I spent a lot of time in Canada during the 1990s and, no, it’s not because I was under 21 and the drinking age there is 19.
OK, it’s a little bit because of that. But it’s mostly because the Canadian dollar was worth just 67 cents American in 1998. And just like choker necklaces and Doc Martens, the cheap Canadian dollar is back. It’s at 72 cents American, which means everything in Canada is almost 30 percent off.
Yes, there is the hassle of crossing the bridge, and there are additional taxes on goods and services. You also may have to exchange some currency at your bank before you leave since not everyone accepts American swipe credit cards. But the fun family getaway and our extra buying power make it worth the trip.
Here are some family favorites.
• The Skylon Tower. Take a 52-second elevator ride to observation decks 775 feet in the air for killer views of the Falls, the Gorge, the vineyards and the Toronto and Buffalo skylines.
There’s also the SkyQuest indoor arcade, glass blowing demonstrations and its famous revolving restaurant. Buy your tickets online and get a discount: $10.79 Canadian per adult, $6.47 for kids age 3 to 12. It’s located at 5200 Robinson St, in Niagara Falls, Ont. Call (905) 356-2651.
• Clifton Hill. Play games and ride rides at the Great Canadian Midway, play mini golf, visit wax museums, go bowling or go for a spin on the Niagara Skywheel – a giant ferris wheel with enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas. You can also buy a Clifton Hill Fun Pass at CliftonHill.com ($25.95 for adults, $19.95 for kids 12 and younger), which gets you five midway tokens and admission to five specific attractions. I also love Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks, which is nearby at 5907 Victoria Ave. Call (905) 358-3676.
• Ontario Science Center, 770 Don Mills Road in Toronto. The science museum has several hundred exhibits. Right now, the temporary, interactive exhibition called Circus! explores the science behind things like sword swallowers, acrobatics and juggling. Tickets are $22 for adults, $16 for kids age 3 to 12 and free for kids 2 and younger. Call (888) 696-1110.
• Toronto Zoo, 2000 Meadowvale Road in Toronto. It’s one of the biggest zoos in the world. They have a new baby rhino and two baby Giant Panda cubs. Tickets are $23 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for kids age 3 to 12 and free for kids 2 and younger. Call (416) 392-5929.
The Hockey Hall of Fame. Pose with the Stanley Cup, face off against animated hockey greats and call the play-by-play of some famous goals. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors, $12 for kids 4 to 13 and free for kids 3 and younger. Call (416) 360-7765.
Keep in mind:
• You’ll need a passport or enhanced driver’s license to enter the country.
• The bridge toll to enter Canada is $3 American or $2.70 with E-Z Pass. It’s $4 Canadian (which actually translates to $2.90 in U.S. funds).
• Watch out for the 407 Express Toll Route (ETR). The entrances to it are marked with blue signs either overhead or on the roadside. Overhead cameras at its on and off ramps record your license number, your toll amount is calculated and billed to your home.
• You can check border wait times by calling (800) 715-6722 or visiting cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.