Niagara Falls

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by carwesty, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. carwesty

    carwesty Mouseketeer

    Feb 2, 2006
    We are planning a vacation this summer to Niagara Falls/Cooperstown/Boston. My son plays baseball and soccer so we were just going to fit it in when we have time, just get in the car and go. I must live under a rock because I just found out that you have to get a passport to enter Canada. Of course, we don't have one and I see it takes 4-6 weeks, we have to go in the next 7 weeks due to our schedules. Will it even be worth it for us to stop and stay on the US side, we have never been to Canada or Niagara Falls, I don't want my kids to miss it but if we need to go to Canada to experience the beauty then we may need to wait until another time. Any suggestions?
  2. pianoronni37

    pianoronni37 I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten.

    Sep 14, 2008
    It is DEFINITELY worth it to see the Falls from the American side!!

    I've been many many times (live in Upstate NY - close to Cooperstown!), and it is a breathtaking site, no matter which side you see it from. If you were planning on vacation IN Niagara Falls, I would suggest spending a few days in Canada - the museums, shops, casinos, restaurants, etc are better - but as far as the view - the American side is fine and Niagara Falls is not to be missed!!! :thumbsup2

    Check out this website:

    And to get the very best view, Maid of the Mist brings you RIGHT ON TOP of the falls - it's not scary at all, but you look up and wow... it's mesmerizing...

    Sorry - bit of a Niagara Falls junkie here. :woohoo:
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  4. OntFamily

    OntFamily DIS Veteran

    Jul 6, 2003
    We live approx 90 minutes from Niagara Falls (in the Toronto area), and visit there 2 to 3 times per year. Most of our time has been spent on the Canadian side, as this is where 80% of the attractions, etc are located.

    While I live in Ontario, most people think viewing the Falls from the Canadian side is nicer. However, there are some nice views from Niagara Falls, NY. However, I wouldn't drive all the way from Cooperstown, if you couldn't drive into Canada.

    On a side note, if you are an American, you do not need a passport to enter Canada. Only proof of citizenship is required. However, you will require a passport (or other enhanced ID) to re-enter the USA. Recent news reports have quoted US border officials as stating they will not hold to the new strict regulation immediately. If a Canadian or American show up at the USA border, they will allow them into the USA, as long as proof of citizenship and photo ID are presented.

    Does your state offer enhanced drivers licenses? (they have citizenship info encoded on them). These documents are also acceptable for crossing the USA border. BTW, children under 16 do not require passports, for crossing at a land border.

    Niagara , ON is a great place to visit ! We love it.
  5. brymolmom

    brymolmom DIS Veteran

    Jun 8, 2005
    I don't think it would be worth it for me. I'm another upstater and have been to both sides of the Falls a couple handfuls of times. The Canadian side has more to see and do. Don't get me wrong - the sight of Niagara Falls is awe-inspiring and I LOVE to look at it from both sides. It takes my breath away! drive, from Cooperstown - I'm guessing at least a 4 hour drive?? And then to look at the falls....for a half hour or an hour. My kids were 5 and 6 last time we went and they looked at it for 30 seconds and were like 'what are we doing next Mom?'. Anyway - if I drove 4 hours for that - it wouldn't be worth it for me. Without being able to do 'all' that the Falls has to offer - not sure that it's worth the extra drive for you.

    Maybe reschedule that part of the trip for after you have passports...
  6. CyndiLooWho

    CyndiLooWho DIS Veteran

    Apr 20, 2009
    If you think you will do any kind of cruise or Niagara or be in a state bordering Mexico or Canada in the next 5 yrs, just bite the bullet and get the passports started tomorrow. In 20 yrs of marriage we've been to Canada once, taken a cruise once, and had the opportunity to do day trips to Mexico and Canada (from San Diego and Seattle) a couple of times. Oh, and we lived in Europe for a few years. The thing is, if you have money for them (they aren't cheap), the passports are a great thing to have, and you could miss out on things w/o one now that the rules have changed.

    Niagara is really neat, and you can do the American side w/o the passport. I can't tell you about the American side, cuz I've never done it, but I've done the Canandian side twice, and enjoyed the experience both times.

