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Friday, August 19, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP - East Coast Odyssey - Niagara Falls, Canada/NY

 I was really prepared to hate this place. I'd heard about its Vegas like character (there is even a casino on the Canadian side), its endless tourist traps, and tacky gift shops. The "what a shame they had to ruin a natural spectacle" whispers and the endless development.

Yes, this is all there in abundance, but you know what? It doesn't diminish from the falls one bit.

I'd seen the thousand-plus foot plunge of Yosemite falls up close and wondered why a puny drop of less than two hundred feet hogged all the press. I know's not the drop, it's the power and the sheer mass of water plunging over the precipice that is so astounding.

I've read many articles, visited many web sites, and seen hundreds of advertisements for the falls over the years and responded with a ho-hum. Nothing you see in print or any other media does this place any justice.

It's something you have to see right in front of you with your own eyes.

We left the ho-hum city of Toronto in the morning on our way to Ohio. Our plan was to stop for a few hours at the falls (my wife really wanted to see them, as you can probably tell I thought it would be a waste) and continue driving on towards Cleveland before overnighting somewhere.

It's a little over an hour from Toronto to the Canadian side of the falls. First tip: see it from the Canadian side. The falls face Canada - not New York. You'll get a much better view here.

Just across from the American Falls is the park police station for the Canadian side. There are about a dozen free handicapped parking spots here. Use them if you're eligible, they are the only parking you will find withing easy walking distance.

It was sprinkling on and off that day. Our quest was the dock next to the Rainbow Bridge where the small Maid of the Mist boats set sail for the falls.

We worked our way in where we were guided to an elevator that would take us to the dock level. Thin blue rain panchos were issued to us. We put them on and boarded the boat.

As luck would have it, our boat was only about a third full. Every other boat we saw was packed to the rafters, but we had plenty of room and got a spot right at the front of the boat.

The Maid of the Mist Edges up to the Falls

It's a short but amazing trip. The boat puts you right at the foot of the Horseshoe falls. Mist my eye! We were drenched. It's like standing in a driving, hard rain. Many people on board thought it was rain but, no, that's all from the falls.
On Board the Maid of the Mist

After lingering in the spray for about 10 minutes, we turned around and headed back. The views of the falls from the boat were astounding. The true force of millions of gallons of water thundering over the falls each second is a sight to see.

Afterward, we walked up to the Horseshoe falls taking pictures. It really is a breathtaking sight and I was not so jaded anymore. We loaded up on some tacky souvenirs and went to a local Harvey's for lunch.
The Crew in Front of Horshoe Falls

Let me just say that Harvey's serves some of the worst burgers I can remember along with some of the best fries. I was glad that this was the only knock I could give to this incredible visit.

Copyright 2001 - Darryl  Musick


  1. So where are you headed next? Perhaps Montréal. If so, you'll find some interesting places to visit at Mount Royal Park might be a great spot to get a birds eye view of the city. There's parking on top of the mountain and many of the park footpaths are suitable for a wheelchair.
    And if you feel like getting off the beaten track between Toronto and Montreal, Presqu'ile Provincial Park juts out into Lake Ontario, south of the Ontario town of Brighton. It has an accessible boardwalk and is one of Ontario's best places to birdwatch. It also has an interesting Lighthouse Interpretive Centre that is also barrier free.

  2. I am completely with you on this Darryl. I hate the commercialism of Niagara Falls, but love the falls themselves, and love that they've kept the commercialism at bay of the actual falls viewing area, and kept it to a nice park-like setting.