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Outdoor Report: Beauty and history in the Niagara Falls area

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By Suzanne Leonard
Weather Broadcaster
@SuzanneTWN
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 7:23 AM

The power and beauty of Niagara Falls are an intoxicating mix that all Canadians should see in as many seasons and moods as possible – and there are many other wonderful natural as well as historic attractions in the area.


OUTDOOR REPORT: Amazing hikes from coast to coast.


Standing next to the roaring Niagara River as it envelops you in a refreshing mist is the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer day. It’s one of our country’s top tourist attractions and easy to access, less than a two hour drive from Toronto or a quick drive across the U. S. border. The area has lots to offer outdoor lovers as well as history buffs. I love to cycle the Niagara Parkway, a scenic route that runs parallel to the Niagara River and connects you with many historic spots along the way, like the Laura Secord Homestead. At the north end of the route is Fort George and Niagara-on-the-Lake with its quaint Queen Street shops. Bringing out-of-town visitors here is always a big hit so I’d highly recommend you explore the area – there’s fabulous summer theatre at the Shaw Festival and many top-notch wineries nearby for touring and tastings, all nestled in the pretty Niagara Escarpment.

From my album: family members David and Rachel on the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ viewing platform, Niagara Falls, Ontario

From my album: family members David and Rachel on the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ viewing platform, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Top billing, of course, goes to the Falls themselves. The Niagara River forms a natural border between Canada and the United States and connects the two lower Great Lakes - Lake Erie and Lake Ontario – with a pair of grand waterfalls.

From my album: on the Whirlpool Aero Car above the Niagara River, Ontario

From my album: on the Whirlpool Aero Car above the Niagara River, Ontario

The American Falls and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls are located on the American side of the river while the Canadian Horseshoe Falls touch both borders, the latter appears in the above video segment which features Weather Network viewer video. Whether you see them from above, at street level, or below the Canadian Horseshoe Falls are a truly awesome sight.

They drop an average 57 metres into the Lower Niagara River, carrying an incredible 168,000+ cubic metres of water over the brink every minute. You can find more impressive facts and figures here but in some ways the numbers can’t possibly do justice to this amazing spectacle. It’s stunning, romantic, awe-inspiring, storied – see, hear and feel it for yourself.

There are many ways to experience the Falls up close – my family recently visited and both the kids and adults raved about the Journey Behind the Falls as well as the Whirlpool Aero Car, both pictured here. Find out more about these attractions, learn about the vital role this area played in Canada’s history and locate War of 1812 heritage sites, get tips on biking, hiking, golf, shopping and more in this handy Niagara Parks Official Visitor Guide.

From my album: colourful friends accompany your visit to the Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls, Ontario

From my album: colourful friends accompany your visit to the Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Be sure to visit the Butterfly Conservatory too, a climate-controlled experience that feels like a tropical escape no matter what the weather outside.


MONARCH BUTTERFLY POPULATIONS IN DECLINE: Find out what YOU can do to help.


This was also a huge hit on our last family visit and an unusual experience that appeals to all age groups. To see the falls up close from river level go to www.niagaracruises.com - and check the weather before you head out and the bug report too. Have a wonderful trip!

In my garden: 'Little Lamb' Hydrangea

In my garden: 'Little Lamb' Hydrangea

Speaking of water… if your next ‘trip’ is to your own backyard oasis, how water-wise are you? Find out how much and when is the best time to water our gardens - the benefits of mulch, barrels and soaker hoses – and how to hydrozone, here.

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”
William Hazlitt

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