Down East Road Trip – Niagara Falls

Exploring the Canadian and American Sides of Niagara Falls from Land, Air and Water.

One of the big name destinations on our Down East Road Trip was our two-day, one-night trip to Niagara Falls. We had never been to Niagara – so everything proved a surprise to us – and while much of our stay was truly epic, truth be told, not all of the surprises were pleasant. The experienced proved a timely example of the good and bad things that come when a natural treasure such as Niagara Falls is not protected from commercialization.

As we headed northeast along Lake Erie from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we ventured into a part of North America that was new to our four-wheeled adventurers. We took the lakeside Route 5 for much of the drive, capturing glimpses of the lake and a surprising number of sprawling vineyards along the way. Our route then took us north through Buffalo, over the Niagara River, and into Canada – marking the first time our kids had been out of the US.

Throughout the day a cold front had been fast at our heels, and its lingering presence made for an overcast and rather dreary stay at the falls. But even the less-than-ideal weather couldn’t dampen our spirits as we arrived at our hotel. Over the last several years, we had saved up our Hilton Honors points and used almost all of them for this special stay. Though there was a bit of a bait and switch that we had to work through (make sure you book a falls view or premium falls view room if you want to actually see the falls from your room), when we opened the door to our 38th floor room at the Embassy Suites, we were greeted with one of the most breathtaking views I can recall, as both Horseshoe and American falls unfolded before us. The view (above) was nothing short of spectacular!

Though the hotel is only 200 feet from the rim of the Niagara Gorge, the quickest [free] way to get to rim is to walk a circuitous mile-long route that winds past the casino and a myriad of other attractions and tourist traps along the way. But once we arrived, the view there was spectacular. On the Canadian side of the river is a broad promenade that hugs the rim for several hundred yards, providing good views of the American Falls, and a very visceral up-close-and-personal view of the water cascading over the 167 foot Horseshoe Falls, just a few feet away.

Night at Niagara Falls ushers in a whole new set of breathtaking displays. The night began with a massive LED light show that sets both American and Horseshoe Falls ablaze with a coordinated light display. And not to be outdone by mere lights, summer evenings also include a generous fireworks display across from the American Falls. We perched ourselves about halfway in between the two falls and apart from a persistent mist that blew across and required frequent lens cleaning, it was a great spot – which reminds me, a pro tip for all you photographers who visit Niagara – don’t forget to bring a few microfiber cloths to keep the giant amount of mist that the falls produce off your lens and camera body.

The next morning, a steady drizzle had settled on the area, but where we were going, that wouldn’t really matter. After a superb breakfast at the hotel, we hopped in the van and headed back over the river to the US side of the falls. There, we donned our blue ponchos, put the camera in its waterproof hood, boarded the Maid of the Mist, and set sail up the Niagara River, headed for the thundering Horseshoe Falls. as we neared the falls, I soon lost all hope of keeping the camera’s lens clear and merely snapped away in hopes of capturing at least a small taste of nature’s raw power as the water roars over the precipice some 160 feet above our heads. Though a bit pricey for a family of our size, it was a memory well worth making.

We rounded out our visit by exploring more of Niagara Falls State Park before we packed it up and headed to our next stop. As always, if you enjoy our work, please consider supporting our business by visiting our site, sharing our posts, and even purchasing a print or two along the way. Every little bit helps us bring you more content like this!

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