Day 30 – Tuesday, July 3rd
Letchworth State Park
It was another long, sticky night but we did it. We are now done with camping on this trip. Nineteen total nights in 8 different campgrounds. Needless to say we are thankful to be done setting up and packing up campsites.
Our final destination for the day was Niagara Falls, Ontario. However, we planned to drive through Letchworth State Park on the way.
Letchworth is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the east coast. The views are not quite “Grand Canyon” awesome but definitely beautiful in their own way.
We entered the park through the Mt. Morris entrance. There is a $10 fee to drive through the park. There are many overlooks that offer nice views of the canyon.
The highlight of the park and most likely what draws in the visitors are the three waterfalls. We visited the Upper and Middle Falls. I believe the Lower Falls requires more walking and that just wasn’t in the cards for us today.
We drove to the far end of the park to see the Upper Falls. It is the 2nd tallest of the three falls with a height of 70 feet. You can see the falls while pulling into the parking lot, which built the anticipation. It was less than a quarter mile walk to the best viewing area of the falls. It was quite impressive!!
Here’s a video of Upper Falls: Upper Falls video
There is a walking path that connects Upper and Middle Falls. However, we opted for driving to the Middle Falls parking area. From the parking lot, Middle Falls was literally just steps away. Middle falls is the tallest of the three falls at 107 feet tall. I think the boys enjoyed seeing the rainbow more than the actual falls.
I also took a video of Middle Falls: Middle Falls video
Letchworth was a neat stop and one we would definitely recommend!!
Niagara Falls, Ontario
From Letchworth it was an hour and 45 minute drive to Niagara Falls. We waited in line on the Rainbow Bridge for probably 30 minutes to cross the border. This is where the boys got their first glimpse of Niagara Falls. They could only see the top of it, but that was enough to get them excited.
Our first task was to get checked in to our hotel. We rested for a while in the hotel to allow the temperature to drop.
We have been so excited to see the boys’ reaction when they finally see Niagara Falls up close. Every waterfall we have visited so far has brought up questions about Niagara Falls. Their reactions did not disappoint.
As we made our way down Falls Avenue the American Falls came into view. We looked at them and all three were wide-eyed with their mouths gaping open.
We then had a 10 minute discussion about how both the American and Canadian falls were Niagara Falls but they were separate from each other. I can understand how that would confuse them.
We wandered down the walkway, stopping every now and then to take in the views and snap a quick photo.
We slowly made our way to the Canadian/Horseshoe falls. The boys were fascinated by the mist and how you couldn’t even see the middle part of the falls. They also loved looking down at the Hornblower and Maid of the Mist boats that would venture right into the middle of the falls.
Finally we made it to the crest of the Canadian falls. It always blows my mind how fast the water is moving as it tumbles over the edge.
Here’s a video of the top of Canadian Falls: Close up view of the falls video
The walk from our hotel to the falls took longer than we anticipated, so we decided to take the Incline Railway, which made our trip back up to our hotel much shorter. It only cost $5.50 for our family to ride and was definitely worth it because the walk back to the hotel would have been uphill the whole way.
By the time we made it back to our hotel, we were all tired and ready to call it a night.
Day 31 – Wednesday, July 4th
First off, Happy Independence Day America!!!
I will admit, it kind of felt weird to be out of the country on the 4th of July.
White Water Walk
The first thing on our agenda for the day was the White Water Walk. This was something Shannon and I had done 8 years ago and really thought the boys would enjoy.
The White Water Walk is a quarter mile walk along the Niagara River. This portion of the Niagara River, downstream from Niagara Falls, boasts class VI rapids and is one of the most dangerous rivers in the world.
The walk is easy, with many shaded spots and provides several opportunities to get down to river level.
The constant roar of the river is a good reminder of the power within the water. One of the signs mentioned the river flows at 30 miles per hour. The large waves are mostly caused by the force of the water pushing its’ way through the gorge.
Here’s a video of this impressive river: White Water Walk video
From the lower observation areas you can easily get your shoes soaked if you’re not careful. Case in point:
We made an effort to arrive at the White Water Walk right after it opened for the day. This was definitely a good idea as it was already getting crowded by the time we were finishing up.
