Hello everyone! I’m back from a delightful vacation in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I went there several years ago – in my later childhood and again in my early teens. Each time was a bus trip with my sister, parents, and grandparents. Each time we did some great things – Marine Land (which I no longer have a desire to visit), botanical gardens, butterfly conservatories, etc… I’ve wanted to go back for some time because I never got to get up close to the waterfalls or wander around the kitschy Clifton Hill district. I have a vivid childhood memory of our hotel room which overlooked the wax Criminal Hall of Fame. My sister and I really wanted to check out the various wax museums but because of a combination of time, money, and parental energy, we didn’t get to. I also wanted to go back so my husband could see the waterfalls – he had never gone.
The weather was very rainy when we visited the Botanical Garden, but we looked around a bit. There are some beautiful specimens there and the horticultural school keeps the grounds looking like a fancy manor. We’d definitely like to go back during nicer weather. I definitely have a greater appreciation for the gardens now that I’m older.
|Photo by Weretoad|
I also visited the Butterfly Conservatory again. It was just as magical as before. It’s definitely a great place to visit on a cold, rainy day as the greenhouse is kept balmy for the variety of tropical plants and butterflies. Very educational and the butterflies are naturally whimsical!
|Photo by Grey Catsidhe|
We also stopped at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Sarira Stupa. They were building this when I was last in Niagara Falls, but I remember seeing some of the large statues and the ornate building. I remember thinking “wow!” as it was one of the first times I had ever been exposed to another religion. We only drove by it but I made a point to visit this time around! The actual stupa contains a museum with Buddhist artifacts. It’s only opened from June to October, so that will have to wait for another visit. Still, we enjoyed the courtyard and also went into the temple where we witnessed some of a ceremony. They were very hospitable but be prepared to remove your shoes. The shrine was amazing. I felt a little choked up due to the devotion and positive energy. It was really a spectacular and inspirational location to visit.
|A photo of Guan Yin from the temple complex – by Weretoad.|
We wandered around Clifton Hill to indulge in our childhood fantasies. Weretoad didn’t really know what to expect but was blown away by all the lights, sounds, and over-the-top character. We went into a mirror maze, ogled the many haunted houses and arcades, visited a wax museum to pose with faux celebrities (and jump in the room full of horror stars), and did something I always wanted to do – visit a Ripley’s Believe it or Not “Odditorium.” It was strange, that’s for sure, but also very interesting. We saw quirky things like “hobo art,” a collection of humorous epitaphs, and rice art to things that make most uncomfortable – medieval torture equipment, a taxidermal kitten with two faces, and shrunken heads from South America. I was particularly interested in artifacts with occult meaning like the various dolls used in magic.
|Photo by Grey Catsidhe|
Of course, the most magnificent part of Niagara Falls is the world wonder that names the region – the waterfalls themselves. The American and Horseshoe Falls are some of the most awesome, humbling sights. The power of nature is truly magnificent. The city is a lot of fun, but we couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like without the many casinos, themed restaurants, and haunted houses.
|A view from behind the falls. You can really get a sense of the power back there! Photo by Grey Catsidhe.|
|The Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. It was a beautiful day and we caught sight of a double rainbow! I can’t recall if this was my photo or my husband’s, but it’s a favorite.|
Is Niagara Falls worth your time? Definitely. Clifton Hill is very touristy but may be fun if you’d like to indulge in fantasies and see the odd and bizarre. If you’re looking for something deeper, I recommend visiting the Buddhist temple and exploring the many natural sights – especially the gardens and falls themselves.