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What's Good about Niagara Falls

Old Apr 8th, 2007, 02:25 PM
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What's Good about Niagara Falls

It's seems the standard answers for questions on Niagara Falls are "you only need a day" and "you're better off staying in NOTL". So, I thought maybe folks could identify what they love (or really like) about Niagara Falls. I'll start:

I love the Maid of the Mist boat tour. There is something awe-inspiring about standing on a boat deck and looking up at the falls.

I really like the kitschy attitude surrounding the falls. It's not something I want on every vacation, but the contrast between the "petty and inconsequential" human factor of plastic knick knacks and gambling against the immense power of the falls just makes the falls that much more amazing.
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Old Apr 8th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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Good question. The falls are lovely but I have seen much nicer elsewhere. The good thing about Niagara Falls is that they are near NOTL! I was so disappointed that I was stunned - sorry! I would definitely never return.

Perhaps it was the hype ahead of time - so different from what I envisioned. However, I do like to see the positive in everything - the falls are truly an amazing natural phenomenon!
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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Okay, I'm one of those people who like to stay in Niagara on the Lake. but it doesn't mean I don't appreciate the fact that Niagara Falls is spectacular!

My frame of reference for my first view of Niagara Falls was coming from Alberta, and previously seeing waterfalls in a natural setting in the Rockies. I guess I never quite got over the fact that a whole city (and amusement park) was next to the Falls themselves.

But I love the drive along the Niagara Parkway, especially if you can stop for a picnic. I love the Butterfly Conservatory.

I love the lights on the Falls at night when looking at them from above, but Niagara Falls is breathtaking in the daylight too. Even standing nearby and listening to the rush of the water and feeling the mist, is quite a unique experience. I have yet to visit in the winter, which I think I would really like.....and with less crowds.

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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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My grandfather always used to make that old honeymoon in Niagara Falls quip, "the falls are the bride's second disappointment".

Seriously though, I saw Niagara Falls as a teenager and passed through again this past summer. As a teenager, I enjoyed on the US side viewing the falls from the boardwalks near the base of the falls (getting wet a bit).

As an adult, I crossed the pedestrian bridge separating the US and Canada, entering Customs & Immigration by foot. Although a bit of a distance from the falls, from the vantage point of the middle of the bridge, I felt like I had the falls to myself. In Niagara Falls, Canada along the River Road, I liked some of the Victorian homes and B&Bs that seemed a more dignified contrast to the honkytonk of the near-Falls area (the latter is not to my taste).

While the Falls are powerful and there is some beauty in the immediate surroundings with the steep walls of the Niagara River, I probably wouldn't recommend going out of one's way just to visit. This said, I think they are not a bad idea for a day/overnight trip if in the Toronto/Buffalo area anyway. Although I must admit, since I live not *too* far away in Montreal and have friends in Toronto, I thought of spending a few days at one of those B&Bs, using it as a base for a cycling tour of the region.

DAN
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 05:27 AM
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I love the Falls. I love walking Goat Island. I love walking around the whole area, hearing the Falls and feeling the mist.

For those of you who like staying in NOTL, I seriously ask why? What is there to do? Once you visit the wineries what else is there to do? I think it's cute little town but boring, am I missing something?
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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The reason I would rather stay in NOTL is because I find it much more charming and I like quiet - not a nightlife person! I love walking there - such huge, lovely trees. Much nicer than where I am from! Therefore it suits me perfectly.

I find NF to be tacky and gauche. Just my opinion, however.

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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 03:07 PM
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Niagara Falls may be one of the most underrated gems around. The magnificent power of the Falls, lit up at night, with the sound and the mist and the multitude of angles at which it can be viewed, is awesome. Maid of the Mist, Journey behind the Falls, standing at the railing are great. But there is really a lot more. The geology of the Gorge is fascinating. The class 6 rapids at the White Water Walk are among the highest standing waves in NA. The whirlpool is also pretty cool where the river has to make a 90 degree turn at almost 30 mph. The history of the area is pretty interesting too. This was a significant theater in the War of 1812. The Battle of Queenston Heights was critical to the existence of Canada. There are 2 Forts to tour (one on the US side and one on the Canadian side)from 1700's. Did you notice the massive displays of flowers? There are acres more of gardens up the Niagara Parkway, beautifully sculpted and maintained by the Niagara School of Horticulture. The Butterfly Conservatory is wonderful. Power generating stations also North on the Niagara Parkway can be toured. The wine produced here is world class. See how they make it. How about Shaw Festival Theater, the largest repetory theater in NA. Ever take the Jetboat ride up into the gorge through the rapids? All along the Parkway, there are parks,nature trails, hiking, biking, golf(all over the place),fishing, boating, shopping and spas and restaurants galore in NOTL and in the US. Now there are even 2 huge indoor water parks. There's a printing press museum as well as art galleries. A Greek Revival mansion that can be toured in Queenston. If you bought a cheap CD driving tour that goes in your car, you could take a couple of days to do all that and learn a lot, too. Then you could gamble and do all the touristy things on Clifton Hill. Oh...when you're done with that hop on over to Buffalo and get some Original Buffalo Chicken Wings at Anchor Bar (they're to die for) or have a famous beef on weck (you won't get that anywhere else)! See a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright homes What more do you want, people?? 14 million people each year can't all be wrong.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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I'm glad to see that there are some folks who can find things they like and/or love in Niagara Falls.