Clifton Hill Area
With the heat wave still engulfing the area, we opted for some indoor activities. We hadn’t played Putt-Putt yet on this trip, so we had to check that one off our to-do list. The boys really wanted to do the Dinosaur Adventure Putt-Putt course which looked really neat but was outdoors. We had to put our foot down on this one and informed the boys we wouldn’t be doing any outdoor Putt-Putt courses.
We opted for Wizards’ Golf, an indoor, blacklight course. None of us had done anything like that before. It was a neat experience.
Here’s a video of what it looked like: Wizards’ Golf video
Next up was the Great Canadian Midway Arcade. It was just down the street from Wizards’ Golf and was absolutely huge. One thing I appreciated, was that they had several older arcade games to go along with the newer ones. We had a coupon that gave us five extra dollars of tokens. Many of the games cost 2, 3 or even 4 tokens. If you’re not careful you can burn through them pretty quickly.
After lunch at the Wendy’s next door and some souvenir shopping, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed naps. Here’s a look at Clifton Hill if you’ve never seen it before.
An Evening at the Falls
After naps it was time to go back to the falls. This time we decided to purchase round trip tickets on the Incline Railway. We’ve been talking about doing the Journey Behind the Falls tomorrow morning, so we checked out where we would need to go. We also stopped at a candy shop before heading out to the falls.
With light fading, we found a spot where we could sit and watch the fireworks. Finding a spot was a challenge in itself because it was so crowded. After a few minutes we realized we had forgotten Jackson’s noise-cancelling headphones. I didn’t want to pay for another Incline Railway ticket, so I decided to walk back to the hotel the same way we went initially.
Umm, that was a bad choice.
Like, really bad choice.
I’m not sure if I can stress enough how poor that choice was. It was all uphill. By the time I reached our van, I was sweating and breathing quite hard. I ran part of the way because I was worried I might not get back in time. I hate to admit it, but I ended up buying a ticket to ride the Incline Railway back down.
Nevertheless, I made it back with time to spare and we were able to enjoy the light show on the falls before the fireworks started.
At the stroke of 10pm the fireworks started. The boys all did wonderfully. We were so proud of Jackson as this was his first time in a while watching fireworks outside.
Here’s a video of the first part of the fireworks display: Fireworks display
It was a little disappointing because there was no grand finale. Oh well, I guess that’s because we aren’t in the USA. We heard they did more fireworks on Canada Day, which is July 1st.
After the fireworks, the line for the Incline Railway was incredibly long, which we expected. We finally made it back to the hotel around 11pm.
Day 32 – Thursday, July 5th
Journey Behind the Falls
We managed to get checked out of our hotel and on the road just after 9am. Our goal was to be at the ticket booth just after 9am when the attraction opened. It was probably closer to 9:30am when we arrived. I’d still count that as a win.
We couldn’t leave our car at the hotel anymore since we had checked out and had to find another place to park. The main parking lot for the area charges $25 per day to park your vehicle, which we reluctantly had to pay even though we were only going to spend a couple hours there.
Arriving early is definitely the way to go as temperatures are lower and the people are fewer. I had read many reviews from people who were angry about how long they had to wait in line. We showed up to the counter, bought our tickets, received our ponchos, boarded the elevator and were on our way within 5 minutes. Plan accordingly people!!! I do realize it’s not always possible to arrive first thing in the morning when you are doing several things in the same day.
The first place we went, was to look through one of the viewing areas in the tunnel that is actually behind the falls. You basically get to see a wall of water pouring down. It was neat but nothing to write home about. We chose not to go look through the other hole, further down the tunnel, because we figured it was probably more of the same.
We then made our way to the viewing platform beside the falls. It gives you an opportunity to look up at the water cascading over the Canadian Falls.
I took a video in this spot, which I hope adds a little perspective: Journey Behind the Falls video
It was a neat experience but not something we were able to do for long. There is a constant mist and anything exposed to the elements will get wet. The boys didn’t really enjoy how the ponchos felt after getting soaked. In hindsight, we believe they would have enjoyed the boat ride more than this but, at the same time, we weren’t sure they were quite ready for the boat.
It was now time to say goodbye to the Niagara Falls area. Don’t worry Niagara Falls. This isn’t goodbye forever. It’s just goodbye for now.
We crossed back into the USA and made our way to Erie, PA, where we spent the night.
Until the next adventure!!