Niagara Falls is the collective name for the three waterfalls located along the border of New York and Ontario, with Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls as the individual names of each spectacle. Horseshoe Falls is by far the largest of the three with approximately 90% of the Niagara River flowing over Horseshoe. It’s also the most iconic and picturesque and can be viewed from both the U.S. side and Canadian side.
If you’re planning on visiting Niagara Falls or would love to someday see the natural wonder in all its splendor, keep in mind that the main attraction is absolutely worth the visit, but there is so much more to do while visiting the area. Below is a list of activities and attractions to do while visiting, starting of course with all of the best surrounding the falls:
- The Niagara Falls State Park is open 365 days a year and is always free! The famed landscape architect responsible for designing New York City’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmstead, also conceptualized the 400 acres of lush terrain with hiking/biking trails and amazing views around the falls. As you’ll undoubtedly feel inclined to snap several photos of the falls upon arrival, you’ll be happy to find several areas with no admission required where you can snap all the photos you like. We recommend arriving early for morning photos in order to avoid the crowds.
- The Niagara Gorge Trails stretch all along the banks of the river and present visitors with countless opportunities for views of the falls and great outdoor adventure. Hikers will also find fewer crowds than above the falls. The local Gorge Trail System offers varying degrees of difficulty with easy hikes for all ages as well as more difficult trails that require good shoes and might not be appropriate for small children. You’ll also find the Niagara Discovery Center nearby the trailheads where you can learn about the local history of the area.
- As one of the park’s most popular attractions, Maid of the Mist boat tours, have been providing visitors with unforgettable Niagara memories for more than 150 years. The tours begin at the Observation Tower, where guests are given a rain poncho to protect from the mist. Once everyone is aboard, the boat ferries past the base of the American Falls, and onto the basin of Horseshoe Falls–the dramatic passage leading you through the powerful waterfall whitewater and rock formations. Adult tickets can be purchased for $19.25 and children for $11.20 (5 and under free).
- For a little more of an exhilarating boat ride, visitors to Niagara can check out the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours company offering a one-hour high-speed ride upriver into the Niagara Gorge, through the Devil’s Hole rapids, to the edge of the whirlpool, and back. And if you’re worried about safety, don’t fret. Whirlpool established and maintains and exemplary safety record and keeps it at the forefront of consideration for their rides.
- If you have a little more cash to spend and want to see an entirely different and unique perspective of the falls, you can check out Rainbow Air and be awed by an aerial view from a private helicopter ride.
- As you wander around the Niagara Falls area, you’ll inevitably end up on Old Falls Street, which is a three-block entertainment district connecting the state park with the downtown area. In the warmer months, you’ll find live concerts, free outdoor movies, interactive games and activities, and plenty of places to eat and drink.
- If you’re interested in some night time activities and entertainment or perhaps a little escape during the day, be sure to check out the Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino. The casino offers all of the popular games and slots, while also featuring great restaurants and bars, and great entertainment options ranging from live comedy shows to rock and roll and pop. Best of all, the casino is located only blocks from the park at the end of Old Falls Street.
- Some honorable mentions are activities and attractions in the area, but might require a short drive. Be sure to check out the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House Complex, Old Fort Niagara, the Artpark, the Niagara Power Vista, and perhaps take a drive into Buffalo to get some of the best wings you’ll ever have.