Travel2live - it is tacky and gauche, but then so is Las Vegas and at least in Niagara Falls you're not in a desert.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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"I probably wouldn't recommend going out of one's way just to visit."

That's really interesting. It's also a bit funny because a lot of international tourists will gladly go out of their way to visit Niagara Falls. I wouldn't call it underrated at all - it's possibly the most famous attraction in all of Canada. You would not believe how many times I've heard, "I'm coming to Canada because I really want to see Niagara Falls..." or "I'm coming to Vancouver, but I'd also like to see Niagara Falls since I'm in Canada".

And of course, a lot of tourists, especially American visitors, only come to Canada for Niagara Falls. So the whole Niagara Falls experience becomes synonymous with Canada in a lot of people's minds because of it.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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Toedtoes, true enough! Not in the desert. I can certainly appreciate beautiful nature and while the falls are gorgeous I just happen not to like the town itself. And why on earth is it called the honeymoon capital? That I just do not understand - I have been to hundreds of places much more romantic (in my mind).

I just look for different things than some and find them in Europe (i.e. culture, history, castles, ruins, different foods, etc.) - not that you can compare the two - I am not. Canada does have its share of great places.

I know people who have gone and said, "This is IT???" Not in a snide way. My cousin from Germany was disappointed, too. Perhaps it is that the expectations are so high or something.

Oh, well. To each his/her own!


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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 08:30 PM
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I believe it's called the Honeymoon Capital because in the early days, it was a popular choice - a mere day's trip by train from New York and it had a very fancy hotel.

I understand about liking different things.

The first time I went to NF, I was fairly certain that I wouldn't enjoy it (I don't care for Las Vegas) from the descriptions. I was there only one night and two days. By the second day, I realized that I actually enjoyed it a lot - once I left my "attitude" out of the equation.

During that trip, I read 2 books (In the Mad Water and Journey to the Brink) that told stories of the people (and animals) that have gone over the falls, accidentally and otherwise. There was something about reading about people goofing off along the railing and falling in, while you're sitting along the railing with folks goofing off... several times I wanted to smack people with the books.
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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Dependiong on your interests, one good thing bout Niagara Falls is that you pass, more or less, the Canadian Warplane Heritage museum at the Hamilton AIrport, depending on where you are going to or coming from.

Lots of Canadian, and a few other, warplaanses from WW I up to the days of the cold war.

BAK

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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 12:38 PM
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I love Niagara Falls!! I never tire of it.
I have had quite a few out of country guests and they all want to see the Falls. They want to see the Falls more than any attraction in the area.
I always park the car and we walk along the sidewalk by the falls and usually down to the Maid of the Mist area. They have all loved it.

Then, when we get back in the car and I do drive them down Clifton Hill. NO one, including me wants to stop there. But I do give them a drive by to see how tacky that part is.
I certainly don't think walking along by the falls is tacky.

Then I drive down the Niagara Parkway , which is beautiful. WHen we get to Niagara on the Lake, we may stop for a drink of a bite to eat there, but no one usually wants to wander. If you aren't into shopping, there isn't much else, except eating and drinking. And we've usually exhausted ourselves walking in Niagara Falls.

Then I might take them to see the locks at the Welland Canal Centre. IT's very interesting, especially if a big ship is going through the lock.

BUt the Falls are the big attraction and I love them.

If you ignore Clifton Hill, the rest isn't tacky. And there are some really nice hotels now. It isn't necessary to go anywhere near Lundy's Lane.

Even the casinos are beautiful...

My guest always have a great time... or so I'm told!
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 01:17 PM
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Believe me - my intention is not to bash Niagara Falls. I just love seeing falls in more natural forested surroundings like in BC for example without any tourists or towns. Just my preference.
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 03:07 PM
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Some of my favourites in Niagara.

William Kurelek's amazing 'Passion of Christ' series at the Art Gallery.

Our history -Brock, MacDonnell, Laura Secord -real life Canadian heroes.

Fascinating geology - a wonderful hands on place to see and feel the bedrock of southern Ontario.

