One-Tank Trip for April 23/16
(c) By Jim Fox
For a good time in Niagara Falls, just add water.
Water cascading over the steep cliff-like Niagara escarpment has been drawing visitors and honeymooners to the falls for centuries.
|Just add water: Jim and Barb Fox check out the red, heart-shaped Jacuzzi that’s standard in many Niagara Falls hotel suites. (Jim Fox photo)|
The falls were formed 12,000 years ago by melting glaciers that created the fresh-water Great Lakes.
The rushing waters carved out a river in their descent and over the years began to wear their way back up the river with the path today known as the Niagara Gorge.
The beauty of the two waterfalls – the Horseshoe in Canada and the American in the U.S. – are practical as well by generating hydroelectricity for both countries.
This spot is known for romance as its claim as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” was established by the French in the early 1800s.
The story goes that Napoleon’s brother, Jerome Bonaparte, travelled by stage coach from New Orleans to spend his honeymoon at the falls and the word about this romantic spot spread throughout the world.
As well as the honeymoon capital, it has to be the capital of hotel rooms with red heart-shaped Jacuzzi whirlpool tubs beside the bed.
Today, all types of “once-in-a-lifetime” honeymoon suites can be found at the hotels and motels.
And, don’t forget the “Magic Fingers” vibrating beds for a fun time at the falls.
Newlyweds can receive an official Honeymoon Certificate signed by the mayor along with admission passes and discounts through Niagara Falls Tourism. niagarafallstourism.com; 1-800-563-2557
Water, water everywhere
The best ways to see the falls up close are on several scenic boat rides.
The iconic Maid of the Mist has been running since 1846, taking millions of tourists for a thrilling ride.
|The Maid of the Mist takes passengers to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. (Jim Fox photo)|
Two years ago, the maid began operating from the U.S. side of the falls while Hornblower Niagara Cruises operates on the Canadian side.
The mild winter has allowed boat operators to begin their seasons early, with the Hornblower sailings starting on April 1.
It uses “state-of-the-art” 700-passenger catamaran boats for an “unforgettable journey” of water, power and mist.
They travel to the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and into the heart of the famous Horseshoe Falls.
Hornblower offers morning, afternoon, evening, falls illumination and fireworks boat tours and hopes to continue sailings through Dec. 31, said general manager Mory DiMaurizio.
Tickets for the 20-minute trip are $19.95, adults; $12.25, ages five to 12; no charge to age four.
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours are back for a 25th season offering passengers “the thrill of their lives,” said president John Kinney.
The boats offer chilling white water rides from the mouth of the Niagara River in Niagara-on-the-Lake, through the Devil’s Hole Rapids and to just below the powerful Niagara Whirlpool.
|Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours offer “adrenalin-filled trips” along the Niagara River.|
There are eight 50-passenger jet boats giving “adrenalin-filled trips” from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Ont. and Lewiston, N.Y.
Guests choosing the open-topped jet boats return to the dock soaking wet as the pilot powers through the rapids at high speed and spins through the chop in a 360-degree turn.
The other option is in the covered Jet Dome for the same thrill ride, minus the splash and passenger stay dry.
Trips last about an hour with tour leaders giving highlights about the river’s geology and history. Tickets are $61, adults; $51, ages six to 13. whirlpooljet.com; (905)468-4800
Cruise into the sunset
Sip and savour fine Niagara wines while cruising along the Niagara River on a New Orleans-style paddle wheeler.
The Niagara Belle, which previously operated in Toronto Harbour on Lake Ontario and the Upper Niagara River, has undergone a $1-million restoration by new owner Niagara Sunset Cruises.
|New in Niagara is the Niagara Belle, a New Orleans-style paddle wheeler, offering lunch and dinner cruises.|
The sister company to Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours is offering leisurely cruises along the Lower Niagara River.
Departures are available on both sides of the Niagara River from docks in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. and Lewiston, N.Y.
It sails through Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake to the mouth of Lake Ontario and accommodates up to 80 people for buffet-style dinners and about 120 for cocktail cruises.
There are three-hour sunset dinner cruises with dancing and live entertainment ($72.95) and two-hour lunch cruises ($51.95). niagarasunsetcruises.com; (905) 468-4800
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
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