Our Niagara Falls Vacation

It was all my Dad’s idea.  He wanted to take Garrett to see Niagara Falls. Nobody else in the family was able to go, so in early June we decided to take a Granddaddy/ Daughter/ Grandson trip to Niagara so G and I could see the Falls.  It has always been on my bucket list, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to see it.  We stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls on the Canadian side, mainly because it had the water park attached so we could have some guaranteed entertainment for Garrett.  For the first three days of the trip, we saw a lot of mist.  An unexpected cold front brought a fog over the already misty falls. 

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But thankfully, on the very last day of the trip, the skies cleared and we got to enjoy this beautiful view!

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We were on the 23rd floor of the hotel, and our room had windows that opened out over looking the Falls.  G thought this was the coolest thing ever.

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The hotel also happened to be on the same street as Clifton Hill, so we walked a few blocks up the hill each night and had dinner.  If Gatlinburg, TN and Las Vegas, NV got together and made a love child, it would be Clifton Hill.  There were glowing neon fudge shops and brightly lit hand dipped ice cream cone shops and cheesy Ripley’s Believe it or Not type attractions were lining the streets. 

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And towering above it all is this massive 20 story ferris wheel called the Skywheel. Of course we had to ride it, since neither Garrett nor I had ever been inside a ferris wheel.  I’m not sure how I’ve lived nearly 36 years on this Earth without a ferris wheel experience, but all that changed on this trip.Niagara Falls 2013-9

Garrett loved it. I hated it.  I knew I was in trouble when I saw the mischievous gleam in my father’s eye as soon as we hit the peak of the wheel.  We were 175 feet in the air in a small glass gondola, when he started rocking it back and forth, using all of his girth to get it swaying hard.  Garrett laughed.  My dad laughed.  And I freaked OUT.  The more I screamed the more they laughed.  It was a torturous ride and I couldn’t WAIT to get off.  Niagara Falls 2013-7

But apparently the view was great!  I wouldn’t know what that looked like, since I sat paralyzed on my bench white-knuckling my camera and praying that God would not let our swinging Gondola free fall to our deaths…  But judging by the look on these two faces I’d say it was a great view, huh? You’ll have to go brave it yourself to find out.

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The next day we stepped right out of our hotel lobby and walked up the river walk to Horseshoe Falls, taking in all the pretty sights along the way.  June in Canada was more like March in Alabama. Everything was beginning to bloom SO green! 

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The poppies were amazing.

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The hosta were so large they could have swallowed Garrett whole in some kind of mutant Cabbage Patch meets Little Shop of Horrors episode.

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The river walk was just so gorgeous, I had to stop every five feet and snap a photo of it from all angles.  Here is one from an upper observation deck.  Niagara Falls 2013-22

While Granddaddy wandered up ahead all alone.

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For some reason I didn’t realize that there were TWO sets of Falls. The American side is called Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls are on the Canadian side.  Here we are looking like mega-tourists in front of Bridal Veil Falls…

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And here is a sweet one of Granddaddy and G with Horseshoe Falls in the background.

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A little closer view…

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A little closer, with the Maid headed into the Mist… Niagara Falls 2013-36

And a MUCH closer view!  This is right at the top of the Falls where they go over the edge.  See the dark blob in the distance right in the center?  That is the old Scow, a barge that was sunk by the crew just before it went over the falls in 1918.  What a crap-your-pants moment that must have been, huh? Niagara Falls 2013-47

By this point G was bored and hungry, so we found a popcorn vendor and headed back to the hotel to find some dinner. 

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And what a very memorable dinner it turned out to be!  We ate at the Hard Rock Café which was attached to our hotel.  Niagara Falls 2013-93

Just as Garrett was biting into his grilled cheese sandwich, his very first tooth fell out!!  It was SUCH an exciting moment!  The waitress came over to see what all the commotion was about, and she got excited after she heard that he had lost his first tooth.  She brought him a sauce to-go cup to put his tooth in so he wouldn’t lose it.  Check out the excitement in this kids eyes!   Niagara Falls 2013-50

He was thrilled to lose his tooth and get his first visit from the tooth fairy all the way up in Canada.  Garrett wanted to make sure she found him so he left her a tip of a quarter alongside his tooth inside the Hard Rock to-go sauce cup under his pillow that night.  He’s such a sweetheart.

tooth fairy

Turns out she does deliver, even if you are in a hotel all the way in a different country.  She even left him a note thanking him for the tip. And she gave him a LOT more money than she normally would have since Granddaddy was there when it happened. There was even a gold Canadian coin with Queen Elizabeth’s head on it. Garrett got SO excited when he read my name on the gold coin!  He thought it was especially made just for me by the tooth fairy!

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After that exciting wake up call, we decided to hop in our rental car and head north to see the town of Niagara on the Lake.  The drive up was only about 30 minutes, but along the route we got to see an extremely well-endowed moose….

