For some people, America is a dream destination; for me though, I had never seen the appeal. However when presented with the opportunity to spend a year joining a research team at Harvard, it wasn’t something I could say no to. Since being here I have spent most of the time in and around Boston with short excursions out to Detroit and Seattle for a conference. Somewhere though, that I had always wanted to visit in the US was the Niagara Falls and a couple of weeks ago I took a trip out to see them.
There are many places to view the Falls. The Canadian side definitely has the better views so if you find yourself visiting then make sure you have your passport or other travel documents to cross the border or you may find yourself stuck in the wrong country! Also make sure you have a dollar in quarters for the toll gate on the way back. If you are in Canada I would recommend viewing the Falls from the designated viewpoint next to the Horseshoe Falls. It is a short 20-30 minute walk south of the Rainbow International Bridge and the whole walk is along the river offering stunning views of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
The American side of the border offers a less built up area to experience the Falls from. I enjoyed making my way around Goat Island, which splits the river into the two waterfalls. The west side of Goat Island holds Terrapin Point, which unfortunately is closed during the winter season. Nevertheless I could see that it would be an excellent place to view the scenery. The majority of the Falls’ attractions are closed during the winter months, including The Cave of the Winds full tour and the Maid of the Mist boat trip. However I highly recommend the Cave of the Winds Winter Experience if only for the unique view of the Horseshoe Falls. The experience begins with films about the Falls’ history and the Falls in winter before you travel 50 m down the elevator to a viewing platform near the bottom of the gorge. Overall I would recommend visiting during winter because of the lack of other tourists and quieter feel of the area, as well as the stunning frozen scenery.
On the south side of the island there are two small islands known as the Three Sisters Islands. This slightly quieter part of the river is full of wildlife and was one of my favourite parts of the trip. Another favourite part of the trip was going to see the Falls at night. The Falls are illuminated with lots of different colours and look fantastic. One more place to see the Falls is the Observation Tower which looks out over the gorge. It is located in the State Park and is easy to find (but it does close after dark.)
Finally I would like to recommend the hotel which I stayed at. Comfort Inn The Pointe (other hotels are available) is only a few hundred metres from the American Falls. It is one of the cheapest hotels next to the Falls and provides a complimentary breakfast.
America is never a country I thought I would visit but since I’ve been here I’ve taken the opportunity to visit a number of different places, and I would recommend any student staying abroad do the same.