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AFKA ZealYouthGuy
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While we have cheap fuel, I would like to take the kids up to see Niagara Falls. We only live 100 miles from there so I would probably do a day trip. It has been probably 20 years (yeesh... how did I get so old?) since I've been there. I know the Canadian side is the cool side... that said, couple of questions.

1) Anyone ever done Niagara in the winter (specifically early January)?

2) Is there anything FREE to do... lol.

3) When does the new "passport to drive into Canada" deal start up?

Feel free to add what you will...

It might all amount to nothing, but if we do go, I figure I will pack a bunch of food, leave out early and come back later.
 

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We went in February once. It was dead, no one around, no shops open. I am thinking that the only thing "free" would be the view of the falls themselves from above. Of course you could be brave and try the boat tour with all of that freezing water..... BRRRR! It was very cold for me being from the south! LOL. I did enjoy it. The view is spectacular! That alone was well worth it for me. I did not have lots of time to stay there and enjoy though. It was basically a drop off and looksee for us. I do hope that you enjoy it. It is a fabulous sight to be sure.
 

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3) When does the new "passport to drive into Canada" deal start up?

Feel free to add what you will...

It might all amount to nothing, but if we do go, I figure I will pack a bunch of food, leave out early and come back later.
It was supposed to start January 9th but I can't find anything definite about that.

Getting into Canada isn't a problem if you only have birth certificates for your kids. If you're travelling with children the big problem is getting back into the States if you don't have passports and birth certificates for yourselves and your children. Worse yet is if you try to get back into the States and there's only one parent present, so if you make this day-trip make sure both parents are present and that you can both prove who you are and prove that your children ARE your children. If both parents aren't present you will need a signed and dated letter from the missing parent that gives permission for the other parent to take the children across the border. Even with passports for the whole family U.S.A. Homeland Security might still take you all aside and question you for a couple of hours and they might fingerprint you and your whole family while they check all their databases to make sure you really are who you say you are. Be prepared to show proof of employment in the States, proof of ownership or rental agreement of your residence, and proof of money in your U.S. bank accounts. Also be prepared to have them telephone your employer and your bank manager.

Seriously.

United States Homeland Security has gone beyond paranoid. :rolleyes:
 

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It was supposed to start January 9th but I can't find anything definite about that.

Getting into Canada isn't a problem if you only have birth certificates for your kids. If you're travelling with children the big problem is getting back into the States if you don't have passports and birth certificates for yourselves and your children. Worse yet is if you try to get back into the States and there's only one parent present, so if you make this day-trip make sure both parents are present and that you can both prove who you are and prove that your children ARE your children. If both parents aren't present you will need a signed and dated letter from the missing parent that gives permission for the other parent to take the children across the border. Even with passports for the whole family U.S.A. Homeland Security might still take you all aside and question you for a couple of hours and they might fingerprint you and your whole family while they check all their databases to make sure you really are who you say you are. Be prepared to show proof of employment in the States, proof of ownership or rental agreement of your residence, and proof of money in your U.S. bank accounts. Also be prepared to have them telephone your employer and your bank manager.

Seriously.

United States Homeland Security has gone beyond paranoid. :rolleyes:
Hey maybe Michael Moore should go to Canada and then if we are lucky he couldn't get back in:clap:;):p
 

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Oh, and make sure your vehicle is completely empty except for driver and passengers. Homeland Security will 100% for sure go through the entire vehicle and turn it upside down searching for smuggled contraband while they detain you and your family inside their offices checking your records. You won't be allowed to take food across the border unless it's unopened packaged food with coded data bars on the packages.
 

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We've been up there in dead winter and it was really cold and the falls had a lot of ice on them so we did not see much. They either rope off a lot of the access areas or do not plow them so you have limited areas to see the falls. I've known a lot of people that have gone into Canada with no problems. Have the right paperwork in hand if you want to go. Right now the side of the Canadian falls is dead also. There is a trolley that you can ride for free right now through the park and they will give you the low down on the falls and it's history. Look up Niagara Falls under the I Love NY tourism web site. It will give you some ideas. Have Fun!
 

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We did Niagara in April and it was rainy, windy and freezing! It was nice because there was hardly anyone else there, but we did a speed tour through the falls because of the cold.
 

