Niagara Falls has two parts; one is on the American Side and the other on the Canadian Side. Horseshoe Falls is in Canada whereas American Falls is in New York State on the American side. Each side of the Niagara Falls offers a different perspective. We suggest you visit both the sides so you get the most out of your experience.
The Canadian side offers the panoramic view of the falls whereas the New York side offers a heart-pounding, close-up look at the rushing water falling over. The American side is in the Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the US. So, that’s another reason to visit it as well.
Pro Tip: Stay a night at the Falls so you can see it in the dark. The night view of the Niagara Falls is equally beautiful.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are several airports near the Niagra Falls. Toronto Pearson International Airport is in Toronto, Canada and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Buffalo (with links to other major New York airports). The Buffalo Airport has shuttle bus services as well as Taxi services which can take you to Niagara Falls. It’s best to do a bus tour if you visiting from abroad. You get to relax, use wi-fi, and save money.
THINGS TO DO
New York Side
There are a number of attractions designed to give different experiences of the falls. Access and views of Niagara Falls is free. The riverside walks and parks offer great views. You can walk across to Goat Island on the pedestrian bridge.
Cave of the Winds
An elevator takes you 175 feet down to a walkway that leads you right to the bottom of the Bridal Veil Falls. You will definitely get a feel for the true power of the falls! This is the closest you can get to the falls on either side without actually leaping into them! Ponchos and sandals are provided, and you will definitely need them.
The Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist is a boat ride taking you down and around the bottom of the American Falls. Some information is given by the guide about the falls, but the real experience is looking up at the falls from below and feeling the mist coming off the falls (hence the name). A pair of sandals and a poncho is must if you take a boat ride near the Niagara Falls.
Boats leave from both the American and Canadian sides, so you may want to check the exchange rates to see which will be more cost-effective when you visit! If you have the required documents, such as passport with a visa, then doing this cross-country boat tour is truly delightful.
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
Although it’s easy to enjoy the falls visually, the Discovery Center provides another way to appreciate the magnificence of the falls; geologically. Exhibits show the history of the entire area, including the falls, how they were originally formed, and how they’ve changed over time.
Other Things To Do
- Aquarium of Niagara (Located at 701 Whirlpool St.)
- Niagara Adventure Theater
- Niagara Scenic Trolley (Use this to get to the park more quickly. Cheap tickets. Hop on and off service)
- Niagara Falls State Park
- Niagara Wine Trail (Within driving distance)
- Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours – It’s safe to say it’s hard to replicate the experience of flying over the Falls without booking a helicopter tour. It’s an awesome experience. There are literally dozens of operators offering tours of the area. Pick the one which best suits your budget and taste. The heli-tours can be expensive though.
- Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino – Casino and hotel complex with stores and restaurants. Just a short walk from the falls.
- Make a stop at the Halal Mobile Food trucks for a quick and delicious snack.
Most visitors’ first view of the Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side of the river, is at Queen Victoria Park along the Niagara Falls Parkway. This grand, royal garden provides the perfect vantage point for experiencing the nightly illumination of the Falls and the summer fireworks displays. The Falls are illuminated, every evening until approximately midnight and there are Fireworks over the Falls, Friday and Sunday nights in the summer months.
You may not know this, but, Niagara Falls, Ontario side, is the self-proclaimed “Honeymoon Capital of the World“. For over a century the grandeur of the waterfalls of the Niagara River has attracted tourists to this destination. Thousands of couple get married here.
Wine tours. Yes, speaking of having a good time, it is good to know that Niagara is Ontario’s best-known wine-producing region. Its famous ice wines are processed in freezing temperatures in very early morning hours and only with “approved” grapes, producing a thick and sweet wine much like the muscats and ports, but without the afterbite.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises
A boat tour to the foot of the falls, where visitors can better appreciate their thunder and spray. There are three types of cruises: Voyage to the Falls, Sunset Cocktail Cruise, and Falls Illumination/Fireworks Cruise. Check their respective website for hours and cost. You may be tempted to use your digital cameras to take pictures, but they will get wet, so please plan accordingly.
Journey Behind the Falls
This is an interesting attraction to consider in lieu of Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Although popular, the lines aren’t nearly as long for “Journey” as they are for Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and therefore may be a better option on crowded days, or for those traveling with small children.
The Journey also offers participants the chance to feel the “spray” of the Falls, from portholes opening behind the Falls, but it is not as intense.
Note: This guided tour provides some but not all of the thrills of the other attractions. Open year-round except 25 December. While this the Journey remains open during winter time, some of the viewing points are inaccessible due to the snow build up.
Other Things To Do
- White Water Walk, 4330 Niagara Pkwy. A 1,000-ft (305 m) boardwalk beside the rapids. Open seasonally.
- Whirlpool Aero Car – Cable car ride over the Niagara Whirlpool.
- Skylon Tower – A 520-ft (160 m) tower that has an observation deck. There are two restaurants with a great view of the falls. One is a revolving restaurant, the other is a buffet. There are arcade games on the base.
- Niagara Skywheel – Ferris-wheel-like, with air-conditioned/heated pods and views of the Falls and surrounding skyline. 10-minute ride.
- Clifton Hill Amusement Area – A hilly area, full of exciting and fun tourist attractions such as wax museums, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, haunted houses, and gift shops.
- Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens – 100 acres of 20th century themed gardens, a magnificent arboretum, as well as North America’s largest butterfly conservatory. Summer is the best time to visit.
- Blue Morpho butterfly at the Butterfly Conservatory – Free admission. But there is a Parking fee. Over 2,000 butterflies in an enclosed garden.)
- Bird Kingdom – A tropical adventure with over 400 birds is the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world.)
- Floral clock – A clock made entirely of flowers. Admission and parking are free.. edit
- Queenston Heights Park – Includes the Brock and Laura Secord Monuments. It is also an endpoint of the Bruce Trail, which winds its way northward over 800 km (497 mi) to Tobermory.
- IMAX theatre and Daredevil Museum – Has a 45-minute movie about the history of the Falls, filmed in 2005. The theatre also houses a daredevil exhibition with original barrels used by falls and whirlpool daredevils on display.
- Sir Adam Beck Power Station – Guided tour every 15 minutes, year-round. See how the massive power of the Niagara River is harnessed and used to power the surrounding area.
- Nightmares Fear Factory – Haunted house attraction, famous for the number of visitors that ‘chicken out’.
WHEN TO GO
During the winter season the falls freeze in their glory, and though it is a breathtaking sight, it does not offer much except the light show. In the spring months, the myriad of waterfalls gush out and it’s a gorgeous sight to behold. Summer is the peak tourist season, and those who do not like commercialized destination will find Niagara Falls a bit too much in summer.
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December 5, 2017 1:53 pm