Every minute, six million cubic feet of water rush over the crest of Niagara Falls. That’s the equivalent of one million bathtubs of water. I have visited the Falls since I was a child, and I’ve stood by the stone wall many times and been mesmerized by the spectacular rush of water.
Niagara Falls is one of my favourite spots for an outing, and I’ve made the trip in all of the seasons, when the flowers are in bloom and when massive icy sculptures stand upright in the spray. I’ve stayed overnight and seen the Falls lit up in their glory from the 42nd floor of the Embassy Suites Hotel.
Although I’ve been many times, there’s something about visiting with a first-timer that brings it all back. I recently took my sister-in-law who was born in England and had only seen photos of the Falls in magazines and on the internet. She’d dreamt of visiting since she was a child and, on the drive there, she talked about it with a childlike excitement that was infectious.
As we neared the stone wall, she looked out across the spectacular force of water and tears welled up in her eyes. It was more magnificent than she’d ever imagined, she said. As she handed me her camera, timing was on her side – the clearest rainbow I’d ever seen at the Falls appeared like an archway over her head. She got the perfect Niagara Falls photo.
Whether you’ve visited Niagara Falls a hundred times or you’re a newbie, it never ceases to excite. Given their size and the spray of water that always welcomes you, it’s easy to see why they were named one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The first must-do on everyone’s list has to be a tour on the Hornblower, the boat which replaced The Maid of the Mist in 2014. The Maid of the Mist had been the sole boat tour operator since 1846, and while the Hornblower’s name doesn’t have the same romantic overtones, the new boats are bigger and faster and offer extended cruise times that begin at sunrise and go on until late in the evening. It’s an unforgettable experience even at this time of year. ‘Voyage to the Falls’ boat tours run from April 1st to November 30th so there’s still time this year.
The Journey Behind the Falls doesn’t get as much hype but it’s equally unforgettable as it puts you directly under the Falls. Don your winter gear and take an elevator down 45 metres through the bedrock. This 127-year-old attraction is situated at the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and allows visitors to stand beside and behind the Falls – even in winter. Thousands of glistening icicles form in the crevices of the Niagara Gorge while one-fifth of the world’s fresh water flows over the brink of the Falls into the basin below.
Seeing the Falls lit up at night in all the colours of the rainbow is an entirely different experience and well worth the effort to stay over. In 2015, a new lighting system was unveiled that’s twice as bright as before. Free nightly shows run from dusk to midnight, 365 days a year. All the Groupon offers out there make it entirely affordable to stay the night.
While there, you may want to visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, which has more than 800 exhibits, including the world’s rarest egg, 2-headed animals and shrunken heads. The 53-year old attraction has been renovated to include theme rooms and a 4D moving theatre..
Our visits to the Falls always include a stop at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Post-chocolate indulgence, don’t miss Canada’s largest Butterfly Conservatory. Located at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, you’ll encounter over 2,000 butterflies floating amongst tropical foliage and trickling waterfalls. The Conservatory’s 11,000 square foot glass dome allows winter sun to shine in while keeping the interior a balmy 27℃.
by Becky Dumais
Niagara Falls Tourism