Food, Travel

A Complete Travel Guide to Niagara Falls

Spanning the border between the province of Ontario in Canada and the state of New York in the United States are the majestic Niagara Falls which has been on my bucket list for a long time. Every time I saw pictures or videos I have been marveled at the miracle of the nature and I was beyond ecstatic to finally visit them over the Memorial Day weekend with my friends and experience it myself. To say, I was left speechless and lost in thoughts would be an understatement.

There are two sides to the Niagara Falls – The US side and the Canadian side. Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls. The spectacular falls can be toured by boat, helicopter or on your own two feet. The largest of the three falls is the Horseshoe Falls and is also known as the Canadian Falls and the smaller two falls – Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls lie on the American side. I haven’t been to the Canadian side yet and would love to go to see the Horseshoe Falls in its entirety however you can see all the three falls from the US side and trust me it is breathtaking either way. 

One of my friend quoted and it stuck with me ” In Canada you see the falls, and in US you feel the falls”.

How to get to Niagara Falls

We drove to Niagara Falls from Boston starting on Friday evening at 5.00 pm EST and took a few stops to do things along the way and stay over the night. Niagara Falls is approximately 460 miles from Boston. You can also fly to Buffalo Niagara International Airport and then drive to the falls which is approximately 30 minutes away.

Where to Stay

We stayed at Ellicottville, New York which was approximately a one hour and fifteen-minute drive to the Niagara Falls. Check out the place here. We really enjoyed our stay here and it was perfect for our group of 10. Ellicottville is known for its ski resorts. We booked only a week before the Memorial Day weekend and most of the places we liked near Niagara Falls were sold out. If you are looking for an upscale hotel and place closer to the falls check out Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino. Some other options closer are Hyatt Place Niagara Falls and Red Coach Inn.

Best Time to Visit Niagara

The best time to visit the falls is mid-May through mid-September. However, the peak season is in summer from June to August. However, having said that there is no right or wrong time to visit in Niagara. The colder winter months offer a chance to see the falls frozen which is something I want to visit as well. If you also wish to explore some of the parks around New York like us, May is great time as it is not too hot or too cold.

Must do things in Niagara Falls

Maid of the Mist – If there is only one thing you can do, I highly recommend this tour. This is an absolute must do! Strolling along the water’s edge and viewing the Niagara Falls from an outlook is one thing but viewing the falls from the vantage point of the water via a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist is a totally different experience. If you are traveling during long weekends or at peak times there is likely going to be two hours wait time or more. The tickets to this tour are $25.25 for adults and I recommend buying them in advance especially if you are visiting during busy times. They provide you ponchos on the tour so that you are do not get wet. Experiencing the roar and the drenching spray of mist of the powerful and hypnotic falls is surreal. We were lucky to see two rainbows formed as a result of the mist in the air You can check the schedule and book you ticket here.

Things to know for the tour:

  1. Carry a waterproof phone or GoPro to capture the mighty falls.
  2. Be ready to wait in long queues. But don’t worry it is worth the wait.
  3. The tour runs every 15 minutes and lasts approximately 20 minutes.
  4. Tour times cannot be reserved in advance.
  • Observation Tower – After the Maid of the Mist tour we headed to the Observation tower to soak in the panoramic views. It is the only place where you can see both the American falls and the Horseshoe Falls together.
  • Illuminated Falls – When the sun goes down the striking Niagara Falls are illuminated every night of the year beginning at dusk all the way up to 2.00 am in the summer and create a stunning vista that can be marveled from near and far. Did you know – the first ever illumination took place in 1860 with 200 Bengal lights to honor the visit of Prince of Whales as a one-night event. You can check the Illumination schedule here. Usually, in the summer every night at 10.00 pm there are fireworks at the falls but due to the COVID-19 restrictions the fireworks are cancelled for 2021.
  • Cave of the Winds – This is one thing we could not do as the tickets were sold out for the day but cannot wait to go back and try this. Highly recommend booking the tickets by going in early as they are not sold online to avoid the tickets being sold out. I have heard that there is no better way to experience the mighty power of the falls safely than standing underneath a torrent of water on the famous Hurricane Deck. They provide yellow ponchos for this experience but you are bound to get drenched so carry a change of clothes and wear footwear accordingly. Did you know – the decking is removed each fall due to potential damage and re-installed each spring by the park officials to enjoy the experience. Cannot wait to go back and try this enthralling experience!!
  • Rainbow Bridge – Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 restrictions the Canadian border was closed and we could not cross the border at the Niagara Falls. You can either walk or drive on the Rainbow bridge to cross the border but remember you need a valid Canadian visa to go if you are going from New York. It takes approximately five minutes to walk this bridge. You can literally have one foot in US and one in Canada on this bridge. 
  • Terrapin Point– The best view of the Horseshoe falls other than from the Maid of the mist is from the Terrapin point to see the falls and mists forming up close.  This is a great place to check out the illuminated falls. 
  • Goat Island – You can also explore and walk around the Goat Island. The best way to explore the goat island is on foot. Goat Island is in the middle of the Niagara River. The island splits the Niagara River in two before it cascades over the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. It is a great place to enjoy the natural beauty and view of the falls. It is connected to the Luna Island with a pedestrian bridge. 

