IMG_4112 v2 We were up bright and early on our second morning in Toronto (although not entirely by our own doing, our body clocks were still stuck on silly UK time - I'm sure time changes never used to affect me this badly - am I getting old?!) but getting up early was for good reason - WE WERE GOING TO NIAGARA FALLS! I've said before that the areas of North America that interest me the most are the National Parks and places of natural beauty, so it's safe to say that Niagara falls has been on my North America bucket list since the beginning of time! My family wanted to book a guided tour for Niagara as we weren't in Toronto for long, so ease was more important than cost (for once in my life!) - we wanted our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel, tell us everything we need to know and bring us back when we want with no hanging around waiting for public transport. My dad found Gerardo on "Tours By Locals" and his tour fit the bill!

Helicopter Ride over the Falls

IMG_4107 v2IMG_4112 v2IMG_4128 v2IMG_4130 v2 After a long chit-chat with Gerardo in the car about anything and everything, from the history of the area to Brexit and Trump, we arrived at the falls! Before heading down to explore immediately, Gerardo spotted that there wasn't anyone in the car park for the heliport, so we headed straight over for a spontaneous flight! Getting to the falls early in the morning means that you are ahead of all the coaches and tour bus' that arrive later in the day - apparently the queues for the helicopter rides can become horrendous. Flights are around 144 CAD per person, so it's a pricey experience but definitely worth it. As you are lifted into the air, you are reassured that the model of the helicopter is one of the newest, safest and quietest on the planet - so if you're scared of flying, this could be the best place to have your first helicopter trip! I'll let the photos speak for themselves now!

Walking the Length of the Falls

IMG_4138 v2IMG_4201 v2IMG_4234 v2IMG_4236 v2IMG_4131 v2 Next up, we drove closer to the falls and were given some free time to explore, wander around and take pictures. We started near the American falls and walked down to the Canadian "horseshoe" falls, stopping at practically every photo opportunity along the way (yes... I know it's just falling water and can't look THAT different). Visiting in Winter meant that there was a lot of mist coming off of the falls, but we were still able to see everything and the surrounding area had a light layer of snow - perfect! Journey Behind the Falls IMG_4267 v2You've probably all seen photos of people standing on a ridge right next to the falls, unfortunately, this access point was closed during Winter, but we were still able to complete the rest of the "journey behind the falls" - and because of the closure, the tickets were discounted to about 8 CAD! This experience takes you through tunnels behind the falls. Along the way, there are openings in the tunnel which mean you are quite literally standing behind a sheet of water - don't worry you can't get wet (unless you are a bit silly and jump over the protective barriers).

Clifton Hill

IMG_4281 v2 The Journey Behind the Falls marked the end of our time at the actual waterfalls, so we headed further in-land to explore the local area before meeting up with Gerardo for the rest of our tour/the ride home. Clifton Hill is located on the Canadian side of the falls and was described to us as "Canada's answer to Orlando or Las Vegas" - to me it gave off more of a "Southend-On-Sea" or "Great Yarmouth" vibe. Essentially, this road is a tourist trap filled with amusement rides, tourist memorabilia shops, waxwork museums, candy shops etc. It's safe to say that Clifton HIll is not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat! On a serious note, how many waxwork museums can you fit in one small area?! We saw SO many!

Niagara On The Lake

IMG_4312 v2IMG_4320 v2On our way back to Toronto, we stopped at the SUPER cute town of Niagara on the Lake. Every shop was perfectly designed and adorable! We spent about 30 minutes walking around, visiting all of the shops (and trying the foods they had to offer hehe).

Ice Wine Tasting 

IMG_4331 v2During our trip, Gerardo mentioned "ice wine" which we had seen advertised in different shops but didn't know what it meant! Apparently ice wine is a Canadian speciality where the wine is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. On our way back to the city, Gerardo took us to a ice wine tasting session (unfortunately I didn't catch the name of the place). We sampled 3 different types of ice wine and ended up buying a bottle with apricot undertones - yum!

More Things to Do! 

As always, I didn't get to do absolutely EVERYTHING that Niagara has to offer, but to make sure you are as filled-to-the-brim with knowledge as physically possible, here's all the other bits and bobs you can do during your visit! Boat Rides As we were visiting in Winter, we were unable to do a boat ride up to the falls, however I've heard great things about the trip in Summer! IMAX Niagara Falls If you're not feeling too adventurous, there's an IMAX theatre to show you sweeping views of the falls with a 4D twist! Skylon Tower Niagara Do you fancy food with a great view of the falls? Head to Skylon Tower! We decided to skip out on this experience given that we ate dinner in the CN Tower the night beforehand and the two look pretty similar, albeit the views are completely different! Fireworks and Illuminations During the Winter, the falls are lit up in varying different colours at night - we didn't get to experience this as we took a day-time trip but it looks great! Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What was your favourite part? Or if you're planning a trip, what are you looking forward to the most?!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

So US National Park week is coming to an end (16 April - 24 April 2016) and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my current favourite place in the US. The Grand Canyon is incredible - there's no two ways about it. I visited back in 2010 (hence the slightly dodgy hair in the photos) and I would recommend it to anyone. We were staying in Las Vegas and made our way to the Canyon for a day trip. I know that a lot of people say you can't see the Grand Canyon without flying over it - I beg to differ! There were 7 of us on the trip, so not only would this be ridiculously expensive, it would also have been inconvenient given you can't fit 7 people in a helicopter! We settled on the Grand Adventures Sunset Tour and it was the perfect day! You leave Vegas early and make your way to the Hoover Dam for a quick photo stop (my top tip is to not accidentally lean on the metal railing around the dam when it's a billion degrees outside... I practically suffered third degree burns on my leg...). You then hop back into the minibus and have a few more stops in local Arizona towns - a really interesting insight into rural American lifestyle. Then you arrive at the big finale! The Grand Canyon! I really don't think pictures do this place justice (especially mine as they are taken on a 2010 DSLR which isn't half as good quality as cameras these days!). I would love to go back and take the time to photograph and wander around more. Given that the name is the "sunset tour", you obviously get to see the sunset over the Canyon and it's safe to say that it is a beautiful sight! One of the things that made our tour really special is that our tour guide George was a professional photographer and made us pull all sorts of crazy poses, meaning we got some really great family photos! If I remember rightly, it was announced on Facebook that George left the company a few years ago, but I'm sure the other tour guides are just as great! If I was in the US over the past week, I would have absolutely loved to take advantage of National Park Week! Who wouldn't want free entry into some of the most beautiful areas of the states?! There are so many ways that you can see the Grand Canyon - just to name a few, you should look into hiking, flying, the skywalk, the grand canyon railway, horse riding and water-rafting!  So make sure you do your research and find something that works for you. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? How did you experience it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1