The (Sub)urban Tourist is a travel blog enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and exploring good food and dining experiences. This summer Margaret Antkowski, who pens the (Sub)urban tourist, took a Niagara Falls tour with her finacé Frank Bourne. She rated the tour 4.5/5. Read her review here:
Niagara by bus: sit back, relax and enjoy the tour
|The Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls – part of the tour with King Tours. Photo by Frank Bourne|
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Niagara Falls, Ontario. It must be at least six or seven times since I was a small kid. With each visit over the years, I’ve noticed that traffic has become increasingly insane in the Niagara region. Driving with stop-and-go traffic and trying to find a parking spot in Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake can leave you drained, stressed out and definitely not enjoying the visit.
This past weekend Frank and I had the pleasure of trying out a King Tours bus tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls. And it certainly was a stress-free way to enjoy a day away from Toronto.
- Transportation in a comfortable, air conditioned tour bus from downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls
- Entry into the Maid of the Mist, without having to wait in line for a ticket
- About two hours to ourselves to explore Niagara Falls and have lunch
- A drive along the Niagara River to stop at spots such as the Whirlpool (10 minute stop); the Sir Adam Beck Power Generation plant (a few minutes to take photos); and the Floral Clock (more photos).
- A 45 minute visit in Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Wine-tasting at Pillitteri Estates Winery
|People lining up for the Maid of the Mist. We didn’t have to wait to get tickets but went straight to the line-up for the tour itself. Photo by Frank Bourne|
While a tour never gives you much time to explore, for somebody with a limited time visiting Canada or desiring a one-day getaway date from Toronto, this one-day tour is jam-packed with sites and experiences. It’s really a two-day visit condensed into highlights that fit into an eight hour tour. It gives you a true taste of the region at a decent price and with a pleasant tour guide.
What I really enjoyed about this tour was the fact that I didn’t have to deal with the driving and search for a parking spot. Another bonus was the prearranged tickets at the Maid of the Mist. For Frank and myself, who have visited Niagara Falls so many times before, it was our first time on the Maid of the Mist – the long lines for tickets were always a deterrent in the past.
|A 10 minute stop at the Whirlpool gives you ample time to snap a few photos and see how the jet boat tours from Niagara-on-the-Lake spin into the whirlpool and push out of it with full power. Photo by Frank Bourne|
One other thing that makes King Tours’ tour to Niagara worthwhile is the friendliness of the tour guide who pleasantly escorted us through each site. At the Whirlpool location we witnessed a tour guide/driver of a big, “luxury” tour bus yelling at people to quickly take their photos and get back on the bus. His manner was completely opposite of our more relaxed and polite guide, Terry. We were thankful we weren’t on that other bus!
A few tips to make this trip top notch:
- The best seats on the bus are at the front with a less bumpy ride. Pass on the first row of seats and choose the second row to the middle of the bus for the best ride.
- Before you board the bus in the morning, DON’T drink coffee and make sure you take a washroom break just prior to your trip. The bus does not have a restroom like some large buses. Your first break with restrooms around may happen at about 11:30 a.m. depending on the traffic heading to Niagara Falls. Not drinking coffee in the morning also means you can easily take a nap on the way there so that you are refreshed and ready-to-go when you arrive.
- If doing the tour in the summer, pack a few water bottles (to avoid dehydration) some snacks and a light lunch with you. You can save time by eating on-the-go rather than dining at a restaurant in Niagara Falls. This will give you extra time to explore Niagara Falls itself – perhaps even popping into the casino for a half hour.
- Make sure you have a watch with you as it’s not polite to be late for the bus when everybody is waiting for you.
- Have extra cash on you – the tour guide/driver earns the majority of his salary via tips.
- Payment is in the morning before you board the bus – have your cash or Visa, Mastercard, or American Express card on hand to pay for your tour.
- If you don’t bring your lunch with you, head up Clifton Hill. Ruby Tuesday is close by to the bus pick-up spot, meaning you can have a normal sit-down lunch with a wide-selection of menu options.
|Several bakeries and shops in Niagara-on-the-Lake offer delicious snacks in the form of cookies, cupcakes and pies. The Empire cookies (seen in the centre) are a special scrumptious treat. Photo by Frank Bourne.|
Overall, King Tours does a great job showing you the sights at Niagara Falls. If you are in Toronto, they will pick you up at any Toronto hotel and take you to the bus if you prearrange it with the company. If you are outside of Toronto such as Mississauga, at any of the airport hotels, in North York or in Markham, pickup can be arranged for an extra $12 – it’s worth it and their private car drivers are very pleasant and chatty.
For more information visit the website: www.niagaratours.ca. If planning a tour for 12 or more people visit www.kingtours.ca. Note that you can also stay overnight in Niagara Falls for an extra $29, but you are paying for your own accommodation. The bus will pick you up at a prearranged time and location.
This article was originally published here: http://www.suburbantourist.ca/2011/07/niagara-by-bus-sit-back-relax-and-enjoy.html