Where to Eat

  1. Kathi Roll on the Falls – Highly recommend trying this food truck for its lip smacking and delicious kathi rolls. My favorite kathi rolls were the Aloo roll and the Chana roll. I also liked the paneer roll. They offer many options to choose from for vegetarians as well and this place does not disappoint.
  2. Dosa Hut Fine Indian Cuisine – We also tried another food truck and tried the masala dosa, idli sambhar, parathas, channa masala, and samosa chaat here. I personally enjoyed the samosa chaat here the most. 

Day Trips from Niagara Falls

  1. Watkins Glen State Park – 2.5 hours from Niagara Falls. We took a day trip to Watkins Glen State Park. Check out the complete guide on what to do and where to eat here.
  2. Letchworth State Park – This is another great day trip to explore which is only 1.5 hours from Niagara Falls.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer all your questions. Hope you enjoyed the post! 

Food, Travel

Getaway : A Cabin Experience and Escape from Boston

I know this post has been long due and I apologize for the long break without posts. 2020 had been a difficult year to say the least and my husband and I decided to end the year detaching ourselves from technology and soaking ourselves in nature. I started university back in Fall 2020 to pursue my MBA and at the end of my semester I was exhausted and ready to spend sometime off from the computer and I could not be happier. Personally, we did not want to take a flight and travel unless absolutely necessary due to the pandemic and also wanted to maintain social distancing while enjoying sometime off. We travelled to the Getaway house towards the end of December for three days two nights and picked the Escape from Boston which is located in New Hampshire. This New Hampshire Getaway House fulfilled it all for us!

The Getaway house is located at various locations throughout the country such as NYC, Atlanta, Washington D.C, Dallas, Houston, LA, Portland, etc. Use this link to receive $25 off your stay.

If you are someone who has always wanted to try camping and enjoys the outdoors but cannot go without a hot shower or a bathroom like me then the getaway experience is a perfect balance that offers the best of both worlds. It provides a comfy escape with the most relaxing views.

What is a Getaway House ?

For anyone who does not know what a getaway house is, let me explain it simply. A Getaway house is a container converted into cabin to provide a simplified glamping experience even for people with no camping experience. There are number of such cabins at each getaway location. The various cabins are spread in wooded areas approximately 150 feet apart from each other such that there is privacy and no one can see inside your cabin but also not too scary leaving you completely alone in the many acres of the wooded area.

One thing I really liked was all the cabins are named after the grandparents of the staff to honor their services and care they put in to ensure we enjoy a seamless experience. Our cabin name was Rose as it was beautiful.

What the Getaway is equipped with?

The getaway is equipped with all the essentials we needed for your stay and nothing that we didn’t making it a minimalist but amazing experience. Do not be fooled by the small size of the cabin. It is packed with literally everything you will need to make your stay so much more enjoyable. It is equipped with AC, heat, AM/FM radio, wireless speakers, toilet, hot shower, a private fire pit, grilling area with a picnic table and chairs, stove top, a mini refrigerator, salt, pepper, olive oil, utensils, a comfortable bed, etc. Check out the complete list of what is included in the house here. We also thought that the staff was extremely helpful and only a text or call away.

