Niagara Falls State Park – Panos
Elsy and I drove to Niagara Falls and Toronto via Syracuse, NY for a brief summer vacation. I had promised her a trip up there for years and finally delivered. Our first stop was Niagara Falls State Park on the New York side.
Since time immemorial, when you say, “Niagara Falls,” the first words out of people’s mouths are, “the Canadian side is better.” The reason relates to geography. Niagara Falls consists of three falls – the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls. On the American side, you are standing behind and to the side of the American Falls and are distant from the Horseshoe Falls. The Canadian side puts you in close proximity to the Horseshoe Falls, and you see the American Falls dead on.
The Canadian side is clearly much more built-up. Elsy and I would have dinner at the Skylon Tower, which is considered the CN Tower’s baby cousin. The Skylon Tower is the tallest structure on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and anchors the skyline in the northeast corner. Tracking southwest are the hotels, casinos, restaurants and tourist traps. We would be staying at the Marriott Gateway which is the last tall building to the Southwest standing at 31 floors.
But, an observation platform cantilevered off the elevator for the Maid of the Mist boat mitigates much of the “Canadian side is better” mantra in terms of viewing the Falls. The Observation Tower has been around since 1961. You can see the Horseshoe Falls just fine from here and if you’re not using the boat, it’s only $1 to enter the Observation Tower. Elsy and I did ride the boat and that will be posted in our next article. The Observation Tower provides a commanding view of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. You can see clearly, the Rainbow Bridge (not the one dead dogs cross – the one to and from Canada). The bridge leads straight into Canada’s Route 420, which empties into Falls Ave. and subsequently into the QEW – Queen Elizabeth Way – which runs to Toronto.
The views are absolutely stunning from the Observation Tower…and this was only the beginning.
Note: once you are on the side of the Tower after the elevator bank even though you are in the United States, for purposes of cellular data use on your devices, you are in Canada. That’s because your device is locking into the Canadian signal, which leaches over. Be sure you have purchased an international plan or turn your cellular data and roaming off – unless incurring thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in data use charges is something you enjoy. The same is true if you use the boat. Cellular Data and roaming OFF or buy a plan!
Niagara Falls State Park has on-location parking which is often filled to capacity. You will generally need to park at a private or city lot just outside the park. Walking distance from the lots to the Falls, Observation Tower and Maid of the Mist are about half a mile. Street parking is next to impossible to find on both the American and Canadian sides. Outside the tourist districts, the cities on both sides have run-down slum areas. Both sides have a large Indian population and the Punjabi Hut just before the Rainbow Bridge is a well-rated Indian restaurant, though we did not eat there that afternoon.
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