niagara falls Travel Guide
If you haven’t been to Niagara Falls, we’d highly recommend you up and go. It’s definitely worth a look, but we would hardly call it the coolest location or destination. However, that might be changing a little bit as an infusion of cash and some catchy advertising is looking to give Niagara Falls a cool new attitude.
As far as we know the falls themselves aren’t changing—ha—but the tourist areas and extras just might be. Specifically we’re talking about the region on the United States’ side of the border, as over in Canada they have their own issues.
Even though the winter storms have started to blow across North America, believe it or not that now is a great time to visit Niagara Falls. Ideally you's want to drop by one of the nation's biggest tourist traps during warmer weather, but if you’ve already been during the tourist season, then you'll discover a new side of the place when things chill out a little bit. The Falls are obviously still doing their waterfall thing, but the Winter Festival of Lights helps transform the area into Canada’s largest lights festival.
Grab a cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s—there’s a huge one right on Clifton Hill—and head down to where the water is flowing. The falls are illuminated in rainbow colors for the holidays, and on certain nights, they even shoot some fireworks to close out the evening. Away from the falls there are over three million lights decorating trees, shrubs, and everything in between. They have over 100 animated displays dedicated to all kinds of Disney magic, just in case a trip down to Florida isn’t in Santa’s sleigh this year.
If Pam and Jim’s wedding on The Office got you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, then a new airport wants to help you experience Niagara Falls for all its worth. The Niagara Falls International Airport is almost ready to go as the finishing touches are being completed on the almost $32 million terminal. The place is more than ready for visitors to arrive as the runway and jet bridge are designed to easily accommodate a Boeing 747—too bad there’s none scheduled to land anytime soon.
The new airport has some of our favorite airport amenities, including free WiFi. However, the best thing going for it is totally free airport parking. You’re welcome to swing your vehicle right up to the front of the airport without the need for any parking ticket, but if you’ve got a big SUV, you will need to use the adjoining lot because you’re just too darn big for the prime parking spots. There’s one problem with the new airport: there won’t be too many daily flights once it officially opens on December 11.
Last week's episode of "The Office" featured two timeless romances: the marriage of Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly (played by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer), and the long infatuation between tourists and Niagara Falls. Pam mentioned in an earlier episode that she and Jim picked the border city because of its distance from Scranton -- which didn't deter their coworker from attending as she'd hopedbut the city's history as a tourist destination dates back to the 18th century.
Visits to the geological wonder picked up after the Civil War when railroad officials capitalized on it as a destination. Back in the day, couples didn't come to (spoiler!) get married on the Maid of the Mist boat ride; they enjoyed it on their honeymoon. While still several days' journey from many East Coast cities, the falls allowed newlyweds -- from the upper classes first, but later middle and working-class spouses tooto get away and enjoy each other's company, sort of like a latter day Hawaii. Its attractions changed with the times: After World War I, motels sprung up so couples could take their cars on vacation with them.
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Even with the warmer weather on the way out, Niagara Falls is still a great place to take in some of nature's beauty in cooler temperatures--especially within heated "pods."
The Niagara SkyWheel, situated on the Canadian side of the falls within Clifton Hill, rises more than 175 feet into the air as it slowly rotates to give riders a view of the falls.
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Yes, you've seen Niagara Falls before, but have you ever ventured over the edge in a barrel? No? Here's a tour that's the next best thing--and probably a lot safer.
Available on either the Canadian or American side of the border, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours offer a ride in the rapids just before you would otherwise plummet to your death below. The 1,500 hp boats go up to 65 mph during the tour, and stop just short of the falls at a rough patch of class six rapids. The less adventurous can choose an enclosed vessel for the 60-minute journey, but for the full experience take one of the "Wet Jets" and get soaked.
The ticket will set you back $56, but they're hiring for the summer season so maybe you can work for some free rides. After you've changed into some dry clothes, go grab a bite to eat at one of the, uh, "wonderful" restaurants on Clifton Hill.
Our Upstate NY Travel Map will get you there.
Ice wines are to Niagara Falls what margaritas are to Mexico. Both elixirs are so tart, they mask their high alcohol content. And it doesn't look like the residents of either place mind being fooled.
Though they sound chilly, ice wines are a nice way to warm up in the tundra of Upstate New York this season. The wine is prepared by picking frozen grapes, which retain higher sugar and flavor concentrations. This practice helps wineries, er, squeeze, another season out of their vineyards during the winter months.
In January, Niagara Falls celebrates its domination of the ice wine industry by hosting the Niagara Icewine Festival. Though technically the event is on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, New Yorkers can cross the Peace or Rainbow bridges and still glimpse home across the river while touring along the waterfront Ontario wine trail.
The festival runs January 18-27, 2008. Wineries build ice bars and frozen art exhibits and roast chestnuts for the event. Sometimes gimmicks are fun and should be embraced. And in Upstate winters, we take any fun we can find.
What better way to complement one of (arguably) the world's great wonders than with celebrities carved out of wax and overpriced fajitas? While the website bills it as "fun by the Falls," many consider Clifton Hill an eyesore.
The tourist attraction winds up a narrow hill near the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The street is a condensed Times Square, with all the fluorescent bulbs and name brand shopping/eating. After contemplating man's mortality beside the crushing natural wonder, travelers walk uphill to patron the arcades, haunted houses, and wax museums. After working up an appetite on the golf course (the kind with wind mills), they dine between Marilyn's wig and Elvis' guitar at Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood.
Although the name is a bit misleading -- a rock fall in 1920 made the cavern behind the falls unsafe for tourists -- the site still lives up to its hype. While visitors now stand in front of the falls, they can still climb atop The Hurricane Deck while the rushing water and 68 mph wind makes the enormous blue ponchos that come with a ticket purchase completely useless. The water from Bridal Falls, the lone chute that's part of the United States-side falls, drenches anyone who makes the trek.
In a refreshing break from most tourist traps, admission only costs $10, and the ticket includes the poncho and a pair of rubber sandals.
Impatients and clausterphobics beware. The major drawback: Prepare to wait in a winding line for up to three hours before finally taking the crammed elevator 175 feet below ground to the floor of the falls.
· Hotels in Niagara Falls [HotelChatter]
Sure Niagara Falls will always finish number two behind southern Africa's Victoria Falls when it comes to sheer water volume, however until Victoria Falls can produce a photo of Sienna Miller in a red wig on the back of a blue horse with a bunch of agape tourists as a backdrop, it is Niagara Falls 1, Victoria Falls 0.
We know some dude once tried unsuccessfully to go over Niagara Falls in a jet ski, but as far as we know no one has ever tried to clear the falls on the back of a blue horse.
Sienna Miller and James Franco are currently filming "Camille" in Toronto and Niagara Falls Ontario.
One more photo post jump.