We went to both the American and Canadian sides. The American side was ridiculously crowded. We initially were thinking about doing their "Discovery Pass," which included the Maid of the Mist boat tour, Cave of the Winds, an IMAX movie, and entrance into their Discovery Center and their Aquarium. But when we saw the lines we said forget it. So we just walked all over the park, trying to get a good view of the Falls. But you really can't on the American side. That's probably why they have all that other stuff to do.
So we drove over to the Canadian side. Much less crowded, better views, and virtually no lines for the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Jackpot! We also wanted to do the hike behind the falls, but the kids didn't like the sound of that, and we'd been walking all day and were pretty tired. But all the advice we got from people was correct--the Maid of the Mist is the best!! The kids LOVED it. Waimea was giggling almost the entire time, between getting wet, and watching the seagulls dive into the water (I don't think the falls really meant anything to her). Spencer was a bit scared initially because he thought the waterfall was going to make the boat sink, but when he realized we were okay, he loved it, too. But you really can't appreciate the magnificence of the falls until you see it from below, which is why the boat ride is so great.
We camped about an hour away from the Falls at one of New York's state parks (we were not impressed). The campsite we had reserved online, site-unseen, ended up being in the middle of a field with no trees. GAG! Luckily, because of some flooding of sites nearby, our site was taken up by other people when we arrived. Also, a few other sites were empty, one of which was somewhat secluded and surrounded by trees. It was quite wet (which is why it was unoccupied), but better than an open field. And we were sure glad of that on the night we came back from the falls--we got hit hard with a crazy thunderstorm. I would've been freaking out, camping on the field, but surrounded by trees in our tent, I felt okay. We had our fire going strong, so we sat in our tent and watched the fire and thunderstorm from a distance. Not the first time I've camped in a thunderstorm, and surely won't be the last!
On our way home, we stopped in Palmyra. We saw:
The Joseph Smith Farm:
and the Sacred Grove:It was a fun trip, and the kids did surprisingly well with only the battery life (about three hours) of our DVD player (the car charger broke last summer). We hate I-80, though. Always traffic. (Stupid New York City!)
Also on our trip we came up with some Native American names for some of us. Mine is Grumpiest When Hot. Waimea's are Eats A Lot, Whines A Lot, and Always Hungry. Any suggestions for Evan and Spencer? We had some difficulty with theirs....