The next morning in Toronto, after a breakfast not too dissimilar to the delicious one we had the day before at the Shangri La, we packed up our bags, bade farewell to the city and headed over to Niagara Falls.
Well, not directly to Niagara Falls…
We actually ended up going to Niagara Helicopters for what would be my very first time on a helicopter (*not Lloyd’s first time though, as it turns out)… and over Niagara Falls too! Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.
And so off we went, higher and higher, past landscapes that were slowly returning from their winter slumber and would be lush and green within a few weeks…
…until there it was right in front of us, Niagara Falls!
My gosh, the view from up here is absolutely incredible and somewhat surreal. You can see Horseshoes Falls (also known as Canadian Falls) – the icon of the Niagara Falls area…
… as well as the American Falls (the smaller one closer to the bridge) and its little neighbour, Bridal Veil Falls.
I reckon I must have taken over a hundred photos, pausing in between to just take in that amazing view.
I’d wanted to see Niagara Falls for the longest time and to get to see it like this, was just the most amazing first experience to have of Niagara Falls.
Once we were back on land, we hopped back into the car and went straight to Niagara Falls to take in the more traditional view of the falls – but first things first though, lunch!
Lunch was at Elements restaurant which has a pretty great view of the falls as you dine! The minute I was done with my final bite of lunch though, I was out there, eager to check out the falls close up.
One thing you really get a sense of when you’re close to the falls is how powerful it is.
That roaring sound, the mist that follows and the understanding that because of the time of the year we were visiting, the water was actually at one of its lowest points, all make you truly in awe of what you’re experiencing.
The water here is also surprisingly quite clear and almost glass-like. You can see right to the bottom of the ledge here.
As though that wasn’t cool enough, we decided to head down to walk behind the falls.
If you thought the falls were powerful from the top, you ain’t seen nothing yet till you head behind the falls.
The view is pretty impressive from here but the part that sticks with you is how powerful this thundering waterfall truly is! The Canadian part of the falls is also the only one that lets you walk behind the falls and is definitely the more impressive part of Niagara Falls to visit.
Lloyd actually visited from the American part last time and can attest to this. In fact, I’d probably suggest – even if you were visiting from the US, taking your passport with you and driving over the bridge (you’ll have to go through immigration, of course) to check out the falls from the Canadian side because they’ve got some pretty great views here.
After sticking around for a bit to truly take in those amazing views, we headed over to, believe it or not, the nearby Skylon Tower for yet another viewpoint of the falls. My main plans for the day were to check out Niagara Falls and I planned on checking out pretty much every view available to me (I think this was number 4 right? 1 was the helicopter, 2 was from above and 3 was behind the falls).
The views up from the Skylon Tower are also pretty special and it’s actually a great spot to take in the American Falls as well as Horseshoe Falls. I’d been so focused on Horseshoe Falls that it was quite nice to take in a different perspective of the other falls which make up Niagara Falls.
By the time we left the falls, I decided it was probably time to relax a bit with my fascination with the falls and head over to the hotel we would be call home for the next few days in Niagara-on-the-Lake – 124 Queen Hotel & Spa.
Now, here’s a really important point about Niagara Falls (as a place to stay) and Niagara-on-the-Lake; although they sound like the same place, these two places couldn’t be further apart from each other.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is (I reckon) akin to Torontonians (i.e. people from Toronto), what The Hamptons is to New Yorkers (or I guess, what the Cotswolds is to Londoners) whereas the actual area around Niagara Falls itself is (not sure how to put this delicately), a little bit more gaudy and tacky.
All around Niagara Falls (the falls remember NOT Niagara-on-the-Lake), it’s casinos, crazy golf, neon sign motels and sporadic hotels which seem like such a strange juxtaposition right next to one of Canada’s, and indeed – North America’s, most iconic natural landmarks.
Like don’t get me wrong, it looks so cool in retro-chic kinda way at night with all the lights on (kinda like you’ve gone to a carnival) but as a place to stay, it feels a bit like it leaves a lot to be desired, especially when you’ve come all the way from England.
But back to Niagara-on-the-Lake…
I’d never actually been to Niagara-on-the-Lake before so I kinda expected it to be like what I’d seen in Niagara and boy was I pleasantly surprised! Lloyd literally disappeared from like 30 minutes as soon as arrived to go check it all out before he came back raving and I had to grab my camera and venture out.
We arrived in the evening and out of seasons so it was understandably a lot quieter than in the height of summer but if anything, this even added more to its charm!
Niagara-on-the-Lake is such a pretty quaint place and is impossibly cute, almost like it’s out of a movie set. In fact, I felt like it was for the first few minutes (it’s just so picture-perfect) until you find out that this town has centuries of history right here. It actually used to be the capital of Upper Canada (as it was called back in the day).
See – what I mean? Such an adorable place and one that I knew we had to visit as soon as I found out about it.
Right, back to the hotel… 124 Queen Hotel is not your average hotel and once you’ve been around Niagara-on-the-Lake you start to get a sense of how it fits perfectly with the town.
It’s less hotel room and more like a home.
Both ‘rooms’ we got were like two proper apartments (way bigger than actual apartments you’d pay thousands for in London) and had all your mod-cons, from ice dispensing fridge, a washing machine that magically seemed to iron your clothes too (I’ve become obsessed with stuff like this lately – I love how much time it saves you! 😁) right through to a lovely fireplace!
It felt like home as soon as you walked in and is one of my favourite places I’d stayed in, in Canada thus far!
Once everything was all settled in, we headed over to the Prince of Wales for dinner, choosing the perfect spot right in front of the fire.
I went for the steak and Lloyd went for the burger, both of which were pretty good, before finishing off with ice cream and an obligatory series of drinks in front of the fireplace.
By the time we headed back 124 Queen, I was well and truly in love with Niagara-on-the-Lake and couldn’t wait to explore it over the next few days!