Dos and Don’ts at Niagara Falls

This is Canada not America for those of you who are confused!
This is Canada – not America. For those of you who are confused!

Let’s go again to Niag’ra
This time we’ll peak at the Falls.
Let’s leave our hut, dear,
Get out of our rut, dear,
Let’s get away from it all.

These lyrics from a Frank Sinatra song say it all. It’s a place to escape and have fun with your lover, and when you’re done there is still quite a lot to do. Some things are rip-offs and some things are actually amazing. Vegas is too far away for some of us and, in terms of Casinos, it doesn’t compare. But there is a natural beauty that Las Vegas simply does not have. It really reminds me more of Banff, Alberta than Vegas actually with its International Tourists, fudge, Marilyn Monroe movie history and crappy Canadian Tourist gifts. I have lost count of how many times I have gone there to escape the madness of Toronto. So here is my experienced traveler’s list of Dos and Don’ts.

Niagara Falls Imax Theatre
Niagara Falls Imax Theatre

DO… The Imax Theatre

The Imax Theatre has been showing the same movie for about twenty years. It is not the best Imax movie I have ever seen, nor is it the best Imax theatre I’ve ever been to. The screen doesn’t curve, for instance, so you lose the movement effect. And aside from terrible acting where the sound doesn’t sync with the action, this is actually a half decent film. What the tourist wants is a simulation of going over the Falls and this is the only movie I’ve seen at Niagara Falls that remotely comes close to giving you this experience. There is some great footage. The movie also tells the Native Legend of the Maid of the Mist which I had never heard before in all of my trips to Niagara Falls. It would be nice if they would update this movie, though. There have been several more people who have attempted to go over the Falls since this was made.

DON’T DO…The Legends of the Falls 3D/4D

I was drunk from dinner and thought this movie was the Imax movie. When I realized I made a mistake, after stumbling in the door, they refused to give me my money back. It’s under the Skyline Tower on Murray St. and it is a rip-off with a poorly made short 3D film that was shot on the American side of the Falls only. The 4D effect is that they spray you with water and and then blow cold air on your neck so you can get a cold. These 3D/4D movies remind me of the original Nickelodeon theatres that used film mainly as a spectacle rather than an art form.

DO… The Journey Behind the Falls

The Journey Behind the Falls
The Journey Behind the Falls

Nothing will get you as close to the roaring thunder of the Falls as this place. There are three sections. The first, where this picture was taken, is a large two story area where you get the best view I have ever seen of the Falls, and it is a good place to take a photo. After that you go down a creepy wet tunnel and you can see the water streaming down without even a window separating you from the danger. Pretty exciting and kind of scary.

However, I wish when they renovated this place they had fixed the elevators and made a better waiting area. There is too much waiting. You stand like cattle in a large, stifling room with bad air circulation with tourists from all over the world. Hello Swine Flu! They have two elevators but they only seem to use one so it takes forever to get down there. Then when you come back up you have to wait in line again. Here’s an idea: use both elevators! Duh!

Even Aqua loves The Journey Behind the Falls.
Even Aqua loves The Journey Behind the Falls.

DON’T DO… The Maid of the Mist

 

One reason! This gross sludge!

Let me start by saying it isn’t the fault of The Maid of the Mist company, who do a decent job of shuttling people back and forth. But when you look down at the water near the Falls there is this horrible looking pollution sludge that forms at the side of the river. This is a disgusting reminder of the amount of pollution that must be in this water. Gross! So when I went on the Maid of the Mist I kept thinking about how that pollution must be in my face as the water splashed and sprayed onto me. The Journey Behind the Falls has much less exposure to this water, but the Maid of the Mist drenches you in it. Someone needs to clean up our Great Lakes!

DO… walk along the sidewalk to the Falls

Niagara Falls Rainbow
Niagara Falls Rainbow

This is pretty obvious. Of course, this is the main thing you should do. This is where Superman saved the falling child in Superman 2. On a sunny day you can always see the rainbow which also contains the spirit of the Maid of the Mist (not the boat, the legend).

DON’T…GO OVER THE FENCE!

Look at what this guy in the white shirt is looking at!
Look at what this guy in the white shirt is looking at!

You would think this would be pretty obvious. Yet I actually took this photograph. That really is a guy down there. He really did go over the fence. I don’t know what happened but there were emergency vehicles and they just kept yelling that everything was okay. But just for the record…DON’T GO OVER THIS FENCE YOU STUPIDS!

DO…eat at these restaurants.

 

Brasa Brazilian Steak restaurant Niagara Falls

Mostly the restaurants in Niagara Falls are terrible. But the growth of the city has brought in some more choices.

Brasa and the Copacabana are delicious Brazilian steak restaurants, where you serve yourself carbs and salads at a buffet and then they just come to your table with skewer after skewer of meat. Obviously not for vegetarians. And also very expensive. But everything in Niagara Falls is expensive. Mama Mia’s is an established traditional Italian family restaurant, and is just at the top of Clifton Hill on Victoria Ave. Perkins is a great hangover breakfast place. They are always really friendly when we come in at 1:00 PM for breakfast.

DON’T…EAT ANYWHERE ELSE!

Look, Niagara Falls is simply not known for its cuisine. It’s either junk food or really terrible, touristy restaurants with over-priced and mediocre food.

DO…walk up Clifton Hill.

Clifton Hill! A wonderful load of crap!
Clifton Hill! A wonderful load of crap!

Haunted houses, ferris-wheels, fun-houses and wax museums that leave you saying “who is THAT supposed to be”? Need I say more? It’s a circus of stupidity on a really steep road. Who wouldn’t want to come here?

DON’T…ride the Falls Incline Railway

 

Just walk up Murray St. lazy!

They have an incline railway that transports you from where the Falls are to the area with the new hotels. This was an annoying experience. It was manned by two cocky and bored guys that wouldn’t let us depart until everyone was crammed in. So we just sat there waiting for about ten minutes, and it already seemed full when we sat down. What are they waiting for? AGHHH!!!

DO…stay at the Sheraton on the Falls.

 

Sheraton on the Falls

After trying some other places we decided this is just simply the best and easiest place to stay. It’s right there when you come off the highway. It’s near everything. It has jacuzzis and fake fireplaces and Starbucks. And they are always nice to us – even if I’m not nice. If that wasn’t enough here are some pictures of our room views.

Corner suite view of Clifton Hill
Corner suite view of Clifton Hill
American Falls
American Falls

DON’T…stay here.

Why do Casinos always look so great? Because they are taking people's life savings.
Casino Niagara

It looks great. Just like Vegas hotels and Atlantis in the Bahamas. Why? Because people’s financial lives are being ruined. We stayed here once. It was nice. Then we went in the off season and after we told them we didn’t have Players Clubs cards they denied us a room. Isn’t that like making sure you’re an alcoholic before you go into a bar? So we went to the Sheraton where they were nice to us and made us feel welcome.

Marilyn Monroe at Niagara Falls
Marilyn Monroe at Niagara Falls

If Niagara Falls was good enough for Marilyn it is good enough for me. Have fun at The Falls amigos.

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