One of our goals for this adventure was to see as many national parks as we could. Although Niagara Falls isn’t a national park, it is America’s oldest state park, so it seemed fitting to add to our itinerary. Plus, it worked out to be a perfect place to stop on our way to the east coast. We stayed on Grand Island, which was only about 15 minutes from Niagara. There wasn’t too much else in area that interested us besides the falls, so we were glad that we only planned to stay for a week. We ended up seeing the falls twice, once from the American side and once from the Canadian side.
If you are planning a trip to see the falls, definitely plan to go on a weekday. We went to the American side on a Tuesday evening after work. It was busy, but we were able park easily and purchase tickets to get onto the Maid of the Mist right away. On Saturday, we planned to park on the American side and walk over to Canada. We drove around the area for a full hour looking for parking before finally just deciding to drive over instead.
My take away from the experiences is that the Niagara Falls are beautiful, a true work of art by Mother Nature. The Maid of the Mist was definitely worth doing. It was cool to be able to be in the action and get close to the waterfalls. However, it was kind of disheartening to see how commercialized the area was. The American side wasn’t so bad, at least there was a park on the waterfront. Although the Canadian side has better, straight on views of the falls, the surrounding area just really took away from the experience. There is a busy street running right next to the overlook and just a few blocks away is one of the most obnoxious streets I have ever seen, Clifton Hills. Neon lights and noise everywhere – it is a real juxtaposition with the roaring grandeur of the falls. We did find a really nice park on the Canadian side west of the falls and a free Botanical Gardens. You just have to be willing to get away from the main tourist area. So even though we planned had planned on walking over, driving over instead really turned out to be a good choice.
In summary, we recommend seeing the falls from either the Canadian or American side. Be prepared to spend time parking or crossing the border, but the wait is worth it. If you are planning a trip, a day or two in the area is enough. Pictures definitely don’t do the falls justice, go see them in person.