We took a spur-of-the-moment trip down to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, just before our weekend stay in Toronto. It was pouring the entire way down and made for a longer and crazier drive than usual (we could barely see the cars in front of us through the rain). Thankfully, the kids were troopers that day and were pretty agreeable for our almost 3 hour drive down. We stopped in Niagara on the Lake before heading down to the Falls itself. It was still spitting rain when we arrived so we ducked into the The Sunset Grill for an no-fuss, satisfying brunch. By the time we were done, the rain had started to clear, so we took a walk along the downtown strip - there are so many cute specialty stores, bakeries and souvenir shops to meander through.
We then drove along the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls to check into our hotel, admiring the beautiful houses along the way and stopping at the picturesque Brock's monument to take in the views of the Niagara River and the Landscape of Nations, the memorial dedicated to the First Nation warriors who fought bravely in the War of 1812. We also stopped to pick up some peaches from the orchard (you can try Parkway Orchards or Kurtz Orchards). If you have time, you can also check out the many wineries in the area! We then checked into our hotel (The Hilton, for a review look further down) and took a walk down to take in the horseshoe falls with the kids. Both kids were in awe of the waterfall and Oscar loved watching the Maid of the Mist getting close to the falls. Because of all the rain we had before, the kids were also treated to a huge, beautiful rainbow over the falls (Oscar was thoroughly impressed)!
We stayed the night in at The Hilton, the rooms were decent and the rooms had a pullout couch which was great for the kids. If you get a Fallsview room, you can also watch the fireworks from your hotel room, which is pretty sweet! Funny story is, my in laws had told us that the last time they stayed at the Hilton, a fire alarm had gone off in the middle of the night TWICE, and they evacuated both times, and were left waiting out on the street for hours. We joked about how unlucky they were but what do you know, at just past midnight, the fire alarm started wailing and Steve and I woke up, looked at each other and could not believe our ears. We debated for a while if we should haul the kids outta bed (they were somehow sleeping through the alarm) and just as we were about to do so, the alarm stopped. Then the hotel intercom came on 30 mins later and someone announced that it was a false alarm (this, of course, woke our kids up). The next morning, my in laws told us that it took over an hour for them to get back up to their hotel room because the elevators were so backed up. And as we were heading down to check out, we waited about 20mins for an elevator with just enough space that we could squeeze our stroller into (Steve and Oscar had to take the stairs 16 flights down). At checkout, the people at the front desk refused to offer any explanation for the inconvenience caused by the fire alarm or the elevators. IT WAS INSANE. Upon leaving, we scoped out Trip Advisor and found so many other reviews across the last two years complaining about a false fire alarm, which means this is a frequent, recurring problem that they haven't worked to fix. How annoying!
After checking out, Steve wanted to take Oscar to the Great Canadian Midway, a huge arcade, on Clifton Hill, the touristy, kitschy part of Niagara. They drove while I walked over with River in the stroller so she could take a short morning nap, we walked through Queen Victoria Park and its beautiful rose garden before arriving at the arcade. We had a great time in Niagara, it was a great for a spontaneous overnight trip - and while we do generally prefer the laid-back, relaxed feel of Niagara on the Lake to the touristy vibe of Niagara Falls, if you haven't already seen them, you certainly can't be in the area without stopping to marvel at the Falls themselves. Till next time, Niagara!