Trip to Niagara Falls (long)

softball_80June 11, 2007


I dont write on That Home Site nearly as often as I used to. My wife & I, along with 2 of my daughters just got back from a 4 day / 3 night trip to Niagara Falls. We stayed on the Canadian side. We made a few mistakes and IÂm writing this in an attempt to keep others from making the same ones.

First, the accommodations. We stayed at the Marriott Niagara Falls Fallsview & Spa. We requested the highest floor possible, and they put us on the 22nd. What a view! I made the reservation on the internet and got a large room with two queen sized beds, along with a separate sitting room with its own TV for $199.95 a night (Canadian) midweek; we checked in on Tuesday & left on Friday. I donÂt know if anybody ever pays the price printed on the back of a hotel room door, but it was $1259.00 a night!!!!! My wife, a clean freak, called it Âvery clean and I rarely hear that out of her. There is an indoor swimming pool, but we didnÂt get around to trying it out. We drove from Philadelphia, and so didnÂt have to worry about passports  just needed photo IDÂs.

The first night we were tired and just went out to a local Outback Steak House. The bill was $106 including two drinks, but they did not adjust the price when we paid with US dollars. I am not an experienced international traveler, but I now know that I should have converted most of my currency to Canadian dollars. I did convert $100 at the hotel but they would only convert Âdollar for dollarÂ. Their explanation was that at the time they were so close in value that it wasnÂt worth it to do otherwise. Maybe to them, but not to me! There are a few places within walking distance where you can get an exchange without getting ripped off. I am not much of a gambler, but my wife & I went to the local casino just because it was so close and we wanted to see what it looked like. All the slots & video poker machines only accept Canadian currency. I converted $20 US to $20.75 Canadian; this at a place thatÂs in business to take your money (we lost, BTW. Oh, wellÂ). In my experience, most of the places we ate at or went to would adjust the price downward when you pay with US dollars, but not all. So, donÂt be a fool like me. Convert your money and if you have a bit of Canadian left when youÂre ready to leave, use it for tipping the maid, etc.

In the morning we ate breakfast at the hotel. Without inquiring what was the cost, we took the Âa la carteÂ. One of my kids (21 & 20) always eats a light breakfast, so she just had cereal and juice. Anyway, a la carte was $24.95 per person (US or Canadian) Â more than dinner the night before, after taxes, etc! A waste of money, and a mistake IÂll never make again.

If you ever go to Niagara Falls you absolutely have to take the Maid of the Mist boat ride. I believe it was $14 Canadian / $12.50 US. You get a throwaway plastic poncho to keep the spray off, and does it ever come in handy! Spectacular views  bring a camera but keep it under wraps between shots. There is also a Journey Behind the Falls  about the same price. To me, it wasnÂt worth it, although some might disagree. You walk through a damp tunnel carved out of the rock and you come outside just feet from the waterfall itself. You REALLY need the poncho here! Afterward, another tunnel takes you perhaps a third of the way under the falls, but falling water is all you see when you look through the portals  no points of reference. You could have a guy up above with a fire hose and youÂd never know the difference.

We took a ride up to the Skylon Tower, the highest point in Niagara Falls, for some pictures. Once again, bring Canadian money. DonÂt bother with the 3D movie they have on the ground floor  itÂs only 15 minutes long and another $6 or so.

I almost forgot to mention  it seems that they take your photo at every attraction and try to sell it back to you afterwards, for $20. I went for it one time, but that was it. There are also souvenir shops at every exit, but I have to say the prices were reasonable and they did discount for US funds. Also gas is sold by the liter - $1.05.6 Canadian or well over $4 a gallon. Yikes!

As it turned out we rarely ventured far from the falls itself on the trip, for whatever reason. Two nights would have done  we were sort of stretching for things to do the last full day. Anyway, thatÂs my take on the trip. I hope my experiences will be of some benefit to anyone thinking about a trip to Niagara Falls.

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We've been to the Falls many times, staying on both the Canadian side and the American side...After a couple of times, I did find, it's better to pay with a credit card..Also we found the Canadian side to be too commerialized and really did prefer the American side...To do the things on the other side, you just have to drive over, which of course takes time...Several times, we've been in New York and have driven over just to have dinner at the Rainforest Cafe...Seeing the Falls is something everyone should see, from both sides....

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 4:17PM
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Thank you so much! I'm taking my kids for the first time this July and it's always terrific to learn the highs and lows on someone else's dime!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 7:42PM
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Hi all,

My mother and I went to the Canadian side in June 2001. We enjoyed it, but the exchange rate was very favorable, and we didn't stay right at the falls. We stayed at a B & B on the lake, just east of Nigara on the Lake. I agree the boat ride is worth it and the portals are not, although some of the kids in the tunnels seemed to get a kick out of it. Some of the things we enjoyed not mentioned: the elevator down to the gorge and a short hike (it was way too hot to walk down) and the botantical gardens were stellar. We were there during the Shaw Festival and went to a play at the festival. It was kind of expensive, but we enjoyed it. The food was much better in Niagara on the Lake than by the falls. There's also a bike/walk trail along the river upstream of the falls, as well as a scenic drive. We walked a short way but mostly drove. We considered but didn't take the trip on the souped up rafts that go up the river to the huge hydraulic hole that forms downstream from the falls.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:21PM
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