Past,  Travel & Culture

5-Day Trip to Niagara Falls with My Parents

Dear Annie,

I can’t believe that I went to Chicago with my parents in April; then Canada and Niagara Falls with them and family friends from Taiwan in early May; and now, I am in California about to go on another week-long vacation with my parents and family friends from Taiwan. It’s a lot of parent and me bonding time, and I am not ready for it.

You said you had the chance to go to Niagara Falls with your family, but in the end was not able to. I hope you can see some of the beauty through my words and pictures!

First Stop: Thousand Islands

If you’re thinking, “Are you talking about the sauce?” Yes I am! The sauce was named after this region.

Thousand Islands is a group of almost 2,000 islands that straddle the U.S.-Canadian border. We stayed in a small town in Ontario called Gananoque, where we took a 2.5-hour cruise to see the Thousand Islands.

The cruise is a waste of time. The islands aren’t that big or interesting, so I fell asleep for at least half of the ride. If you wanted to visit the Thousand Islands, I think that going to Alexandria Bay from New York would be good enough. There you could see Millionaires Row and their opulent houses, but everything else is very simple and nature-y.

Second Stop: Toronto

We were in Toronto for a day. I’ve heard people describe it as the New York of Canada, and I can kind of see why. There’s so much to do in the city, and each region has its own vibe. We were not able to do much in 1.5 days. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to navigate a city with no data or WiFi. Now I know better – figure out the data situation before going to a foreign country.

I really enjoyed checking out the CN Tower. There are several experiences you can do here: walk on the edge of the tower or just go up and see the views. We went at night and damn! Toronto is beautiful. They were doing some construction in the CN Tower, so we were able to go to several floors and get different angles. I believe there’s also a restaurant up there that you can eat at and soak up the views too – kind of what people do with Top of the Hub in Boston.

Third Stop: Niagara Falls from Canada

The main point of this trip: Niagara Falls. You get the best views of the Falls from Canada side. My dad joked that we shouldn’t tell Trump about this because otherwise he’s going to build a curtain in the middle of the river and charge people for the views that belong to America.

We bought the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, which came with four experiences: Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, and Niagara’s Fury. There are a couple other passes out there where you can customize and have more experiences, but we were only there for 2.5 days so didn’t want to pack in too many activities. The pass came with 48-hour use of their public transportation called WeGo.

View of American Falls from Hornblower Niagara Cruises

Hornblower Niagara Cruises goes down the Niagara River and gets up close and personal to both falls, American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. There is no way you can do this cruise without getting wet. I felt so alive feeling the intensity of the falls. It was here that I realized that there will always be a rainbow at the falls as long as there is sun.

Views of Central Niagara River from the White Water Walk

White Water Walk is a short boardwalk in the central section of the Niagara River. Here you get to see several Category 6 white-water rapids. Just so you know, Category 5 is the hardest level of white water rapids you’re allowed to go on. Category 6 is almost guaranteed harm at best, and death at worst.

There are two restaurants that we ate at that were good for a touristy area:

  1. Le Cascate Pizzeria & Caffe: Sits just above the tourist strip, this Italian restaurant has homemade thin pizzas. We had a pizza with prosciutto and another with salami – the one with prosciutto tasted better.
  2. Elements: This restaurant is located in Table Rock, and you get some gorgeous views of the falls. There is an open patio as well, which is open during season. I didn’t feel like this restaurant was a waste of money, which is what I hate when I’m in a touristy area, so that’s good.

For Journey Behind the Falls, you get to see the falls from behind at two points, and then you get a close up side view of the falls. They used to have a boardwalk right behind the falls, but it’s no longer available because it was deemed too dangerous.

Final Thoughts

The little piece of Toronto that I was able to experience, I enjoyed very much.

Niagara Falls was one of those places I always wanted to go. It’s beautiful. The main hubbub of Niagara Falls is in the upper section because that’s where both falls are located. There are a bunch of other things you could do as you travel down the river.

I recommend spending at least 2.5 days there so you can walk around and relax. 2.5 if you just want to go in and do all the things and get out because it’s a touristy area (read: expensive). Longer if you want to do a bunch of small hikes you can do around the area that me and my gang didn’t get to.

Also, the Niagara Falls from the American side is nice too. You get really close to both falls, and there are a few tiny islands you can walk around on.

I’m glad I finally checked off the Niagara Falls on my bucket list!

xo Juliet

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