It isn’t in the main tourist districts of Clifton Hill or Fallsview, but downtown Niagara Falls (Queen Street) is becoming more of a destination for people. I’m not sure exactly who is in charge of what, but a group out of Maryland has created a marketing video for the district to attract developers and tenants. You can see it on YouTube or below:
If you travel into or out of Niagara Falls in the direction of Fort Erie/Buffalo, then you have driven by Niagara Go-Karts. Since it isn’t in the main tourist districts of Falls Avenue, Clifton Hill, or Fallsview Blvd, you may not have considered it, but you should. A week or so ago I went there with my family, and we spent a couple of hours mini-putting and driving the go-karts. It was a lot of fun, and the prices are surprisingly reasonable.
We started off with the mini-putt. It is a “classic” course with solid wood edges so you can bank the shots. Nice! The course looks like it was recently cleaned up, but there is still some work to do with the shrubery. Some of them are overgrown and make it difficult to position yourself to hit the ball. The holes are mostly par 2, with a few par 3. None of us are “pros”, but we do mini-putt quite a bit, and none of us got a hole in one. That shows that it is fun, but not too easy. There are several large animals around the course including giraffes, elephants, a zebra and a gorilla. My three kids insisted on getting their pictures taken with each one. Other than the bushes I mentioned earlier, the only other complain I would have would be about the sound. Since the course is located right beside the highway, and it is part of the go-kart complex, you hear nothing but engines. Obviously there is nothing that can be done about this, as it goes with the territory. There is music playing in the background which tries to drown out the engines, but you can still hear them. I suppose if you go there, you should expect it.
Perhaps one of the most appealing things about the mini-putt is the price. You can purchase an all-day pass on the Niagara Go-Karts web site for only $4 plus tax.
I’ve only been in a go-kart once before (it felt like I was sitting on a lawnmower), so I don’t have much to compare it with. When we were down in Orlando in March, I went around the Kissimmee Go-Karts track once for free. Niagara Go-Karts was definitely better. The karts run better, and I definitely felt safer in the Niagara Go-Karts go-kart than down in Florida. In fact, while were there a man was regularly checking the karts. If it matters to you, Niagara Go-Karts also tries to be hygienic. You have to wear a helmet, and they provide hairnets for you to wear.
There are two different types of go-karts. There is a two seater “family” kart where you can take kids with you. You only pay for one person, as the passenger rides for free. I drove with my 7-year-old son, my wife drove with my 3-year-old daughter, and my sister drove with my 9-year-old son. We all had a blast. The track is 1 KM long, and weaves a lot. This can be a lot of fun as you go fast around the bends. You can go as slow as you want, or go as fast as the karts will go. My sister and I drove as fast as we could, while my wife drive as slow as she could. We joked with her afterwards that the carts might not have ever gone slower! There is obviously a one seater that you can drive as well. I did a couple of laps with my son and then did a few laps on my own in one of the faster one seater karts.
The standard price this summer for laps is 6 laps for $22. However, if you buy online you get 4 more laps free. There is also a package with those 10 laps as well as mini-putt for only $25.
They used to sell hot food in the building where you pay for your tickets, but they don’t any more. They just sell simple snack foods and drinks. There is a small arcade there, as well as washrooms. My wife was pleased that the washrooms were very clean. The customer services was very good. No one was rude, and the young man who got us our putters and tickets was very nice. The only general complaint about the complex is that since it open air, they allow people to smoke on the properly. If I am breathing in the fumes from the karts, maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about second-hand smoke at that point, but I still didn’t like the smell.
Overall, we had a great time. In fact, a few days later we drove past the complex, and my daughter was already asking when we could go again. Also, my sister has already planned another trip. We had a great time!
I took some pictures of both the miniature golf course and the go-kart racetrack. As always, you can see some of the thumbnails below, and you can see all of them along with the larger versions in the Niagara Go-karts in Summer 2011 gallery.
Talks aimed at creating an integrated people mover system are underway.
After parting ways more than a year ago, city and Niagara Parks officials are back at the table discussing opportunities to create a single, seamless transit system to link tourist districts with areas currently serviced by the NPC’s familiar green-and-white people movers.
Formal meetings resumed earlier this month -shortly after the province announced $25 million in funding toward the rubber-tired system proposed by the city. Municipal councillors abandoned the idea of building a monorail system last April.
The $25 million pledged by the province matches $25 million offered by the federal government back in 2003.
Niagara Parks general manager John Kernahan and Mayor Ted Salci both say they’re hoping the meetings will lead to an agreement that will allow the city and the commission to move forward together.
A major transportation project that has been stalled for years got a fresh injection of fuel Monday.
At a press conference at the Via rail station on Bridge Street, Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman announced the province will contribute $25 million toward the development of a new people mover bus system linking the city’s major tourist districts with Niagara Parks Commission properties.
The money put up by Queen’s Park matches the $25 million pledged by the federal government in 2003.
Smitherman, who is the provincial energy and infrastructure minister, said the time was right for Queen’s Park to “step up to the plate” as an equal partner with Ottawa on the project.
“The reality is that until today, the province of Ontario has not been an equal partner with the government of Canada in what is a signature investment here in Niagara Falls,” Smitherman.