We’ve crossed the Canadian border more times than I can remember, but never before have we been asked if we had weapons in the car. And, it was the Canadian border patrol doing the asking, the US border patrol didn’t ask. Sadly, I think it may be a sign of the times. Aside from a few questions such as in which state do we live, where were we going and how long would we be there, along with a quick scan of our passports, crossing the border was a drive-through breeze. It was just a matter of waiting our turn.
The Honeymoon Capital of the World
This was our second trip to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side. I’ve never understood the whole romance thing about the falls. For sure they are more than beautiful, but romantic? I don’t know. Niagara Falls has been dubbed The Honeymoon Capital of the World, but I’m thinking that no matter where one spends a honeymoon, the spot would seem romantic, right?
The Las Vegas Vibe
What I can tell you is that Niagara Falls is a pretty fun place to gather together with friends and/or family. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, tours, boat tours and of course, spectacular views of the falls. It’s very much a family-oriented destination. Or, if you’re on your honeymoon…
What does seem terribly out of place is the Las Vegas(esque) vibe of the area. The casino/hotels line the main boulevard overlooking the Niagara River and the Falls. I was shocked the first time we visited Niagara Falls as I was not expecting casinos! But, I suppose it’s adult entertainment and I suppose it’s good for the economy, but bleah…
With all of that being said, in the summer months, Niagara Falls is very popular. My suggestion would be to visit in the spring or fall, or even in the winter, which I believe would be an amazing time to see the falls.
When our Toronto-based family members let us know a few of our extended family members would be vacationing in Toronto, we packed a bag and headed north; destination Niagara Falls and Toronto.
We hit the road by 8:00 a.m. Seven and one-half hours and 398 miles later, we arrived in Buffalo, New York, drove across the Peace Bridge and crossed in to Canada. We checked in to our hotel, met up with family and exchanged hugs and kisses all around, and then set out to see the falls.
Up Close & Personal
While I preferred to stay on dry ground, Abi joined a few family members for the Hornblower Boat Tour of Horseshoe Falls. Tidbit: When you view the falls from above, you’ll see boats going to/fro with the passengers either wearing blue or red plastic ponchos. Blue ponchos are worn by passengers on the US boats and red ponchos are worn on the Canadian boats. It can be said that even with the ponchos, you will get wet.
Niagara on the Lake
Any visit to Niagara Falls, (Canadian side) should include a short trip (maybe 20 minutes) by car from the falls to Niagara on the Lake. With a population of just 17,000+ it is the sweetest most charming little village that sits on the shore of Lake Ontario. Queen Street, which runs through the center of town, is absolutely beautiful and lined with so many blossoming flowers you can’t take it all in. Lovely homes, with rocking chairs on the front porch and lush gardens, line the nearby neighborhood streets. It really is a very special place.
Known for its wineries and summer Shaw Festival Theater Productions, the village is hopping busy in the summer months. The sidewalks were strewn with visitors, but it is well-worth a bit of navigating to take in the surrounding beauty. From what we could see, there were many B&B accommodations, which seemingly would be the perfect choice for a stay in Niagara on the Lake. I’m betting one has to book accommodations well in advance.
Lunch was enjoyed by all at the Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar. While the kitchen is tiny and subsequently a bit slow when busy, our lunch was delicious. We sat upstairs on the balcony, with an overview of Queen Street, and we were more than pleased with our choice of cafes. Lunch was followed by ice cream at COWS, (such a great name) which was OH so yummy because they make their ice cream with 16% butterfat. I mean, if you’re going to have ice cream, then you should enjoy the best, right?!
If You Go
If you find yourself at Niagara Falls, and really, everyone should at least once, set aside plenty of time to just stop, stare and take it all in. It really is quite spectacular!
- Although pricey, accommodations near the falls make it super easy to walk to the falls, the boats and the viewing areas. Everything you need is within walking distance including shops and restaurants.
- Avoid standing in line, buy your boat tickets at your hotel. $29.95 CAD – 20 minute tour.
- There are elevators down to the boat docks.
- An outdoor cafe is near the boat docks.
- The Niagara Falls Incline Railway (funicular) is a quick ride down. $4.87 CAD + tax – round trip.
- WildPlay MistRider Zipline to the falls. $59 CAD + tax – one way.
- A paved walking trail runs from one end of the falls to the other.
- Large hotels/casinos have parking garages (pricey), but there are a few public parking garages that are a bit more reasonable.
- There are no admission fees to visit Niagara Falls.
- Information for crossing the border at the Peace Bridge.