Niagara Falls: Away from the Crowds

Niagara Falls is a beautiful place, but I would be lying to say it hasn’t been tainted by the flashy, gimmicky attractions that surround the natural wonder. Last summer, my boyfriend and I planned a road trip from New Jersey up to Niagara Falls through Saratoga Springs, NY and Charleston Lake, Ontario. We wanted to find a balance between the touristy aspect of the falls and seeing the natural un-tainted beauty of it.

We found the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, $65 to experience all of Niagara’s “natural wonders and attractions.” Between that and discovering Niagara Glen, we found the perfect balance to really appreciate the falls. Overall, I thought the package was completely worth it and I really enjoyed the experiences! We were only in the falls for two full days, but I feel like we did everything we wanted to do and were included in our pass. It gave us about a 10% discount over buying each ticket individually, so that was an added bonus because we got to experience things we wouldn’t necessarily otherwise purchase. I’m going to give a quick summary of everything we did and some of our initial impressions.

One of the highlights of the pass was our access to the bus line. The line had two stops about a quarter mile from our Hostel and then could take you to any of the major attractions of the falls. It was 2-day WEGO Bus Access. It was so convenient and nice that we didn’t have to worry too much about getting from one place to another, we had my car, but parking would have been so much and walking would just take a lot of unnecessary time.

Hornblower Niagara Cruises This is basically the equivalent of the Maid of the Mist, IMG_7616except on the Canadian side. The big difference was that we wore red ponchos while the American side wore blue ponchos instead. It was crowded, but worth it, as you really got a first-hand look of the Horseshoe Falls. The mist turned into a straight downpour the closer we got to the falls. This was one of the first things we did, so we definitely opted to move from the touristy to the natural.

Whirlpool Aero Car This was our second stop and it was a really cool and unique experience. It was an aero car that traveled over the whirlpools. It was designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo and opened in 1916. The length of the cable is 3,5000 feet. The river actually makes a ninety-degree turn, so that’s how they can manage setting it up without crossing international borders. Except for about three seconds, we do technically cross the border, which is technically illegal, but it’s okay! Other than the crowds of people, it was a really enjoyable experience and I would definitely recommend trying it out.IMG_7632

Butterfly Conservatory Okay, so I’m terrified of birds, right? And I THOUGHT it was just birds, but apparently, it’s anything that has wings and flaps, so that’s including butterflies. We were walking through and I was doing okay until one flew near me, then I freaked out! It was to the point that I was hanging onto Peter’s arm so tightly and looked so terrified that people actually started laughing at me. As far as the process and how the took care of the butterflies, it was really fascinating. There were 180 meters of pathways and up to 45 different species of butterflies! I felt kind of bad for Peter making him leave, but I think he was mostly just amused by my terror.

Floral Show House This was one of our last stops on our two-day Niagara Falls tour. We stopped by before we headed to our final anniversary date dinner. It was absolutely gorgeous and incredible the different things they could create out of flowers. We both said that we would love to go back with someone who actually knows more about flowers because we were just kind of like, “that’s pretty,” but that’s all we knew. Personally, my favorite part was the birdhouses that were on the outside groups of the IMG_7463show house. They were absolutely gorgeous houses and I liked to pick out which one I would want to live in one day! The whole time we were making fun of my grandmother going, “These flowers are so gorgeous, why don’t MY flowers ever look like that?!”

Niagara Glen So this part of our exploration of Niagara Falls was actually not included in our package, but probably one of my favorites! Niagara Glen consists of 4 km (2.5 miles) of hiking paths and trails that explore the Carolinian Forest and at parts go directly along the Niagara River and the Niagara River Whirlpools. It was insane how beautiful it was and while some people were paying lots of money to take a touristy boat ride down to the rapids, we were able to walk right there and experience the natural beauty.