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Horseshoe Falls

What's on your Bucket List?

It’s day seven and today is all about Niagara Falls. It is the earliest we’ve hit the road yet. This also means that we did not get any photos of our new friends. Guys if you’re reading this, send a picture our way so everyone can see your smiling faces!

Niagara Falls is also a bucket list item of mine. It’s been on my list for the last couple of years so I was super excited for today. No, unfortunately, we did not go to the Canada side. Maybe next time. I sprung this trip on Brandee so fast that she didn’t have time to secure her passport so we were firmly rooted on US soil for the day’s adventures. 

Even still, it was worth every mile we drove to get to this point. How many of you have a bucket list? Brandee will tell you that before this trip she didn’t have one. I am pleased to announce that she does now. I always love the opportunity to discover new things to add to my bucket list. If you have any great ideas, send them my way. Keeping my list of aspirations large and fresh is my favorite way to stay motivated to push myself forward to new adventures.

Anyway, I digress. Think about how awesome it feels when you accomplish or experience something that’s on your bucket list. It’s pretty awesome and for me it’s also deeply satisfying so needless to say, today was epic.

Barrel in the Visitor Center at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls was just a short 25ish minute drive from Buffalo. Just driving in to town and seeing the water flowing over the rocks in the river made me feel like a kid in a candy store. The excitement just grew from there. First we spent a few minutes driving through town just getting a feel for it. Since the name of the town is Niagara Falls AND the waterfalls are collectively known as Niagara Falls, navigation doesn’t do much good when you put Niagara Falls generically in the GPS. Luckily, it’s something that you can’t miss but we did want to see what else the town may have to offer.

Once we felt like we kind of had the lay of the land we hit the visitor center. I always like to hit the visitor center when I get to a new place. The reasoning for this is multi-faceted. First, Visitor Centers usually have restrooms. This is a great time to use the restroom before heading out into the great outdoors and there’s no telling where the next restroom will be. Second, Visitor Centers usually have great information about the different places to visit, things to see or best ways to navigate your trip. The staff is also especially equipped to answer any questions that you may have. 

For example, we asked specifically about parking. There was a parking lot that was $5 for all day parking but was nowhere near Goat Island, which is a must see and the only way you see Horseshoe Falls. There was another option for $10 parking which was also good all day but was good for 3 parking lots and got us over to Goat Island. The walk wouldn’t have been bad in the summer but it was pretty cold out that day and coming back from Horseshoe Falls we expected to be wet from the mist and didn’t want to be walking long distances in the cold while we were wet. There really wasn’t any reason to be miserable physically when the park wasn’t crowded and the parking spaces were abundant.

Travel Tip: Travel in the Off Season

The Maid of the Mist experience and the Cave of the Winds were both closed because it was the off season. There really are up sides and down sides to the off season travel. I am a super huge fan of off season travel but the tourist experiences not being accessible is one of the downsides. I am happy to exchange the closed attractions for the vacant walkways and parking lots any day. There’s still plenty to do and see and it can all be done in less time for less money. There’s also tons of space to enjoy the experience fully.

Goat Island

After our stop the visitor center we made our way to Goat Island viewing the first two falls. Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls. This by itself was spectacular. The roaring of the water as it poured down the falls was stunning. The mist coming off the water as the falls reached the bottom, the waves and bubbling of the water from where the impact happened made the falls seem to come alive.

Brandee and I made our way around the small platform with the handful of other visitors that were braving the cold to see this natural wonder when we were stopped by an Asian couple. They wanted their photo taken with an American so of course we obliged. I felt like a celebrity. I may or may not have felt the urge to offer my autograph. Just kidding, but seriously.

We moved the car to parking lot 3, which in hindsight was kind of silly of us. We did this so that we could check out Three Sisters Island and Horseshoe Falls. Seriously peeps, leave your car in parking lot one to see Horseshoe Falls. It’s a shorter walk in the cold after your done and kind of damp from the mist. This waterfall was massive, beautiful and demonstrates the raw power of water. There’s a reason it was on my bucket list and now I truly know why.

Through the mist from the falls there are often rainbows. What a stunning site. If nature, rainbows and natural beauty are your thing, this is something that you must see. The pictures have not done any of the sights justice but we’ll keep trying for you!

Additional Activites in Niagara Falls

This trip is all about demonstrating how to travel for less than $75 per day but that doesn’t mean you have to miss all the experiences. This is not a place that we wanted to spend extra for attractions but there is room in the budget for some attractions on our trip. If Niagara Falls ranks higher on your bucket list here are a few different attractions in the area. Some have a fee and some are free so you can make the most of your time in Niagara Falls. 

1. Maid of the Mist – $18.25 per adult
2. Cave of the Winds – $7.00 to $17.00 per adult depending on the season
3. Botanical Gardens and Conservatory – Free
4. Old Fort Niagara – $12 per adult
5. Niagara Glen Nature Preserve – Free

Angie, Brandee and Jan

It was finally time to continue on our journey to Oakfield, New York. Here we found another generous couple to offer sanctuary for the night. Mike and his wife Jan are the epitome of kindness. They have great stories to share with their guests and receive guests from multiple outlets such as; Couchsurfing, WWOOF and Warm Showers.

Mike and Jan have a homestead named Rooted in Joy, but when determining what the name of their homestead should be, they considered the name Chaos Acres. I think Chaos Acres accurately describes the life of a homesteader. They have many irons in the fire and are constantly busy with animals, gardening, farmers markets and other such things that life on the farm is never boring.

Mike and Jan prepared a meal to share with us when we arrived that was approximately 80% from their organic and sustainable farm. They have 55 chickens, bunnies, a cat, a dog and 5 acres to garden. What an incredible undertaking and awesome things they are doing for the planet.

Did I mention bunnies? I learned a lot about rabbits and what kind of rabbits make the best pets. The Rex breed, if you’re interested. Man, are they soft. I may love kitties but I sure had fun holding the bunnies at Jan and Michael’s place. The best thing about someone else’s pets is that you get to play with them and leave them behind. I get to love on them but don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess. It’s good to be me today.

Over dinner they shared many stories with us from their lives. They both have interesting stories to tell and it served as a great reminder that the best things in life can happen at any age.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Niagra Falls is on my bucket list! I like to travel in the off-season, if possible, as well. It’s a perk of homeschooling, for sure!

    1. Angie

      Definitely. It’s so nice to be able to take the kids on experiences like this. Such a great way to get hands on learning too!

  2. Stacey

    Niagra Falls is on my bucket list as well. We live in Canada, but I would like to experience both sides. Our friends were just there (definitely off-season) but they still got to enjoy amazing views.

  3. Kathy Tonery

    Hi Angie- When I lived in New Jersey Niagara Falls was on my bucket list but unfortunately never had the chance to go, we only made it up to the Finger Lakes to go white water rafting. I like doing things offseason too- there are a lot of great deals that you can still find and no crowds! I liked reading about the couple who owned the farm and what a treat it must have been to see how the process of a working farm. A lot of farmers will let people stay and use extra rooms as an Inn or B & B to offset the costs.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Angie

      The couple we stayed with actually recommended finger lakes. We didn’t make it there but I wish we would have. Next time for sure!

  4. Alice

    Niagara is mind-blowing! I would love to visit again!

    1. Angie
        Me too. Canada side next time! It’s so gorgeous.
  5. Fiona

    I would love to go to Niagara falls one day!! Your photos have made me move it up a bit higher on my bucket list!!

  6. Gail

    Nice to hear about the American side. We’ve spent a week at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, in July. It was super busy but I loved all of it! Maid of the Mist is a must lol. Either side, it’s an awesome trip 🙂

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