There is no WIFI at the getaway house and limited cell phone service depending on your provider which forces you to embrace the nature, enjoy the simple things in life and take a real break. They also provide a box to lock your phones away and enjoy yourselves without any devices. We actually thought this was a blessing after the crazy Zoom overdose we had. The Zoom fatigue was real and we could not think of a better way to completely switch off. We even put our phones in the box and locked them away for the weekend to enjoy a quiet time without any distractions. Trust me you will love it even if no WIFI and limited cell phone service sounds daunting at first. They provide some books and games at the cabin and we took our own books to read as well. It is was great way to shrug off the stress of work and detaching ourselves from the internet.

Safety and Security

Every Getaway house has a digital lock on the front door and a unique code which was texted to us on the day of check in with the name of your Cabin. This allowed us to securely lock our cabin while we explore around without worrying about your belongings.

Stay Options

The Getaway house offers two different kinds of cabins. One for two people (where we stayed) and one which can accommodate a maximum of four people(bunk beds) which is a great option for anyone traveling with kids. All the cabins have the bed located right next to the big glass window so we had the perfect view to wake up to. This is a great experience for anyone who wants to unplug and get away from the hustle of the everyday life. I thought it was a great place for even a solo traveler who loves to get inspired by nature and write a book, music, or any fun creative project on their mind.

Waking up in the morning with the perfect backdrop of nature was such a surreal experience. We absolutely loved the seating area created right next to the window and enjoyed sipping hot chocolate and reading a book in the cold. Could not think of a better way to start the day looking at the snow covered trees and enjoying the nature. Cannot wait to go back and try the other Getaway Houses at the other locations!

What to Pack/Bring ?

  1. Carry your favorite games, books or a creative project you would like to work on.
  2. Carry a bug spray if you are visiting during the summer months.
  3. A grill pan is optional not necessary.
  4. Grilling Food – Corn, strawberries, pineapple, ingredients to make kebabs, paneer/tofu, potatoes, bell peppers, onions, marshmallows, marinades, burgers, Maggi, etc.
  5. Snacking or any other Food items.
  6. Wine, champagne or anything you like to drink.
  7. Hot chocolate.
  8. Comfy clothes.

There are grocery stores nearby but I highly recommend planning and carrying what you need to save yourself a trip to the grocery store. The cabin also offers a survival kit if you like which includes food options.

Things to do Nearby

  1. Blasty Bough Brewing Company – If you want to check out some local brewery and try some local beers with beautiful views and live music check out the Blasty Bough Brewing Company. Check the link here for all the details.
  2. Pawtuckaway State Park – Located around 30 minutes from the cabin this state park offers hiking trails and boulders to climb. We did not do this during our stay but would love to check it out another time.

Things to do at the Getaway

  1. Movie/Game Night – We also did a movie and game night with popcorn and wine which we enjoyed a lot. We took some of the DVD’s of movies we wanted to watch and games we enjoyed. This was so much fun and I dont remember the last time I used a DVD before this experience. This was a great way to leave behind the reliance on Netflix and other streaming services.
  2. Grilling outside the cabin – Grilling under the stars, with a firepit was a perfect way for us to enjoy our nights with some music, wine and amazing food. They gave us a kit for grilling marshmallows, making s’mores too which was perfect to enjoy the fire pit outside during the cold month of December. They also provide fire wood, fire starting materials, a lighter and instructions on how to light a fire. They charge you at the end of your stay for the fire wood and the fire starting materials you used. It was our very first time to start a fire and the instructions were easy to follow. We enjoyed grilling kebabs, pineapple, strawberries and marshmallows, corn, paneer (an Indian version of tofu), and toasting s’mores and relished them. We loved it so much that we barely used the stovetop for any cooking even when it was freezing outside.
  3. Walk in the woods – If you are not in the mood to get out, the backyard of the Getaway House has nearby hiking/walking trails you can explore. We enjoyed walking around the trails nearby and collecting pinecones on the trails for the house.

