Tagged with "tourists"
26 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel
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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.


 
Take a Trip: Mammoth Cave National Park
By     |    Jan 25, 2016
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Take a Trip: Mammoth Cave National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. We had a bucket list of places we knew had to be included on our driving route for our Epic Road Trip to Florida last summer. One of those near the top of the list was Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We’ve visited several National Park... [Read More]

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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
By     |    Aug 22, 2015
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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park

Stand at any number of overlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park gazing at the colorful landscape of hoodoos and you’ll understand the definition of breathtaking. The shades of red, orange, white and gray layered on each other seem unreal. We stood at Sunset Point watching shadows shift and change among the hoodoos as the sun neared the horizon and knew we had to be down in the canyon. Our first hike in the park was down the switchbacks of Wall Street. You... [Read More]

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Walt Disney World: Epcot
By     |    Jul 29, 2015
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Walt Disney World: Epcot

My feelings on Walt Disney World’s Epcot are complicated. It’s the park geared toward adults with smaller crowds and more free space to wander. The pace was less frantic giving the illusion of being a tourist in a different country taking in architecture and food instead of a typical theme park. I didn’t feel pressured to hurry from place-to-place, which was a welcome break from other parks in Disney World, mainly Magic Kingdom. BUT, I would have enjoyed Epcot more... [Read More]

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Harney Peak: Highest Spot East of the Rockies
By     |    Aug 19, 2014
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Harney Peak: Highest Spot East of the Rockies

I’ve talked for years about a specific hike on my bucket list: Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Hills aren’t far from where we live and a stone’s throw from where my husband grew up. Each summer for almost a decade, we’ve driven roads through the Hills with me proclaiming how someday I’ll hike Harney Peak. Time with just Craig and I has to be planned and thought out. There’s not much “free time” to work... [Read More]

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Close Encounters of the Wildlife Kind
By     |    Aug 14, 2014
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Close Encounters of the Wildlife Kind

Last week, we were hiking in Glacier National Park and a grizzly bear trotted across the trail about 50 feet in front of us. My thoughts were convoluted in that 40-second encounter. I wanted to take a photo, but self-preservation took top priority. The six of us were clumped together as we watched the bear trot across the path and wander up a brush-covered hillside. It wasn’t until the bear was out of sight that I realized I was holding... [Read More]

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Take a Trip — Everything IS Bigger in Texas
By     |    Nov 14, 2013
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Take a Trip — Everything IS Bigger in Texas

All it took was my husband watching a Man vs. Food episode to prove that everything really is bigger in Texas, starting with donuts and pizza. We were in the San Antonio area visiting friends in June of 2012. Instead of just doing the stereotypical tourist stops, SeaWorld, Schlitterbahn and the Alamo, we hit Round Rock Donuts (north of Austin), and Big Lou’s Pizza (eastside San Antonio). Best. Choices. Ever. I assumed the Round Rock Donuts were going to be a... [Read More]

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