Visiting Niagara Falls with Kris Williams
Niagara Falls is a bucket-list destination for many travelers. Its stunning beauty and accessibility make it a memorable getaway for couples and families alike. Situated at the border of the U.S. and Canada, the falls are only a 30-minute drive north from Buffalo, New York, or about a 90-minute trip from Toronto. There are also plenty of hotels right in Niagara Falls.
Despite having frequently visited Buffalo in recent years, we learned that Kris Williams still had not been able to cross Niagara Falls off her bucket list—and we were happy to be a part of making that happen. Kris scheduled a stay at the Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre with the plan to visit the Canadian side of the falls.
During her visit, Kris had a few surprises, a few laughs, and a huge sense of appreciation for the magnitude and beauty of the falls. Here are a few takeaways from her trip that might help you prepare for your own visit.
The area around Niagara Falls is developed.
Because Niagara Falls is such a natural wonder, many people might imagine it is surrounded by a remote wilderness. However, when you visit Niagara Falls, you’ll find quite the opposite. On the Canadian side, crowds, a bustling boardwalk and a busy street of shops line the area right on the edge of the falls. While this side of Niagara Falls does often claim access to more spectacular views, it does have a reputation for being more developed. As a tip, the U.S. side is located in a state park, which helps to minimizes the commercial nature of the attraction.
Come prepared to get soaked (and to protect your gear!)
Sure, everyone knows that Niagara Falls is by nature wet. But many visitors might not realize the falls’ power and that even if they are not planning to board the Maid of the Mist, any good view will likely come with a shower. Kris describes the scene when she first arrived:
Walking along the boardwalk, the mist began to fall on sightseers like light rain. Those who came prepared (armed with raincoats, ponchos and umbrellas) leisurely walked the stretch unfazed… I on the other hand, half laughed and half cursed while scrambling to cover my camera equipment. Once my electronics were safe, I have to admit it was pretty funny watching other first timers as they squealed, laughed and ran for cover.
Later, viewing the falls from an observation deck, Kris was surrounded by the crashing water and strong winds, which made it even more apparent that a water-friendly wardrobe is a necessity. Luckily, if you don’t come prepared, many attractions either provide or sell ponchos.
Niagara Falls is an endless supply of rainbows.
If you visit on a sunny day, impressive rainbows will greet you and make your visit to the falls even more magical. Spotting a rainbow is likely, but may depend on time of day and your location. However, the massive amount of mist combined with sun is likely to give you a show – so come camera ready.
The falls are big (like, really big).
Niagara Falls is comprised of three waterfalls that span the U.S. and Canadian border: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America based on height and flow rate. And while there are taller waterfalls, the expansive amount of water of the combined falls makes it a remarkable sight.
When first seeing the falls from the boardwalk, Kris found it hard to grasp their size. Upon seeing tiny poncho-clad people on a lower observation deck, the falls were put in scale. Kris decided she had to experience an up-close view at the Journey Behind the Falls observation decks.
Once at the foot of the falls, Kris fully appreciated the awesomeness of this natural wonder: “From the boardwalk, the people on this platform looked like ants to me… from the platform – I felt like one! Niagara had finally ‘smacked’ me… the overwhelming power of the falls left me wide eyed and at times breathless, due to the enormity of it all.”
Explore the surrounding area and attractions.
The area surrounding Niagara Falls offers many other attractions, shops and restaurants to fill out a day trip. Kris visited the popular Whirlpool Aero Car, which is celebrating its 100th year. Suspended from six cables, this antique cable car gives visitors a one-of-a-kind aerial view of the raging Niagara Whirlpool. You might hold your breath as the cable car soars the Great Gorge, but don’t close your eyes — this trip provides amazing photo opportunities.
After years of wanting to visit, we were happy to hear that Kris’s Niagara Falls experience exceeded her expectations. Read the full account of her Niagara Falls trip here.