We had a 12-hour layover on our trip home, most of it overnight. It sounds miserable, but we did what we could to spice things up and enjoy ourselves. Specifically, we rented a car and saw Niagara Falls.
The Toronto airport is large but not unmanageable to navigate, especially for U.S. travelers. Because our layover took place over midnight, we had to take our bags off the carousel and check them back in for our second flight into the States. Not what we wanted to do, and it definitely slowed down our progress, but we made it.
After renting from Hertz, we got a map and directions to Niagara Falls, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from the airport. The roads are great, easily navigable, and lit the whole way. It was fun to drive past (and over) Lake Ontario in the night. We were surprised at how industrial the lakeshore was–lots of factories and smoke stacks.
Although Niagara Falls is a park, there are beautiful views of the falls from the side of the road. Because the park closes and parking costs 20 Canadian dollars, we were aiming for the roadside overlooks. In the summer Niagara Falls is lit up for different events, but only until midnight. Because our flight landed at nine and we had trouble getting our bags, I was concerned we would not arrive on time. We showed up in town at 11:45 pm, after Jordan speeding and Sarah Ann and I praying.
We were all pleasantly surprised at the colors and the sheer size of the falls. Being practically midnight, of course, tours were not running. The only thing we could do was snap some photos as quickly as possible before the lights went away. Parking along the street is hard to find, because of the popular sight, so we (illegally) parked at the police station, raced across the street to get photos, and hopped back in the car.
The area around the view is quite pretty, too.
After the lights disappeared, we went to explore the town.
Filled with nice hotels to sketchy motels, lots of wax museums and haunted houses, and a shocking display of lights everywhere, it reminded me of Branson, Missouri.
See what I mean? But it was fun, and we were grateful to finally be in a place that was open at the hours we needed it to be. Between the familiar fast food and the cheesy tourist attractions, we were happy to be where we were.
Almost everything we saw was open past midnight and a little overpriced. But if you find yourselves in our shoes, enjoy it! Do something fun! It’s only one in the morning. We watched a 4D movie by Ripley’s and got a student discount as well.
Just before we headed back to the airport, we stopped in Wendy’s. Sarah Ann saw a poster of fries with syrup drizzled on, and we had to snap a photo of this Canada-esque meal. It is sometimes fun to see truth in harmless stereotypes, I think, just to make you smile.
We returned to the airport around 3 am and slept for an hour and a half before checking into our flight. It ended up being a very difficult ordeal to actually take off, but we did. And we emigrated into the United States while still in Canada–we hopped in a line specifically for flights heading to the US, went through customs, and did the whole thing before even hopping on the plane. When we landed in Houston we exited like it was a normal domestic flight. And homeward we were bound!