A Guide to Niagara Falls

The Honeymoon Capital. Place of the Roaring Waters. Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the American Falls. Add these description all together, and you may be fairly close to describing Niagara Falls.

I suppose we’ve all tried to create names for the beauty of the falls. But no word can do the falls justice. I was lucky to spend a day there and it far exceeded all expectations. I’ve put together a gallery of shots I took, keep in mind none of these pictures were edited. No filters, just pure beauty.
Since Niagara Falls is so popular, you may be wondering the best way to spend your time at the falls. Every shop wants you to spend your money, but there’s easier ways to enjoy the falls while saving a bit of time and money.

Visit During the Week

We visited the falls on a Monday/Tuesday. Not only are there less crowds on the weekdays, but prices tend to be lower.
On the down side, less local shops are open Mondays. We ended up going into Buffalo for local food on Monday, and hanging over till Tuesday lunch for some delicious local food on Grand Island.

The falls are immensely popular, even on a weekday there are lots of people! Several cashiers and our hotel staff commented how lucky we were to miss out on the huge crowds. The lines were fairly short, and we were able to spend lots of time admiring the beauty, rather than being jostled and hurried along.

Stay on the Outskirts

We stayed at a very cute hotel, the Anchor Motel. It was 9 miles from the falls, and overlooked the Niagara River. While you can spend a fortune to sleep overlooking the falls, we enjoyed our motel and spend considerably less money.

The staff was also extremely helpful. They gave us tips, advice on the best local food and turned-on the back lights so we could see the river at midnight!

It’s a small establishment , so they only have a 2 or 3 star rating. If you don’t care  about fancy gizmos but want 5 star service, try out the Anchor Motel.

Check out Free Views

Niagara Falls is beautiful and the area includes many free and accessible views.

Planning a trip to Niagara fallsA few miles from the base of the falls is the Niagara River Gorge. During the day, you can see the whirlpool created by the force of the falls. At night, the electric plant takes water from the falls, so the whirlpool isn’t around. When you look down into the whirlpool, you may realize why they decided Kayaks are too risky! Apparently, they started kayaking in the Gorge back in the 60’s but after an accident killed several people, the industry had to shut down.
There’s also a gondola on the Canadian side of the gorge. The gondola comes pretty close to the American side, but doesn’t quite reach the border. In fact, it turns sharply and passes a lot of Canadian land. We were told people used to try to jump the border from the gondola, only to discover they had jumped back unto Canadian land!

 

Niagara Falls State Park is also free, with multiple hiking trails and gorgeous views. You can explore Goat Island and hike fairly close to the falls. Keep in mind the water keeps the air cold, and it’s windy pretty much all the time. I kept my sweater on most of the day even though we were there in early June.

At night, the falls are lit up. You can go watch the light show for free. There’s also some cute shops, and plenty of pretty roads to drive.

{You do have to pay for parking, but it’s not too exorbitant.} 

Choose the Best Bargains

There are plenty of up-close options to see the falls. There are 2 things you simply have to do, “The Maid of the Mist” and “Cave of the Winds”.

I loved the Maid of the Mist; it’s amazing to ride a boat so close to the base of the falls. You do get soaked and your camera may stop working. 🙂 But it is stunning to stand at the base of Horseshoe Falls and feel the power of the falls.

You can’t ride to the base of the American Falls, because it is too rocky. But you can walk the Cave of the Winds stairs, all the way to the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
Along the Cave of the Winds staircase is a balcony commonly called “Hurricane Harbor”. It’s so much fun to stand, the water pounding, splashing all around you. Super thankful for a poncho too!

With each of these attractions, you get a poncho. At Cave of the Winds, you get a pair of water-proof sandals. They are super comfortable! Definitely keeping them.

Ignore the Guided Tours

Ok, we paid for a tour. It covered parking, and both Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist. Our driver also drove us down to the Niagara River Gorge. Along the way, he told us stories.

While it was enjoyable, we paid a-lot of money. We didn’t necessarily need a bus ride to every attraction. And we could have looked up the stories of the people who’ve ridden over the falls on Wikipedia. So, unless you really love paying a large sum of money for a guided bus ride, I would try to do it on your own.
Niagara Falls State Park offers a two-in-one deal, covering the fee for both Cave of the Winds and the Maid of the Mist. I’d say this is the better deal.

Enjoy the Whole Area

Now, I haven’t even started to tell you about Ft. Niagara or the Home of Buffalo Wings. And did I mention the delicious Creole sandwich shop? There’s so much in the area, and I’ll tell you more about that in my next post on the falls! Any questions for the next post? If you’ve visited the Falls, feel free to share your free your own advice below!

 

 


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A Redheaded Texas Gal. I love the woods and thrive where there’s green grass and room to grow. I dream of living in a used book store and wearing period costumes to work everyday. In the meantime, I’m studying Journalism and Political Science, and trying to follow Jesus wherever He leads.