The beautiful gardens along the parkway.

The Falls in all of their moods in every season.

The winter Christmas lights.

Sipping wine and having a quiet meal in a vineyard restaurant.

Watching 'the long ships passing' on the Welland Canal.

On the Maid of the Mist with out of town visitors and watching their delighted looks as the boat gets closer and closer to that amazing rush of water.

Birding near the Hydro plant in late November and finding an avian visitor from Alaska.

Taking some kids to Clifton Hill and just goofing around and having fun.

And many years ago - as a little boy on a long retired 'Maid of the Mist' saying proudly "My daddy MADE this boat!"

cheers

Jerry
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Old Apr 13th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Thank you for starting this thread, toedtoes. Thanks also to all who responded with your honest and informative assessments.

When my German MIL told me she wanted to see Canada, I suggested the Canadian Rockies. Since she lives so close the the Alps, she said that she would rather see the "Great Lakes" region. Hence, our Niagara & Toronto visit. It wasn't my first choice, but now (especially after reading this thread) I am really looking forward to it.

DH showed his Mom a picture of either the Marriott or Embassy suites with a room that look out over the falls and she is very excited. That's why we are staying at the Falls and not at NOTL. She gets plenty of tree-shaded walks in her little Bavarian village. She thought Las Vegas was "kitschy" too, but still really enjoyed the spectacle of it.

I still am hoping to get to Alberta and BC some day soon.

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Old Apr 13th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Jerry - what a great list!! Especially the last item - what a great memory.

Lvk - I'm glad this has helped get you excited. I really recommend those two books I mention if you want to get a sense of the unique history of the falls. Some of the stories are amazing (and some are just nuts).

As an example, there's one story that explains how folks throw coins into the falls from the tunnels (Journey Behind the Falls) for good luck. Apparently, some guy thought he'd make a quick buck, hopped over the simple railing and started picking up coins. Unfortunately, at that moment, the falls pulled inward a bit and washed him over the edge - that's why the railing is where it is, to keep folks from getting within range of the falling water.
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Old Apr 13th, 2007, 01:43 PM
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lvk, good luck on your trip. I live an hour from Niagara Falls and never get tired of seeing the falls. But to stay in a room with a view of the falls is wonderful. I think it's thrilling to look out the window down at the falls. Ask for a room as high up as possible.

Have fun.
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Old Apr 14th, 2007, 05:05 AM
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Toedtoes,

Yes, that is a special memory. The Maid of the Mist 111 was built by Russell Brothers in Owen Sound Ontario. My dad had to quit sailing the lakes due to an injury but kept his connection by working at Russells.

Jerry
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Old Apr 14th, 2007, 06:22 AM
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Hello I grew up as a local in Niagara Falls. First the Canadian side is much better than the US side simply because you can see the falls from the Canadian side. Customs lines in summer are bad according to my parents and you will soon need a passport to get back to the US. Things are definitely stricter now than they used to be.
The falls themselves are beautifull and the federal govenment has created mannicured park framing them. These grounds run almost continually between the Falls and NOTL. Its a picturecque 3/4 hour drive somewhat staged drive with a few interesting items mentioned in above postings. NOTL is loosely colonial language with icecream and a few scant charming shops.
The reason the drive is so refreshing between the two is that there are no tourist shops along them (for the most part). When you deviate from the gardens and parks that frame the river, you are in tourist trap heaven or hell depending who you are. Traffic even along streets such as clifton hill et al and even the the parkway (especially near the falls) is unbelievably congested and the 3/4 hour drive can increase exponentially. Shops carry mostly junk...Again this depends on who you are. most restaurants are bad with a scant few local secrets in the formica rather than formal millieu. There is a rash of museums such a frankenstien and Count Dracula and Guness....really! most have nothing to do with the falls or Canada. hotels mostly trashy. Forums like are great medicine for Niagara falls because they most establishments have no return customers...so they feel why bother.
My uncle used to run a fine glassware and items made by natives right in the heart 40 years ago but that merchandise didnt get bought his sales on bad T shirts and taffy always seemed to do better so his merchandise dwindled to the usual suspects..like the majority of the others. A forum like this may have allowed the word of mouth for a good place promote his store and quality.
The newest item is Gambling with (I believe no Taxes on canadian winnings) It is run by fed govt...big highrises and big buildings.
Locals expect a bad year since the canadian dollar had risen threatining the cheapest vacation around.
I had a girl frind who used to pick up postcards to be mailed from the hotels she said the refrain was always dont let the advertizements fool you.
My family drive there to visit my parents and always flatter me by saying Canadians are by nature very polite and helpful...which they are and the majority less opinionated (and better typer/spellers) than myself.
'Hope this helps.
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