Bucket List Travel: Niagara Falls
My husband (the lender) and I realized that we only had 6 summers that my daughter would be home before going off to college. Before she was born we made a bucket list of places we wanted to be sure and take her during her time at home. Weird I know, but we are both planners. However, my son arrived a few years later, life happened and we were not as intentional with the bucket list travel as we had hoped to be.
However the realization that the kids are growing up quickly, made us kick it in gear and get to planning. The lender had a great memory of his family vacation as a child at Niagara Falls and wanted to be sure that we made it to the majestic falls.
Our journey began on the Canadian side of the falls. We stayed at The Oaks hotel where they had the 14th floor as an enclosed observation deck to view the falls at night. This was a great feature because the railing along the falls and the visitors center was crowded and not as comfortable as the nice couches in the hotel’s observation floor. They illuminate the falls each night and I think you could just watch in amazement for hours. We were lucky enough to have a full moon that my iphone photo doesn’t do it justice.
The next day we visited Marineland. After reading reviews on Tripadvisor I was a little concerned about the visit, but we had a blast. The park is very spacious and spread out so wear comfy shoes and be sure to charge your fitbit because you will rack up the steps. The rides were nice with short lines, show was entertaining and the animal exhibits were nice. But the highlight of the trip was getting the opportunity to feed and pet the beluga whales! They had so much personality and were so cute!
A couple of takeaways from our stay on the Canadian side:
Food is expensive even after the exchange. A breakfast at IHOP at home cost 40-45 for Coles party of 4 but in Canada it was over $70 in US dollars.
If you love gardens, they had the largest hostas I had ever seen! The landscaping was amazing and garden areas were picture perfect. I was in such awe, I forgot to take photos until we got to the falls viewing area!
The view of the falls is amazing on the Canadian side, so get your passports and take a trip over if you are visiting the falls.
Back to the New York side, it’s much more laid back not as commercial but has beauty all of its own. The parks are full of woodlands, riverside trails, and wildlife. We purchased a Niagara Falls Discovery Pass because we wanted the full experience and it saved us some money to see all the attractions.
Did I mention fireworks? Monday-Friday during summer months there is a nice firework show at 10 pm right over the falls.
Maid of the Mist-Great experience on boat that takes you up to the falls where you can feel the mist on your face and can feel the power of the falls around you. After the boat ride, make sure to hike up to the Crow’s nest for great views and photo opportunities.
Cave of the Winds-Custom sandals, ponchos and get ready to get as wet as you want! Walk right up to the bridal veil falls and get up close and personal to the force of the falls. Walk up to Hurricane Deck to get soaked as you experience tropical storm conditions at the end of the smallest fall.
Trolley Ride-After the cave of the winds experience, the trolley ride was a welcomed benefit of the discovery pass to get us back to the hotel to change, dry off and get ready for the rest of our adventure.
Aquarium of the Niagara was the first inland saltwater aquarium and one of the must stops for the kids. It is a small aquarium so make sure to plan your visit around show times, because the exhibits will not take long to complete.
Old Falls Street was a neat area that was great for families and we spent much of our downtime playing checkers, legos, ping-pong, and the board games they had available at the game cart. Full of relaxing chairs and tables in the shade to play games or do arts and crafts, it was certainly a gem!
Our last stop was the NY Power Authority, Niagara Power Vista. This is a great attraction for kids and adults. State of the art exhibits, activity centers, simulators and interactive displays. You receive an RFID (like you put in cattle eartags for identificaiton) name badge that records all the activities you participate in, photos you take, scores on games, and even a video message you can record at the end documenting your experience. Super educational and fun!
Must talk food. Try Beef on the Weck a very traditional Western NY sandwich! Roast beef on a kummelweck roll (kaiser roll topped with salt and caraway seeds). Pretty tasty. If you love Indian food, Niagara is full of Indian restaurants and buffets. Niagara Falls Culinary Institute ran a white tablecloth restaurant, deli and pastry shop located right across the street from Old Falls Street and had nice culinary eats!
Overall, it was a great trip, bucket list worthy!