Niagara Falls!

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
bungalow10
Posts: 2262
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Niagara Falls!

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:04 pm

DH and I are taking the kids to Niagara Falls this summer (June/July). Kids are 7, 5, 2 years old. We will be renting a house on the US side. I have questions...

1. Do we need passports to travel to/from Canada? I was told "no" by a friend, but googling indicates that is not the right answer.
1b. Are passport cards a better/cheaper solution than the books? Anyone have any experience with them?

2. Is the Niagara Falls area bikeable? Should we take our bikes or rent there?

3. What should we not-miss?
Last edited by bungalow10 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

Triple digit golfer
Posts: 3487
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 5:57 pm

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by Triple digit golfer » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:13 pm

1. Yes, you need passports. This is relatively new. The cards are cheaper and they are acceptable if you not flying.

2. I wouldn't recommend it, but you can. It can get pretty crowded. It's nothing like I imagined - it's almost like a giant carnival.

3. Niagara Falls State Park (U.S.), Maid of the Mist boat ride, and seeing the lights from the Canadian side at night.

Lynette
Posts: 1889
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by Lynette » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:16 pm

.....
Last edited by Lynette on Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
bungalow10
Posts: 2262
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:19 pm

Lynette wrote:You need a passport. There's a lot of rather cheesy, touristy stuff - my opinion. I went twice last year. Still learning photography but this may give you some idea. Blogs:

http://journeyniagara.blogspot.com/

http://jouneyniagarasun.blogspot.com/
I figured there was a lot of touristy stuff, but I'm hoping that the non-touristy stuff is still there for those that seek it out?
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by flyingbison » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:21 pm

Be sure to take a walk around Goat Island on the US side of the falls.

If you are interested in biking, there is a great bike path that runs along the gorge on the Canadian side, from NF up to Niagara-on-the-Lake (though that would likely be too far to bike with your kids). There is also a very nice butterfly conservatory on the Canadian side: http://www.niagaraparks.com/niagara-fal ... atory.html

User avatar
Flobes
Posts: 1144
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:40 am

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by Flobes » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:24 pm

Cave of the Winds.

Ride an elevator down. Don a yellow rubber poncho (provided). Walk under the falls. Very loud, very wet, very exciting. And very memorable: I was probably @7 when I visited, and it's still vivid in my head and fond in my heart (and I'm in my 60s).

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 8972
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:25 pm

If you're driving you and your wife should be able to cross if you have enhanced driver licenses, but the kids will still need passports.

Take a day while you're there to go up to Niagara-on-the-Lake
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

HIinvestor
Posts: 1833
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:23 am

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by HIinvestor » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:29 pm

There is a museum on the Ontario side that H, BIL and I toured. It has an old, restored fire truck and info about the Canadian currency and anti-counterfeiting measures they implemented in it. A guide gave is free materials that pointed these out nicely on Canadian money. They also had clothing you could dress up in and photograph, as well as info about folks who went over the falls and a pole you can try balancing on to cross a mock falls. It also has a short movie included in the admission. We pretty much had the place to ourselves when we went in September.

We also enjoyed the Niagra on the Lake are in Niagra Falls Ontario. It was quaint and pretty, with parks -and lots of shops and a very reasonably-priced greek place. We also went to Trios winery for tasting, a tour and a fine dining meal (pricey with the kids and they likely wouldn't enjoy it).

We were with a large group and had a private tour one day. He was excellent and it included a ticket to go up to see Niagra Falls from the tower at night that night, which several of us did. We also had a meal at a casino cafe in Niagra Falls Ontario (it was the only place open when BIL arrived late). We had a great Italian meal and Japanese buffet as well, all in NF Ontario, where we were staying.

