. What a great trip and to do it on the Canadian side is too cool.

  • Trisha

    I remember going to Niagara Falls when I was younger and just being in awe of the size, power, and beauty of it. Looks like you had a great time!

  • Sarah

    I went years ago but honestly do not recall much about it. And I know we didn’t do all of that cool stuff! Can you just look at the falls without paying? I feel like we did that… but it was probably 30 years ago so possibly a very different experience.

    • Lori

      Yes, you can totally look at the Falls from Niagara Parkway for free. That’s where we took the photo of the colorful Falls. It’s only if you want to take the boat ride or go up close to the Falls that you have to pay.

  • Clara

    I didn’t know Niagra Falls was such a new waterfall. Only 500 years ago? That’s like a geological baby.

  • Leeanne

    I remember going to the falls as a kid but need to bring my kids. In fact, I don’t know if my husband has been. Thanks for the tips.