The World Traveling Guide

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Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the most populous city in the U.S. state of California and the second-most populous in the United States, after New York City, with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621. It has a land area of 469 square miles (1,215 km2), and is located in Southern California.

The city is the focal point of the larger Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana metropolitan statistical area and Greater Los Angeles Area region, which contain 13 million and over 18 million people in Combined statistical area respectively as of 2010, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world and the second-largest in the United States. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated and one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the United States, while the entire Los Angeles area itself has been recognized as the most diverse of the nation’s largest cities.The city’s inhabitants are referred to as Angelenos.

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Los Angeles

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.

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Nicknamed the City of Angels, Los Angeles is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine and research and has been ranked sixth in the Global Cities Index and 9th Global Economic Power Index. The city is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. The Los Angeles combined statistical area (CSA) has a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $831 billion (as of 2008), making it the third-largest in the world, after the Greater Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. Los Angeles includes Hollywood and leads the world in the creation of television productions, video games, and recorded music; it is also one of the leaders in motion picture production. Additionally, Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984.

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Los Angeles has a Subtropical-Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb on the coast, Csa inland), and receives just enough annual precipitation to avoid either Köppen’s BSh or BSk (semi-arid climate) classification. Los Angeles has plenty of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of only 35 days with measurable precipitation annually.

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The average annual temperature in downtown is 66 °F (19 °C): 75 °F (24 °C) during the day and 57 °F (14 °C) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature typically ranges from 59 to 73 °F (15 to 23 °C) during the day and 45 to 55 °F (7 to 13 °C) at night. In the warmest month – August – the temperature typically ranges from 79 to 90 °F (26 to 32 °C) during the day and around 64 °F (18 °C) at night.

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Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on a dozen or so days in the year, from one day a month in April, May, June and November to three days a month in July, August, October and to five days in September. Temperatures are subject to substantial daily swings; in inland areas the difference between the average daily low and the average daily high is over 30 Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) degrees. The average annual temperature of the sea is 63 °F (17 °C), from 58 °F (14 °C) in January to 68 °F (20 °C) in August. Hours of sunshine total more than 3,000 per year, from an average of 7 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of 12 in July.

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The Los Angeles area is also subject to phenomena typical of a microclimate, causing extreme variations in temperature in close physical proximity to each other. For instance, the average July maximum temperature at the Santa Monica Pier is 75 °F (24 °C) whereas it is 95 °F (35 °C) in Canoga Park. The city, like much of the southern California coast, is subject to a late spring/early summer weather phenomenon called “June Gloom.” This involves overcast or foggy skies in the morning which yield to sun by early afternoon.

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Downtown Los Angeles averages 15.14 inches (384.6 mm) of precipitation annually, which mainly occurs during the winter and spring (November through April), generally in the form of moderate rain showers, but often as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms during winter storms. The coast gets slightly less rainfall, while the mountains get slightly more. However the San Fernando Valley Region of Los Angeles can get between 16 and 20 inches (410 and 510 mm) of rain per year. Years of average rainfall are rare; the usual pattern is bimodal, with a short string of dry years (perhaps 7–8 inches or 180–200 millimetres) followed by one or two wet years that make up the average. Snowfall is extremely rare in the city basin, but the mountains within city limits typically receive snowfall every winter. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2 inches (5 cm) in 1932. The highest recorded temperature in downtown Los Angeles is 113 °F (45 °C) on September 27, 2010 and the lowest recorded temperature is 24 °F (−4 °C) on December 22, 1944.

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Jamaica

Jamaica  is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, comprising the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles. The island, 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola, the island containing the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is the fifth-largest island country in the Caribbean. The indigenous people, the Taíno, called it Xaymaca in Arawakan, meaning the “Land of Wood and Water” or the “Land of Springs”.

Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it came under the rule of England (later Great Britain), and was called Jamaica. It achieved full independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. Kingston is the country’s largest city and its capital, with a population of 937,700. Jamaica has a large diaspora around the world, due to emigration from the country.

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Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, currently Patrick Allen. The head of government and Prime Minister of Jamaica is Portia Simpson-Miller. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.

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Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. It lies between latitudes 17° and 19°N, and longitudes 76° and 79°W. Mountains, including the Blue Mountains, dominate the inland. They are surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. Chief towns and cities include the capital Kingston on the south shore, Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville, Ocho Ríos, Port Antonio, Negril, and Montego Bay on the north shore.

Kingston Harbour is the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world, which contributed to the city being designated as the capital in 1872.

