The year was 2010. The summer was hot, and the people were many. But in the middle of a 3 week trip in America and Canada, we found ourselves at Niagara Falls … on July 4th.
As you can probably imagine, it was busy. And I’m not talking Boxing Sale sales busy. I’m talking ‘I’ve never seen more people in one place ever’ busy. And we weren’t even on the American side of the falls.
After a long overnight train trip from Chicago to Buffalo, and another trip across the border into Canada, we arrived in Niagara Falls, found our motel, and then wandered into the main shops and attractions. The whole of the world seemed to be there, but that was half the fun. On the evening of July 4th, we gathered at the falls and watched 13 minutes worth of constant fireworks shoot over the cascading waters. Needless to say, it was incredible.
The following day we got a ticket for a bus tour up and down the river, and hoped off now and then to check out some of the sights and attractions. We also grabbed tickets for the Maid of the Mist, a boat trip out to the falls, which was good fun, even in the bright blue plastic ponchos. The Botanical Gardens are really beautiful, and something worth checking out if you want to get away from all the fall-staring crowds.
While the town of Niagara Falls is full of tack – possibly the most tackiest place I’ve ever been to – it’s aimed at tourists, and everyone is just out to make money, it is worth a visit, even just for the day, to see the falls. While there’s a bit of a debate as to which side of the falls is better, I think the Canadian side is definitely better for photos, as you see the whole panorama of the falls. The downside is the Vegas-like horror town and the over-the-top everything.
Another advantage of seeing the falls from the Canadian side is that at night they shine coloured flood lights onto the falls, and it’s incredibly beautiful. Because we were there on July 4th, red, white and blue lights were shone onto the falls.
A short visit to Niagara Falls, despite the crowds and Vegas-like atmosphere, is well worth a trip. It’s an incredible force of nature, beautiful and terrifying all at once.