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Niagara Falls, Elvis and Amish. Oh my!


1. The Cost Breakdown

2. Sanibel Getaway With the Help of Chase IHG Card Ceritificates

3. How To Survive Magic Kingdom

4. The Points Guy Hangs Out with Southwest Flight Attendants

5. Niagara Falls, Elvis and Amish. Oh My!

Well, this is a conclusion to my long-winded trip report. Interestingly, we were probably the only American guests staying on American side of the Falls. It is visibly run down and neglected, but efforts are being made to spruce it  up.

I have to admit, I still liked it better than Canadian side. It felt more authentic, especially the Niagara Falls park itself. There was lush greenery and pleasant trails you could walk. In some ways it felt like you stepped in nineteen hundreds, which is when the park was established.

Canadian side to me looked like a giant amusement park, with not a tree in site. But, of course, the view is better, and that’s what people come for. My husband and I did go there one evening to watch the fireworks.

Our reason for staying on American side had to do with the visa requirements for my parents. I’m certain, most  of the other Asian guests at the hotel were in the same predicament.

The Hotel

I have written a post on how I scored a redemption on suites at a  Quality Inn for a cost of only $34 per night with the help of Choice points. I won’t repeat  myself on how it all came about. My parents once again insisted on keeping the kids with them. Fortunately, their suite was big enough, so there was plenty of room for everyone.

As you can imagine, for me and my husband  it meant giggity galore! I was told by a trusted friend that the word does indeed mean “kid-free rest and relaxation.” So nice to have someone explain all these americanisms to me! So, how was it? I mean the hotel, of course. Well, not bad at all, considering the price. That being said, the place is very basic, and if you are picky at all, it’s not for you.

The drawbacks: There were  some issues with key cards not working properly, a nuisance, for sure. We had 2 suites, one for us and one for my parents. One was recently remodeled, the other was not. The breakfast buffet is $10 per person and not worth it IMO The parking is limited, but they have a free valet service.

The pluses: The rooms are clean and the beds (queen size) are comfortable. The suites  are huge (some can fit up to 7 ), with plenty of space to spread out. We asked for a rollaway, and it was provided free of charge. The hotel is located within walking distance of the park, and you can even see fireworks on Canadian side from your room.

Would I stay here again? I’m not sure. It worked for what we needed to accomplish, and I was glad to redeem my Choice points at last. However, it’s a bit too basic for me. There, I said it! Still, at $34 all-in for a suite, how can I complain?

Our Activities

1. Niagara Falls state Park + Maid of the Mist boat tour

An incredible experience that can only be  appreciated in-person. Every American should go there at least once. The Maid of the Mist boat ride is a highlight of the visit, just as you would expect it to be. Niagara Falls is a powerful display of mother nature at its best.

The park covers a pretty large area. There are several overlooks and parking lots. Alternatively, you can get  a trolley pass at the Visitor’s center. Be aware, the wait can be 15-20 minutes or longer. My son was getting antsy at times.

2. Fort Niagara

A fascinating place. Several nations battled for this Fort because whoever controlled it, also controlled the access to Atlantic ocean. Before Eerie canal was built, this is a place through which you would enter the Great Lakes. French, British and American flags flew over it at one point or another.

You can see various reenactments and demonstrations, including firing of the cannon ball. My kids actually enjoyed the Fort more than I thought they would. There was an Amish couple touring it, and my mom wanted to take  a picture with them. I politely asked them and they agreed.

3. Lockport Locks and Eerie canal cruise

Very relaxing and enjoyable way to see this piece of American history. The boat is raised and lowered at several points. You also pass through a quaint  town and get to see some old architecture. My kids got bored after the first 30 minutes, though.

4. Niagara Aquarium

Not all that impressive if you’ve ever been to other aquariums. That being said, this was hands down my kids’ favorite attraction. My daughter: “Niagara Falls? Pfft, who cares? Take me back to see some colorful fish. ” Go figure…  The truth is, kids really need to be a bit older to appreciate the Falls. This trip was mostly for my parents, who loved every minute of it.

5. Spirit of the Mist show at Smokey Joe’s at Native American Theater 

I saved the best, or shall I say worst, for last. Oh my! The fact that they charge $10 (special price through my hotel, no less) for this show and get away with it is pure genius. At the beginning, there was an Elvis impersonator who pulled to the stage on a motorcycle. He clearly didn’t have a drop of Native American blood in him.

Afterwards, several “dancers” came on the stage and started jumping around. The costumes were  bright and colorful, in a super tacky kind of way. Once again, nothing to do with Native American history, and meant to appeal to Asian audience. Seriously, we were the only Caucasians in the room. Only turns out, Asians aren’t idiots, and can tell when they are being ripped off. There was very little clapping going around. In fact, it was mostly mine.

There was one older guy who did an amazing job with hoops. It just shows how you shouldn’t judge  a book by its cover. He was a bit on a chubby side and seemed out of shape. Not even close! It reminded me of an episode on “King of queens” where Doug and Carrie installed a stripper pole in their bedroom. At one point, Kevin James who played “Doug” proceeded to do a “dance” routine, which was the most hilarious thing ever. Watch it on Youtube if curious.  Don’t worry, it’s very PG.

And it’s a wrap.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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8 thoughts on “Niagara Falls, Elvis and Amish. Oh my!

  1. It’s a shame that you had the visa limitation. Having been to Niagara Falls several times during my life, as a child and as an adult, I definitely prefer the Canadian side. Yes, the town of Niagara Falls, Ontario has some tacky sideshow-style tourist areas (Clifton Hill…ugh!), but just avoid it. See the Falls, drive up the nice little parkway through the floral gardens and whirlpool areas to visit the cute little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake or watch big ships lock thru the Welland canal. There is also Ft. George which I find to be an interesting contrast to Ft. Niagara, since the history is written from a Canadian perspective. Have a nice gourmet meal (relatively) cheap at the culinary institute and explore some of the wineries on the Niagara peninsula. The lodging on the Canadian side tends to be better quality although you’ll pay for it in dollars or points. If possible, try to visit the region at the end of September or early October when the trees are displaying their best autumn colors. I don’t think that I would stay on either side for more than 2-3 days and would probably combine a week-long trip with a visit to Toronto or the Finger Lakes area of western New York.

    • Erik, thanks for your advice on visiting the area. I hope, my readers will read your comment. Yeah, I wish we could have done more stuff you mentioned. We did see Niagara-on-the-Lake from American side. Cute area, very quaint.
      Unfortunately, we had my parents and it would mean leaving them behind. That’s why my husband and I went to Canadian side at night, when kids were asleep. We did consider going to Finger Lakes region, but it was just too far, since we only had 4 nights in the area.

      My husband did say we’ll have to come back when the kids are older, and absolutely wants to stay on Canadian side. I agree, Clifton Hill is kind of a travesty, and seems really out of place near a wonder of nature, like Niagara Falls.
      All in all, my parents got to experience it, and I’m happy about it. This trip was definitely for them, and we have some amazing memories out of it.

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