Sunday, July 19, 2015

Niagara Falls - Day 1

After a great few days at the lake in New York, we packed up the car again and headed for the Canadian border for the second segment of our vacation.

After a quick 2-hour drive from Keuka Lake, we reached the border!  OH CANADA....

Our hotel, Embassy Suites, was just a few minutes away from the border and very easy to find.  We selected that hotel due to its location/accessibility to the areas we wanted to explore, the option to have a 2nd room so that Georgia could sleep in her own area, free breakfast, and great reviews on lots of different websites (especially for families).  Upon check-in, we were offered an upgrade to a Presidential Suites (aka - a corner unit) for a very small fee and we jumped at the chance to upgrade our view.  I'd say it was fairly worth it...

The view from Room 1611

It was official... we were never leaving!!!  The view was beyond incredible.  Our room overlooked the Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian/bigger falls) and we could also see the American falls in the distance.  

After a quick change of clothes, we headed out to explore!

First stop.... a closer look at those amazing falls!  Since our hotel was above the falls, we had to take the Incline Railway down to the Table Rock Centre to access the falls.

Photo Courtesy of: St. Catharine's Standard

Fairly certain Georgia would have just ridden the railway all day long and been happy!

The noise is just incredible - you can truly FEEL the power of the falls just walking around the area.

Georgia's favorite part was the perpetual rainbow that always seemed to appear in the mist...

The Table Rock Centre is beautiful and looks brand new (I read that it had an extensive update in 2008).  It has lots of little shops, a food court, and serves as the main welcoming center to the "attractions."

We decided to buy the Adventure Pass (children under the age of 6 are free), which granted us access/tickets to the 4 main attractions:

  • Hornblower Niagara Cruises (Canadian version of Maid of the Mist)
  • Journey Behind the Falls
  • White Water Walk
  • Niagara's Fury
It also gave us a two day pass to the WEGO/bus transportation system, which was highly organized and a great way to get around the city! 

I give the Canadians major props for their organization - everything is a well-oiled machine!  When we bought our tickets, they booked us times for the tour behind the falls, the Fury experience, and the walking tour since they all require elevator times to get to certain parts of the falls.  If we showed up early, they were easily able to swap us into an earlier time slot without any trouble.

Since we had a few hours of daylight left, we decided to knock off one attraction and do the Journey Behind the Falls.  

Looking like a little tourist and ready for some action!

Niagara Falls is very Disney-esque in their lines/queue system.  At our designated time, we waited above in the visitor's center until we were brought into a different section to wait for a few minutes.  At this point, we were all given bright yellow ponchos and entered into another long line that constantly inched forward.  BUT, we weren't quite there yet, as we still had to wait for our elevator to take us down behind the falls.  Georgia loved wearing her "trash bag" and she waited patiently (as patient as a 4 year-old can be!).

Once the elevators opened down below, the sound and the vibrations were amazing.  

It's so cool to be down on the level of the falls to be able to see how BIG they really are and how much water is coming over the falls every second!

Checking out the falls and the American Maid of the Mist boat approaching the falls

After coming back up to street level, we decided to walk to the Clifton Hill neighborhood of Niagara Falls for dinner.  It was about a 1/2 mile walk along the main Niagara Parkway and we had great views of the falls the entire time.  We were thankful that we remembered to pack our small umbrella stroller so that we could just push Georgia since it was a decent walk and partially uphill.

Views from our walk

The Clifton Hill neighborhood has a real tourist/beach feel to it - tons of restaurants, ice cream/fudge stores, fun museums, mini-golf, etc.  We decided to grab a bite at the Rainforest Cafe knowing that they are fairly good with food allergies and I had NO desire to visit the ER in Canada!!  We quickly learned that the Canadians take food allergies VERY seriously.  I'm not sure whether it was reassuring or has just made me more worried about eating out in America.  At first, the only safe thing for Georgia to eat was a plain hamburger (no bun, since they couldn't guarantee it was safe).  But I was able to request some french fries, since she is okay with baked diary.  

Georgia requested a ride on the Skywheel!

Great views of the falls from the top of the very, very, very high ferris wheel.  Georgia loved it - I was a tad apprehensive!

We also had a great view of the neighboring mini-golf course and their gigantic volcano during our spin on the wheel!

We also found Tops the Dino's long lost relatives...

Since it was a long day, we decided to head back to our hotel to crash and prep for another long day exploring the falls.  I was so impressed with the landscaping in the city - beautiful gardens and flowers everywhere...

As we were walking back, the lights that illuminate the falls were firing up for the night...

Whew - what a first day and we had only been in Niagara Falls for an afternoon and evening!  We made our way back to the Table Rock Centre and took up the railway incline to get back to our hotel.  From our room, we had a great view of the falls at night...

American falls to the left; Canadian falls to the center/right

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