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And give passionate hugs to express our love for Canada….

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Then we stopped off at the Niagara whirlpool, where I gave the panorama setting on my iPhone a workout. niagara whirlpool panorama2

Then we started seeing THE most beautiful wineries, so I had to stop and shoot some pictures of the grapevines. 

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This place was picture postcard perfection.  One of my facebook readers said she had gotten married at this place, reminding me yet again that it is a small, small world we live in.

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Once we arrived in the town of Niagara on the Lake, my jaw dropped at how beautiful everything was!  The whole region reminded me so much of The Hamptons, with the wineries and the town that looked very similar to East Hampton.  It was such a gorgeous place. 

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When we saw this beautiful lake stretching out before us, my dad said “Wow, that’s a really big lake!”  Not realizing it was actually Lake Ontario, as in one of the Great Lakes.  Like, duh.  We don’t get out much.

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We ate lunch outside at this amazing café.  The weekend we were in town they were holding a flower festival where the local residences opened up their private gardens for tours, so the whole town was packed with people.  Niagara Falls 2013-79

This also meant that parking spaces were limited, so as we were sitting here eating lunch, I was getting a parking ticket on our rental car.  And that reminds me that I still have not paid said parking ticket, so it’s quite possible that I might have a warrant out for my arrest in Niagara on the Lake as we speak.  I don’t even know where the ticket went, actually, so I’m really in trouble here. Maybe I can call the Constable and see if I can pay it online or something because I’d really hate to be banned from this beautiful city.   

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On the way home we hit up the flower clock, which is just as exciting as it sounds. (read: not at all.)

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But what WAS exciting was the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, which we hit up twice in this trip.  My friend Marcia lives in Rochester, NY, so she was able to bring her twin daughters over to visit with us for the rest of the weekend and give G some kids his own age to play with.  Within minutes after their arrival we were headed to the water park, where the kids played to their chlorinated heart’s content. 

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G even worked his way up to the big kid slides! 

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Later that night we headed back up Clifton Hill for more Boston Pizza and arcade games.  The kids had a blast together. 

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That night when we got back to our hotel room they had the Falls all lit up!

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I was able to prop my camera up on a table by the window and get these long exposure shots of the waterfall at night.  This might be the best long exposure shots I’ve ever made with my DSLR. Niagara Falls 2013-96

My neighbor in the room next door had the same idee to hang out the window and take photos after the fireworks began. 

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The smoke from the fireworks killed our view of Horseshoe Falls, but Bridal Veil looked good! 

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The next morning was our last day of the trip.  We all got up and made our way down to the boat landing for the Maid of the Mist!

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It was the one thing my Dad had been looking forward to on this trip that he had never done before.  Seeing it with Garrett was such a special thing! I’m so glad we did this tour.

maid of the mist view

I only wish that I had invested in one of those waterproof iPhone cases so I could have taken pictures once we got up under the waterfall.  I wish I had gotten it on video.  The height of that wall of water is inconceivable until you are directly underneath it in the mist.  It was AWESOME.  Here is the last photo I got before I put my phone away for fear of it getting wet. maid of the mist

Bridal Veil Falls wasn’t nearly as wet when we passed by it, so I kept my camera out and got these shots.  We were so thankful for a sunny last day!!9267826510_7efe37f51c_h

If anyone ever wonders if the Maid of the Mist is appropriate for kids around age 5, the answer to that would be a resounding YES.  They all LOVED it. 

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After our ride on the Maid, our vacation had to come to an end.  I was able to snap a few more shots out of our hotel room window before we had to pack up and check out to head back across the border and catch our flight.  Thankfully the border guards let us back into the country, even with that unpaid parking ticket on my record.

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This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for my dad, my son and me.  I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity to take a trip like this together and make all of these fun memories together.  I am hoping to plan more of these for just the three of us, so if anyone has any great suggestions on where we should travel together next I would love to hear them! 

I’m kinda thinking Yellowstone!

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Comments

  1. Beth, your pictures are STUNNING!! I felt like I was right there with you! What a truly wonderful post!

  2. Beth–Thanks you, thank you! I spent my summers growing up right outside of Niagara Falls, and my husband and I go back every couple of years for a vacation (my mom still lives in Rochester). My facebook header is a photo of me from our terrace at the same Sheraton (we were upgraded to the top floor, thanks to my husband’s hotel points)–my mom and dad had their wedding reception there in 1957! I just did a post on Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is my favorite town in North America…I just love to walk around and soak it in.
    So–that’s the second time you’ve made me homesick! (But that’s okay…I like you anyway.)

  3. So I am surprised that a gal who hated the ferris wheel wanted to get so close to the falls on a boat. I had no desire to do that years ago when I visited, and I’m making a note to go on any future ferris wheel by. myself. now that your father has put his evil rocking thought in my head.

