Niagara Falls – Niagaramized by the Falls!
The Niagara Falls, the world’s second largest waterfall, is a powerhouse of charging rapids, foaming torrents and crashing whirlpools. To witness this magnificent natural phenomena, the Niagara, is what many believe to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Perched precariously on the hip of Niagara Island, this beautiful rendition of water is a splendid scenic sight. You can see the rising mist from the falls from almost 20 miles away!
The Niagara waterfalls is easily accessible on roads from Pennsylvania, NYC and Canada.
The Niagara Road Trip – Route to Niagara Falls
Our road trip was from Virginia to Niagara. We stopped at Pittsburgh to see the Duquesne Incline, and stayed overnight at Courtyard by Marriot at Buffalo.
The drive was long with plenty of stops, altogether talking around 7-8 hours one-way. But the route was a breathtaking combination of rocky cut mountains and trees turning into their autumn colours. We felt the altitude difference coursing through our ear buds as we escalated and declined each mountain, braving signs of falling rocks, trees, bears and deer.
Pennsylvania marked its territory by laying out its welcome in a spell of naked bird trees. As we drove to the heart of the state, the vegetative cover became thicker and more mountainous. Fields of maze, large corn bundles, horse yards and farm houses by the road showed us a slice the country life in Pennsylvania.
New York gave us the best autumn colour views with heavy vegetative cover of bushes and trees in low lying hills rising softly on either side of the road. Now, this route was laden was lots of old tunnels, cutting through rock and mountain, moist and cold with water seepage. Plenty of hiking trails crossed this terrain.
The city of Niagara is heavily tourist dominated and well-connected with roads and exits. It also has a lot of industries and warehouses lining the waterfront roads leading towards the falls. Lots of tiny restaurants around the falls are crafted with views of the river. This applies to the Canadian and the American side.
How much to pay at Niagara Falls parking – Rates at the visitor center
You will know you reached the falls right when parking your car – the rumble of water reaches your ears instantly. The sloshing of waves can be heard for miles. Welcoming you first is the green carpeted lawns of Niagara Falls State Park. This venue is a hotspot for weddings, photo shoots, protests and picnics. We found a protester engaging in silent meditation protest for a cause in Taiwan.
Planning to have a wedding at the Niagara waterfalls? These wedding planners can help you!
The park attracts people from all across the world, with the most number of people hailing from South-East Asia. Indians flock to Niagara with their families and in-laws all through the year. I could hear people speaking my language at every corner (felt a nice homely feeling on hearing it!). There are food stalls dedicated to Indian cuisine and also, a lot of Pakistani and Arabian restaurants.
Where to eat near Niagara Falls – Click here
The Niagara Falls State Park houses plenty of gift shops. But the best one is the one near the main parking. It has the most number of items. Plus, you can get a dollar off on the souvenirs if you collect a certain ticket from the main parking information counter. There’s a gift shop near the 4-D theatre which sells all-American made souvenirs. Make sure you pick up a poncho from one of these shops if you are expecting rain; an umbrella will just fly away with the force of the wind.
We saw “Legends of Niagara” at the 4-D theatre, a good visual story about the evolution of the Niagara Falls and the basin. It connects lots of characters and geographies to the present day Niagara area. There are shows every 1.5 hours until 8 or 9 pm. The information centre there gives you a lot of options on cultural places around the falls which you can visit if you have the time flexibility.
Niagara Falls observation centre
Moving on, the way opens into observation centres at the corner of the park; open spaces filled with tourists with the river charging through the right side and falling over the rock-cut caves, creating the magnificent Niagara Falls. She is a roaring chug of white foaming water, erupting skywards in clouds of glistening mist.
From both the lower and upper observation towers, you can feel her waters pound the sheet of rock underneath, sending vibrations throughout the area. Oh what a striking sight is it when you see two of the world’s greatest water bodies in their most powerful stretch, plummeting into the churning wave pools of water, foam and mist!
I almost wanted someone to shout to the boats and birds in the area to stir clear or you might just suddenly get engulfed in those hungry-looking waves!
Connecting US and Canada
The Rainbow Bridge (the bridge connecting USA and Canada) almost goes unnoticed against the formidable power of the Niagara. Many say that Canada has a better view. But I think the USA side has a lot more to experience, especially with the Cave of the Winds and the entry rivers leading to the falls. There is strict checking across the bridge for visa and other papers. So don’t even by mistake wander off into the opposite side!
The foaming waters of the Niagara Falls flows into a tidal river, green with depth, cutting into large rock walls which lead on into a slur of adventure whirlpools and gorges. The Devil’s Hole State Park has a cable car system and helicopter tours which will take you around the river rapids. I have heard that the jet boat tour is an awesomely terrifying experience. Whichever way you decide to experience the river downstream, be prepared to get drenched to the bone!
Some exciting attractions near the Niagara: Click here
The Maid of the Mist is the famous boat ride towards the centre of the falls. This is perhaps one of those classic tours you just cannot miss if you are visiting the basin.
Read about it here: Experience Niagara with the Maid of the Mist
Photos out here : The Cave of the Winds
Experience the tumultuous roar of the Niagara for yourself:
At night, the falls become a whole different entity, with spot lights, colours reflecting off the Canada shore and a grand firework display. Follow the firework schedule here if you are planning to stay the night. Both the US and Canada views of these fireworks are awesome!
- Good water-friendly footwear
- Drinking water
- I suggest taking home-cooked food
- Food from the main food court is really really bad.
- Heavy taxes, especially if you are not used to taxes in other states.
- Long queues at the Cave of the Winds, despite online registration. Lack of sunshade makes the wait difficult.
When is the closing season at Niagara Falls?
More East Coast attractions:
- New York’s amazing skyscrapers and parks
- Visit one of the best aquariums in the US – The Baltimore National Aquarium
- Washington DC’s cherry blossom shores