Claudia enjoys traveling and sharing her travel tips with readers.
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 of 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.
Niagara Falls' Canadian Side: Things You Need to Know Before Going
- To avoid paying fees, you'll want to check your credit cards' policies before you go. Learn exactly what to ask and why below.
- Be sure to wear comfortable footwear.
- It's a mistake not to give yourself enough time to see everything. Below, you'll find a list of my favorite tourist traps and how much time you'll need to see them.
- The bus is the smartest way to get around, but be sure to get the discount card and a bus pass if you can!
- Check your phone settings beforehand to avoid extra fees, communication complications, and frustration. Scroll down for more information on international roaming charges.
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. 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 beforehand, 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.
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 (although 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.
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Mistake 3: Not Staying Long Enough
We stayed two 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.
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 stubborn, I figured we would just pick and choose a couple of trips.
Boy, was I wrong. Whenever we would book a trip, 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.
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 set up for 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, 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.
My Favorite Tourist Traps in Niagara Falls, Canada
|Sight||Why you should visit|
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. The top photo was taken from that platform. I still can't believe how much water flows over the falls.
Horatio Hornblower (formerly "Maid of the Mist")
Everyone has heard of the "Maid of the Mist" but, 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 have 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.
© 2018 Claudia Mitchell