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Tourist attractions include Dunn’s River Falls in St. Ann, YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, the Blue Lagoon in Portland. Port Royal was the site of a major earthquake in 1692 that helped form the island’s Palisadoes.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher inland regions are more temperate. Some regions on the south coast, such as the Liguanea Plain and the Pedro Plains, are relatively dry rain-shadow areas.

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Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean and because of this, the island sometimes suffers significant storm damage.Hurricanes Charlie and Gilbert hit Jamaica directly in 1951 and 1988, respectively, causing major damage and many deaths. In the 2000s (decade), hurricanes Ivan, Dean, and Gustav also brought severe weather to the island.

Among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The authorities have recognized the tremendous significance and potential of the environment and have designated some of the more ‘fertile’ areas as ‘protected’. Among the island’s protected areas are the Cockpit Country, Hellshire Hills, and Litchfield forest reserves. In 1992, Jamaica’s first marine park, covering nearly 6 square miles (about 15 km2), was established in Montego Bay. Portland Bight Protected Area was designated in 1999.

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The following year Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was created on roughly 300 square miles (780 km2) of wilderness, which supports thousands of tree and fern species and rare animals.

Jamaica’s climate is tropical, supporting diverse ecosystems with a wealth of plants and animals.

Jamaica’s plant life has changed considerably over the centuries. When the Spanish came here in 1494- except for small agricultural clearings- the country was deeply forested, but the European settlers cut down the great timber trees for building purposes and cleared the plains, savannahs, and mountain slopes for cultivation. Many new plants were introduced including sugarcane, bananas, and citrus trees.

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In the areas of heavy rainfall are stands of bamboo, ferns, ebony, mahogany, and rosewood. Cactus and similar dry-area plants are found along the south and southwest coastal area. Parts of the west and southwest consist of large grasslands, with scattered stands of trees.

The Jamaican animal life, typical of the Caribbean, includes a highly diversified wildlife with many endemic species found nowhere else on earth. As with other oceanic islands, Land mammals are made up almost entirely of bats. the only non-bat native mammal extant in Jamaica is the Jamaican Hutia, locally known as the coney. Introduced mammals such as wild boar and the Small Asian Mongoose are also common. Jamaica is also home to many reptiles, the largest of which is the American Crocodile. However, it is only present within the Black River and a few other areas. Lizards such as anoles and iguanas and snakes such as racers and the Jamaica Boa (the largest snake on the island) are common. None of Jamaica’s native snakes are dangerously venomous to humans. Birds are abundant, and make up the bulk of the endemic and native vertebrate species. beautiful and exotic birds such as the Jamaican Tody and the Doctor Bird (the national bird) can be found, among a large number of others. Insects and other invertebrates are abundant, including the world’s largest centipede, The Amazonian giant centipede, and the Homerus swallowtail, the Western Hemisphere’s largest butterfly.

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Jamaican waters contain considerable resources of fresh-and saltwater fish. The chief varieties of saltwater fish are kingfish, jack, mackerel, whiting, bonito, and tuna. Fish that occasionally enter freshwater include snook, jewfish, grey and black snapper, and mullet. Fish that spend the majority of their lives in Jamaica’s fresh waters include many species of live-bearers, killifish, freshwater gobies, the Mountain Mullet, and the American Eel. Tilapia have been introduce from Africa for aquaculture, and are very common.

Among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs.

The biodiversity is indicated by a number five (5) ranking amongst countries worldwide of the endemic plants and animals in Jamaica.

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The authorities had recognized the tremendous significance and potential of this aspect of their heritage and designated some of the more ‘fertile’ areas ‘protected’. Among the island’s protected areas are the Cockpit Country, Hellshire Hills, and Litchfield forest reserves. In 1992, Jamaica’s first marine park, covering nearly 6 square miles (about 15km²), was established in Montego Bay.

The following year Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was created on roughly 300 square miles (780km²) of wilderness that supports thousands of tree and fern species and rare animals.


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Seattle

Seattle  is a coastal seaport city and the seat of King County, in the U.S. state of Washington. With an estimated 634,535 residents as of 2012, Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.

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The Seattle metropolitan area of around 3.5 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States. The city is situated on a narrow isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the 8th largest port in the United States and 9th largest in North America in terms of container handling.

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The Seattle area had been inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers.[8]Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to its current site and named “Seattle” in 1853, after Chief Si’ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamishtribes.

