Ah yes, Niagara in the summer. One of the most visited places in all of Canada and peak season for tourists, with hour-long lines for the biggest attractions and loads of people everywhere. Why oh why did I choose to go there for a night during the busiest time?
We arrived around midday, dropped off the bags at the hotel, walked around a bit by the falls (which are always impressive), and used our Niagara Fun Pass to do the first attraction – the Journey Behind the Falls.
This was the only thing that we ended up waiting in line for a long time for, and half of the reason it takes so long is because they force everyone to go through these ridiculous lines down wining tunnels and up steps, only to make you smile for some stupid picture that you have no intention of paying for. But once all that BS is done, it’s smooth sailing.
Journey Behind the Falls is definitely amazing as you go through these freezing cold tunnels to these lookout points just a few metres away from the water. The roar of the falls and the splashing water is incredible and a bit scary. The yellow ponchos (included in the ticket price) are a necessity. A few well prepared people were wearing surf shorts and rash guards so they could get as close as possible to the water!
That night we bummed around in Clifton Hill, which is where all the kids’ stuff is, like go-karts, zombie laser tag, bowling, haunted houses, and more. Clifton Hill has its own fun pass where you can choose six attractions, but we ended up doing just one – Dinosaur Mini Putt!! Good fun, but again, way too many people.
Since we didn’t want to get stuck in the lines again the next day, we woke up bright and early, grabbed breakfast at Starbucks, and got down to the water around 8.30 am to take the star of the show – the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. Everyone has heard of the Maid of the Mist, which is the American counterpart, as it leaves from the US side of the falls. The Hornblower is the cruise that is included int he Niagara Fun Pass.
As you can see in the picture above, there are only a few dozen people lining up so early in the morning. But trust me, this is the way to do it. By 11 am, you’d be screwed, so if you overnight in Niagara, wake up early and do the boat FIRST before the hordes arrive, or you’ll be waiting for 2 hours in line or more.
The boat cruise is fun, but you get SOAKING WET despite the poncho! So, after this, we went back to the hotel to change, and then headed out for the final attraction of the day, the White Water Walk. You get there by taking a bus, but the bus pass is included in your Niagara Fun Pass.
The White Water Walk is relatively new – a long wooden boardwalk which traverses the Niagara river, with lookout points at various intervals. The pictures really do not do it justice, because the waves are incredibly huge and unbelievably fast, some of the fastest Class 1 Rapids in the world.
This was the least crowded attraction, especially compared to the boat cruise and the Journey Behind the Falls.
So the verdict is – summer time in Niagara is amazing, and yes very crowded, and yes you will probably find yourself lining up for everything, but with a little preparation it is totally doable and fun! However, if you can, go in October instead.