Niagara Falls Guide
Niagara Falls, viewed from Ontario, Canada. American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and New York state are on the left, Goat Island in the middle and Horseshoe Falls on the right. Photo by MamaGeek
Niagara Falls today
Even just 40 years ago the majesty of the ‘falls were fairly unsullied and most visitors just wanted to admire one of Nature’s most awesome sights (if they weren’t on honeymoon). But a couple of decades later ‘modern’ commercial development, aimed at the mass tourist market, took root on the American side and over the last ten years the Canadians have followed suit.
The result is a grotesque contrast of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – the magnificence of the falls and their immediate surroundings set against a ghastly backdrop of high rise hotels, amusement park attractions, shops hawking tatty souvenirs and chain eateries.
Going over the top
Many people, by accident, for thrills or for financial gain have gone over the falls, mostly in barrels.
The first recorded jump (and survival) was in 1829, while the first barrel job was by 63 year-old Annie Taylor in 1901. Since then many have followed in their soggy footsteps, and many have died or been seriously injured in the process. It is illegal to deliberately go over the falls.
Niagara Falls weather
Frozen Falls. Photo by DeRahier.
The coldest months in Niagara Falls are November – March, when temperatures are generally between -6 and 4°C (21 and 39°F). June, July and August are warm, with temperatures running from 15°C (59°F) to 25°C (77°F). Visitors close to the falls can get wet from the mist if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction so prepare to wear rain gear if necessary.
Where are the Falls?
The falls are 17 miles (27 km) north of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Toronto, Ontario, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.
If you are a citizen of the USA, you will not need a passport to enter Canada but should carry convincing ID such as your Green Card.
Top tip – always check the exchange rate and pay in the better value currency. When I visited the Canadians were gladly accepting American dollars on a 1: 1 basis although the actual rate was 0. 80 : 1.
Some comments from American visitors about Niagara Falls
“Bucket list? More like bucket of s***! ”
“We were underwhelmed. It looked nothing like the photos. The falls were full of litter and in every direction there were neon lights and overpriced burgers. ”
“There is nothing beautiful about these falls. Big grey walls sourrounding the area. Ugly hotels are built next to it. ”
“Lame and boring. The place was packed with foreigners who always walked into our pictures in the middle of taking them. “