Not to be mist: Niagara Falls (Canada side – part 1)

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Niagara Falls, Ontario is just about 2 hours from Toronto -which makes it a great day trip  from the city, but we actually used it as a stopping point on our road trip.  There is a TON of stuff to do in the town – movies about the falls, arcades, souvenir shops, and restaurants galore, creepy wax museums, indoor water parks, and the Skylon Tower, a 775-foot tower which provides a 360 degree view.  But, in the interest of time, we passed on all of that in favor of sticking with seeing the natural wonder.

The Niagara River is the connecting waterway between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.  A remnant of the last Ice Age, Niagara Falls is a marvel of nature.  There’s nothing quite like the “Canadian side  or “upper side” at Table Rock where the raging Niagara River cascades down the falls, and you can get a panoramic view of the entire falls.

Watching the torents of water race down the 180-foot falls is memorizing, and the kids loved feeling the mist and getting wet.  There is a cliff-side park/promenade that runs along the river and falls and goes to the Rainbow Bridge which connects Canada and the USA with multiple views of the Falls ( You can even walk the bridge as long as you have your passports or birth certificates for U.S. kids under 16).  You can get remarkably close to the water as it rushes over the edge – a little scary, and definitely awesome.  The kids liked watching pieces of debris in the river tumble over the falls.

Even better, you can have dinner with a view.  At the visitor’s center, there’s a great farm to table restaurant called Elements – surprisingly good “New Canadian Food” – which had burgers, salads, even crabcakes,  and several options on the kids’ menu.  Prices seemed consistent with other restaurants in Niagara Falls, and my kids scarfed down their food and gave it two thumbs up, which is about all I can ask for from a restaurant.  We timed it right and got a table next to the window where we could watch the Falls.  But, I’d make reservations and be prepared for tour groups.

View from inside Elements Restaurant

We had perfect timing and were able to watch the Falls as it went from daylight to dusk and night as we ate our dinner – a meal to remember.

There are also several souvenir shops and other restaurants located inside the center.

And, at night, there’s yet another view of the Falls.  They illuminate them in different colors.  Each one made us ooohh and aahhh.  And in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, there’s a great CANADA150 sculpture at the top of the Falls which provided some great iconic and memorable pictures.

There is also a boat ride to the falls, on the Hornblower, but we opted for the US side and the iconic Maid of the Mist.  You can also go into caves behind the falls, but our timing didn’t allow for that.

I highly favor staying on the Canadian side of the Falls as the US side does not have nearly as much for tourists.  And, it would be worth the extra few dollars to get a hotel room with a view of the falls. Unfortunately, our “room with a view” was only on the fourth floor, so we didn’t see much except mist rising up from the river in the chilly morning.

Even with our brief time in Niagara Falls, Ontario, it was the kids favorite part of our trip.