26 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Take a Trip: Niagara Falls

Take a Trip: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls rainbow

We didn’t fully prepare our children for what we’d find at Niagara Falls in New York. We read books about the history of the falls, from its discovery to crazy stunts performed there. I didn’t make it clear that Niagara Falls is a money-sucking tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and a wonder to view. However, it’s also overrun with people, casinos, restaurants and kitschy tourist-driven businesses.

Niagara Falls

When we began planning our epic road trip, we went back and forth on whether or not to travel as far north as Niagara Falls. Once we decided to do it, we went back and forth on whether or not to purchase passports and go to the Canadian side of the falls. Ultimately, we opted to just visit the United States side of Niagara Falls and felt that was more than adequate.

Niagara Falls sidewalk with pople

Our vision of what the falls looked like was all wrong. We all envisioned the falls flowing from the opposite direction and not quite as wide as we envisioned. As you’re driving from Buffalo, New York to Niagara Falls, you can see the mist from the falls from miles away. That was a good sign we were in for a powerful showing from Mother Nature.

mist at Niagara Falls

We arrived late in the afternoon and the parking lot was full at Niagara Falls State Park, forcing us to park a few blocks away in town. It was a short walk to the park, but the amount of people was similar to a busy day at Yellowstone National Park. Visitors were a little on the rude side, and staff didn’t seem overly interested in helping direct traffic or answer questions. Thankfully, we do quite a bit of research leading into vacations. I was prepared for the tourist-trap vibe, but had not prepared the kids. They were a little shocked by the amount of people traffic. They had linked waterfall with nature and had it mentally situated in a more rural setting. I can only imagine how amazing viewing Niagara Falls would have been before the cities, people and power plant.

Niagara Falls overlook with children

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1885. Every second, 75,750 gallons of water pour over the American and Bridal Veil Falls. The more famous Horseshoe Falls sees 681,750 gallons every second. It’s a lot of water and intensely powerful to experience from the mist forming a continuous shroud over the falls to the sound of the water crashing over the edge. I cannot fathom the idea of going over the falls in a barrel. People have done it and survived, which is crazy. The Niagara River is fed by four of the Great Lakes which then feeds into Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes are something to behold and worth visiting. Each are uniquely different.

family selfie on Maid of the Mist

We purchased Maid of the Mist boat tour tickets before leaving on vacation. I highly recommend doing that if you visit. It saved us from a long ticket-purchasing line. The line for access to the Maid of the Mist was continually moving, and we had no wait. There’s a large viewing platform before taking an elevator down to the water to receive your poncho and board the boat.

tourists on Maid of the Mist

The vibe on the boat is electric. There are a lot of people, but we felt like we had plenty of personal space. Everyone is so excited to get close to the water. As the boat moves closer to the falls, the noise increases and at one point, the spray makes it difficult to see. We were treated to wonderful rainbows and a five-senses onslaught. It truly was fantastic.

overlook of Maid of the Mist

There is no shortage of tourist activities to pay for including Cave of the Winds, an aquarium, a Discovery Center and theatre. We didn’t do anything more than Maid of the Mist. No one seemed to want to brave more crowds than necessary. I’m glad we decided to add Niagara Falls to our vacation. It truly was a unique experience worth the effort to view.

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