We got to Niagara Falls late in the day on Wednesday, crossed the river/border, chatted briefly with a pleasant young man at Canadian customs, and found our way to a stylishly vintage-looking Holiday Inn just up the hill from the Falls.
I had been to Niagara Falls for a very brief visit back in the fall of 2005 as part of that year's NSGIC Conference. I knew then that I wanted to bring Karen and the girls back for a bit longer stay. This time, we had an evening and a full day to check things out.
We started with a dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of the "Skylon" tower. It featured good food and great views of the Falls and both the US and Canadian Niagaras.
On Thursday, we carried a full load of tourism. We viewed the Falls from up close, both above and below. We walked in the tunnels under the Falls and got soaked on the lower viewing platform. We walked the trail along the wild white water downstream from the Falls. And we visited the butterfly conservatory, where clouds of pastel bugs floated around and among crowds of delighted visitors. If one is lucky (and I was) butterflies stop by to check you out.
Of course we also rode the Maid of the Mist, which ferries visitors up river and as close to the Falls as is prudent. Each passenger is given a blue plastic poncho. When the wind is up, as it was on our visit, these ponchos are a challenge to control. And it is the case that once into the thick spray below the falls, photography is impossible. But this trip is always worth the wetting.
We finished our visit with a dinner at the Table Rock Restaurant, which overlooks the Falls themselves.
The area around Niagara Falls is remarkably developed. When I used to hear about Niagara Falls as a child, I imagined a wild, natural scene. In reality, the Falls provide a center-point between two largish cities; one in each nation. On both sides, the river banks are parks with nicely developed trails and amenities. Back from the banks are hotels and tourist attractions. The Canadian side seems more developed and features towers and a casino or two. But it is a pleasant place to visit.
If only for a day or two.