This past week I traveled to Niagara Falls for the first time. I had been wanting to go for awhile but just hadn’t planned the trip. Finally, my mom and I jumped into the car early one morning and started driving. It was overcast and a little rainy when we arrived, but we didn’t care, we went straight to Niagara Falls State Park in New York.
We spent time on Goat Island taking selfies and pictures of the falls. Because we went in winter, we couldn’t get as close to the falls as we could in summer because the ramps were froze over. But, we still got some amazing pictures and beat the crowds (apparently in summer, there are so many people you can hardly move).
After leaving the park, we went hotel shopping. I was living on the edge and hadn’t booked anything ahead of time. Almost all the hotels had availability and reasonable prices, considering it was the middle of the weed and the off season. We chose the Fairfield Marriott. After getting settled into our hotel, we didn’t have a plan of what to do next, all we knew was that we didn’t want to do any cheesy tourist attractions that are in every major city.
We ended up going to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls (we love shopping!) and found some amazing deals. It was Boxing Day so we found good sales in Yankee Candle, Under Armour, Saks off 5th, Charlotte Russe, Go! Calendars, and many more.
The next morning we woke up early and headed straight into Niagara Falls, Ontario. The setup of the city can be confusing at first, especially when you don’t have cell service in the country. So, we drove around for a bit before stumbling upon the right road to the falls.
The Canadian Falls were stunning in comparison to the American Falls. However, it was difficult to get good pictures because there was so much mist coming off the falls that it created a fog. I’m not a scientist, so I’m not exactly sure if that is something that happens all the time in certain areas of the falls, or if it was just caused by the temperature that day. As someone who is not a fan of rain, I was upset that on a beautiful, blue sky day, there was a quarter-mile stretch that I was getting rained on.
After getting some pictures, we ventured into the information center/gift shop building where we bought a wonder pass for $25 CAD. This was a wonderful deal that gave us access to several attractions and a two day bus pass. But first, we were hungry and decided to get lunch at the restaurant in the building. It was not very crowded and we got a seat by the windows with a perfect view of the falls. We got drinks and shared some delicious artichoke dip.
After lunch we decided to see Journey Behind the Falls, which is basically just walking through a tunnel under the water until you get to an opening where you just see white and hear rushing water. It wasn’t what I expected, you couldn’t see through the falls at all, but I’m still happy to be able to say I’ve been behind the falls.
After going behind the falls, we decided to use our bus passes to go to the downtown part of the city. We got off at the Fallsview Casino Resort. I’m not a big gambler, I like the atmosphere more than I like giving away my money, but I decided to play the slots just a few times. After losing $5 we went to the shopping area which had some unusual stores. After picking up a bottle of wine, we hopped back on the bus and headed back our car.
The next stop was Niagara-on-the-Lake, a quaint little town about 15 minutes up the road. Unfortunately, we got there late so several of the shops were starting the close, but we still went in a few cute boutiques and wineries before deciding to get dinner at a local restaurant.
After dinner we headed back to Niagara Falls, Ontario to see the falls lit up at night and try to find a hotel. The falls were super cool and changed colors; definitely a must see! But then after, we went to find a hotel but by the time we started looking, everything was booked. We thought about going back to the U.S. side to see if there was availability there, but ended up heading towards Toronto since that was where we were planning to visit in the morning.
I really enjoyed traveling without a plan to see Niagara for the first time, but I will definately do things differently next time. If you are traveling over a weekend or anytime in summer, book you hotels in advance so you don’t have to run around frantically searching like I did. Also use google and come up with a plan of what you want to see ahead of time, so you can make better use of your time.
Stay tuned for my next unplanned vacation!