Saw the fireworks over the falls one night-- was fun and pretty but chilly in September. Sun glasses and a hat were good--does get pretty sunny.
Last edited by HIinvestor on Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
bungalow10
Posts: 2262
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:32 pm

This is all great, keep up the suggestions! We will be there a full week and have lots of time to fill.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 39470
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by nisiprius » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:32 pm

I don't know if this is an every-day-sure-thing but the high point of our trip was being in Victoria Park near sunset with the sun behind us and seeing a 360° full-circle circular rainbow, above us and below us, in the mists of the falls.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 21496
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:34 pm

^ Agree - Cave of the Winds and the Maid of the Mist boat ride. I visited when I was 11 - the memory is still vivid especially the boat ride.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by flyingbison » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:35 pm

bungalow10 wrote:This is all great, keep up the suggestions! We will be there a full week and have lots of time to fill.
There are lots of great historical sites, on both sides of the border, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/thin ... o/history/

Topic Author
bungalow10
Posts: 2262
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:36 pm

flyingbison wrote:
bungalow10 wrote:This is all great, keep up the suggestions! We will be there a full week and have lots of time to fill.
There are lots of great historical sites, on both sides of the border, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/thin ... o/history/
Thank you, we are very interested in that sort of thing.

eta: just looked at the link. My 7 year old will love visiting the birthplace of the Buffalo wing, he loves weird stuff like that.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

flyingbison
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:52 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by flyingbison » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:44 pm

bungalow10 wrote:
flyingbison wrote:
bungalow10 wrote:This is all great, keep up the suggestions! We will be there a full week and have lots of time to fill.
There are lots of great historical sites, on both sides of the border, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/thin ... o/history/
Thank you, we are very interested in that sort of thing.

eta: just looked at the link. My 7 year old will love visiting the birthplace of the Buffalo wing, he loves weird stuff like that.
There are better places for wings, but everyone should go to Anchor Bar at least once.

JohnFiscal
Posts: 729
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:28 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by JohnFiscal » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:47 pm

One of my most awesome walks years ago was a full day walk, about 14 miles, starting up-river on the Canadian side, along the river, crossing to the US side, then to Goat Island in the middle, then back again.

But your kids are too young for that; they may even be too young for longer distance cycling. I would not recommend bicycling around the Falls area, nor even driving, vehicle traffic is too heavy. The Canadian side (the nicer side) has a dedicated public transit system for the Falls region. Wife and I took a day long bus tour when we were there last fall and I recommend that, especially with the kids. You get to go to the front of the line at places like the river boat, the caves, etc, which saves a LOT of time.

I definitely recommend a trip down to Niagara-on-the-Lake. A nice quaint town. Walk through it. And there are nearby parks with a lovely bike trail.

For the kids, check out the old historic forts, Fort Erie on the Ontario side, and Fort Niagara on the US side. And of course the Falls museum with the old barrels, etc, used by daredevils.

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 8972
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:48 pm

flyingbison wrote:
bungalow10 wrote:This is all great, keep up the suggestions! We will be there a full week and have lots of time to fill.
There are lots of great historical sites, on both sides of the border, if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Fort Niagara

http://www.oldfortniagara.org/
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

User avatar
BL
Posts: 9165
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by BL » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:57 pm

Don't forget Tesla!
Nikola Tesla is the only mad scientist with statues on both sides of Niagara Falls.

Lynette
Posts: 1889
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by Lynette » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:02 pm

.....
Last edited by Lynette on Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

ndchamp
Posts: 272
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 8:30 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by ndchamp » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:04 pm

http://www.dmv.org/driving-abroad/passport-license.php

The Canadian side (IMHO) has much better views.
Parking, on both sides, is limited and expensive. We took a bus tour on the Canadian side 2 years ago. Loved it.

Angst
Posts: 2068
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:31 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by Angst » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:54 pm

"Slowly I turned, inch by inch, step by step..."

User avatar
bltkmt
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:56 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by bltkmt » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:54 pm

Angst wrote:"Slowly I turned, inch by inch, step by step..."

