One Day Trip
The kids had a four day weekend, so we decided to visit Niagara Falls. You can make the drive from Illinois to Niagara in a day, but boy is it a long day. We decided to travel highways to avoid the crazy Chicago traffic. (It may have added a little more time, but at least we weren't sitting in stop and go traffic.)
We stayed at Logansport, IN on the way up to shorten the drive. The next morning I got up early and started loading out the luggage to help speed up the process. As I was riding down the elevator, there was a couple and the gentleman mentioned that it looked like we were going to be driving in rain. I replied "We could use the rain back home." He stated "We could really use it where we are from." So I asked "Where was that?" He said it was a town in Iowa. I asked "Which one?" He said "Oskaloosa." What are the odds that in the middle of Indiana I would meet a couple from one of the towns I grew-up in? I asked if they knew any Westercamps and his wife said that "Joan Westercamp is one of her best friends." Too funny.
The kids wanted to visit Canada, so we went ahead and stayed in Niagara, Ontario. Since we were going to be going to both sides, it was just as easy to cross into Canada at Detroit and drive over from there. I would recommend staying on the Canada side. There are a lot more entertaining things to do on the Canada side and the kids get to make Canada jokes. Also, the view of the falls is better as everyone says, on the Canada side.
We arrived in the evening, checked-in and then headed down to see the falls at night. They had them lit up with Green lights (probably not the prettiest of lighting options available). We grabbed some supper and turned in so we could get an early start the next morning.
The next morning we got up, had some breakfast and headed to the American side. One quick note, you have to pay $0.50 per person to walk to the American side from Canada. They have turnstiles that require exact change. Luckily I had read someone else's blog and it had mentioned the $0.50 so I came prepared. It was pretty easy to go through customs late in the season and we headed for the Cave of the Winds.
I highly recommend seeing the Cave of the Winds. Since we were there early, we were able to walk right in and get our tickets. It is not cheap, but well worth the price of admission. They have a little informational area at the beginning which had only been open for 3 days, so we got the "new" experience. After a short video we were given flip-flops and a poncho to wear and were taken to the bottom of the falls by elevator. After you arrive at the bottom, you walk out onto a deck that you follow around to under the falls. Josh managed to get a rip in the back of his poncho and then proceeded to get soaked on the Hurricane Deck. It is a great experience, but try to go on a warm day - you will get wet.
Then we to ride the Maid of the Mist. It was a lot of fun. Lisa and I went on the top deck to experience the full-force of the water. The kids decided to hang out on the lower deck. It is pretty impressive the amount of water that goes over the falls. The boat captain had to keep the engines revved to hold the boat in the center of the Horseshoe Falls. And just like at the Cave of the Winds - you will get slightly wet.
When we were finished with the American side, we came back to the Canadian side. I don't believe the customs officers have much of a sense of humor. We made it through OK, but it took a while longer than it had earlier in the day.
That night Lisa asked the kids if they wanted to try some "authentic" Canadian food. To which Ben replied, "Are we having beaver?" Sad to say no we did not have beaver. Instead, we tried poutine. It is french fries covered with gravy and other toppings. It was pretty good - definitely different. I would be willing to try it again. I tried the traditional the first time, so I would definitely try one of the other styles the next time.
We headed home the next day and drove it in one day. It took us 12 hours. We were exhausted, but it was definitely worth the trip. Good thing we had an extra day at home to recuperate. I highly recommend seeing the falls, but you don't really need much more than a day to see it.