As the Hornblower brought us right up to the rocky, foamy foot of the thundering Falls, and the spray from the cascading waters drenched any part of me that was not covered by a pink plastic poncho, I could not stop smiling—this was awesome.
Last month, nearly all of us at Witte Travel & Tours took a company FAM trip to Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. In the travel industry, a FAM trip refers to a “familiarization trip” that is organized for the purpose of educating participants about a particular destination. We were heading to Niagara Falls to learn about what the tourism landscape is like, to inspect a few hotels, and to experience it all for ourselves so that we can provide informed recommendations to our clients.
We met up very early on a Friday morning and piled onto a bus headed towards our neighbors to the North…er, East. I was really excited—not only would this be my first Witte FAM trip, but it was also my first time at the Falls. Having lived in Michigan my whole life, I have sometimes been guilty of taking Canada for granted and forgetting what a great destination it can be. In particular, Niagara Falls and the surrounding areas are definitely worth a visit.
Our trip planning committee did a wonderful job choosing enjoyable activities that made for a very memorable weekend. Here are a few of my favorites (accompanied by photos taken by some of our talented staff members).
Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Theatre
Our first activity upon arriving in Niagara Falls was to take in a show at the award-winning Oh Canada Eh? dinner theatre. A small but talented cast of singing Mounties, hockey players, and lumberjacks entertained us onstage with a blend of goofy original songs and covers of well-known Canadian artists, while somehow simultaneously serving the 236-seat theater an all-Canadian family-style dinner. Sure, it was a little hokey– but it was still great fun, and would be a perfect evening activity for families. After all, where else can you be served maple cake by a singing Mountie?
“Voyage to the Falls” Hornblower Cruise
On Saturday afternoon, we boarded the Hornblower “Voyage to the Falls” cruise for a thrilling, up-close and personal Falls experience; passing right next to the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls and driving straight for the heart of the powerful Horseshoe Falls. The view from the top of the Falls is impressive, but it can’t compare to the sight and sound from its base. Looking up at 680,000 gallons of water tumbling over the edge of Horseshoe Falls and plummeting 180 feet to crash and froth on the giant boulders below — now that is something to behold.
Fireworks over the Falls / Table Rock
Although I expected Niagara Falls to be packed with tourists, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the area was not as crowded as I had thought. This is likely due in part to the time of year that we were visiting, but also because the area around the Falls is a lovely, spacious park. I spent a very enjoyable hour walking through the beautiful rose gardens and perusing the shops at the Table Rock Welcome Center. Also, be sure to return to the Falls at night—the misty waters are beautifully illuminated with brightly-colored lights, and the experience is frequently enhanced by a stunning fireworks display.
On Saturday evening, we climbed into the glass-plated Yellow Bug elevators at the famous Skylon Tower and soared 775 feet in 52 seconds. The Tower boasts the best view of Niagara Falls as “the only place where you can see it all”. This is true—as we enjoyed an elegant dinner in the Tower’s world-famous revolving dining room, we were treated to a 360-degree view that included sights of the illuminated Falls, the Niagara wine district, the bright lights of the city below, and even the city skylines of Toronto and Buffalo.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is an exceptionally charming, historic town nestled in the Niagara wine region and located where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, just a few minutes outside of Niagara Falls. It was the ideal way to spend a crisp, fall morning: sipping a coffee while strolling along the quiet streets, and pausing here or there to pop into the unique shops and boutiques. We weren’t able to spend very much time there before boarding our bus back to Michigan, but there are plenty of nice restaurants and cafés to choose from, historical sites and museums to visit, and well-kept parks for playing or picnicking.
Niagara Falls, Ontario is a delightful city with plenty of accommodation options and no shortage of interesting things to do. There’s something there for everyone– families might enjoy spending a day exploring the myriad attractions of Clifton Hill, honeymooners can retreat to the romantic vineyards of Pillitteri Estates Winery, and friends can gather at either of the two casinos for an evening of games and entertainment. No matter which activities you choose, a weekend at Niagara Falls is bound to be unforgettable!
Have you had a memorable visit to the Falls? Share your favorite Niagara Falls experience with us in the comments!