A Whistle-Stop Tour of Niagara Falls

After a fleeting visit to Hamilton – spent largely discovering the surrounding nature trails and not the town itself – we moved on to our next stop: Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is an easy day trip from Toronto; Megabus runs a cheap service between the two. We stayed at Kings Inn Near the Falls, a cheap and cheerful motel which was only a short walk from the falls themselves; if you’re travelling on a budget, it’s a reliable option. We stayed on the Canadian side (avoiding any border control related hassle), so all information in this post relates to activities on that side of the border.

Niagara Falls is an incredible natural wonder, which straddles the border between the USA and Canada. From afar, it’s a beautiful spectacle: millions of cubic feet of water falling over the edge every minute and crashing down below, enveloping the base of the waterfalls in a gauzy mist. Viewed up close, you can only be amazed by this majestic natural showcase.

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With only an afternoon to explore Niagara Falls, we made sure to make the most of it! Here’s what to do if you’re similarly pushed for time . . .

Get an up-close view

When you first arrive, skip the amusement arcades and neon lights of the city centre and head straight down to Niagara Parkway – the road which goes right along the edge of the Niagara River. If you follow it all the way along in the direction of the Horseshoe Falls, you’ll reach a large pavilion. Near here, you can get right next to the Horseshoe Falls and witness the water cascade over the edge to the depths below. There’s only a small wall and a railing separating you from the fast-flowing water – so take care not to drop anything over the edge!

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Take a boat trip

On the Canadian side, a trip on the Hornblower is a must-do. For the best experience, bag a spot on the left hand side of the boat, as close to the front as possible. You’ll go alongside the American and Bridal Veil Falls, before being engulfed in the mist of the Horseshoe Falls. Red waterproof ponchos are provided for free, but wear sensible shoes and avoid jeans as you’ll still end up fairly wet!

Journey Behind the Falls

To truly appreciate the power of Niagara Falls, Journey Behind the Falls enables you to walk the passageway beneath the Horseshoe Falls and get as close as possible to the action. It’s a self-guided tour, meaning you can take your time to venture beneath the falls and observe the falls from the two-tiered observation deck. At such close proximity, it’s impossible not to be amazed by the sheer power of the Horseshoe Falls.

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See the falls illuminated

Throughout the year, the falls are illuminated at dusk. Usually, the falls are illuminated under white light, but on numerous nights throughout the year colour lights are used to promote certain charities and events. It’s also possible to take a Hornblower cruise with the falls illuminated. Visit their website to see the full schedule.

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Enjoy a free firework display

In the summer months (May – September), firework displays take place every Friday, Sunday and holiday. It’s a fantastic free display and a great way to round off a day in Niagara Falls. The schedule is available on their website. If you want a good view, be prepared to get there early as it’s a popular and well-attended event.

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