Niagara Falls is a stunning sight and honestly, it left me speechless at first (and I hadn’t even seen the best of it until later on in the day)!
On my most recent Day Off from Camp, I went on an organised trip to Niagara Falls. We arrived around 12pm and left at 8:30pm which gave us the perfect amount of time to see, embrace and do all what the area has to offer without spending too much money. The weather was great at first but later resumed to heavy rain and thunderstorms but that didn’t dampen our day.
Whilst Niagara Falls is situated across the New York-Ontario border lines, the most scenic place to view it from is from the Canadian side.
I’m currently in the USA at a summer camp in NY on a J1 Visa in a British Passport. I also have ‘multiple entries’ enabled therefore exiting and re-entering the States within one day was pretty straightforward for me. Although, I recommend that you research this prior to attempting to cross as your eligibility could vary according to visa’s and your home country.
The Falls From New York
We first seen the Falls from the New York-American side to which only the American Falls is really visible without entering onto the Maid of the Mist viewing platform for just a few dollars. From that viewpoint, you can see the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls clearly and Horseshoe Falls at a distance.
Maid of the Mist
Our first experience of the full soaking power of Niagara Falls was a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist; a $19.25 (as of Summer 2018) per adult, 20-30 minute boat tour of the falls. I’ll be honest, we got absolutely SOAKED but it was worth every penny and more. It was the most surreal experience of my life!
The boat enters directly into the Horseshoe Falls whereby water cascades over everyone on board. They provide you with a plastic pac-a-mac to help keep you dry. Although, there is no guided tour on board these boats; however, it was nice to just be able to take everything in as visually it is stunning.
Upon exiting the Maid of the Mist you are able to walk into an ‘extreme soaking’ zone. This is linked to the American Falls. Seen as we were already soaked, we decided why not. It as this point I would suggest that you wear suitable footwear whilst visiting Niagara Falls as everywhere is very slippy.
From the river level to ground level, it involves take a lift in both directions. The lift is connected to the viewing platform and located nearby the merchandise shop which sells an array of souvenirs.
Pedestrians into Canada – this way…
Having had a blast on the Maid of the Mist, we decided to cross Rainbow Bridge into Canada. This is both a pedestrian and motor bridge that joins the border lines. As a Pedestrian with the above visa/passport recommendations mentioned above, entering Canada was simple and took less than a few minutes. It was a day-visit stamp issue and a quick chat with a border control officer about our intentions/reasons for stopping by. Of course, in our case, it was just to see Niagara Falls from the more scenic perspective.
There was no toll fee entering into Ontario; however when returning by into the USA, there was a $1 (in cash) charge for using the bridge. Also, something else worth noting was that when in Canada we were able to pay using US dollars. However, all change received was in Canadian dollars. If you have a debit card or a prepaid cash card then it makes more sense to use that over cash.
What to do in Ontario for the day?
We grabbed lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, which was delicious. They offer a variety of Meat, Vegetarian and Vegan options to cater for everyone. Also, our Waiter was lovely and made the whole experience 10x better. We spent almost 3 hours just sat socialising and enjoying our food. It was very pleasant. I had the “Blue Mountain Chicken Sandwich” – I highly recommend it if you like grilled peppers, cheese, lemon-chicken, bacon and a citrus infused sauce – yum!
You can view their menu here.
We also wondered along the River front to see some photos; although the rain was horrendous but it didn’t dampen our day. The entire strip that runs alongside the water is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, clubs and more. You won’t be stuck for things to do for a few hours!
Following a coffee stop at Starbucks, which is near the border security office, we headed back into the USA to catch our bus back to Camp.
The US security team asked many more questions but nothing beyond our temporary address, reasons for being in New York and what we’d been up to in Canada.
Niagara Falls, worth seeing or not?
Hands down, Niagara Falls is worth seeing. It should be on everyone’s bucket list. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the place actually was. Despite being busy with tourists, like myself, in places, it was still perfectly enjoyable. Although to avoid queues, I’d suggest try to visit during the week and outside of school holidays. Also, the Falls are changing rapidly as they erode each year so go and see it with your own eyes; you won’t be let down, it is truly breath-taking.
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