One of the main objectives of my trip to Rochester — other than visiting my sister, of course — was to check Niagara Falls off my list.
Just five hours from my hometown of Albany and only an hour and a half from Rochester, it’s crazy to think I didn’t see it before — after all it is a national landmark, shared peacefully with our neighbors to the north. Not to mention, I am always seeing crazy deals for weekend getaways here. Niagara Falls actually refers to three separate falls that straddle the border between the state of New York and the Canadian province of Ontario.
There are enough falls-related attractions to fill a few days, from boat tours to observation towers to walks behind the thundering falls. We were on a time budget though, so we limited ourselves to only the most iconic activities — taking the Maid of the Mist boat ride, and walking across the border into Canada.
In business since 1846, the Maid of the Mist is without question the most famous way to visit the falls. The half hour trip starts from Prospect Point, glides past the American falls, and then comes eye to eye with the roaring Canadian falls. Best of all? The super fashionable blue ponchos come totally free of charge.
The first part of the boat ride was scenic and calm as we took in the beauty of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls from a safe and calm distance. We wouldn’t be giving the Canadian Horseshoe Falls the same respect for personal space.
Within moments the boat pulled deeper into the dense mist that the vessel was named for. Suddenly we went from a leisurely sightseeing cruise to a balance-knocking, hair-soaking, shriek-inducing adrenaline ride. It was totally unexpected, and completely thrilling.
Thank goodness I brought my underwater camera! I would not have enjoyed the experience quite as much had I been crouching over, trying to protect my dSLR from the downpour. An appropriately packed camera bag is crucial at Niagara Falls!
It was unanimous — between my sister and I, of course — Maid of the Mist was a hit. Honestly, I wanted to do it because it’s famous and I wanted to cross it off the list and Jim and Pam got married there, but I wasn’t expecting much. Consider me blown away!
Before exiting the country, we made a quick jaunt up the side of the American Falls. Quick tip: Do not discard that beautiful blue poncho if you’re heading up to the side of the falls.
Pretty soon it was time to be warmly welcomed by our friendly neighbors to the north! Don’t they seem so happy to see us?
Maybe I’m a geography nerd — okay, I’m totally a geography nerd — but I love walking over a border crossing. It kind of messes with my head — one minute you’re in one nation, and the next minute you’re in another, with its own government, laws, language and currency. All in the process of a few steps. Or in this case, walking the span of a bridge.
I was pretty excited to get a new Canadian stamp in my passport. I haven’t been to Canada since a long weekend in Montreal in 2009 in which our group managed to maintain 20% of our sobriety and 80% of our passports. Needless to say, I feel kind of guilty about saying I’ve “been to Canada.” Maybe a few hours across the border doesn’t add much legitimacy, but at least I stayed away from alcohol this time.
I was slightly offended when the Canadian border patrol officer felt it necessary to confirm twice that I was not carrying any firearms. Hey Canada, we’re not all like that over on this side.
When it comes to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side is where it’s at. The self-proclaimed “honeymoon capital of the world” reminded me of Lake George, New York and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in terms of cheesy family fun on offer. From bowling to fair games, from haunted houses to cotton candy, this Canadian town could not have reminded me more of America.
While we strolled all over town, we were really there not so much for the upside down fun house or the heart-shaped jacuzzi motels but rather for the view. While the American side allows you to get up close, the Canadian side lets you sit back and soak it all in.
I left Niagara Falls with a new stamp in my passport, a new level in my Office fandom, a fun memory with my sister, and another level of appreciation for the excellent travel opportunities that exist so close to home. This trip was a short one, but I hope to be back to Niagara Falls again someday soon. Perhaps next time I’ll even spring for that heart-shaped jacuzzi.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? What did you think?
This post was brought to you by a valued advertising partner.