Niagara Falls & Toronto
VISITED: SEPTEMBER 2016
For Labor Day Weekend 2016, my wife and I took some much needed time off to visit Niagara Falls, Ontario. The trip was meant for rest and relaxation, but, with anything involving travel, I turned it into an opportunity for photography.
We stayed at The Oakes Overlooking the Falls hotel and ended up getting a room overlooking the falls. We ended up on the 12th floor with a magnificent view of Horseshoe Falls and the New York-side of the falls. If you elect to stay in the same vicinity then be sure to ride the Falls Incline Railway! For only $7 per person you can ride the funicular all day and will save you a long walk, while providing a nice view (check for their hours of operation). Since Niagara Falls is such a tourist heavy destination, I recommend getting up early to photograph it during the sunrise. There are not that many people out and you are able to get the desired perspective of your liking without the overcrowding of others. My personal favorite is a spot that is in front and to the right of the Niagara Falls Table Rock Welcome Centre. This location gives a unique view of the water going over the falls, along with a view of the Horseshoe Falls, and makes for a fantastic composition. There are many other great spots along Niagara River Parkway and are subject to each individual's personal preference.
Despite the Ontario-side of the falls being the superior viewing spot, I would recommend driving over the Rainbow Bridge and visiting the New York-side. Here, you will be treated to great vistas and perspectives of the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. Be sure to check out Goat Island, as well as the Niagara Falls Observation Tower. These locations are ideal for sunsets and golden hour photography or even just relaxing at one of the many picnic locations.
This city was an unexpected surprise. We ended up with a free day and nothing to do so on a whim we drove to Toronto to spend the day. I cannot rave enough about how wonderful this city is. Not only is it clean and friendly, but there are so many photogenic attractions that are all within a reasonable walking distance (if you're not against walking more than 10 blocks at a time). Below are bullet points of different spots and a brief description on each.
Polson Pier - A great view of the Toronto skyline and is the perfect location to photograph sunrise or sunset.
Centre Island, Toronto Islands - Accessed via ferry for $7.50 per person, Centre Island is a great place for everyone. It is a wide-open location that is great for walking, running, bike riding, photography, picnicking, and more. Centre Island provides visitors an unobstructed view of the Toronto skyline. I recommend exiting the ferry and heading left towards the eastern side of the island until you find an opening close to the water that fits your liking. Be on the lookout for picnic tables and Adirondack chairs to stop and take in the sight.
CN Tower Observation Deck - Toronto's most iconic tower and one of the tallest. This 553-meter (approximately 1,814 feet) towers above the Toronto skyline and gives visitors a full 360 panoramic view of the surrounding area. On top of that, they also have a glass floor for visitors to walk on and get an idea of how high up you really are ... hope you don't have vertigo!
Yonge-Dundas Square - The Yonge-Dundas Square is to Toronto as Time Square is to New York City or Piccadilly Circus is to London. It is an eclectic mix of shops, colorful signs, and video billboards that surround a central area in which events may be held.
Casa Loma - Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens that is now a museum and landmark of Toronto. It is an impressing building that leaves visitors in awe of its magnitude and architecture.
Simcoe Wavedeck - A uniquely curved walkway that replaces a narrow sidewalk and was inspired by Ontario's Great Lakes.
St. Lawrence Market - The St. Lawrence Market is a spacious building that is filled with 100+ vendors over two stories. Vendors include bakers, butchers, artisans, as well as having vendors that sell produce and hand-crafted antiquities.
Distillery District - This is a commercial and residential district that contains numerous cafes, restaurants and shops, which are housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. An ideal location for rustic and architecturally unique buildings that are easy to photograph.
If you decide to visit Toronto, and I highly encourage everyone to go, then check out these eateries:
* Beavertails - Try the apple and cinnamon beavertail, it was my favorite.
* The Burger's Priest - Their most popular entree is the Vatican City Burger ~ a double cheeseburger in between two grilled cheese sandwiches. It is an amazingly gluttonous, but delicious treat.
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