5 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Niagara Falls on the Canadian Side
Growing up, I always wanted to see Niagara Falls. People I knew had gone there on their honeymoons, and I'd seen stories of daredevils trying all sorts ways to go over the falls. Frankly, it looked like loads of fun.
Last summer, I finally got the chance to go. We planned an intergenerational trip which included me, my mother and my teen daughter. What a fun trip it turned out to be, and the falls did not disappoint. The memories we made will last a lifetime.
We live in the United States but wanted to see the falls from the Canadian side, so it took a bit more planning. I liked it so much that I definitely plan on going back to see some of the things I missed. Unfortunately, some things didn't go quite as expected, but I learned some valuable lessons from the mistakes that I made.
Hopefully, you can avoid some of these pitfalls too.
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Mistake 1: Not Checking Credit Card Policies
Look around in a store these days and almost everyone is using credit or debit cards instead of cash, and when traveling it's the easiest payment method around.
Before going to Canada, check with your credit card carrier to see if any types of fees will apply to purchases made there.
I pretty much only used my credit card while I was there, and boy was I surprised when I got my statement. On every single charge I made there was a service fee. Had I checked before hand I would have used my other card which doesn't have a fee like that, or I would have used cash. It was very frustrating.
I was surprised that most of the places I went in Niagara Falls took U.S. dollars. You shouldn't take it for granted that the store you are in does, but it can't hurt to ask. It was nice because I hadn't exchanged a lot of money.
Mistake 2: Not Wearing Comfortable Footwear
This may be a no-brainer, but wear comfortable shoes. I was grateful I took a pair of tennis shoes because we walked and walked, and then walked some more. I didn't realize how hilly it was on the Canadian side (I can't speak about the American side of the falls).
Your feet are going to feel it. Even if you take transportation around, you'll still be standing in lines, and there are places that cars and buses can't get close to.
Be Prepared for the Crowds
Niagara Falls is crowded, really really crowded, and the lines are long. We got up early one morning and took the bus down to the falls just to avoid some of the craziness for a few minutes.
Mistake 3: Not Staying Long Enough
We stayed 2 nights and really wish we had stayed one more. There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, and that extra day would have allowed us more time to venture outside of the city.
We did manage to go to Niagara-on-the-lake for a few hours. If you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, plan a quick side trip to this lovely historic town. Many people told us to visit and we fell in love. Niagara-on-the-lake is only about half an hour outside of Niagara Falls and it's like you are in another world. The flowers along the streets were beautiful and there were quaint shops and restaurants all over the place.
Enjoy the Nightlife!
The city is hopping at night and while my mother stayed at the hotel, my daughter and I walked around and enjoyed the arcade like atmosphere of Clifton Hill. It was loads of fun and we were easily able to get a cab back to the hotel.
Mistake 4: Not Getting the Discount Card and Bus Pass
I saw ads for the discount card when I was planning our trip, but being as stubborn as I am, I figured we would just pick and choose a couple of things to see.
Boy, was I wrong. Whenever we would see something, I would compare the price of the pass to what we paid, and found that we would have saved a lot of money had we gotten the pass.
Get the Public Bus Pass
I realized, a day late, that a cheap public bus pass was the way to get around the city. For a set price we rode everywhere we needed to go. On our last day we just got on the bus and rode it like a sightseeing bus. By that time we were exhausted and it was nice to just sit and ride. I really wish I'd gotten the pass on our first day.
Get Over Your Fear of Heights
I'm no fan of heights, but I forced myself to ride the SkyWheel and go up in the Skylon Tower. I didn't like it much, but I did it, and the spectacular views were well worth the fear.
Mistake 5: Not Checking Your Phone Settings
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not really good with my phone settings. If it weren't for my husband giving me pointers before we left, I would have been charged massive amounts of money for international roaming charges, and probably other charges that I don't even know about, while using my phone in Canada.
Before you go make sure your phone settings are how you want them to be when you enter the country.
Also, I'm not sure why, but my GPS didn't seem to work well in Canada. After we entered the country we looked up directions for our destination town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (our first stop before we went to our hotel) and followed them. We ended up at a massive hockey stadium. We tried again and it just didn't work so we ended up asking someone for directions.
Be Ready to Spend Some Money
Niagara Falls is not cheap so make sure you budget accordingly.
My Favorite Tourist Traps in Niagara Falls, Canada
Journey Behind the Falls
You get to go behind the falls. How cool is that?! The viewing platform is pretty much as close as one can get to the falls. My cover photo was taken from that platform. I still can't believe how much water flows over the falls.
Everyone has heard of the "Maid of the Mist" and according to our bus tour guide, Canada decided to change the name. It's the same boats, you just get a different colored poncho. You will get soaked which is half the fun, and the views and roar of the falls are impressive. It also runs quickly despite the thousands of people riding.
This tower looks like it's been around a long time, but the views are incredible. You can walk around the top and you can go to a nice buffet dinner. We were there at sunset.
Queen Victoria Park
Despite the hoards of people, this was a charming park along the falls and the flowers were spectacular. In fact the flowers all around Niagara Falls were spectacular. This park had a rose garden and lots of places to relax and enjoy the scenery. The best part is that it is free!
OK, so it's incredibly commercial and cheesy, but it's also lots of fun, especially if you have kids in tow. My teen and I had a fun evening while my mom stayed at the hotel.
Have Your Travel Papers in Order
Despite the fact that it's just a drive over a bridge to get into Canada, it is a foreign country, so unless you are a Canadian citizen, you are going to need the appropriate documentation. Check with your government to see what you'll need, and give yourself plenty of time in case you need to obtain some documents.
© 2018 Claudia Mitchell