As we drove past North America’s largest waterfall, Lezlie Harper, the founder of Niagara Bound Tours told the story of a sign that once hung in downtown Niagara Falls, Ontario.
“It read ‘Don’t forget to see the falls,’ ” she said with a laugh, before gesturing to the majestic cascade in front of us. “As if you could miss it!” I laughed, too, but the truth is that, for many years, I had blithely driven past this wonder of the world with barely a glance.
When I was a kid growing up in a Toronto suburb, Niagara Falls was the place I begrudgingly visited when relatives flew in from out of town. I didn’t know then that it is actually a trio—Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls sit side-by-side along the Canada-U.S. border—or that the charms of the region extend far beyond its main attraction.
But last autumn, I took a four-day trip with a girlfriend, Viji, and was reintroduced to the landmark and the city—along with its quaint little sister about 25 minutes north, Niagara-on-the-Lake. And on this visit, I found a new appreciation for the place I thought I knew.
Viji and I started at—where else?—the falls. Over lunch at Table Rock House Restaurant (entrées $19–$35), which is perched at the edge of Horseshoe Falls, we oohed and aahed at the crashing curtain of water right in front of us. Next, we took a short stroll to the Niagara Parks Power Station , which used the falls to provide electricity to much of the region for a century, beginning in 1905. It recently reopened as an interactive museum that highlights the lives of the people who worked at the plant.
We also took a