Honeymooning couples have made their way to Niagara Falls for nearly 200 years. Although the area hasn't made it onto the Top Ten list of lovers' destinations for quite some time, Niagara Falls continues to offer some unique charms.
It's the water, of course, that's the big draw. Crashing, plunging, thundering without cease. (It did freeze once.) Although there are taller Falls, there are none wider than those in Niagara. Here you also get three for the price of one: The raging rapids of Rainbow and Bridal Veil Falls (American) tumble over massive rock formations in a nearly perfect straight line; amazing Horseshoe Falls (Canadian) form a natural curve.
Whether you view the Falls from the American side or the Canadian side, it's mesmerizing -- for a while. Couples who want to do it all can arrange an American or Canadian destination wedding with a choice of dramatic backdrop.
WHAT TO DO AROUND THE FALLS
In addition to gazing at the Falls, honeymooners can spend time at a range of attractions. Some, like the Maid of the Mist boat cruise (buy online) and the IMAX film Miracles, Myths, and Magic, relate to the rushing waters; others are the type that crop up wherever tourists gather. Up Clifton Hill, a group of the latter include The Haunted House, Guinness World of Records Museum, the House of Frankenstein, and Mystery Maze -- all within walking distance of the main attraction.
As you may already have surmised, it's quite touristy here. There could be enough to keep you busy for a two- or three-day visit, but anything longer might make you edgy. So I recommend combining a trip to Niagara Falls with a stay nearby. About 20 miles to the north, there's the scenic and historic hamlet of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The town is home to the Shaw Festival, the only theater in the world that specializes in plays written by George Bernard Shaw. (Productions run from April to October.) Plus the town ample boutiques to jettison wedding loot. If you're driving, also consider spending time in Toronto, great for city lovers. Alternately, the quirky little towns and wineries of western New York are fun to explore, too.)
Those intent on exploring nearby can find new sins to cultivate: Wine drinkers will enjoy weaving their way through the Ontario Wine Route. Gamblers can find action twenty-four hours a day at Casino Niagara, a spiffy three-level gambling hall right across from the Falls.
WHERE TO STAY AND DINE
Regardless of whether you spend a night on the American or Canadian side of the Falls, be sure to insist on a room with a view. You're more likely to find an appreciable one on the Canadian side, since those buildings face the Falls head-on. The American hotels on the New York side, mostly cheaper and many older, kind of look over their shoulder and catch the mist but not the drama of the location.
We spent a night at Canada's Skyline Brock, and the view couldn't have been prettier. The windows in our room faced the American Falls head on. To the right, Horseshoe Falls was clearly visible in the unobstructed panorama. Our quarters had a nice albeit squeaky king-size bed and a Jacuzzi for two in the same room. Some suites feature balcony Jacuzzis overlooking the Falls.
Built in 1929, the Skyline Brock is where Marilyn Monroe and the cast of the film Niagara stayed during shooting, and even today it seems the best place in town. If you can't spend a night here, do try to have a meal. The hotel's 10th-floor restaurant offers the same wonderful view of the Falls, especially romantic at night when the water is illuminated with colored spotlights. Note: The Skyline Brock is connected by walkway to Casino Niagara.
Other Canadian-side hotels worth considering are the Skyline Foxhead, the Brock's more-modern sister next door. It has a similar view and an authentic Japanese restaurant inside. The Renaissance Fallsview Hotel overlooks Horseshoe Falls; ask for a room with a double whirlpool on the highest floor to get the best views. And if you reserve a spot at the Renaissance's Rooftop Dining Room, be sure to request a table by the window. Afterwards, consider taking the Casino Niagara shuttle ($3). Honeymooners are notorious for getting lucky in this town.