Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Travel Tuesday: A Day in Niagara Falls

Last month, I traveled to Canada with my mom and aunt in celebration of my aunt's retirement from teaching. (She lasted 36 years as a public school educator!  If that's not reason to celebrate, then I don't know what is!).  Our first stop north of the border was in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

It wasn't my first trip to Niagara Falls; I had been there three, yes - three, times before.  It wasn't my aunt's first time either, but it was the first time for my mom.  In fact, it was her first time out of the country!  

We arrived late in the evening in the pouring rain and woke up the next morning to a dense fog that totally obscured the view.

My mom indicating where the American Falls should be.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in all my travels is that the weather will be what it will be and you have no control over it, so it's best to simply carry on and make the most of the situation.  And that's exactly what we did.  Why should we let a little fog stand in our way?

We took a Hornblower river boat cruise to get an up close and personal view of the American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe/Canadian Falls.  The American and Bridal Veil Falls are pretty, but they are no comparison to the sheer size and power of the Horseshoe/Canadian Falls.  

To see the falls from the rim is one thing.  Seeing them from within the gorge is a completely different experience.  Fortunately for us, once we were out on the river, we discovered that we were beneath the fog and this allowed us to see the falls a little better.  What I loved most about the river cruise was not only getting a closer view, but also truly experiencing the power of the falls.  The sound of the 600,000 gallons of water that plummets over the brink of the falls every second, then falls 167 feet, and crashes onto the rocks below is unbelievable.  And the spray...  Well, now you know why we, along with everyone else on our boat, is sporting a lovely red rain poncho.  Seriously, you will get that wet.  (Side note - If you take the cruise from the New York side you will be aboard The Maid of the Mist and you will receive a lovely blue poncho...)

The three of us in front of the Canadian Falls trying to take a selfie.  The ever-constant spray made it...interesting.
As viewed from the rim of the Niagara Gorge.

For a bird's eye view of the falls, we took a trip to the top of the Skylon Tower.  Luckily, by the time we went up, the fog had lifted completely.

The Skylon Tower is 520 feet tall and offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, including the American and Canadian Falls.  The tower also houses a rotating restaurant appropriately named the Skylon Revolving Dining Room.  The dining room makes one full revolution per hour.  (We didn't eat there, but I did eat there in 2001 during a previous trip and it was a fun experience.)

The American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls (the falls furthest to the right), and Rainbow Bridge (left of falls).
The Canadian Falls.
When to go:  I've been there twice in the winter (can you say, "BURR, IT SURE IS COLD!") and twice in the summer.  The falls are utterly breathtaking during the winter and the area truly resembles a winter wonderland.  But, with the beauty there also comes some inconvenience (ice forms on everything that the mist lands on and makes walking around a bit treacherous) and like I said - it's cold!  Also, many of the attractions such as the river cruises do not operate during the winter months.

As far as the summer goes, I've been once in June and once in August.  In terms of people, it was by far more crowded in August.  Going in June with fewer crowds to deal was very pleasant and more enjoyable in my opinion.  All the major attractions are open during the summer as well.

Be sure to check back next week for my recap on Montreal.

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