Niagara Falls

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It may seem weird, but we loved going to Niagara Falls during Christmas week. The advantages of visiting Niagara at Christmas are these: 1) prices are low, 2) there is no wait for a table, nor no need for reservations for dinner, 3) you can saunter into the Skylon for lunch when you feel like it without a reservation, 4) the Christmas decorations in the park along the river on the Canadian side are a treat, and 5) there are no crowds. No crowds means you can walk right up to the edge of the falls at the Canadian side Canadian Falls overlook right at the brink of the falls, there is no long wait for the elevator to descend to the journey behind the falls (Canadian side), there is a very good chance of getting a window table at the restaurant beside the brink of the Canadian Falls which provides a fine view during diner, the colored light show on the falls comes on early in the evening instead of at 10:00pm, there is no hour long back up to cross the Rainbow Bridge (except on Boxing Day), the outlet Mall in Niagara Falls, USA, has a spectacular clearance sale on Boxing Day, a little now and ice adds to the beauty of the falls, and it is easy to find a place to park close to the falls. But then, there are drawbacks. It can be frightfully cold. That was never a problem. We lived an eight hour drive away, so we only went when the weather forecast was good. The Cave of the Winds (US side) and the Spanish Aero Car are closed, the Maid of the Mist does not operate, and some other attractions are also closed. Still, we never ran out of things to do. There are some hotels with rooms that overlook the falls, but not as many as claim to provide "falls view rooms", some of which reveal only a slice of the falls or its a view from a great distance. We did it once, at one of the best located, and never considered doing it again. Also be cautious of hotel advertising "walking distance to the falls." Some of these walks a close to a half an hour, and up a big hill on your return. There are many more places to stay on the Canadian side, and the views from the Canadian side are better. We only stayed once on the USA side. On our next trip, we stayed in Canada and discovered that was the place to be. The structure that looks like an unfinished bridge starting across the river just upstream from Rainbow Bridge is a terrific view point, one of the best views of the falls. Another great view is the Journey Behind the Falls, in the building right at the brink of the Canadian Falls, Canadian side, has a tunnel that goes behind the falls and an observation deck just a few feet above the river(take an umbrella or raincoat). Queen Victoria Park extends for several miles along the Canadian river bank. In summer, the park is place of cool trees, grass, and flower beds, but for 6-8 weeks around Christmas, the park is decorated with an extensive display of Christmas lights, producing heavier traffic after dark than during the day, but it is a must do drive. Getting there If driving from the USA, cross into Canada at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo to avoid the horrendous lines at Rainbow Bridge. When returning to the USA, we always went by the Peace Bridge and stopped at the Canadian Duty Free Shop at the end of the bridge to buy Bell’s Scotch ($15 a liter. When I could find it Washington, DC, it cost $37 for 3/4 liter). When the winter chill sets in, head for the Butterfly Zoo north of Niagara Falls, Canada, or to the botanical garden a little ways up stream form the brink of the Canadian Falls, Canada side. We always stopped for lunch or diner at the Anchor Inn (or Anchor Bar) in Buffalo, NY, USA, the place where Buffalo Wings (an American speciality) were invented, and where Buffalo Wings are still better than anywhere else.

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