The great Niagara Falls are nearby, rumbling just 50 kilomotres from the CN Tower. So close, separated by half a lake, yet the novelty of the falls seems to be wearing thin for Torontians these days. Today, we tend to look at Niagara with disdain. Tourist trap. Motel wasteland. A place where the heart-shaped jacuzzi tubs may be mostly empty now, but still a place to possibly revive old love in a falls-view suite, to vacation for a honeymoon, or to gamble in the casino and return home broke.
Yes, it may seem filled with clichés and tack, unfortunately. But this wasn’t always the case!
While tourism in Niagara didn’t explode until after the second world war, the city still proved to be a draw. Charles Blondin blew people’s minds by crossing the falls in shackles, on a bike and blindfolded. Rest assured there were spectators to take in these theatrics! (And the most wealthy of spectators at that)
It’d be easy to say that Toronto has turned its back on the place, but the numbers tell a different story. The Niagara honeymoon might be dead, but we still make the 128 kilometre journey around the lake with surprising frequency. Two million litres a second will draw anyone to the falls. There is the famous casino and the fancy hotels, yet the glamour seems to become more and more detracted each year. But there is still so much history to be taken in from the region, and let’s not forget the falls themselves!
After having recently taken the half day trip, I still had a very enjoyable time, all things considered. The Maid of the Mist tours are still running full force, and I’d like to see someone in a yellow poncho getting soaked from the chilly mist spraying from all directions try not to laugh. It is this corniness that make people laugh today: the Maid of the Mist tours, the ponchos, the cringe-worthy gift shops, the tourists standing on a ledge next to the falls so precarious, you laugh at their stupidity. Or at least I laugh.
The Niagara Falls today may not be the same luxurious and glamorous getaway as it had been for years, but they are still a beauty to behold in person and of course worth visiting for a day. There are also lovely manicured gardens everywhere, the Skylon Tower, and the butterfly conservatory to check out. The best piece of advice I think I can give regarding this region is to visit Niagara Falls for one day maximum, and then head on up to Niagara-on-the-Lake – a much more quaint, relaxed, and romantic region in my opinion. Niagara-on-the-Lake is just doused with beautiful bed and breakfasts and vineyards. It is a community of wineries, each having their own personalities as distinctive as the wines they create.