If you visit the Canadian side of the falls, you’ll be delighted to find that the Niagara Parks Department offers a stress-free experience. Just purchase their Adventure Pass which provides transportation on a “People Mover” bus, admission to four wonderful activities along the Niagara River and discounts on many others. There’s no need to worry about navigating a strange city or searching for parking.
Our family of three enjoyed two days of fun for $139 ($100 less than the “VIP” package our hotel offered for pretty much the same thing.) So, don’t listen when they tell you about the long lines and hassle of doing this on your own. Go directly to the park’s Welcome Center right next to Horseshoe Falls to buy your pass. If your hotel isn’t within walking distance of the falls, there’s a Park and Ride lot, which offers the People Mover bus to the falls, too. If you simply want to take in the breathtaking views, you’ll be happy to know you can do that for free.
At the Welcome Center, you can experience a 4-D movie about the formation of the falls told by a cartoon beaver, which the kids seemed to enjoy. (Plan on getting wet!) I recommend you try an English toffee coffee at the center’s Tim Hortons or dine at the Elements Restaurant that overlooks the falls. (The restaurant service was weak, but the bison steak and views were delicious.) Then walk the “Journey Behind the Falls” tunnels to get up-close to the mist.
Hop on the People Mover when you’re ready to hike the “White Water Walk” along the rapids or ride the famous Maid of the Mist boat. Whenever you want to move on, there’s never more than an eleven minute wait for the next bus to stop.
The Butterfly Conservatory is a must-see along the route. Over 2,000 butterflies in every color imaginable flutter around you. My seven-year-old declared it “amazing” and didn’t want to leave after one and a half hours because she hoped more butterflies would land on her. Another fun activity is riding the Whirlpool Aero Car on suspension cables across the gorge.
As we drove away from the park, I told my daughter to take one more look because it might be the last time she ever sees Niagara Falls. Her eyes lit up and she said, “It won’t be the last time. Some day I’ll come back. . .and bring my kids!”
Remember, you need a passport to cross the border, so plan ahead. Pay for tickets, hotels and meals with Visa and you won’t need to exchange any currency. For more information, visit www.niagaraparks.com
Award-winning author, Karen Lenfestey, writes about families and friends in her novels, “A Sister’s Promise” and “What Happiness Looks Like”, which are available at amazon.com. To read an excerpt, click below: