Niagara Falls, one of the most visited attractions of the US and Canada is totally worth the visit in all senses.
Before you even see the majestic sight, you are welcomed by the gushing sound as if it is inviting you for a rendezvous.
And the first sight does keep you spell-bounded, awestruck at the sheer beauty and colossal size.
Niagara falls is a group of three waterfalls that straddles the US and Canada border.
The three waterfalls – American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls into the Niagara River.
Have you ever wondered where does the unending water in falls comes from? The four great lakes – Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron feed whopping 700,000 gallons of water per second into the Niagara river that make up the enormous Niagara falls.
Trying to calculate?? It’s pretty impressive.
The water from the falls fills the Niagara river, which then flows into Lake Ontario.
Is Niagara Falls the Tallest?
No, Niagara falls are not the tallest. Angel Falls in Venezuela is the tallest. While there are around 500 waterfalls taller than Niagara, the mere volume of water that gushes out of it and the magnificent size makes it so popular and special.
Niagara falls can be visited from both the US and Canada side. Canada’s side gets you a great view of the falls, while the US side has its advantage of experiencing them up close.
Niagara Falls NY
Niagara Falls, also a city in the state of New York is famed for the Natural Wonder of the World – Niagara Falls.
The trips to Niagara have been our most loved trips and were like a ritual taking all our friends and relatives to experience the spectacular. After all, how can you miss this wonder while in the US?
Things to do in Niagara Falls NY
1. Niagara Falls State Park
The state park is the oldest state park in the US established in 1885. This is the entry point to witnessing the falls and all the activities.
The Visitor Center at the state park is the first place that must be visited to grab your map and tickets for the activities.
There are multiple islands – Luna Island, Goat Island, Three sister island in the state park all well connected by road and for pedestrians.
Highly recommend: Walk along the pedestrian pathway all along the state park with scenic vistas of the waterfalls and the Niagara River.
2. Observation Deck
Even though the American Falls and Bridal Veil falls are in America, they cannot be viewed from the front. To get the best view of the falls from the US side, head over to the Observation Deck.
The falls at one end, the Rainbow bridge on the other and Canadian skyline on the third side, it is a place to be.
To be honest, we kept staring at the majestic beauty in awe and of course clicking multiple pictures.
The elevators for the Maid of the Mist are at the Observation Deck.
Entry to Observation Deck is free.
3. Maid of the Mist
One thing that cannot be missed at Niagara Falls is the Maid of the Mist. Wondering what is this??
This is the boat cruise that will take you under the falls to feel them, to see them and to experience that you have never done before.
The blue ponchos that you wear are also not of much use if you stand on the upper deck. The mist flying, the rainbows across the waterfalls and the gigantic beauty will enthrall you.
Recommend: There are ponchos for kids as well. If you have an infant with you, we would advise to hold him under your poncho and stand at the lower deck.
There are no words to describe this adventure. But one thing is sure you don’t want this exciting ride to the finish. As the boat retreats back to the deck, the desire for the last glimpses and capturing all you can are very strong.
Pro Tip: If you stand on the upper deck, your shoes and clothes are bound to get wet. If you plan to do the Cave of the Winds, we recommend doing it first and continue wearing the slippers you get for them.
Pro Tip: Keep your cameras and phones in the waterproof case. You don’t want to miss capturing these priceless memories.
Tickets: Adults – $20, Child – $11 (These prices are as of 2019)
Note: The boat tours close around November till April/May. Refer to the Niagara Falls State Park website for the updated schedule.
4. Crow’s Nest Trail
As you walk out of the Maid of the Mist all drenched, walk ahead and climb the fleet of stairs to get up close to the American Falls.
5. Cave of the Winds
Have you ever stood right under the waterfall??? If not, you don’t know what you are missing.
Cave of the Winds, on the Goat Island, is the attraction where you can walk on a redwood platform and stairs right at the bottom of the Bridal Veil Falls.
Wear the yellow poncho and the slippers that you get while entering.
There was a natural cave behind the Bridal Veil falls that was discovered in 1834, that was toured. But due to a rockfall, it was shut in 1920. But the name still continues with the attraction.
Tickets: Adults – $19, Children (6-12 years) – $16, Children below 6 years – Free
Note: The Cave of the Winds closes in the winter and opens back during spring. But, in winter the frozen gorge can be experienced at the Cave of the Winds Winter Experience, a new ticketed attraction.
Update: The Cave of the Winds is open in January and February.
There is also a Pass available that lets you visit many attractions and that too by saving dollars. You can choose from the options:
6. Three sister Island
To the far end of the Goat Island are three small islands named after the three daughters of the General of Niagara Falls.
