Niagara Falls Vacation

Living in the southern area of ​​New York State, it is not often that we get to visit the Niagara Falls area of ​​our state. A few years back my wife asked to do a four day mini-trip to see the Falls as she had never been there. We decided to go on weekdays to avoid as much weekend traffic crush as possible. We made a hotel reservation and off we went. Using State Route 17 North, the trip takes longer then using Route 287 but the scenery is gorgeous and you get to visit many small Villages that offer great antique stores, restaurants and in Endicott, a 1920 restored Carousel, zoo and exhibits. It took us several days to travel the 500 miles to reach Niagara with all the stopping and shopping but we stopped early, before dark, every day, got a room and had a nice dinner.

One of the most special places outside Niagara Falls was our stop at the Corning Glass factory in Corning, New York. Their museum is outstanding and the chandelier displays are breath taking. More colors of glass than you can imagine and more items made of glass than you can count. Vases, plates shakers, goblets, airport landing lights, chandeliers, lamps and just rooms and rooms of displays. There is also an area that displays their commercial work as well including insulation and fiber optic cables. Well worth the visit.

I had been to the falls as a child but the sheer magnitude of the water and sounds were forgotten. We arrived at the hotel around six PM and our "falls view" room had a great view of a brick wall of the hotel. We paid extra for a view and balcony and we insured we be moved. The hotel somewhat graciously did so. That was the only minor sour note of the trip. We had dinner at the hotels rooftop restaurant and it was great. The hotel is connected to a casino so we spent the rest of the evening donating some money to them.

The next morning dawned clear and sunny. We took a short walk into the tourist shops area for breakfast and my wife got her first exposure to the conversion of Canadian money to American. We had eggs and coffee and the bill came to something like $ 37 dollars. Canadian dollars that is. She almost disappointed when she saw the $ 37 bill until the waitress explained the difference in dollars. We had a good laugh at that.

The American and Horseshoe falls are of course visible (and hear) from just about everywhere in the area. You can stand and watch them hours and many people do just that. The are tram tours of mansion gardens which is also well worth the fee and lasts a couple of hours. The highlight of course is the a ride on one of the boats that approaches the foot of the Falls themselves. We rode on the "Maid of the Mist" and it was well worth the waiting line to board. They give you a plastic rain parka to wear and the smart people put it on. Many do not, and are a little sorry afterwards. The boat travels to the old Comstock tunnel outlets and to the foot of the falls themselves. The Boat Captain pushes the nose of the boat as close as possible into the falling water from above. The noise from the falling water is incredible and makes any conversation next to impossible. The "mist" is like standing in a heavy downpour of rain. Without the parka you will be soaked to the skin. Many people were, and once you're in the falls it is too late to put one on. They all took it with a smile knowing it was their own fault. This is something everyone needs to do on a bucket list with a dear friend.

Another great attraction is being able to walk through the Comstock tunnels and end up behind the falls. There are actually wooden decks that you can stand on to see. I could not help but think of the men who dared build those decks many years ago. Amazing!

A visit to the Niagara Falls American Museum is also a must. Their displays of all the barrels people have used to go over the falls, for some unknown reason, are on display. Most did not survive the fall and were killed. Walk down to the hand railing directly adjunct to the top of the falls to get a sight of just how high the falls really are and how fast the water is traveling. It is quite breathtaking.

Our four day trip turned into seven days as there are so many places to visit and things to see in New York State, that we have made a good many other trips as well.

Pete Ackerson