Niagara Falls is the collective name for the three waterfalls – Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls – that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States. Located on the Niagara River, they are located just 27km northwest of Buffalo, New York, but they feel a world away.
When to go
September is the best month to visit. The weather is still fine with plenty of warm, blue-sky days without the hot temperatures of the mid-summer season – perfect conditions to enjoy the breathtaking views and explore. Photographs taken will be full of bright colours without crowds of people standing in the background. All of the attractions are still open and running, but because the crowds are thinner it allows you to have moments where it feels like it is just you and the beauty of Mother Nature. Less time is spent queueing to experience must-see attractions and hotel prices begin to come down too. There is also a full public transport schedule running during September.
Make your visit an adventure
There are so many exciting things you can do to make your visit a real adventure and get the adrenaline flowing. High on your to-do list should be the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Operating since 1846 from the American side of the Falls, the boat takes you past the American and Bridal Veil Falls right into the very centre of Horseshoe Falls. On this 20-minute trip, you get up close and personal with the power of the thunderous waterfalls, feel the spray on your face and the rumble through your feet as over 2.7 million litres of water cascades into the gorge every second. Hornblower Niagara Cruises operates a similar experience from the Canadian side. It is best to pre-book tickets from their respective websites to guarantee your place on what are the most popular tours in the area. The Wonderpass, available from www.niagaraparks.com, is a great value combination ticket to some of the best attractions on the Canadian side.
Don’t forget your passport
I love taking in the views from both the American and Canadian side of the Falls, but you will need your passport to cross the border. Walk across the Rainbow Bridge to cross the border to either side (US$0.50 toll) and stop halfway across where both the Canadian and US flags fly for a unique perspective. Just along from the boarding point for the Maid of the Mist tour, there is a great walkway which takes you alongside the American Falls. It almost feels as though the water is falling from above you. Cross the bridge onto Goat Island and enjoy the Horseshoe Falls up-close. You’ll also find the Cave of Winds attraction here, where you follow a series of wooden walkways to the famous Hurricane Deck, within feet of the Bridal Veil Falls.
Head for heights
My favourite photographs taken while visiting the Niagara Falls have been snapped from the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side. Towering 236m over the Falls, the views from the observation decks are unparalleled and you are able to see the bigger picture too, taking in the geography of the entire area. There is a wire safety fence between you and the view, but it is still possible to take great photographs without getting the fence in shot. Feeling peckish? There is a 360-degree revolving restaurant at the top of the tower. Again, pre-booking tickets and making reservations online are recommended during busy periods.
The Falls at night
Every evening, the Falls take on another personality when they are transformed by the multi-coloured lighting of the Falls Illumination. This amazing water-and-light show takes place all year round and the Falls are even lit up in custom colours for special occasions – for example, they are red, white and blue on May 29, Memorial Day. There are also firework displays during summer evenings and on selected dates throughout the year. If your trip coincides with one of these displays, be sure to head out to Queen Victoria Park for the best views. Visit www.niagaraparks.com for the full schedule of firework displays and the Falls Illumination timetable.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.