    Back to passports: we just got dh's back from having more pages added, and it took less than 6 wks. If you can drive to the passport agency (none in KY, LOL), they can do it all same day for no extra cost. You just have to take everyone with you and have appointments.
  7. carwesty

    carwesty Mouseketeer

    Feb 2, 2006
    We live in Indiana so our first stop was going to be the Falls, then on to Cooperstown and then Boston. We thought we would spend 2 days at Niagara Falls, then move on. We know our kids don't need the passports but my husband and I would need them. I am not sure about the Enhanced DL, but I will look into that. So I guess we could get to Canada to see it, they just might not let us back! I am just weighing all the options as I know we don't have the time or money to expedite the passport. Thanks for the replies!
  8. mantaz

    mantaz <font color=deeppink>I just thought my computer wa

    Feb 27, 2003
    Although they say it takes 4-6 weeks to get a passport, it took me less than 2 weeks to get mine. I think the Canadian side is the best to view the falls. This is how I see it...say you have a garden hose and you are holding the hose out in front of you water hitting the ground...they US side you are staring down the garden hose and see the water come out. On the Canadian side you are facing the water and see it hitting the ground below. You get to actually see the water falling. But that is just my view point on the falls.
  9. bennyrn12

    bennyrn12 Earning My Ears

    May 17, 2009
    I live in western new york and visit the falls 3-4 times a year. we always go to the candian side. You can see all 3 of the falls at once and the food and attractions are so much better. Passports are coming in really quick lately (2 weeks if you apply the regular way...less than a week if you go to a clinic with people from the state dept). I think if you are planning to go to the falls you will be disappionted staying on the US side especially if you cant make it up here frequently. Have a fun and safe trip!!!
  10. jsaem

    jsaem Mouseketeer

    Feb 14, 2001
    We are going to Toronto and Niagara in July. We just went to the post office today and applied for the passport card. Much cheaper than a passport. The guy at the post office said we would receive them in about 4 weeks or less. The cost per card was (16 years and up) $45 and under 16 was $35. They will do your photos on the spot (check the usps web site for locations and times. Not all office do the photos) the photos were an extra $15 each. All in all not cheap but much cheaper than a regular passport. Hope that helps.
  11. nicolesap

    nicolesap Mouseketeer

    Aug 25, 2008
    I would still apply for your passport, they give you those times as a generalization...we got our passports last year in less than 2 weeks! You can also, for a fee get them to expedite the process, and I know that there are centers that you can go and get them done overnight. I'm not sure where you live, but I know for instance the closest one to me is in Washington DC. You should check the website and check to see if there is one in your area. Either way, I recommend seeing Niagara from the American or Canadian side. There are lots of things to do from the Canadian side, but the views from either side are amazing!!!
  12. briarbear

    briarbear Earning My Ears

    Mar 4, 2009
    Carwetsy I live 15 mins south of Niagara Falls, and I hate to say it but we would stay on the Canadian side. There is more to do and I have to say it is a better view. If you choose to stay on the US side Seneca Casino Niagara is the best place. You can stay there with kids, and they have great dinning options. During the summer they have free concerts. If you choose to stay on the Canadian side you have to have a passport or NEXUS card to get back in the states. If you have any more questions let me know.
  13. disneymarie

    disneymarie <font color=blue>Its a rumour about the donuts...<

    Aug 31, 2007
    You do not need the full passport book, get the card.
    Or just tour on the AMerican side. There is plenty to do there too. Very nature oriented side. The other is the tourist side and lots of strip area shops.

    I am getting the passport card. I filled in and printed the PDF format online. The instructions are on the site and it is only $45. Kids under 16 do not need one.You can do the pictures yourself following the directions on the form. Quicker too, It only takes about a month. We are going in September. IF you are in a border state, there are a few as NY that has an enhancement for the drivers license.

    Near Cooperstown is HOWE's Caverans. THey are great. You even ride a boat through part of the adventure. Something added to the trip.
  14. luvmickey5374

    luvmickey5374 Mouseketeer

    Jul 7, 2005
    I live about 45 minutes away from Niagara Falls and it is BEAUTIFUL! I am a New Yorker and I will even say the US side is a DUMP!!! It makes me angry because there is a HUGE potential to bring some money in from the tourists so you'd think they would jump on it especially with the new passport thing!! Everything I have read said they will not be easy on people without passports or enhanced licenses because they have been easing into this for almost 2 years now!! I say try and get passports or enhanced licenses...the Canadian side is so much fun....NY side is a BAAAAAAAAAD neighborhood that you wouldn't go to if you were at home....IMO:goodvibes
  15. ChrisinNJ

    ChrisinNJ DIS Veteran

    Jan 2, 2008
    Not to hijack the thread, but my DH & I were talking about doing a Niagara Falls trip when school gets out. (6/24-6/28) Any budget friendly hotel options (for a family of 5) on the Canadian side? I priced the Marriot Fallsview, but it was over $1000.00 for 4 nights (I'd rather go to Disney for that price!)

