Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Niagara Falls Part 1

We did it! The four of us traveled almost 1000 miles, 4 days, 3 states, and 2 countries all to enjoy the famous Niagara Falls.

We got our start later in the day than expected because of some of Ryan's work but all was alright and we did finally arrive at our destination around 2 am.

This was a great trip for all of us. And actually did not cost us very much considering what we would have HAD to pay if we made different choices.

Our first money saver? Staying at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Talking to reception it is one of the best kept secrets of the area. A lot of people have never heard of this teeny, tiny base. They really don't have much, but the lodging is quite nice. For a room with 2 queen beds, tv, dvd player, mini fridge, and 3/4 bathroom we paid less than $40 a night. The fitness room was literally across the hall from us. Free laundry just down the hall. Oh, and did I mention, this sweet little place was a mere 15 minute EASY drive to the park? Definitely a score for us!

Out next big money saver? Packing our own food. We brought stuff for breakfast and lunches as well as snacks so we wouldn't waste money on the little park foods. We made some minor mishaps not packing EVERYTHING but that was easily remedied at a local WalMart. Again, saving us the cost of paying for small treats for 3 times their actual cost. We made the decision to eat out for dinner though, that was our splurge.

Our final big money saver? We drove Ryan's car instead of the van. Better gas mileage. Yes, the van would have been roomier and probably more comfortable but I'm happy we took Ryan's car. It was also less likely to have issues on the drive.

So, about the parks: FUN!

I had several people tell me that the American side was run down and not as nice, but I actually preferred the American side. Outside of the State Park it is very commercialized with huge hotels and casinos and flashy stuff, people walking all over, etc... but once you park your car and get into the park grounds it is large sloping grassy area with trees, gardens, and paved trails. It winds throughout allowing you to choose your own path and walk along the rapids of the Niagara River. The visitor's center is not well laid out and not exactly cutting edge, but I felt it was still alright. How fancy does a souvenir shop have to be?
On our first day, after walking around taking pictures of the views, we enjoyed our lunch then got tickets for Maid of the Mist. First we checked out the Observation Tower then headed down to the boarding pier. We just missed the boat but that was alright because down the walkway was stairs leading up to Crow's Nest. Ryan opted to keep the kids at the bottom which was probably a good idea.
View from the Observation Tower of American Falls with Canadian side of Horseshoe Falls in the distance
The Crow's Nest are stairs leading up to the edge of the American Falls. You can *just* see them near the bottom left corner of the picture above. There was gravel at the bottom and the steps were somewhat slick since you are getting constant spray/mist. It was still a fun experience.
I came back down and we headed back to Maid of the Mist boarding. We received our blue ponchos just in time as it began to rain! Not a big deal on the boat because you get quite wet anyway.
 The boat travels along the American Falls and straight to the middle of Horseshoe Falls. Once there you are getting sprayed hardcore by all the mist from those thunderous falls! The boat is rocking and bouncing from all the choppy waves. Will really liked the boat ride while Lana was having some behavior issues and had to deal with Daddy.

American Side of Horseshoe Falls
American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
After we returned to the pier the rain had really picked up. We headed back to the Visitor's Center and Gift Shops for some shopping. When the rain continued to pour we decided to call it a day. We drove around the town of Niagara Falls for awhile, picked up a few food items, and settled into our hotel room for the night and washed Alanna's carseat since she got a bit carsick earlier that day. (Oops!)

Overall it was a great start to our weekend!


1 comment:

  1. That looks so amazing! I love the pic of you and Ryan - you guys look really happy. :) I'm so glad you got to take a little trip! :D