Having never visited Ontario until moving to Toronto two years ago, it was easy to take a thing like a SEVENTH WONDER OF THE WORLD, for granted. (Record scratch. Does research.)
Okay, well it may not be a seventh wonder of the world, but it’s definitely one of the seven wonders of Canada.
But living so close to a national treasure and it being the final days of summer, I hopped a bus to Niagara Falls to see what all the fuss was about.
I’ve known of Niagara Falls for as long as I can remember, but honestly I never had too much interest in seeing it. Even arriving in the oddly abandoned ghost town that is Niagara and seeing the falls from a distance, the effect was kinda lost on me, but it wasn’t until i saw them up close was I truly struck by the awe and beauty that is this true natural wonder.
Through the cloud of mist, it’s easy to see how powerful and beautiful the Niagara Falls are. Not only are its waters a beautiful deep blue-green from the large amount of minerals, the water that passes over the Falls is the largest waterfall by volume in the North America.
Three waterfalls make up the Niagara Falls, but its Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls (pictured above) is the most internationally recognized of the falls with more than 168,000 cubic metres (6 million cubic feet) of water cascading over its 672-metre (2,200 feet) crestline every minute.
That’s 2.8 million litres of water falling 17 storeys every second. (Sorry, I don’t “gallon.”)
To capture every second of this incredible natural wonder, here are the seven best ways to see the Niagara Falls:
Walk over “international waters” on the Rainbow Bridge
It’s pretty obvious how the Rainbow Bridge (pictured above) got its name, but it’s one of the best ways to view the falls and the boat tours- the American Maid of the Mist and the Canadian Hornblower– without having to worry about getting absolutely soaked from the cloud of mist coming off of the falls.
As the bridge is a border crossing from Canada to the U.S., you will need your passport. (And trust me you’ll want to see the Falls from both sides too!)
Get up close and personal with the Falls on the American side
Although I opted for the Hornblower tour when I went (I’m a stubborn Canadian), I would highly recommend the American boat tour, the Maid of the Mist, instead.
Although you will initially have a better view of all three waterfalls from the Canadian side, for a more “mist-ical” experience, the American side has the advantage because you literally get covered in mist from walking beside the American Falls on your way down to the Maid of the Mist.
Plus there’s that cool viewing platform. (But unfortunately, the view is better on the Canadian side.)
However, if you’re not up for a boat ride, there’s also the Cave of the Winds. The series of wooden bridges and platforms brings you as close as 6m (20 feet) away from the Bridal Falls (on the opposite side of the American Falls) that lead up to Hurricane Deck, where wind generated by the American and Bridal Falls can reach up to 109 kph (68 mph). That’s the strength of a tropical storm!
See the Falls from above
Just outside the city, there is the option for a helicopter tour of Niagara Falls. This is the most expensive option of the bunch, so here’s what you’d see for free. (Thank you Google Images.)
Relax after your American adventures on the Canadian side with lunch and a spectacular view.
Directly beside the Rainbow Bridge is Queen Victoria Park, one of the best views of all three waterfalls and one of the most beautiful parks I have ever picnicked in. If Niagara Falls wasn’t already beautiful enough for you, turn around.
Go behind and below the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls
If the sheer power of the falls wasn’t clear standing in front of Horseshoe Falls, try the Journey Behind the Falls. Elevators bring you down to about 9 metres (30 feet) above the base of the falls to tunnels leading to Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal, which is about a third of the way behind the falls, and continuing to an observation deck just outside Horseshoe Falls. Although I haven’t gone on this adventure, standing behind rushing waters that are traveling 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph) sounds pretty exhilarating.
Niagara Falls at night
After seeing the Falls all day, you will want to stick around to see them at night. The three waterfalls are lit up with lights and on Fridays, Sundays and holidays during peak season there’s also a firework show.
So there you have it, 7 ways to see Niagara Falls! And don’t forget- the Falls look beautiful and different with each changing season. (Even the frozen abyss of winter can’t hold back the Falls! And the cold scares off the tourist crowds- score 1 for How to Avoid Crowds in Niagara Falls!)
What’s your favourite way to see Niagara Falls? Comment below or tweet me @thefttourist! This one’s mine (even though I’m pink from the sunshine halo coming through the red poncho):