Another convention took me to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. From New Jersey it’s not really a long drive in total — only about 970 Miles RT or about 9 hours each way (given a few stops). But….decided to stop in Niagara Falls (NY and Canada) as I hadn’t been there in a while. That’s an “on the way” stop so we were there really only about 24 hours but it was enough time to see the ‘basic’ Niagara Falls. Real basic. It’s a beautiful area so I do recommend that anyone visiting for the first time give themselves at least two full days to see everything without being incredibly rushed.
So, en route to Canada!
I appreciated the relatively ‘short’ drive; however, the weather wasn’t great. To tell the truth — the last few hours before getting to Niagara Falls were a little hard. Not so much because of the weather but because there wasn’t a lot to see. I’m usually good with farmland, hills, even strip malls but those last two hours didn’t have a lot more than plain and simple flat land with not much on it. Now, that’s just highway so the towns may be great. So suggestion is to either stop several times or bring another driver. I did the latter.
However, we did get to Niagara Falls and stopped off first on the NY side. This is where you think you can walk up right to the Falls (you can’t). But you are very close to the top of the falls and to see the water build up to immense speed on the Niagara River before going over the Horseshoe Falls is pretty impressive. It lulls you into thinking how easy it would be to just walk into the calm part of the river and then ‘whoosh!’ you’re over the Falls!
What you have to consider when traveling to Niagara Falls is what to visit and where to stay. I stay on the Canadian side because it’s nicer and if you want a view of the Falls, that’s where you get it. Having said that though, you need to consider what you want to see on the US side vs the Canadian side. You may want to see ‘everything’ you can on one side first and then cross the border. That definitely means Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, visiting the Bridal Veil Falls, some of the Imax movies and other things. You can fairly easily go back and forth over the border . While I had no wait time, that can easily differ depending on the time of year so just keep that in mind.
Having said that, aside from the park on the US side, all of our activities were on the Canadian side. There even are casinos for those inclined. Having only 24 hours (actually less), you are limited. First, we stayed in a room overlooking the Falls. That’s particularly well worth it if you have only one day. At night the Falls are lit up and it’s beautiful. We also ate breakfast the following day overlooking the Falls so we truly took advantage!
But on to the adventures. At dusk we walked to Clifton Hill. It’s not horribly far but if you have any trouble walking you may want to consider at least taking a cab back as we did. However, this is the true Honky-Tonk street of Niagara Falls Canada. It’s got Ripley’s Believe it Not, Dracula’s Castle, Frankenstein’s Castle, Guiness Museum of World Records — it is an absolutely fun street particularly for little kids. Nothing is particularly scary (at least to me even when I was young), but to devote a whole street to this is pretty wild. Unless it’s absolutely pouring and you can’t do anything else, you should do this at night.
We had time really only for a few things so we stuck with Journey Behind the Falls. This is really interesting because it’s a series of tunnels (very wet so wear the right clothing and shoes even though they give you a poncho!) behind the Falls. You can walk to two cutouts — literally behind the Falls. There also is one section where you can walk out right next to the Falls. Very exciting to see. We went in May and very few people there so it was great. But remember — YOU GET WET! Not as wet as Cave of the Winds or Maid of the Mist but you get wet. Remember, these are pretty big waterfalls.
What is particularly interesting in the Journey Behind the Falls is the information about the Falls. I took pictures but remember — it’s dark and wet so did my best so you could see what it says. It’s fascinating though in terms of the breadth of the Falls and the erosion that has been minimized.
We didn’t go on the Maid of the Mist, but you can see how close it gets to the Falls. I do remember when I did go (many many years ago), that as you got close the Horseshoe Falls, you felt the incredible engines of the ship clearly fighting from being sucked into the whirlpools at the base of the Falls combined with the spray from the waterfall. Truthfully, I couldn’t open my eyes because the spray was so fierce. But it felt powerful! I was a kid and loved it.
It did rain, but frankly you get wet from the spray so as long as it’s not too cold it’s okay. I was hot so a little wet weather was fine for me. It also was easy to park (not exactly cheap) but easy. Then on to Toronto!
Toronto, Ontario — 79 miles (US!!!) 1.5 Hours
I truly wish I could have seen a lot more of Toronto — it was very rainy and cold while I was there and I didn’t have much time to see it. I saw more as I drove out because the weather got a lot nicer. One of the things I didn’t get to see what The Lockhart — the Harry Potter themed bar. What I did hear was that there’s always a line to get in. So if you really want to see it, make sure you take that into account.
There were some nice things to see but most I missed because of the weather — but a few I got to pass on the way out including the stadium for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I also saw the Toronto Blue Jays stadium on the way in but couldn’t grab a picture of that.
And then en route home — through the hills of Pennsylvania again.
Toronto Trip by the Numbers
I want to provide some statistics for those at all interested in these kinds of road adventures so here they are:
Total Distance: 970 miles
Total Tolls: $21,35
What did I listen to: Had company this time!!!!
Wished: I could have seen more! But know that you have to pay for parking and for the excursions. Journey Behind the Falls for two was about $40; the Niagara Falls State Park in NY was $10 to park; parking in Canada to walk around was $20 for about 3 hours.