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We did Niagra this summer. If you just want to take them to see the falls - they can see it for free in several places - the best view we had was from a bridge. You can go inside the visitors' center and walk out next to the falls for free - unless the walkways are iced over. We did the 'behind the falls" tour - worthless - you just get to stand 10 away from the back of the falls. From the back of the visitor's center, you can get close enough to almost touch the falls. Don't even think about buying food in town - one Dairy Queen was actually priced about the same as in a normal place, but places like Applebees were almost 2x as much.

We had absolutely no trouble getting into or out of Canada. We took our passports, but a driver's license and birth certificates for the kids should be good. They searched nothing, opened nothing. We were just asked how long we would be staying - 1 day.

It sounds like a great day trip to me! go for it. You can always go back in the summer too. We didn't find it so crowded even then.
 

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Pook's Hollow
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I was born there and spent the first seven years of my life there, and I can honestly tell you - the Falls in winter are a spectacular sight. As many times as I've seen them, I can still stand and be mesmerized by the scene.

I can't tell you what would be free (long time since I lived there), but the Butterfly Conservatory is a really nice place to visit, especially in the cold! I'm pretty sure it's open year-round.
 

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I was born there and spent the first seven years of my life there, and I can honestly tell you - the Falls in winter are a spectacular sight. As many times as I've seen them, I can still stand and be mesmerized by the scene.

I can't tell you what would be free (long time since I lived there), but the Butterfly Conservatory is a really nice place to visit, especially in the cold! I'm pretty sure it's open year-round.

i grew up there too, lived there until i was 20. i've never been a person that tolerates the cold. brrr...

having said that, it is spectacular in winter. i don't know what the schedule is but at times they shine various colored lights on the falls at night. it is spectacular. beware that the mist from the falls creates a very slippery ice covered landscape in winter.

yes, the amercian side of the falls is awful, covered with nasty chemical factories and such.

i'll come down in between the two opinions about getting into and out of canada. it is WAY harder than it used to be. last time i was there for a visit we decided to NOT take our foster child into canada. the red tape involved is unimaginable.

you will probably be searched for weapons and /or contraband. they found the pepper spray canister i carried as a home health nurse and made me give it up. your car will be on a ramp as you reach the border, that searches the bottom of your car for anything suspicious, you will be questioned about where everyone was born, where they live now, everyone's realtionship to one another and your purpose for being there. i went to the casino in canda on another trip with my aunt and had no trouble getting in or out. it may be random searches, or maybe your family fits some kind of profile. who knows?
 

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You might check what the exchange rate is currently. This could be advantageous to you. When the CAN dollar was low in '03, we stayed in the Hampton Inn in Niagra, CAN for just $54, and it was the honeymoon suite!!!

Don't forget, like another poster said, eating out on the CAN side can be very expensive in the tourist areas. Make sure you check if they have free refills on tea and soft drinks before you are seated. It is my understanding that free drink refills in CAN is NOT the norm, like it is in the US.

Also, if you eat out at all, check the prices before being seated. A Denny's can be more expensive than a Hard Rock Cafe, which is what we experienced the last time we were there.

Clove
 

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We are U.S. citizens living in Canada and cross the border a couple of times/year. We never have trouble getting into Canada (we show them our PR cards and they ask a few questions), but getting into the U.S. you have to play 20 questions with the security officer. Sometimes they will have dogs sniffing the cars as they creep by. I don't know if they are sniffing for drugs or explosives. If it's busy they will just ask a few questions and wave you through. The last time we went he asked my 15 yr old to tell him who we were and if we were really her parents! He had her open her door and asked her if she was being kidnapped and told her if she was this was a good time for her to get out of the car. She thought it was funny, but I think he was being totally serious.

Going back into the U.S. they will ask you for your passport. They will ask where you live and what you were doing in Canada and how long you were there. They might ask you what you do for a living. We have never had to show proof of employment. They will ask if you have any food with you and they will want to know what it is. We have never had any of our food confiscated, but I hear that they will take citrus fruit and raw meat away from you. We usually have lunch and snacks and that has always been fine. They might ask you if you have any alcohol. They will ask you if you bought anything in Canada that you are bringing back into the States. There is a limit to how much you can buy without paying import fees, but it is quite high.

Good Luck
 
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