Niagara Falls is a sight to behold. When viewing the mountains of water plummeting downward, you won’t think to yourself “wow, this is overrated.” The falls live up to the hype. However, when visiting Niagara visitors will deal with a blue-collar town that is built solely around this natural wonder and, for no fault of their own, are determined to shake you down for as much as possible. As a result, food is exorbitantly priced, and some attractions simply exist to answer “how can we exploit the falls for even MORE money?” However, it’s worth noting that all of the locals we encountered were nothing but super nice.
Niagara Falls can be a great day trip, but anything longer will feel excessive. Currently, I write this blog post in a Niagara Falls diner far away from the bells and whistles of the tourist area. I’ve been here for the last hour-and-a-half, killing time until my bus leaves because I simply had my feel of the repetitive and expensive attractions.
Top Things to Do in Niagara:
Hornblower: By far, my favorite experience in Niagara was riding a boat into the falls. As the first thing we did upon arriving, it was a joyous experience that lifted our spirits and gave us the best view of the crashing water.
If you have an underwater camera, bring it along so you can capture the wettest of moments. Additionally, make sure to get tickets in advance to skip one particularly lengthy part of the line.
Walk Along the Viewpoints of the Falls: The stretch of boardwalk and sidewalk is full of ideal spots for photos of the falls. You can stop at one of the plazas and watch an Elvis Presley impersonator while licking ice cream, or scarf down a hot dog while viewing the water tumble downward. The point is that, excluding the above-mentioned Hornblower, you shouldn’t waste your money on costly attractions that bring you closer to the water.
WEGO Bus: 7.50 CAD will provide you with infinite bus rides to the area’s major attractions for 24 hours. The coaches along the green line come every fifteen minutes, and the drivers even provide a bit of commentary along the drive. You can buy this pass at many of the attractions.
Butterfly Conservatory: Easily accessible with the WEGO, this attraction may be a bit overpriced, but it also delivers on its promise of butterflies, butterflies, and more butterflies. It’s a diminutive glass building that is thick with exotic, scented plants, and you’ll see colorful wings fluttering everywhere you turn.
Bird Kingdom: I debated including this on the list of things I loved about Niagara. The experience was quite fun, and the amount of birds I was able to see up-close-and-personal was astounding. But, as with many zoo-like facilities, my fun is accompanied by guilt. While the zoo in Belize offered ample space and only housed rescued animals, I can’t say the same for Bird Kingdom. When I had a parrot placed on my arm that was unable to fly, I simultaneously thought “this seems cruel to the bird” and “I should definitely adopt one of my own!”
Walking Around Clifton Hill: Niagara’s answer to the Vegas Strip, Clifton Hill was genuinely fun to walk around. There’s eye candy galore in the forms of haunted houses, bustling restaurants, souvenir shops, arcades, mini-golf, and child-friendly attractions like the Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. While my friend and I did not stop in any of the stores or attractions (except for a Starbucks), taking in the sights and sounds was a pleasant way to spend an evening nonetheless.
Niagara Traps to Avoid:
Niagara’s Fury: While standing in a theater where we watch shots of the waterfall and have water thrown on us, all I could think was ‘wow, they’re really trying to make money anyway they can.’ This short experience had a group of adults stand to watch a kid-friendly explanation of how the falls were formed before taking us inside a room in which we got to ‘feel’ what it was like. They may call this a “ride,” but that term is far too generous. Steer clear of this waste of money.
Journey Behind the Falls: The experience itself is fine, but underwhelming. The 16.25 CAD is what will really put a damper on this. You’ll walk through tunnels, you’ll stand close to the falls on a platform . . . and that’s it. There’s no topping the Hornblower boat ride so, if you want more of the falls, I suggest simply riding the Hornblower a second time.
Elements on the Falls Restaurant: As one of the employees at Journey Behind the Falls warned me, all of the food in Niagara “sucks and is overpriced.” So expectations were pretty low when we went to Elements on the Falls Restaurant, and yet I was still disappointed. Located in the perfect location next to the Horseshoe Falls, it relies solely upon the view and the laziness of visitors like us to find alternatives. And so the food is lazy and insultingly priced. I spent northward of 22 CAD on a vegetable sandwich in which the main “vegetable” was roasted red peppers straight out of a can, and they didn’t even melt the cheese.