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Logging was Seattle’s first major industry, but by the late 19th century the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. By 1910, Seattle was one of the 25 largest cities in the country. However, the Great Depression severely damaged the city’s economy. Growth returned during and after World War II, due partially to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing.

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The city developed as a technology center in the 1980s, with companies like Amazon.com, Microsoft and T-Mobile US based in the area. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city’s population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. Since then, Seattle has become a hub for “green” industry and a model for sustainable development.

Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, there were nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs along Jackson Street from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District.

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The jazz scene developed the early careers of Ray Charles,Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock legend Jimi Hendrix and the alternative rock music style known as grunge, which was made famous by local groups Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound garden, and Alice in Chains. Seattle is also famous for its hip hop artists, such as rappers Sir Mix-a-Lot, Blue Scholars, Sadistik, Grieves and Macklemore.

Seattle is historically a very diverse city and multiculturalism is seen as a virtue. Discrimination based on race is considered extremely offensive.

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Locals have long talked of the “Seattle Freeze,” referring to the cold politeness of residents. The theory is that while locals are very polite and warm on first interaction, most residents are also very reserved and interactions rarely lead to real acts of friendship (an invitation to dinner, personal conversations, etc.). For visitors it is best to treat this as shyness–expect to make all the “first moves” to meet people here.

Residents’ shyness also extends to anger and annoyance. Locals often make fun of themselves for their passive aggressive culture, where even in the most upsetting circumstances they will retain their polite nature.

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While Seattle is well known for its rain and dark, gloomy skies, it may surprise many how pleasant the weather can be, particularly during the summer months. November through March brings the worse of the unpleasant weather, with cool temperatures, heavy cloud cover and rain failing on most days. The short days and low angle of the sun during these months only add to the dark, gloomy feeling which is very unpleasant and depressing for some.

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The coldest month is January with average lows in the mid to upper 30s (about 3°C), with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing. Most precipitation falls as a light rain, or a drizzle, with snow falling in the city only occasionally (though the surrounding mountains receive heaps and heaps of snow). Most cold-weather systems come from the north, which generally results in dry weather when temperatures are below freezing. Nonetheless, Seattle is hit by a major snow storm about every 2-3 years on average, which can paralyze the city’s transportation network (hills and ill-prepared drivers are two commonly cited reasons for such). November is the wettest month, sometimes bringing in fairly intense wind and rain storms, which are often classified as a “Pineapple Express”. The record low for Seattle is 0°F (-18°C)

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In contrast, the weather can be quite pleasant from April to October, with exceptionally nice weather in July and August where highs average in the upper 70s and rain is very uncommon. Skies are mostly clear and smog-free, though mornings can produce an on-shore flow resulting in low clouds and fog which typically burns off by mid-day. The northern latitude (47.6 degrees) results in long days with a sunset of 9:11 p.m. on solstice. Summer heat waves can push temperatures into the 80s and 90s, and despite only low to moderate humidity, they can be uncomfortable as air-conditioning is not always prevalent in the city. The record high for Seattle is 103°F (39°C).

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As one might expect, the transitioning seasons of spring and fall can be a mixed bag, though as a rule, the closer to summer brings the greater chance of warm temperatures and clear skies. Winds are heavier in the winter than summer, but overall Seattle is not a windy city, adding to the comfort during the summer. The region does feature micro-climates due to the number of hills, mountains, and bodies of water, which can result in significantly different weather conditions over short distances. This also makes forecasting difficult and sometimes unreliable.

 


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Cancun

Cancún is a coastal city in the tourist destination called The Mexican Caribbean, i.e., the state of Quintana Roo, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is a popular vacation spot on the Caribbean coast. There are two possible meanings of Cancun, according to the Mayan language, the first translation is “nest of snakes or pot.” The second version and less accepted is “place of the gold snake”.

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Peak season in Cancun tends to run from December to April. Prices in both airfare and hotel increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the summer and early autumn months. Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the off season. Hurricanes can be a major threat in late summer and autumn

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Downtown Cancun, especially once you get away from the ADO bus station and nearby hostels and hotels, is a real Mexican city. There are many restaurants (La Parrilla, Los Pericos, Los Arcos, El Timon de Cancun, Va que Va; all of them are really good restaurants, and the best much cheaper than Hotel Zone, and Mexican cousin), shopping centers (Plaza Las Americas, Plaza la Isla in Hotel Zone, Plaza Outlet), markets (Mercado 28 y 23) and clubs in the downtown area that you can visit during your stay (Cocobongo, Dady’O, Palazzo, Mandala).