They were indeed the first to trek over to them.
These Three sister islands are accessible by a pedestrian pathway from Goat Island.
7. Illumination of the Niagara falls in Night
Niagara Falls has something for you at all times. Be it morning or even night.
The falls are illuminated daily with multiple colors in the night. Colored lights shine over the falls making a magical night. Watching the falls illuminate in different colors each day is a sight to behold.
Specific colors are used sometimes to mark special occasions like Valentine’s Day(red and pink), Independence Day (white, red and blue), Memorial Day (white, red and blue), Canada Day (red and white), St. Patrick’s Day (Green).
8. Fireworks over the Niagara falls
A bonus if you are visiting Niagara falls are the fireworks in the night, though they don’t happen in winter except for a few occasions. In spring and fall, the fireworks can be enjoyed on the weekends while every night in summer.
Not only during the day, but Niagara Falls can be relished at night time as well.
Note: Do check the updated schedule at the website or the Visitor Center.
Pro Tip: If you are staying in a hotel near to the falls, the fireworks can be viewed from the hotel room. We were lucky to witness them from our hotel room in the Holiday Inn.
9. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour
If you are a thrill enthusiast then don’t miss the Jetboat tour.
The open jet boat takes you for a 1-hour adrenaline-pumping ride on the rapids formed by the Niagara river at a sharp bend.
We missed this as we had a toddler with us, but our friends still talk about it. 🙂
Note: Toddlers are not allowed on the jet boat.
10. Walk by the Upper Niagara River
It is so refreshing to go for a leisure walk by the Upper Niagara river leading to the Niagara falls. There is a long walking pathway all along the river gushing by the rocks and waiting to fall off.
11. Niagara Gorge Trail
Do you want to track where is the water going from the waterfalls?
Then the best way is to hike along the Niagara Gorge trail and follow along the Niagara River.
With greenery all around, the river flowing by your side and breathtaking views, it is a great way to be close to nature.
All the trails and hikes begin from the Niagara Gorge Trailhead center in the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center.
There are many easy to difficult hikes that you can cover taking an hour to three hours. Some hikes are not suitable for kids below 8 years of age.
12. Niagara Wine Trail
Love wine? Novice or a connoisseur?
Niagara region will not disappoint you. There is something to please the palate of everyone.
Located a few minutes away from Niagara Falls are the many wineries and vineyards. Take a tour of wineries and taste the different types of wines.
Do try the ice wine, a specialty of this region. Ice wine is a special dessert wine made from the grapes left to freeze on the vines.
13. NYPA – Niagara Hydropower station
Though Niagara Falls city is synonymous with the falls, there are some hidden gems that are totally worth spending time at.
One of them is the Niagara Power Visitor Center.
With the enormous amount of water flowing over the falls, it is evident to harness it’s potential to generate hydroelectricity. Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectricity power station, located in Lewiston, NY is a major power station that is a source of electricity for the state of New York and seven other states.
Niagara Power Visitor Center is one place that my son and husband loved. With so many informative and interactive exhibits about Hydroelectricity and the future of electricity generation, it is a must-visit the place. There is an observation deck to see the dam.
Highly recommend: Head over to the NYPA visitor center and look around the interesting exhibits. Do plan to spend a couple of hours to make the most.
Entry to the NYPA Visitor Center is free.
Address: Niagara Power Vista, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, NY, 14092
Timings: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except a few holidays.
There are 3 parking lots at the Niagara falls state park. But during season and holiday period this can get full.
All-day Parking Ticket: $10
There is a Niagara Scenic Trolley that can also be availed to traverse through the park at an additional cost of 2-3$ per person. The Trolley is included in the Niagara Discovery Pass.
There are no parking charges in the evening to watch the falls illuminated with lights.
If you are staying near the falls area, we highly recommend walking to the park.
Things to do in Niagara Falls Canada
1. Hornblower Cruise – Journey to the Falls
It is the Maid of the Mist of Canada. The boat cruise takes you on an adventurous ride on the Niagara River gorge and under the Horseshoe falls. This is one journey not to be missed.
Wear your red ponchos (yes the USA Maid of the Mist wear the blue ponchos) and get ready for the exciting ride to get drenched.
The water splashing, colossal waterfall in front of you, mist clouds rising makes you feel like a child at heart who wants to get the best view and fun.
Don’t forget to put your phones and cameras in waterproof covers. You don’t want to miss clicking the pictures for sure.
Tickets: Adults – CA $25.95 , Children (5-12 years) – CA $15.95
2. Journey Behind the Falls
The Canadian version of Cave of the Winds is the Journey behind the falls. Going down about 150ft, there are two observation decks that let you witness the Horseshoe falls crashing down into the gorge.
