It’s not even all that big, they told me. Hardly the most impressive natural sight you’ll see. A bit of a cross between Las Vegas and Blackpool. Don’t get too excited.
Having breathed in all the advice before my trip to Niagara Falls, I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high. People had warned that it would be a let down. I decided to still pay a visit to the famous waterfall on my visit to Canada – you just have to, don’t you. It’s too big a thing to overlook. But I was more than prepared to move swiftly onto other areas.
I needn’t have listened to any of the nay-sayers. Standing next to Niagara Falls – in roughly the same spot that Superman rescued the kid who fell in during Superman 2 – the sheer amount of water cascading over the edge was mesmerising. The sound of a million bathtubs a second pouting over was ferocious, the sight of curving Horseshoe Falls genuinely hypnotic.
Visitors should go with an understanding of what they’re going to see. This is not one of the top ten biggest waterfalls in the world and neither is it a natural wonder in the middle a pristine environment. This has been a concrete jungle for decades, a huge physical feature surrounded by expensive hotels and cheesy visitor attractions. But as long as you pin your expectations at a reasonable level and don’t go expecting a wilderness with bears catching salmon in the plunge pool, you’re likely to get a lot out of a trip to the falls.
Here’s my top five tips for a fantastic trip to Niagara Falls.
- Avoid the peak season. Ok, so you might not get a trip on the iconic Maid of the Mist and you might have to deal with snow on the ground and chilly temperatures. But there are advantages to being here in February and March, mainly that hardly anybody else will be. You won’t have to jostle for position when viewing the falls and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see the rare sight of the frozen falls.
- Book a falls view room. Pay a little bit extra and upgrade so you can see both the Canadian Falls and American Falls. The room price isn’t that much extra, but don’t get sucked in to buying food and paying for parking at your hotel as this is a real rip off. You’ll be able to park for $5 a little way down the street and there are plenty of cheaper places to snack than the hotel restaurant.
- Take the plunge and buy the Niagara Adventure ticket. It takes you down to the tunnels behind the falls, there’s also a 4D cinema experience and free transport on the buses for two days. You’ll also get to go to a really nice butterfly house, too.
- Hire a car and head for Niagara on the Lake. It’s a quaint town and you’ll follow the river from Niagara Falls all the way there until it empties into Lake Ontario. On the way, there are plenty of wineries to stop at, where you can sample the local sweet varieties and the icewine speciality.
- Embrace the cheesyness of Niagara. The main town is particularly ‘out there’ but it’s worth having a walk along Clifton Hill just to stare. I mean, it’s not often you see a huge Frankenstein sticking out of a Burger King tucking into a massive Whopper.