The third and final destination on our vacation last week was Niagara Falls. I’d never been there before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. We stayed on the Canadian side, which I highly recommend. PJ had gotten us a room with a view of the falls. Here’s what they looked like from our room:

They’re truly one of the most beautiful and impressive things I’ve ever seen. I was actually a little overwhelmed by them when we first got there. The weather was great–a little cloudy and a little bit of rain, but it was generally very pleasant.

I took a lot of pictures of the falls while we were there. I’ll post a few of them and offer my views on some of the activities we did while there after the break ….

Here’s a few of my pictures from Niagara Falls:

The first thing we did when we got there was ride the incline train down to the observation level so we could get a closer view of the falls. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a ride, though it is kind of fun to ride it. Here’s what it looks like:

From the bottom of the train it’s just a short walk to the information centre:

From the observation level, we watched the Maid of the Mist approach the falls. At first, watching this ship gave me the willies. Later, I used my camera to record a bit of the ship’s trip to the falls:

We arrived at the falls on Friday. After looking at them for a bit, we decided to get tickets for the “Journey Behind the Falls,” in which you ride an elevator down to a tunnel, which has two portals through which you can see the falls from the back side. There’s also an observation deck that lets you stand right next to the falls. It’s an amazing view. Here’s a picture of me next to the falls:

We purchased the Adventure Pass, which for $40 gets up into the Journey Behind the Falls, the Maid of the MIst, the White Water Walk, the Butterfly Conservatory, and a day’s worth of rides on the People Mover and the Incline Train. It’s definitely worth the price if you’re going to be doing more than one of the activities.

On Saturday, we got up bright and early, ate breakfast, and made sure we were at the Maid of the Mist as soon as it opened. It’s clearly the most popular thing to do at Niagara Falls and for good reason. It is the most fun I’ve ever had on a boat! Getting this close to the falls is so thrilling. Here are some of the pics I took of our ride:

This second picture is of the American Falls. The boat goes by it first and then goes to the Horseshoe Falls and the Great Gorge on the Canadian side.

After the boat ride, we went to the White Water Walk, which is a boardwalk along the rapids down river from the falls. It’s also beautiful, but let’s be honest — it’s difficult for rapids, even level 6 ones, to compare with the falls. I recommend it, but it’s more of a nice nature walk than a thrill ride.

It was still pretty early, i.e. before lunch, so we decided to go to the Butterfly Conservatory before heading back to find something to eat. When you first go into the conservatory, you watch a short video about butterfly conservation. One of the main things they emphasize is the endangered nature of the butterflies and that you shouldn’t touch them. It was therefore really irritating to see kids not only touching them but grabbing and crushing them. It was really all I could do not to yell at them and their lousy parents. Kids will love the butterflies, but please don’t let them kill or injure them while they’re there!

Here’s a couple of shots I took while in the conservatory:

Apparently, butterflies love rotting fruit, which is what this last picture is of.

The last thing we did in Niagara was go to Niagara’s Fury. I thought it sounded educational, and our Adventure Pass packet included to $5 off coupon. We should have known something was amiss when there wasn’t a line to get into it. Basically, you watch an animated movie aimed at 5-year-olds and then go into a room where they show you a beautiful film of the falls while spraying you with water. It’s a perfectly fine idea except for the fact that the falls are right outside the room. Why would you want to pretend to see them up close when you can actually go outside and see them up close? I thought that this attraction needed a lot more to make it worth the $10 we paid to get in. It either needed to be much longer and more thrilling or it needed to be more informative about the natural history of the falls or both. I would have preferred both.

We also did a little gambling at the casino. We each spend $40 on slot machines. Overall, I won $78 and PJ won about $100, so that’s $38 and $60 profit. Not bad for a half-hour’s “work.”

Both evenings we were there we drove over to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see plays at the Shaw Festival. Since this post is already super long, I’ll wait and post about them next time.

Overall, I’d say that Niagara Falls is a great place to visit. The falls are spectacular, most of the attractions are worth a visit, and there’s a cheesyfaux -Times Square area to keep you fed and entertained. We ate lunch there and walked around but decided against going into any of the over-priced “attractions.”

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