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Like most resort areas in the Caribbean, Cancun gets hit with a really severe hurricane every 10 to 20 years. The last really bad one was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which obliterated many of Cancun’s famous beaches.

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Thousands of hapless tourists spent their precious vacations jammed into hurricane shelters waiting for Wilma to pass, then waited days in the humid tropical heat (with no air conditioning) for transport home.

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As a result, from 2005 to 2008, most of Cancun’s tourist traffic went to Cabo San Lucas (triggering a massive construction boom there) while Cancun painstakingly rebuilt its resorts and dredged the ocean to bring the white sand back to its beaches.

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The moral of this story is to buy really good trip insurance if your trip is scheduled during hurricane season, have a backup vacation (or staycation) plan, and cancel promptly if a hurricane is forecast the week before your trip.


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Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is more than one of the world’s natural wonders. It’s one of a kind. It’s the culmination of nature’s shear power and pure beauty coming together unlike anywhere else in the world. You’ve seen the image of rushing water spilling 175 feet into a sea of mist. But pictures can’t do it justice. The thunderous roar of the Falls, the shaking of the earth under your feet, the hazy mist brimming to the sky – it’s something you can only truly appreciate when you feel it for yourself.

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Nova days, with the Niagara USA Discovery Pass, you can immerse yourself into the natural wonder of every aspect of the Falls. From learning about the flora and fauna of the Falls at Niagara Gorge Discovery Center to sailing into the mighty Horseshoe Falls on the world-famous Maid of the Mist® boat ride to a walk under the Falls at the Cave of the Winds, there is nowhere else on earth that can get you closer to Niagara Falls.

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Niagara’s Story

For generations, Niagara Falls has captivated the imaginations of people around the world – and for good reason. People have been flocking to the nation’s oldest state park from all over the world as far back as the early 18th century. But it wasn’t until the late 1800s when Niagara’s story started to reach legendary proportions.

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Thrill-seekers, daredevils and stunt performers from all over the globe began to challenge the Falls’ power with an array of stunts. From going over the brink with only a barrel as protection to walking a tightrope strung over the edge of the Falls, the area has become the spot to test human valiance against nature’s raw power. In fact, in 2012, daredevil Nik Wallenda walked across the Falls from Niagara Falls State Park to Canada in just 26 minutes!

Today, there is something for everyone. For the thrill-seekers, adventure awaits at every turn. For foodies, there’s dining at the Top of the Falls Restaurant, and, for those looking to explore the natural beauty of a Frederick Law Olmsted–inspired park, they need only visit Niagara Falls State Park.

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Niagara USA Discovery Pass

No matter how you like your adventure, the Niagara USA Discovery Pass is the best way to experience it all! For one low individual ticket, you can enjoy the following attractions:

  • The Maid of the Mist® Boat Tour
  • The Cave of the Winds
  • Niagara Adventure Theater
  • Aquarium of Niagara
  • Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
  • One day of unlimited travel on the Niagara Scenic Trolley 

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You can start your adventure by meeting the daredevils and legends that make Niagara Falls so cool when you view the Niagara: Legends of Adventure movieThis 30-minute movie will introduce you to characters like Annie Taylor and the original Maid of the Mist! Then set sail on the Maid of the Mist® Tour, which has been sailing in the Niagara River for almost 150 years! We dare you to stay dry, even with the poncho we provide!

Next, take a stroll to Goat Island where you will find the awe-inspiring Cave of the Winds! Descend by elevator 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge and walk the decks under the Falls. When you make it to the Hurricane Deck, you will be within feet of the thundering base of the Bridal Veil Falls! There is NOWHERE else to get closer to this amazing place. And the poncho we give you here?  It’s not too helpful!

Dry off while you enjoy lunch at the Top of the Falls or the Cave of the Winds snack bar, and take a walk to Terrapin Point where you can overlook the Horseshoe Falls, scene of Nik Wallenda’s historic walk.

Then it’s time to jump on the Niagara Scenic Trolley for a ride to the Discovery Center where you can have a hands-on experience with the nature that inhabits the Falls and learn about how the Falls were born. The last stop is at the Aquarium of Niagara where the creatures from the sea await your visit. Meet friendly penguins, sea lions and even an octopus!

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If you have extra time, hiking on the miles of trails along the Niagara Gorge will provide views that you will never forget, or catch the Falls at night when they are bathed in beautiful color. On some nights, fireworks explode over your head and bring the Falls to life with a bang!