John Bloom (“Joe Bob Briggs”) makes some comedic observations of Niagara Falls’ tacky tourism in Taki’s Magazine: “Niagara Falls, Ontario: World’s Greatest Tourist Trap.” I visited Niagara Falls three years ago, and I can attest that the Canadian side holds its own in the realm of Ripley’s Believe It or Not spots. I do not mind the hucksterism and tastelessness; that underbelly of culture has its own charms. Human beings are endless fascinating, even in their silliness.
However, there are many wonderful things about Niagara Falls on both sides of the river. The lakes, falls, and river are spectacular. Both Ontario and New York have made visiting these natural attractions quite easy; parks, picnic areas, and viewing platforms are located throughout the region. I recommend the Niagara Falls and Great Gorge Adventure Pass from the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario. I would also recommend a day trip to visit the vineyards north of the falls, including a stop at the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you visit the Canadian side, do not overlook the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory.
The New York side is not entirely bereft of entertainment. The New York State Reservation offers some grand views of the falls, and it is free to enter on foot. New York’s other parks along the river, like Whirlpool State Park, are excellent places to eat with a view after picking up some delectable treats at DiCamillo Bakery. You can always get a bit of history at Fort Niagara, opposite Niagara-on-the-Lake, which offers a distant view of Toronto. You may also make the short drive to Buffalo to feast at the Anchor Bar, the origin of Buffalo wings. So, get fat in America and get stupid in Canada; that’s a fine recipe for a fun vacation.