Of course we all know about the splendor of Niagara Falls. We’ve seen pictures of it, seen it on TV or at the movies or perhaps have actually been there.
And by Niagara Falls I mean both the American and Canadian side. And if you’ve been there you know the Canadian falls is so much more spectacular. But for the purpose of this travel piece, I will be mentioning some of the other attractions you’ll find up that way. And I’ll start with the Skylon Tower.
This structure rises 520 feet and provides absolutely outstanding views. If the weather cooperates you can look south and see Buffalo (17 miles) and look north and see Toronto (60 miles). You’ll also have a terrific view of the cities of Niagara Falls, New York and Canada. A trip up at night allows you to see both falls illuminated. The tower is actually three upper levels. One is a revolving dining room, the second is the Summit Suite Buffet and the very top is the observation level. I had dinner in the revolving restaurant. It makes one complete revolution every hour. The dining room and observation level are open year round.
Playing in the tower is the 3D/4D movie Legends of Niagara Falls. Here you will experience the power of the falls. A short walk from the tower is the IMAX Theatre. The current film takes you back 12,000 years and explores the history of Niagara. Adjacent to the movie theatre is the Daredevil Exhibit. It answers questions as to who went over the falls in a barrel and why. It also has a display of many of the actual barrels. There is an admission fee for both.
While up here I suggest a ride on WEGO. The service offers four bus lines and it is an ideal way to see the city, even if you’re not going anywhere in particular. Let’s not forget about the Fallsview Casino Resort located in the heart of town. It has 200,000 square feet of space and adjacent is a 374 room hotel. The mall area contains dozens of upscale shops, restaurants and a 1500 seat theatre bringing in top acts like Tony Orlando and Jeff Dunham. Many of the rooms provide an uninterrupted view of the falls.
About 10 miles from Niagara Falls (Canada) is a quaint area known as Niagara on the Lake. I have heard about this place for years and finally got a chance to see it in person. The main road is Queen Street which is lined with shops, restaurants and B & B’s. You can easily spend up to three hours shopping and eating. If you walk about three blocks off Queen you will run into Lake Ontario. It’s worth the walk to gaze out on the lake. If you’re in the right spot, you can see the skyscrapers of Toronto.
On the way to Niagara on the lake you’ll pass many wineries. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to stop in one. Many offer tours and samples. Most are small and easily managed. Also along Niagara Parkway, that’s the road from Niagara falls to Niagara on the Lake, you’ll pass a floral clock made entirely of flowers, the White Water Walk, where you’ll experience, from the shore of course, class 6 rapids, the Whirlpool Aero Car, where you can ride across the river in an elevated car: not for me thanks! Other attractions include jet boat tours, the Butterfly Conservatory and the Bird Kingdom.
In an area called Marineland (you’ll have to drive though it isn’t far) you’ll find a myriad of activities for the family. How about beluga whales, walruses, sea lions, dolphins, a killer whale, a roller coaster, the Sky Screamer and lots of rides. In an area called Clifton Hill, you’ll run across the giant SkyWheel, a 175 foot ferris wheel, gondolas and a 70,000 square foot entertainment complex.
Other local attractions include the Mystery Maze, Guiness Museum, The Fun House, The Haunted House, Big Top Mirror & Laser Maze, the Greg Frewin Theatre, now showing a fascinating illusion show, The Crystal Caves, a wax museum, Ripley’s Museum and an exhilarating helicopter ride. I was offered a ride but I kindly turned it down. Just too much excitement for me.
Of course I have only just begun to tell you what’s available. But I’ll close by saying when you’re actually at the falls, you might think about doing the Behind the Falls Tour. This I did and it was very interesting. You are indeed only about 10 feet behind the cascading Canadian falls. You can go out on a platform and stand next to the water as it soars downward. Then there’s the very popular Maid of the Mist ride. A boat that takes you right up to the falls, while wearing slickers. A most exciting and wet adventure.
And just for good measure a fact or two about the Canadian falls. Four of the Great Lakes empty into the Niagara River and the falls erode about one foot every 10 years. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water flows over Niagara Falls. And this area sees about 14 million visitors every year. Most of course between May and October.
For more information on anything Niagara related go to niagarafallstourism.com. And remember, you don’t have to be on your honeymoon to visit.
Eddie Applefeld is a Baltimore native and a graduate of Towson University. He has been in the broadcasting profession for over 30 years. Currently he is the Promotions Director of WCBM radio. Before that, he was part of the Rouse & Company show on WQSR, host of a cable TV show called Dining Out and adjunct instructor at Towson.