    All I really wanted to comment on was moose balls.

    Bliss

    • Big, big difference between swinging in a glass capsule nearly 200 feet in the air versus being on a big boat getting a little wet under a waterfall. I’m not scared of water, but me and heights….. yeah not so good.

      Also, moose balls. HEE!

  4. Elizabeth,
    I live about an hour away from Niagara Falls. I have been many times. I have also been to Niagara on the Lake many times BUT seeing it through your eyes and your pictures, made it all seem so much more special. It is funny that when you grow up with something in your own backyard, you often take it for granted. You have inspired me into thinking I should take my OWN child to the falls. She has been all the way to Disneyworld, but she has never been to Niagara Falls! Thanks for sharing your great post and your great pics!
    Sidney

    • I love that you called me Elizabeth, because it means you really read every word of that post and didn’t just skim it! LOL I go by Beth but my real name is Elizabeth, just like the coin! 🙂 And YES! Take your child to see the falls! It’s right there in your backyard, you should definitely go to the Canadian side! If you’re on the US side she won’t even need a passport- my friend brought her girls over with just their birth certificates. Your region of the world is so beautiful. Take full advantage of all that scenery! 🙂

  5. Robin W. says:

    What a wonderful story – told through your beautiful words and amazing pictures!! A once in a lifetime memory that you all 3 will hold so close to your hearts forever! Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Wow! What a neat trip! I love that you went with your Dad & son, too! So special! Niagra Falls is so beautiful lit up! Its on my bucket list!

  7. Scribbler says:

    Thank you so much for posting these fabulous photos. My husband and I both enjoyed them and your post! NF is on our list, now that we have retired.

  8. Jacque @ theDIYvillage says:

    What an incredible trip! Niagra is on my bucket list too! Beautiful photographs!

  9. Beautiful photos and a lifetime of memories from your amazing trip! We took our boys to Niagra when they were about the same age and they still talk about it! The next time that I go, I need to go to a winery…it looks amaging! Thanks for sharing! xo

  10. I loved seeing your experience of your vacation! Your photos are fabulous. I am from this area and my great uncle used to drive the maid of the mist when I was little. My grandmother’s family is from Niagara on the Lake. 🙂

  11. What beautiful photos and a great trip! I know you made memories that will last a lifetime!

  12. What a wonderful trip for the three of you! This is the kind of togetherness that will be remembered and talked about forever – so special! I haven’t been to Niagara Falls since I was a child and I remember being overwhelmed by the beauty and size of it all! I must say that when you wrote “What a crap-your-pants moment that must have been, huh? ” I just about died laughing! I was so touched by the picture of your dad and Garrett together admiring the view from the ferris wheel – what a wonderful shot! And he lost his first tooth? Congrats big guy! Gorgeous scenery – those night shots of the falls are spectacular!, lovely flowers and that moose! We won’t discuss that moose LOL! Maybe I’m just in a mushy mood today, but I really think that this special trip shared with three generations of your family is just so important! I’m really glad that you’re a photographer and keep special life moments documented so later generations can enjoy them too! Thank you for sharing! Hugs, Leena

  13. Damn Gina! These pictures are amazing! Don’t you just love it – a random vacation that ends up perfect (aka, the opposite of Nashville, lol)? This mamacita needs a vaca, stat! I love that G is getting old enough to enjoy things in a new way too – I love seeing the world through the eyes of a child!

    And yes, Yellowstone next please! 🙂

  14. Beautiful pics!! I love your vacation recap posts. They always makes me want to book one ASAP!! Putting NF on my bucket list for sure. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. What a great post! I’m so glad we got to do some of this together! Full heart.

  16. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

    I’d have to agree about that crap in your pants moment for the folks who had to sink that ship. 🙂
    And I don’t care for rocking on the ferris wheel either.

    Gorgeous pictures! Thanks so much for sharing.

  17. Beth, you and your guys went to one of my favorite places! Love Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake. We have taken girlfriend trips there a couple of times. We actually spent my 40th birthday at Niagara on the Lake. What a dreamy place.

  18. So glad you had a great time at Niagara Falls Beth! Loved the photo of Garret hugging the Canada sign!!

  19. Amy Hill says:

    What a very special trip and your pictures are amazing.

  20. Honestly, I rarely read an entire blog post- how awful is that bit of truth coming from a fellow blogger- but not only did I finish this whole post but i might just be in love with it too! 🙂 Stumbled across your page while doing some research for our own upcoming Canadian adventure! Thank you so much for sharing! Your photos are so endearing and heart warming, couldn’t help but smile at each and every one of them! Thanks again!

    Happy Travels!
    Katie & DJ
    http://www.venturewild.net

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  1. […] also took a Granddaddy/ Daughter/ Grandson vacation to Niagara Falls in July, where Garrett lost his first tooth while eating a grilled cheese at the Hard Rock Café!  I […]

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