We left Washington D.C. at 7am to make the 478 mile journey to the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. Our plan was to stop for breakfast after about 2 hours, and we found a fabulous Classic American Diner in Breezewood, Pennsylvania which didn’t disappoint with the food.
Each of us had prepared soundtracks to listen to whilst driving, so we have a right mix of music playing along the route, and some impromptu karaoke sessions depending upon the song. It was another blue sky day, there’s still snow along the roadside, but the roads are clear of snow and ice. We saw a minimum of 28 °F and a maximum of 48 °F in temperature along the way.
The journey was uneventful, there was an exciting moment as we spotted the frozen great lakes in the distance, and interesting to see miles of vineyards with snow on the ground.
We crossed the bridge connecting Buffalo with Fort Erie and passed through the border from USA to Canada. It wasn’t long before we were pulling up outside our hotel and admiring the view over the falls. The drive had taken 10 hours with a few comfort stops every couple of hours.
Our hotel room (2411) is amazing! We have booked a King Room with Falls View at the Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls and we look directly over the Horseshoe Falls.
We couldn’t wait to get down by the water, so we took the Incline Railway connecting the Fallsview Tourist Area and Table Rock Centre, instead of walking around the long way. The spray from the Horseshoe Falls was falling as a fine mist and creating a rainbow, it was very cold, although not quite forming a freezing fog, fortunately it wasn’t slippery underfoot. The sheer volume of water passing over the falls is incredible, 34 million gallons / 154 million litres per minute which is enough to fill 1 million bathtubs! The flow has been controlled since the mid 1900’s to create hydro electric power on both sides of the border.
We walked down the river, past the American Falls towards Rainbow Bridge, it was a bit of a shock to find something reminiscent of Blackpool in the Clifton Hill area! It was getting late, so we stopped at Ruby Tuesdays for a quick meal before calling it a night.
On day 2 in Niagara Falls, I was so pleased that we decided to get out first thing for the Journey Behind The Falls. When we arrived at the Table Rock Centre, we realised that the railings and shrubs had frozen overnight, it gave a whole new perspective for taking photos of the falls.
We headed underground to the start of the Journey Behind The Falls, there are information boards at the entrance and along the tunnel with interesting facts, history and information about the Horseshoe & American Falls. We were informed that the lower observation deck was closed, when we saw it, we realised why, it was buried under the snow! We learned of the falls miracle when 7 year old Roger Woodward went over the Horseshoe falls following a boating accident, he was plucked out of the water by the crew of the Maid of the Mist. Annie Edson Taylor was the first survivor to go over the falls in a barrel in 1901.
The falls have been illuminated at night since 1925, these days there are 21 xenon lights installed, 18 at the Horseshoe Falls and 3 at the American Falls creating a colourful spectacular from 8.30pm to midnight. The falls have moved 11 km / 7 miles from their original position. The Niagara River carries 20% of the world’s fresh water, which flows from the Great Lakes. The flow travels at 65 km / 40 miles per hour. Technology and engineering has allowed the erosion rate to be reduced from 3 metres / 10 feet per year to just 30 cm / 1 foot every 10 years.
Our next stop was the Whirlpool, the Aero Car wasn’t running out of season when we visited, however it was still worth the stop to see this historic attraction, which has been in operation since 1916.
We continued our journey to Niagara-On-The-Lake (NOTL), it’s a picturesque drive following alongside the Niagara River. Our mission was to try the Ice Wine and explore the “loveliest town in Ontario”. The buildings at NOTL are gorgeous, they are chocolate box perfect, all painted in pretty pastel colours.
We stopped at the Shaw Café & Wine Bar for lunch, we ordered the hummus with crispy bread & pitta and a cheese platter which would be a perfect accompaniment for our wine tasting. We selected to share a white wine flight between us, which included 4 x 2oz tasting measures of Inniskillin Pinot Grigio, Jackson Triggs, Chardonnay, Creekside Sauvignon Blanc & Hop Family Tree White.
We couldn’t leave Niagara-On-The-Lake without trying the famous Ice Wine, which is only harvested after a minimum of 3 days at several degrees below freezing. The ideal temperature is between – 10 to – 12 °C, the best time to harvest is through the night, and the grapes are pressed immediately, so only yielding a small amount of liquid is produced with a high concentrate of taste. The Ice Wines are a sweet dessert wine with 11-12% alcohol. Our flight of 4 x 1/2 oz tastings included Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling, Pondview Cab Franc Icewine, Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine & Pondview Vidal Icewine.
There’s lots to explore outside of Niagara Falls apart from the main attraction and resort. We saw plenty of information for walks, cruises, zip lines, botanical gardens, Whirlpool golf course, butterfly conservatory and wine tours. We had been tempted to do the 4km hike at Niagara Glen through the totem pole park and down to the gorge, but we were out of time.
The last view from our hotel room was of a red sky sunrise, we checked out and started the 522 mile drive from Niagara Falls to Chicago.
Niagara Falls is somewhere you have to visit during your lifetime – the falls are simply amazing! I’d recommend going to the Canadian side, as we did – the views are much better from there.
Just being close to them is amazing, and there’s a great visitor centre which explains the history and the stories relating to the falls down the years. You must do the walk behind the falls – from there you can really feel the power of them and you should also enjoy the falls at night.
We stayed in a hotel with falls views rooms, and again, I would highly recommend doing the same. It’s a big premium, but to be able to see the majesty from your own room, morning, noon and night is well worth having.
The town of Niagara Falls is an altogether different experience – tacky as hell! Honestly, it was like arriving in Blackpool in the 1980’s. Amusement arcades, lots of neon and chain restaurants. I wouldn’t bother!
Niagara on the Falls, however, is beautiful, and I’d highly recommend a visit there. It’s everything the main town should be.
#cameltravelontour #myniagara #exploreniagara