what to expect at Niagara Falls

Two summers ago, right after I left my good-paying job and benefits for the road, I spent a few months hopping around the States like a chicken with my head cut off. I started with a flight to see S. It had been an odd {is that the word?} couple of weeks for the two of us, so we planned a road trip from New York City across the border to Canada to see Niagara Falls. I couldn't wait! 

Truth is, however, I had very little idea of what to expect out of the big waterfalls in the little town of Ontario. Luckily, I had an adventure buddy who handled most everything. 

How do I get there?

We decided to rent a car from New York City and drive to Niagara so that we could see the falls from both the American and Canadian sides. It's about a 7-hour drive. We had a lot of catching up to do, so I wasn't bothered by time spent in our Kia {though he was probably bored out of his mind...}. There wasn't much for scenery on the way, but I was very happy once we made it out of the city. Driving out of Manhattan was my anxiety's living nightmare. S had to calm me down several times. If you don't have a co-pilot, you can always fly into the nearest airport or take the bus as an alternative. 

If you are going to cross the Canadian border, you will be required to provide a current passport! Customs lines are long, but they move quickly. Have your passport out and ready to keep things moving. 

view from New York 

view from New York 

view from New York

view from New York

Where is the best land view?

Without a doubt, the best view of the falls from land is over the Canadian border. However, that's my personal preference after having seen it on both ends. 

Are boat tours worth it? 

Absolutely. If you are going to Niagara Falls you need to hop on one of the two boat tours offered {depending on which country you are in} and get wet under the rushing water. It is the whole experience. Being in Ontario, S and I took the Hornblower Boat Cruise. If you are in New York, you can take the Maid of the Mist Cruise.

The Hornblower took us up close to the falls for 20-minutes. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAMERA! This is a mission for a Go Pro only {I didn't have mine back then, bummer}. Everything gets soaked. The tourists on our cruise were not happy as they got drenched. Of course, we found it hilarious and laughed our asses off. You can buy your tickets at the gate or in advance online. Adult passes cost around CAD $20. Plus, you get a rain poncho! Holla. 

Niagara Falls themselves left me feeling pretty strange. While there is no doubt they are a natural marvel, having seen other great waterfalls I felt they were a little...anticlimactic. But I was with good company, laughing, absolutely drenched, and so I couldn't have asked for more really.  Zero complaints from soggy Tara. Zero. 

courtesy of S via iPhone

courtesy of S via iPhone

Where should I stay? 

We stayed at an adorable AirBnB. It was a converted artist's studio with a lot of character. We had a private room filled with books and twinkly lights. It was pretty unique. Most importantly, it was located just up the road from the waterfalls and was very affordable. 

What is there to do in Niagara, Ontario?

To be honest, there isn't much. It's a small town. On the Canadian side of the falls, there are gastropubs and french cafes open late. We stopped in a french bistro and had wine over big laughs reminiscing about Lachlan and life in Auckland. If you walk around the main road, you'll find 'Daredevil Alley', a cheesy back lane that provides fun trivia about the falls. It's also a kickass photo-op. Obviously. 

Tim Horton's is not too far from the main street, and it's a Canadian coffee must! Unless you're like S, who doesn't drink hot drinks... We grabbed pastries and I had a hot chocolate to keep warm! There are also beautiful buildings and charming streets to wander, weather permitting.

Overall, it was a successful trip to Niagara. I'd say we pretty much nailed it. 

Today is World Water Day. And while our trip to Niagara Falls was filled with waterfalls, rain clouds, and wet ponchos, access to water is a very serious topic of conversation. 1 in 10 people does not have access to clean drinking water. To learn more, you can find information about the worldwide water crisis at the websites of my favourite water charities here and here.