You beat me to it! :sharebeer

The Wizard
Posts: 13356
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by The Wizard » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:02 pm

We took bicycles and stayed on the Canadian side two years ago.
There's a fun paved bike path along the river from just N of downtown all the way up to the lake.
And apparently from S of downtown as well, but we didn't do that part.
Nice botanic garden right off the bike trail, details here: http://www.niagaraparks.com/

As others said passports are needed. But it can be a PAIN getting back into the US with long waits in line.
So you do not want to go to the Canadian side more than once, hence consider staying over there...
Attempted new signature...

JohnFiscal
Posts: 729
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:28 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by JohnFiscal » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:11 pm

The Wizard wrote:...As others said passports are needed. But it can be a PAIN getting back into the US with long waits in line.
So you do not want to go to the Canadian side more than once, hence consider staying over there...
Good idea.

I wonder if the long waits apply to pedestrians crossing? I've crossed on foot but not since the new border rules (last time I crossed there was a Mounty sitting at a card table in the middle of the bridge :P ). I have read where there is not much foot traffic now.

If driving, one might consider the crossing at Ft. Erie about 20 miles away.

an_asker
Posts: 2496
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by an_asker » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:41 pm

We were there last year July/August timeframe. A couple of things for now - I will likely come back to add more later.

- DO NOT try to go across the border (only at Rainbow Bridge?) on a weekend evening. It is a circus. We made that mistake and it took us almost an hour to cross the bridge, and that too because we waited an hour or two extra to let traffic go down a bit.

- on the Canadian (might be available on the US side as well, but we went in from the Canadian side) side get the whatchamacallit (I'll fix this when/if I remember) excursion package depending on your likes/dislikes - there were a couple of combinations catering different kinds of customers. One variety included the butterfly gardens someone referred to, and the other included a trip/elevator down to the rapids downstream of the Falls. The IMAX show and the Cave under the Falls (again, I need to find the right words) were also included in ours.

- one thing we loved on the Canadian side (has nothing to do with the Falls) was this Buddhist temple - Ten Thousand Stupas. Very interesting indeed.

- also, there is a flower clock that chimes every quarter hour (also on the Canadian side).

- if you have never had them, check out the Coffee Crisp candy bars while in Canada; my favorite :-)

- though it might be a paid to get the passports etc, do get them and cross over to the Canadian side. The view is definitely better.

- if you wish to use your two weeks, you might want to drive a couple of hours down to Letchworth state park. There is a nice little river and dam (Morris Dam?) there. We had been here in 1999; this time, we did not have time to stop there :-(

Here's a few more!

And yeah! The USA side is decidedly more run down than the Canadian side. In fact, by comparison, it appeared like a slum. Canadians have made their side all touristy AND tacky, but - like I said - in comparison, it definitely comes out ahead. I don't know if it would be fun to bike along the Falls - way too many tourists. But a couple of miles upstream? Maybe yes, on the Canadian side. I cannot see the fun in biking the upstream end of the USA side. There is a park downstream on the USA side - we never went there, so I cannot help you on that one.

BTW, if you have time to kill, consider a trip north of the border to Bruce Peninsula. Plenty of biking opportunities there.
cheese_breath wrote:If you're driving you and your wife should be able to cross if you have enhanced driver licenses, but the kids will still need passports.

Take a day while you're there to go up to Niagara-on-the-Lake
I don't think bungalow10 has a wife ;-)
Last edited by an_asker on Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

HIinvestor
Posts: 1833
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:23 am

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by HIinvestor » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:53 pm

Oh, yea, we did go the fort on the Ontario side. We stayed at Wyndham Garden Inn and had free parking included in our hotel rate. The rooms were fine and they had a decent coffee shop. We mostly stayed in Ontario, but did have to cross Rainbow bridge several times--in September it wasn't bad. There was a Costco that was a short drive away on the Canadian side that we went to. I bought Swiss dark chocolates in a bag there--reasonably priced and delicious. Charged meals & things in Canada with a no foreign transaction fees Capitol One card and also tried out the ATM using my Schwab debit card with ATam fee reimbursement and no foreign transaction fee debit card, so I could leave tips for housekeeping, etc. They also take US dollars. :)

We had a quick meal at a Dairy Queen in Ontario and a group of seniors came in with some attendants from Sr. living--one was celebrating his 100th birthday or similar.

