Niagara Falls: Canadian side
Why I think Niagara Falls is a tourist trap? When I say this, I am talking about the Canadian side and not the American side. I was gobsmacked when I came to see one of the natural wonders of the world to see the Canadian side looking like their version of Las Vegas, all lite up, lots of touristy things to do and restaurants, cafes, hotels everywhere. For me it was horrible and the worst thing was I booked a night to stay here as I just done a long nine hour drive from Brockton, MA (in the USA of course) to get here and planned the whole of the next day here checking out the falls. I had to suck it all in, be a tourist for once and this was my findings.
Niagara Falls is the name of all three waterfalls in the area, the American Falls (on the American side of course), Bridal Veil Falls and the most famous, Horseshoe Falls which is located between the Canadian mainland and an island called Goat Island (which is in USA). This is the highlight of the trip to see the amazing natural landmark which is 170ft in height (52 meters), about 670 meters wide and if I want to get a bit nerdy, the estimated flow rate of the Horseshoe falls is around 168,000 cubic meters.
There are many viewpoints from both sides of the Niagara River & Falls but the best one is from a viewing platform on the Canadian Side. However it can get quite packed here with all the visitors standing around trying to take in the amazing views. Also a bonus is this is FREE! So a budget saving tip there.
Now for the touristy thing at Niagara Falls I got sucked into doing –
OK, so I am in the area, seen the Horseshoe and American Falls from the Canadian viewpoint, what do I do now? Well, I got sucked into the touristy stuff, had some spare cash and done the following on a budget. I choose to buy an Niagara Falls Adventure Pass – there are three different types but I went for the basic package (known as the classic package) and saved about 25% by buying this instead of paying for the attractions separately. It includes a walk behind the Horseshoe Falls, a cruise up to the waterfall itself, a trip into an interactive show called ‘Niagara’s Fury’ where I also got wet and a walk along the white water river. Plus jumping on and off the local bus service for the day (or two) is included which is very handy especially if the accommodation is far away.
The boat trip up to the falls was amazing, I just keep using that word. Even though there were a lot of people on the boat, I was still able to get a full view of the falls and take quality photos despite the amount of spray which was going into my face. Thankfully the company provide ponchos for everyone so I wasn’t too worried about getting wet. My tip is to do this first thing in the morning before all the tour companies bring their visitors along.
I then did the White Water Walk (a little bit out of town but the bus journey is included in the pass) which is basically walking along a boardwalk which runs alongside one of the world’s wildest stretches of whitewater. I was amazed at the relentless power to which the speed of the water running through this deep and narrow gorge. Before checking this out, I had to ride an elevator which went down about seventy meters before walking through a short tunnel to get to the boardwalk. There are also stairs which lead to two observation decks. Try and check out the whirlpool rapids as well, it’s crazy to see a lot of water spinning around at once.
Back on the bus and into town, I did the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ which was taking an elevator down to the viewing platforms located behind Horseshoe Falls. The spray is immense but the sound of the water gushing downwards is like a roar of constant thunder. Remember to keep the poncho’s on you from earlier if you still have them.
What’s so touristy about that?
Fine, all the above were still amazing to do but would have loved to do it all without the glamour, the costs, all the people etc but I still enjoyed myself. However, this wasn’t the big let down, it was the actually town itself. Especially at night the whole place is light up, flashing lights everywhere, neon signs everywhere and this is in the part known as Clifton Hills. This is where many of the fast food places are located as well as pointless museums like ‘The Upside Down House’ and ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ which has nothing to do with the nearby waterfalls. I even got dragged into the ‘Guinness World of Records’ which I found rather dull and boring. Fun for children I suppose but for me, I can be a boring old sod sometimes.
The skyline is spoilt
Looking from the boat on the river or probably from the American side looking over at their Canadian neighbours, the buildings above the waterfalls makes it look horrible in my eyes and not just for my camera lens. There is even the Skylon Tower with its revolving restaurant at the top spoiling the view. Why did Canada have to spoil one of the greatest natural landmarks in the country with awful looking buildings. Or at least why build them so close. It’s just horrible. It’s probably the only thing wrong by the locals when I visited the country. I felt a bit dejected by looking at this.
Final thought on Niagara Falls
I came to see the waterfalls and was amazed by their size, power and beauty. Everything else around it on the Canadian side is just a huge tourist trap and I didn’t like it. That is my personal view but I am sure many people coming here love the side attractions especially if there are children to entertain. Don’t get me wrong, the falls are worth checking out and should be on any bucket list when visiting the world’s second largest country but to be honest, I was quite glad to get away from here and head further into Canada. When I came to Niagara, it was the first day ever in Canada for me and I thought to myself, please no, don’t let the rest of Canada be like this and so far on my travels on the western and eastern side of the country, there is no other place like this (thank god!) Give me nature and beauty any day.