By Lisa Mallett
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations? I have lived in or near Niagara Falls, Canada my entire life!
To be honest, when I was younger, it never occurred to me that this might be something that a lot of people would envy; going to “the Falls” was just something we did. School trips on the Maid of the Mist or Marineland were commonplace.
The pandemic has had an exciting impact on me. I made a couple of major life changes in 2020, both related to the travel industry. As a result, I am looking at my hometown through “new eyes.” I have developed a greater appreciation for my surroundings in the past six months, and as an optimist, I call this my “silver lining” to the devastating world pandemic.
I do believe that we will eventually put the pandemic behind us and that travel will return — perhaps with a greater appreciation for the beauty that our world provides.
It is for this reason that I am choosing to share information about my hometown. As a travel lover, I would want to know the “inside” scoop on where to go and what to do. As a travel agent, I want to help people plan their dream vacation knowing they will thoroughly enjoy it!
Let’s start with the most obvious, the Falls themselves. Many visitors may not realize this, but three separate waterfalls make up Niagara Falls. The largest is the Horseshoe Falls, which lies on the Canadian Side. On the United States side, sits the American Falls and the rarely-mentioned Bridal Veil Falls. Niagara Falls, Canada, is a border town. Three international bridges take you back and forth between Canada and the USA.
The sight of the Falls is beyond stunning, and thousands of people are drawn here each year to experience it for themselves. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but the sound they make is incredible. Can you imagine the crashing of more than 168,000 cubic metres (or six million cubic feet) of water rushing over every minute? It is an incredible experience for sure.
So what about us locals? Do we spend all of our time at the Falls admiring their beauty? Quite the opposite, I can assure you. As a matter of fact, during peak times in summer, we avoid that area at all costs. You will not find many locals in what we refer to as the “tourist area.”
It isn’t all bad. As locals, we have access to many activities that most people only get to experience on vacation. Plus, we can do them at off-season times with reduced rates, avoiding the summer crowds and price spikes. We can zip-line over the Falls, take a ride on the Hornblower Cruise, or, perhaps, opt to go on the Journey Behind the Falls. Any of these above attractions will take you up close and personal with Niagara Falls.
Attractions Near the Niagara Falls
Most people have heard of the Falls themselves but perhaps not as many are aware of the Niagara River that runs 58 km in length. It is a beautiful emerald green colour and flows between two of Canada’s great lakes, Erie and Ontario. This river can be extremely dangerous in some areas; there is a natural whirlpool located in the Niagara Gorge that produces class six white-water rapids.
There are several attractions in the surrounding area from which you can safely experience the views. I recommend that you heed any warning signs that you come upon when exploring. You can hike in the Niagara Glen, take a ride in the Whirlpool Aerocar, walk along the White Water boardwalk, or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you may choose to ride the Niagara Jet Boat that takes you as close to the whirlpool as you can safely get. You can also ride in a helicopter for a unique perspective: Niagara Helicopters takes you on a 12-minute ride over Niagara Falls and the Niagara River.
As locals, we have access to many beautiful bike routes and walking paths along the beautiful river. You might want to visit the Butterfly Conservatory, Botanical Gardens, Bird Kingdom, Marineland, Floral Clock, and Dufferin Islands. These are just a few of the attractions that I have visited personally and recommend for your vacation.
I cannot leave out Clifton Hill, where you’ll find countless things to keep you entertained. From museums, arcades, a giant Ferris wheel, and go-kart speedway, just to name a few of the attractions, on top of all of the restaurants and shops in between, this area will keep you busy for many hours!
We Live In Wine Country
My favourite part of living in Niagara is that we are a wine region; we have over 100 wineries in the surrounding area, ripe with the opportunity to enjoy award-winning wines. The Niagara wine region is best known globally for producing ice wine, a sweet wine usually served with dessert or at the end of a meal. Frozen grapes are picked from the vine when the temperature drops to -7°C (or 20°F) and are pressed while still frozen. Although Canada is the largest producer of ice wine in the world, we also produce many other wines. Because our wines are not shipped internationally, many people are not aware that we are a major player in the world of wine.
I hope you enjoyed my synopsis on my beautiful home region. I also hope that you (as well as myself) can travel once again, returning one day to “pre-pandemic” times.
To read more from Lisa Mallett, check out more of her posts on Glamma Travel Blog!