JohnFiscal
Posts: 729
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:28 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by JohnFiscal » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:02 pm

How do those international ships make it down the St. Laurence seaway to the ports in Chicago, etc, when there are those pesky Falls in the way?

The Welland Ship Canal!

This goes right near the Falls and is an interesting place to stop and watch the locks (to change the ships' elevation the same height as the height of the falls and the river's change in elevation itself) and ship traffic. A number of sites you can view from. Check out www.wellandcanal.com and the Wikipedia entry.

an_asker
Posts: 2496
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by an_asker » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:09 pm

JohnFiscal wrote:How do those international ships make it down the St. Laurence seaway to the ports in Chicago, etc, when there are those pesky Falls in the way?

The Welland Ship Canal!

This goes right near the Falls and is an interesting place to stop and watch the locks (to change the ships' elevation the same height as the height of the falls and the river's change in elevation itself) and ship traffic. A number of sites you can view from. Check out http://www.wellandcanal.com and the Wikipedia entry.
Wow! I didn't know about that. Don't know why I didn't even ask. WIll definitely visit next time :-)

JohnFiscal
Posts: 729
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:28 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by JohnFiscal » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:20 pm

Actually, the drive along the river from the Falls to Fort Erie (Canadian side) is very scenic and not too long, less than an hour. (just don't go when you're thinking you're going to get some breakfast/lunch right away :)

Then hop on the QEW to get back to where you want to be.

ETA: the parkway along the river also has a nice bike path.

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 8972
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:35 pm

JohnFiscal wrote:How do those international ships make it down the St. Laurence seaway to the ports in Chicago, etc, when there are those pesky Falls in the way?

The Welland Ship Canal!

This goes right near the Falls and is an interesting place to stop and watch the locks (to change the ships' elevation the same height as the height of the falls and the river's change in elevation itself) and ship traffic. A number of sites you can view from. Check out http://www.wellandcanal.com and the Wikipedia entry.
+1
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 8972
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:37 pm

an_asker wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:If you're driving you and your wife should be able to cross if you have enhanced driver licenses, but the kids will still need passports.

Take a day while you're there to go up to Niagara-on-the-Lake
I don't think bungalow10 has a wife ;-)
:oops: I guess it would have to be a threesome. :oops: :oops: :oops:
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

G3VALD1G
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:21 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by G3VALD1G » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:34 pm

Turns out the children don't need passports if they travel with the parents, birth certificates should satisfy for all under the age of 16. Parents though will need passports.

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail ... M2plbm8%3D

Bfwolf
Posts: 1962
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: Niagra Falls!

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:11 am

Flobes wrote:
Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:24 pm
Cave of the Winds.

Ride an elevator down. Don a yellow rubber poncho (provided). Walk under the falls. Very loud, very wet, very exciting. And very memorable: I was probably @7 when I visited, and it's still vivid in my head and fond in my heart (and I'm in my 60s).
+1

Cave of the Winds is on the American side. It's a set of wooden walkways and stairs that basically lead you right up to the falls. The "hurricane deck" where the falls are practically coming down on your head are incredible.

User avatar
Chip Munk
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:01 pm

Re: Niagara Falls!

Post by Chip Munk » Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:21 am

Prior to a trip to Canada a few years ago, I had read that if you will be driving into Canada, you are required to have proof of insurance with you. I called my insurance company and they emailed me a "CANADA NON-RESIDENT INTER-PROVINCE MOTOR VEHICLE LIABILITY INSURANCE CARD" as a PDF. I printed it out and brought it along with us. I was not asked for it when we crossed the border but apparently if you are stopped while driving in Canada and cannot provide proof of insurance, you could be fined. If your auto insurance company cannot provide this document, it's possible a copy of the declarations page from your auto policy would suffice.

I agree with others -- the view from the Canadian side is much better. The viewing area right next to Horseshoe Falls is amazing.

Post Reply