Last updated : 19h July 2019
Our first day in Niagara was part of a North American adventure which had already taken in Toronto (read about that here) and also New York. We’d decided to split the visit into two days; one on the Canadian side and then the second on the US side, before getting the train to New York. We arrived in Niagara mid morning on a Megabus from Toronto and caught a taxi from the bus terminal to the hotel as it was too far to walk with all our luggage. I’d chosen a Falls view and was so glad I did as we were on the 49th floor and the excitement of looking out for the first time was unbelievable! All the family were stunned by the view and the room was fab, with two bedrooms, a kitchenette and a spa bath which had its own Falls view! If you want to find out more, here is a link to Booking.com for more details and their latest deals.
What do to in Niagara
Once we’d unpacked we headed out and walked along the path which overlooks the American and Horseshoe Falls (there are actually three Niagara Falls – the third being the Bridal Veil) which gave us many incredible photo opportunities. It was busy though, with many other people taking photos of the amazing view. We saw many people on the red Canadian-side tour boats and it looked like massive fun!
By now we were hungry so went to The Keg, situated on the 9th floor of the Hilton Embassy Suites hotel, which had its own incredible view of the Horseshoe falls. It wasn’t busy at all and I do love the service in all of their restaurants, and the food is delicious. Our table was right next to a window so it was a memorable lunch.
Once we’d eaten we went back down to the Table Rock visitor centre which is a hub for booking various attractions in Niagara and it is home to the main gift shop and various eateries. We used the incline railway to get up and down to the hotel which saved a lengthy walk and was fun in itself. Here is a link to the Incline website which gives full details about opening times and admission prices. At the time of writing it’s just $2.43 one way, or a day pass is just $6.19.
If you’re planning to do the Journey Behind The Falls, which is a must-see attraction on the Canadian side, then I’d recommend booking in advance. Here is a link to the official Niagara Parks site where you can find out more and here is a link to a great value package which includes the Whirlpool Aero.
We didn’t book in advance and had to wait a couple of hours before our slot so we visited the iMax cinema. Their film Miracles, Myths and Magic includes a history of the Falls and some of the folklore including Annie Edson Taylor who went over the Falls in a barrel and survived. It was a nice way to kill an hour but we were keen to get back to the real Falls action afterwards!
So we headed back to Table Rock for the Journey Behind The Falls. In the early 20th century, tunnels were bored down behind the Horseshoe Falls and it’s a great vantage point to get up close to the thundering waterfall.
We donned our protective ponchos and travelled 45 metres down in the lift to the viewing platform and two tunnels which end with an opening to the Horseshoe Falls. The queues can get quite long as everyone wants the same photo opportunity in front of the tunnel opening.
The observation deck allows you to see the side of the falls up close, with millions of gallons rushing over the edge every minute.
There’s also a great view of the Rainbow Bridge and the American Falls. It gets fairly crowded but you can still get some good shots. I would recommend getting a waterproof case to make sure your phone doesn’t get wet and fail just when you need to take some spectacular photos!
Afterwards we went back to the hotel to change, have dinner and then we went back down to see the Falls at night. After a couple of quick photos of the Falls lit up we went back to the hotel for the firework display. It was quite crowded down by the Falls so the hotel was perfect for providing unhindered, spectacular views.
It was so nice to see the firework show from the comfort of our couch, but there are night-time cruises which take in the fireworks too which must be spectacular! Here’s a link to one if you want to find out more.
The next morning I got up really early as I wanted to see the sunrise over the Falls, so I went for a quick run back to Table Rock. I’m so glad I did as it was a beautiful day, and the skies were spectacular.
Without the crowds of people I was able to get extremely close to the edge of the Horseshoe Falls, and as they reduce the water flow overnight there was none of the spray which restricts the view during the day. If you get the chance to see the falls early in the morning then it’s a fantastic experience which I would highly recommend.
And that was it for the Canadian side of the falls – we caught a taxi to the Rainbow Bridge because we had a few heavy bags and then walked over the border, to America. I’d checked the border wait times online and when we left, around 8.30am, there was no wait.
There were a few attractions I had planned to see but we didn’t get round to. We were tired from walking and felt like we’d seen what we needed to. There didn’t seem much point in visiting the Skylon Tower as our hotel room was much higher so we had a better, uncrowded view. The Whirlpool Aero wasn’t top of my list but maybe I’ll try it next time!
Here are some links in case you’d like to check them out :
- Hornblower boat tour to the horseshoe falls
- Skylon Tower Observation Deck
- Zipline to the Falls (I’m definitely doing this next time!)
- Firework night time cruise (this is really popular so book early!)
- Scenic helicopter flight (if you really want to push the boat out…)
Top tip : if you’re arriving in America by foot (or coach/train), as we did then you don’t need a US visa as it’s only required if you arrive by air. I didn’t realise this, so as well as paying the $14 for the visa many months before, we also had to pay a $6 fee to enter the US.
Where we stayed
More deals for Niagara hotels
Read about our second day in Niagara, on the US side here.
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