Highly Recommend trying the Getaway House for a unique experience and coming home rejuvenated from the day to day stress of life. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out and leave a comment! Use this link to receive $25 off your stay

Travel

Worlds End, Hingham – An Easy and Scenic Trail

World’s End, a 251 acre park and conservation area overlooks the Hingham Bay and Boston Harbor offers several miles of trails with great views to the water and Boston Skyline. Recently, we decided to explore the trails while maintaining Social Distancing. Worlds End is owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservation and they have done a great job at not only preserving the area but also ensuring that there is no overcrowding during the pandemic.

To restrict overcrowding and ensuring safe access for everyone you are required to reserve your spot by booking in advance your day of visit and time of visit. To comply with the rules we reserved our timed entry passes a day in advance. To be honest, I really appreciated this to ensure safe access during these times. It is open from 8.00 am to sunset every day. Entry for members is free but non-members can buy there tickets here.

World End trail is an easy trail suitable for everyone kids and adults alike. Dogs are also allowed on this trail and must be kept on a leash. The trail is accessible all year round and is great for a stroll with great views, running, picnics, cyclists, bird watching, horseback riding, cross country skiing adventures and photography. The park is cut with carriage style roads which add an old world feel to it. It is a great place for engagement, wedding, new born photo shoot, or even maternity photo shoots. The best part about it is it offers views of the forest, ocean and Boston Skyline all at the same time. Isn’t that a perfect package? I think around Sunset would be a great time to capture these moments.

The trails are clearly marked and there are maps placed occasionally around the trail. There are several spots to relax around in the shade with the sound of nature and may be even a book or your favorite music. It is a perfect spot for boaters, paddlers, kayakers to enjoy the good summer days.

While you can explore it yourself occasionally there are also various activities and events organized by The Trustees of Reservation. Here is a link for the upcoming events at Worlds End you can explore.

All in all a great way to spend a summer day and soak in the great views of the Boston Skyline. Happy Exploring!

Travel

Mount Watatic and Nutting Hill – A Scenic Trail in Massachusetts

Mount Watatic, a 1832 foot tall monadnock is located on the Massachusetts – New Hampshire border and is definitely one of the most popular hikes in Massachusetts. Mount Watatic is a worthy destination for all hikers as it offers easy, moderate as well as hard trail options to explore. Formerly a ski area, Mount Watatic is now a protected land used for hiking and bird watching with clearly marked trails and offers rewarding views.

Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Boston, this hike can definitely be covered in a day. We explored this trail last Saturday and took the moderate trail going to the summit and the easy trail on our way back. I recommend taking the moderate trail going up and the easy trail on the way back as even though the trail is longer than the easy trail it gains elevation steadily not making it very steep while climbing upwards. However if you prefer taking the easy trail it is great as well.

Here is a link to the start of the trailhead. There is free parking available at the trailhead and if the parking is full there is additional parking available on the opposite side in the lane or along the road which is a short walk from the trail head. This trail gets busy during the summer weekends but nothing so busy that you cannot maintain social distance and explore.

Remember there is a small deviation for the easy trail if you plan to take that otherwise you will be headed in the moderate trail direction. The moderate trail is 2.8 miles gaining elevation of 711 feet and the easy trail is 2.2 miles gaining elevation of 643 feet. If you are looking for a hard trail explore the Wapack Trail.

It is a shaded trail almost throughout leaving aside some open spots making it easy to explore at any time. We ourselves started hiking around noon on a sunny day but found it extremely comfortable. Once we reached the top it was breezy even on a hot summer day making it easy to sit and soak in the beautiful views.

This trail is great for new hikers, or even experienced hikers just starting out for the season or to get a good workout while enjoying the scenic panoramic views. Dogs are also allowed on this trail and must be kept on leash.

On a clear day you can see the Boston skyline from the top of the summit. You can enjoy views of Northern Massachussets and Southern New Hampshire from the summit. It is also a great place to catch the sunrise from the summit with beautiful views. Along the trail we saw many different kinds of wild mushrooms.

All in all a great hike with breathtaking views but not breath taking!

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