We decided last minute to make the trip to see Niagra Falls and I’m so glad we did, its hands down my favourite experience of travelling so far.
I researched extensively and most sources pointed to visiting the Canadian side primarily and not to even bother with the US side. While it is true that Canada has the incredible, iconic panoramic views the wonder and beauty for me was almost taken away by being able to drive right past the falls. The tacky amusements that you couldn’t fail to notice felt somewhat out of place to this natural wonder.
We visited both sides and and I’m surprised that most sources point to Canada as being superior. Here is our account on both sides of Niara falls.
We started in Canada. We crossed the boarder on the 190, just north of the Falls, but i would recommend the actual Falls crossing as you get another amazing view on the way over. It was so simple, we queued for 5 minutes before the Canada border, paid a $5 dollar toll and just needed our British passport, no paperwork. Apparently you need an application but thats if you fly into Canada, driving is fine if you’re already in America.
We drove an hour in to Canada. I had booked to stay in an airbnb which i actually thought was a lot closer to the falls than it ended up being. It was half way between the Falls and Toronto so perfect if you wanted to visit both. Sadly we didn’t have time. It was on a quiet housing estate and only £100 a night which was amazing as it was a large family home. I’ve included a link as we were pleasantly surprised the area wasn’t fantastic off the estate but the estate itself was really nice.
Fuel is so much cheaper in the US so if you are doing a road trip like us fill up before you cross
the boarder. We found a supermarket that we loved in the nearest city to the Falls called Longos.
It had a starbucks inside but also had amazing cooked foods that were so good, organic foods and
the best blueberry bagels.
We got up early and headed to see the Falls. We were so excited and it didn’t disappoint, the view
is stunning. We were able to get those iconic photos in front of the Horse Shoe Fall and we loved
it, it was a sunny day and the boys loved playing among the trees right in front of the waterfalls
while we spent our time marvelling at this incredible natural wonder. There is a large grass area
right in front of the Falls perfect for a picnic while you sit and enjoy the view. We are defiantly
glad we saw Niagra from the Canadian side, the view is breath taking.
We crossed back into the US and stayed at the Sheraton, it is literally a few minutes walk to the National Park entrance of the Falls, it was so handy to be able to go back and forth from the hotel in between activities and walks, especially as it was around 31degrees.
We had a brilliant family suite, the boys had bunk beds and then there were 2 large queen beds as well.
Onsite there was loads to keep the boys entertained when we needed a rest, The Rainforest Cafe was on site, TGI Fridays, a small arcade which you are given tokens for. There is also a really fun pool and fitness centre, a self serve HydroSpa with massage chairs and oxygen masks, the twins didn’t give us long but it was good fun to relax for a while.
Here is the link to the hotel, they seem to be starting a renovation too so the hotel rooms will be brand new.
When we think about finding a waterfall, we imagine wondering through trees, going on an adventure, finding the wild river, then eventually being blown away by the Fall itself, thats exactly what you get with the US side. A beautiful natural park, full of history, cross the river and experience the rapids and then enjoy the Falls. Its an absolute must see and i am stunned that so many suggest not to bother, and just visit Canada.
When Niagara Falls first became popular, the US absolutely ruined it, there were factories all along to top with waste spilling down into the river as businesses made the most of the power generated by the force of the Falls. Eventually a group of businessman from NYC started a campaign to ‘Free Niagara Falls’ . The country got behind the campaign and eventually the state bought land back and the first national park in America was born, along with a agreement that the area could never be over commercialised again.
I’m often one for visiting a place a skipping the expensive tours but we decided to make the most of the long journey, this was the best decision we made. We purchased a discovery pass which included several awesome activities and it was amazing value. $45 per adult, $36 per child, but under 6’s are free which seemed like a really generous cut off. This kept us busy for 2/3 days and included two really big attractions.
Maid of the mist Boat Trip was a favourite and a definite must if you don’t do everything. This iconic
trip was well worth paying for, and really brought the experience to life for the boys. Also incredibly
nostalgic for me after growing up watching Superman 2, we showed the boys beforehand to get them
excited about visiting, a tactic i’d recommend for anyone wanting to take kids anywhere other than a
theme park, find some movie clips on youtube, hopefully action packed and they love it.
Cave of the winds had to be my absolute favourite experience of America. You venture down right next
to the America Fall on a series wooden walkways that get progressively closer. I thought we must be nearly
done, then i looked up to see the next section was called ‘Hurricane deck’, i guessed it would be wild and
that was an understatement. Hunter wasn’t sure, the babies kept relatively dry under our poncho’s but, Judah
dived right in, we got absolutely soaked but loved it.
This trip also included a short film before you go out, and access to the observation deck, which is a tower built out into the river providing more amazing views of all three waterfalls. My biggest advice, and why i suggest going to both sides is, see The Falls from as many angles and locations as possible, each one will blow your mind.
The trolly rides are a handy transportation getting you around the park it also acts as a tour bus, teaching about the various points of interest, very cheap on its own and great to decide what you want to see while you visit.
There are various other activities to do if you are staying for a while the Adventure Theatre is a movie theatre which tells the legends of The Falls and various characters along the way, including the daredevils, the original tribes and a young boy that survived falling over the Horse Shoe. This was great and surprisingly kept the attention of all five of our boys. There is an aquarium but to be honest we were a bit zoo/aquarium’d out by this stage, so it wasn’t a big one for us, we popped in and it looked great, the young ones do love these but we were struggling for time. Near the aquarium is the discovery Centre, its a small museum type room which was brilliant for teaching the boys after they had experienced the Falls up close.
Overall we loved the US side as it felt like thats how we wanted to experience Niagara Falls, walking through a National park and being lead to the Falls rather than being able to drive by. I would definately say it is worth seeing both sides and it is so easy to cross the border why not see both and experience the magic that is Niagra Falls.