I ‘m always mesmerized by falling water (is that weird?). So when I visited Niagara Falls, I was so focused on seeing the largest waterfall in North America that I didn’t consider anything else about the visit. Surprisingly, there is a large number of things to discover at Niagara Falls other than “it’s a really freaking large waterfall“.
About the falls
Niagara Falls is actually comprised of 3 different waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. It is not the largest waterfall in the world…nor is it the largest waterfall in North America. Although, it does beat out all other waterfalls in North America with a flow rate of approximately 760,000 gallons per second. The flow rate is the impressive part. It’s what gives Niagara Falls the “WOW” factor. Here is the amazing part: a big chunk of the time the flow rate is reduced down to 25-50% capacity. This water diversion is an international agreement between the United States and Canada. The hydroelectric plants try to keep their siphoning to evenings and low tourist seasons. However, the river provides about 1/4th of all power consumed in New York State and Ontario, so it’s pretty dang important.
Here you can get a little glimpse of the power you feel:
When to Visit
It snows in the winter…and by snow, I mean, ALOT of snow. The falls never actually freeze (they did completely stop once in 1848 because of an ice jam upstream). Until 1912, you could walk onto the ice “bridge” that freezes at the bottom of the falls. Of course, this is extremely dangerous and resulted in visitors being killed…so they stopped allowing that.
Needless to say, I would go between late April – early October. I went right at the beginning of October due to my work schedule. The crowds were slim because it was the last week the tours ran. But it was SO COLD! It was misty and in the 30s the entire time. However, the fall colors made it worth it (almost).
I highly recommend taking a tour. First of all, the tour guides are fantastic and very knowledgeable of the history. Secondly, the cool part is getting up close and personal with the falls. When you book make sure your tour includes:
- Maid of the Mist – this is the boat tour that takes you into Horseshoe Falls
- Cave of the Winds – Up close tour of the Bridal Veil Falls (you will dawn a pancho, funny non-slip sandals, and get wet!)
There’s plenty of restaurants on both the Canadian side and the American side. Plus, it is easy to cross between the two sides with your passport. However, if you want restaurants closer to the falls, you are going to need to go to the Canadian side. In Canada, there are two that I would recommend for views of the falls.
- Elements on the Falls – This restaurant offers a nice but more casual atmosphere with American cuisine. Of course, the view of the falls is amazing.
- Skylon Tower – Better known as the “revolving dining room”, this restaurant slowly rotates giving you 360 views overlooking the Falls and the surrounding areas. I would describe it as fine dining and a one of a kind experience. It is a little more on the pricey end, but well worth it. Just don’t forget to make a reservation.
To be completely honest, I think when most people think of Niagara Falls, they think of the Canada side. This is closer to the action, stores, restaurants. Whereas, the American side is more natural, reserved for the state park. I personally stayed on the American side, because I found it to be a little bit cheaper. We crossed the the border relatively quickly every day we were there with no issues. The tour buses will even pick you up on the American side. So I really don’t think you can go wrong staying on either side.
You will definitely need your passport to witness Niagara Falls to its fullest!
What do you think? Have you been to Niagara Falls? If so, let me know what your favorite part was in the comments 🙂
As always, Happy Travelling!