We checked Niagara Falls off our “bucket list” last week. A long weekend to Toronto started by spending one day basking in the power of one of the world’s most celebrated waterfalls.
After crossing Rainbow Bridge, we spent the day with Meghan and Jon in Queen Victoria Park on the Canadian side of the falls which serve as the border between New York and Ontario.
While not the tallest waterfall in North America, it is the largest by volume, and it is by far the most famous waterfall in the world, at least partly because of its portrayal in movies.
Just over 30 minutes from Buffalo and less than two hours from Toronto, between 14 million and 20 million people from all over the world visit Niagara Falls every year. Of course, that 30 minute drive was closer to two hours for us since we were crossing Rainbow Bridge into Canada on the Saturday before Memorial Day. It was nearly impossible to move in the massive traffic jam created by travelers not only crossing the bridge but also progressing across the border check.
The weather was unseasonably warm (hot) with a temperature of 85° (especially considering they had snow earlier in May), but it was absolutely perfect with cloudless skies. We were even surprised by a rainbow stretching across the river. It’s no wonder Rainbow Bridge is the name of the bridge crossing the border.
Meghan and Jon decided to get a closer look at the falls on the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. Donning the cruise issued red rain ponchos, they prepared for the mist infused ride where they could feel the power of the falls.
The boat carried them past the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and into the very heart of the famous Horseshoe Falls. This short video taken by Meghan gives a glimpse of the falls from water level.
You can’t beat the view from our room at the Embassy Suites overlooking the falls. Our plan was to enjoy the nightly illumination from our room. However, the massive cloud of mist did not allow us to see the falls in color. I’m not sure you could beat the rainbow over the water anyway.
We heard tourists debating whether it’s best to view the falls from the U.S. or Canada. We enjoyed strolling along the river in Queen Victoria Park on the Canadian side. From Canada you get a front view of the falls while in the U.S., the view is from the side or behind the water; but you’re also much closer to the water. Goat Island, in New York, is the oldest state park and provides trails and excellent views, but Goat Island will not open until later in the summer as it undergoes renovations. Maybe the best decision is based on whether or not you have a passport, but I’m sure Niagara Falls is remarkable from both sides of the border.
Fireworks are at 9:30 or 10:00pm on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with a few extra dates such as the 4th of July. Of course, we were there on a Saturday so we missed the show. Click for fireworks calendar.
Bring your walking shoes. You’ll want to walk along the river to get multiple views of the falling water.
You’ll need plenty of patience if your crossing the border at a peak time. Maybe you should download a podcast or two to help you pass the time.