The water pouring next to you at an immense speed splashing all around, you are sure to get wet. The yellow ponchos do safeguard you but to some extent.
Get the best views of the falls from below and behind. Although the attraction is open year-round, the lower deck gets closed during winter due to icy conditions.
Note: Niagara falls do get frozen sometimes during winter. It is totally different experience.
Tickets: Adult – CA $22, Children (6-12 years) – CA $14 (Prices are reduced in winters when the lower deck is closed)
3. Niagara Falls Zipline
Are you looking for some thrill?? Do you want to soar high with views of the magnificent falls?
Then your answer is the Wildplay Niagara Falls Zipline. Four parallel zip lines along the edge of the Niagara River gorge offer some breathtaking views of the falls.
It feels as if you are going to touch the Horseshoe falls.
The attraction is a bit expensive though.
Tickets: Canadian Dollar 69.99 + taxes (Early riders before 10 a.m. save CA $10) Family Pass (for 4 riders) – CA $239.99 + taxes
4. Whirlpool Jetboat tour
There is no dearth of adventurous activities at Niagara Falls. The Niagara River forms very strong rapids in its course at a sharp bend downstream.
Many Jet boats (can choose from open or closed) take on a 45-minute adrenaline-pumping ride along with the whirlpools. An adventure that you will cherish and talk about all through your life.
Tickets: Adult – CA $72.95, Children( below 12 years) – CA $44.95
5. Whirlpool Aerocar
Are you scared of going on the jet boat tour?
Don’t worry. You can still enjoy the whirlpools on a cable car over the rapids.
The old fashioned open cable car red in color takes you over the rapids caused by the sharp bend of the river. The cable car makes a to and fro trip from the Canadian side to the US side crossing the Niagara River over the Niagara Whirlpool.
This is a great way to experience them if you are not a thrill-seeker.
Tickets: Adult- CA $16.50 , Children(6-12 years) CA $10.75
6. Helicopter Ride
If you are ready to shell some bucks, then the helicopter ride will give you an aerial view of the falls like none other. The ride is well worth every penny you spend for this dreamy ride.
There are many Helicopter tour operators both in the US and Canada that will make the dream come true.
Tickets: USD 70 – USD 120
Book the helicopter tours:
7. Floral Clock
A few minute’s drives from the Niagara Falls towards Niagara on the lake is the Floral Clock.
It is one of the popular attractions in this region after the falls and totally Insta worthy.
The huge clock is made up of many colorful flowerbeds making it a stunning display. This is not just a display but a working clock maintained by the Niagara Park horticulture staff.
8. Skylon Tower
One thing that stands out on the Canadian skyline is the Skylon Tower. The 775 ft tall tower stands on the Canadian side overlooking with impressive views of the Niagara Falls.
The tower has an observation deck for splendid views and also a revolving fine-dining restaurant. Admission to the observation deck is complimentary if you plan to dine at the restaurant.
Tickets: There are various combos and tickets of the Observation deck and 3D/4D movie ranging from CAD 14.50 – CAD 20.00
Or can even book here great half-day tours including the Maid of the Mist and Skylon tower for a hassle-free day.
Road Trips are so much fun with beautiful views and great company. Read our The Ultimate 5-day USA to Canada Road Trip
Hotels for Niagara Falls, NY
Holiday Inn Express & suites
A great property to stay at with views of the fireworks at night and the Canada skyline. This is at a walking distance to the Niagara State Park.
DoubleTree by Hilton
With views of the Niagara river, this is a great hotel to be in. You are at a walkable distance from falls. Cross the road and walk along the river and watch it gushing over the rocks and bends.
Red Coach Inn
A historic hotel built in 1923 with an English country look. The best part is that the hotel is just across the Niagara state park gate. The hotel and its architecture stand out.
Wyndham Garden At Niagara Falls
With close proximity to the Niagara Falls, this hotel is close to the Rainbow bridge connecting the US to Canada.
Hotels for Niagara Falls, Canada
Most of the hotels below are close to the falls with great views of the falls.
Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls
This skyscraper building by the falls offers breathtaking views of the Niagara Falls.
Embassy Suites by Hilton
For some great views and hospitality, head over to Embassy suites by the falls.
Hilton Niagara Falls
Sheraton on the Falls
Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview
Quality Hotel Fallsview Cascade
Have you visited Niagara Falls? Did it mesmerize you? I am sure it must have. Did you visit from Canada or the US? Do share your experience with us in comments.
Looking for other recommendations in Canada:
- Best Things to do in Montreal with Kids in 24 Hours
- Things to do in Ottawa with Kids – Family Fun Guide to Canada’s Capital
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