12 Months of Hostelling – Niagara Falls

I think any Canadian must visit Niagara Falls at some point in their life; it is after all an iconic Canadian location. The falls are an awesome sight any time of year, and in November you get to experience it without the large crowds that the summer months bring.

If you’ve never been, you might think that you know what it’s like from photos. But trust me, pictures do not do justice to the power of these falls, you really do have to get yourself up close. You won’t appreciate from pictures how blue and crystal clear the water is as it surges to the edge until you’re standing right there, wedged in among the tourists. You get dizzy as you look down and can’t help but think of the stories you’ve heard of people going over the falls and surviving.

When you get to the falls, you have a few options of how to see them. The free, and most immediate, way is to look at them from above. A public walkway lines the falls and the Niagara River. For a price, you could take the Journey Behind the Falls, where you take an elevator down through bedrock and view the back of the cascading falls. It’s an impressive vantage point.

Unfortunately the Maid of the Mist boat trips stop running at the end of October for the winter months, but if you do get a chance to visit the falls during the spring and summer months then the Maid of the Mist is a must. Just putting on those famous blue ponchos adds to the thrill of the boat trip that takes you as close to the falls as you could ever hope to get; it really is an exhilarating experience.

A trip over the border is worth a visit too. The Niagara State Park is America’s oldest and it gives you a different perspective of the falls. There are plenty of viewing options around the State Park - Prospect Point is one of my favourite spots, you really get up close and personal with the falls here. For a panoramic view of all three falls visit the Observation Tower – the tower extends out over the Niagara Gorge and offers multi-level viewing platforms. 

Back in Canada, if you need to have a break from all the water, you can always saunter up to nearby Clifton Hill. It’s a gaudy street lined with funhouse attractions and chain restaurants, Clifton Hill offers some cheesy fun. At the very least, you can gawk at the lit storefronts with Vegas-style aspirations.

November marks the start of CAA Winter Festival of Lights, which runs all the way from November 3 to January 31, 2013. Niagara Falls is transformed into a winter wonderland, with over three million sparkling lights along a 6 km route. There are weekly firework displays, outdoor ice skating near the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, grand holiday displays throughout the city, and many concerts and other fun  events.

Where to stay: HI-Niagara Falls

HI-Niagara Falls is a small and cosy hostel. Located just by the bus station, the hostel is a 30-minute walk from the famous Niagara Falls.

Rates are:
Multi-share room

Members $26                    Non-member $30

Private room:

Members $59                    Non-member $69

On December 1, Red Bull Crashed Ice, the ice cross downhill world championships, is coming to Niagara. HI-Niagara Falls is offering HI members a special rate: $50 for two nights in a dorm or $100 for two nights in a private room during the event.

Reserve by phone or by email and simply mention the Red Bull Crashed Ice special offer.

Image: Canadian Tourism Commission

Author: Backpacker Buzz

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