    We were there about 13 years ago, and we stayed on the NY side & walked over the bridge. We saw everything we wanted to see via walking or bus. If we stay on the NY side is this still an option?

    Also it seems the Canadian hotels have a daily parking fee.

    Any specific recomendations for a trip that won't break the bank???
  16. LisaLuvsDisney

    LisaLuvsDisney Earning My Ears

    Jun 5, 2007
    We went last summer and stayed on the Canadian side. Well, next time we will stay on the American. We had more fun there. That walk under the falls was amazing. You can still do Maid of the Mist. It is SO crowded on the Canadian side. I would definitely go but only plan for 1 day. Have fun!
  17. Resseda

    Resseda Disney Dreaming

    Sep 14, 2008
    Another Western New Yorker here!

    I like the state park on the American Side; I think the American walk at the base of the Falls is far better than the Canadian Cave of the Windos Tour. However, the Canadians have bigger Maid of the Mist boats, so they get closer to the Falls. Since the OP said she was looking at a couple days at the Falls, I would get the passport or card, since there is more to do on the Canadian side. If it was a daytrip, I'd stick with the American side.

    We haven't gone over to the Canadian side in years, because it tends to be more expensive, and it's too touristy. (I mean, we go at least once a year, sometimes more. I don't need another NF shotglass, snowglobe or coffee mug!)

  18. Bearvet

    Bearvet DIS Veteran

    Oct 29, 2004
    I would suggest you apply for your passports now. If they don't arrive before your trip, I'd still plan to go to Niagara Falls and stay on the American side. I grew up in the area and feel that the U S side offers things the Candian side doesn't. It is more of a park-like setting while the Canadian side is very touristy. I agree that the "city" part of Niagara Falls, NY is not a good place to be.

    If you only do the U S side, here's my highlights:
    - On Goat Island, stop at the three sister islands. Bridges link the 3 small islands and you can get right up close to the rapids (churning water before it goes over the falls). I love this area.
    - From Goat Island you can get right next to the Horseshoe Falls and stand on top of the Bidal Veil Falls.
    - Maid of the Mist boat ride operates from both the US and Canadian sides
    - Cave of the Winds - you can walk at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls - very exciting
    -Take the time to travel to Lewiston/Youngstown NY and go to Old Fort Niagara - my kids love this
    -There is a new speedboat ride (leave from Fort Niagara area) that goes into the whirlpool section of the Niagara River (I've never done this, but it looks great).
    -At night there are fireworks over the Falls (we watched from the observation deck on the US side) - not sure what nights though....
    - Hard Rock Cafe - my kids enjoyed eating here

    Skip the aquarium.

    There's plenty to do on the US side and if it means seeing the Falls versus not seeing it - DO IT!!
  19. dogluva

    dogluva DIS Veteran

    Jan 18, 2007
    We went a couple of years ago. The town of Niagara may be a dump but the State park is not. We did the Passporter on the US side. It was a great deal. Movie about the falls, the nature center, the aquarium, trolley, maid of the mist and the fall walk thing. I was very nice. You see the canadian side during the boat trip.

    I hated the Canadian side! Tacky, touristy. The american side was more about nature. I didn't go to Niagara to go to touristy things. I did like the fireworks, though.
  20. bunny

    bunny DIS Veteran

    Sep 23, 1999
    We were just there over Memorial Day weekend. I would say definitely still go even if you can't go to the Canada. BTW I wouldn't risk going over with a passport or passcard. We didn't have one and they hassled us at the border even though it was a week before the rule went into effect.

    Buy the Discovery Pass which gets you admission to Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, the movie and the aquarium. And the whirlpool jet looked awesome.

    We did go over to Canada and it took us 2 hours each way to get over the Rainbow Bridge. In my opinion, it was not worth that. The Canadian side is prettier but is filled with tourist traps like wax museums and Ripleys.
  21. NYCDiane

    NYCDiane DIS Veteran

    May 31, 2009
    Get a Passport Card or an Enhanced Driver's License. Your children will need the same, so make sure everyone has one.

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