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Niagara Falls, New York – The Canadian Experience

Updated on March 23, 2013

The second biggest waterfall in the world has a rainbow every day. If it’s not an actual rainbow, the Canadians will happily manufacture one for you that night! Each night, you can witness the falls in a colorful display of lights and, on Sundays, a fireworks display on the Canadian side… just across their Rainbow Bridge!

Free Parking Exists

When arriving at Niagara Falls, it’s worth noting that there is plenty of free parking to be had. Many people park for a daily rate when free parking is only a block away. Take a few moments to explore the free options at the National Park Service and other nearby locations. We arrived into town about 4:00 pm on Sunday, parked in a 2 hour parking spot (that ended at 6:00 pm) and left our vehicle there all night to take in the sights and watch the fireworks display.

Boat tours are available.  Due to their size and physics, they are not sucked into the whirlpool.
Boat tours are available. Due to their size and physics, they are not sucked into the whirlpool.

On the American Side:

Stateside has the poorer view. This is due to geography so there’s not much we Americans can do about it. The websites may claim the observation deck gives you a great view but the best view is actually from Canada. You won’t see as much of the falls on the American side, the best view of it or take in its total majesty from that side. Walking across the Rainbow Bridge is infinitely easier than driving across it (looks like a nightmare) and takes about ten minutes, as the bridge is not that long. The Border Patrol is efficient so have your passport in your hand when entering their domain. The agents are friendly but curt and want to move you along because there are many tourists behind you. They aren’t that interested in searching your bags - unless you give them a reason. What I do like about the American side is there is a free observation deck over the falls that makes you feel as though you are nearly touching the sky and allows a clearer view compared to the view from shore. There are benches located in the center of it for those who feel queasy and an elevator for the mobility-challenged.

A Picture Slide with Music of Niagara Falls from Both Sides

On the Canadian Side:

A quick stroll across the bridge, a brief hello and look at your passport and you are off to Canada! Canadians are a friendly lot (what a contrast to the New Yorkers you just left!) and will happily assist you with your questions. I like the charm of walking from America to Canada and finding a major city that looks just like ours minus the mileage signs (because, as you know, the rest of the world uses the metric system). The view is fantastic. It just doesn’t compare to the American side. If you are going to the falls, you simply must go to the Canadian side for the full experience. We elected to watch the fireworks over the Canadian side as well, since they are fired off from their side and it would be a better view. The Canadians follow up the overhead spectacular with a light show on the falls, again financed and put on by our Northern neighbors.

The Horseshoe is popular.
The Horseshoe is popular.

The Neighbors Up North Win

It’s tough for the Americans to compete with the Canadians on this one. After all, geography is not something easily changed. Also, Americans seem never to have enough money to financially keep up this type of lighting spectacular. So, most of the American tourists go away to the Canadian side to spend their hard-earned dollars. Canada has the Sheridan, the Hard Rock Café, and well, basically, the same things we love at home so many Americans decide to stay the night on that side, too. So, in the end, the Canadians benefit the most financially from the arrangement but I never had anything against those folks. They seem to be such nice neighbors that I can hardly begrudge them for the advantage.

Please Exercise Caution!

This is a waterfall - the second largest in the world - and you CAN die from not taking precautions. Remain on the sidewalk and avoid climbing rails or walls. Keep yourself alive!

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    • Li Galo profile image
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      Li Galo 4 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks, freecampingaussie!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Can't wait to visit the falls, Thanks for a really informative hub - We will NOT be sitting on the rails ..... Voting you up

    • Li Galo profile image
      Author

      Li Galo 5 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks, eHealer!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Beautiful hub and well written. I have visited Niagra several times in my life and it is great trip. Thanks for the memories. Voted up, really nice.