I’ve partnered with Hotels.com to share the best ways to view Niagara Falls that allow for safe travel and proper physical distancing.
If you haven’t already booked your family-friendly hotel for Niagara Falls, I suggest looking for a hotel within walking distance to The American Falls, especially if it’s a first-time visit. There are also many hotels and resorts in Ontario, Canada.
Spend a Perfect Day in Niagara Falls
Ready to explore one of nature’s most spectacular wonders? If you want to see Niagara Falls up close there are multiple locations and access points from the U.S. side and the Canadian side. This article focuses on the best Niagara Falls viewpoints from the United States.
We’ll share some iconic ways to experience the fall including aboard the iconic Maid of the Mist boat ride and the heart-pounding Cave of the Winds tour. We will also take you to some of the most spectacular spots in Niagara Falls State Park to see the falls and get some amazing photos.
Things to See at Niagara Falls
What should you expect the perfect day in Niagara Falls, New York to be like? Niagara Falls can simply be a quick stop to see the falls in person, but there are countless places in Niagara Falls to explore and a full day or two is best to truly get the most out of a visit. While it might be difficult to see all that this new Wonder of the World has to offer, listed below are the must-see places.
About Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls consists of three different waterfalls. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are located in the USA and the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls is located in Canada.
Niagara Falls is considered the new 8th Wonder of the World. Niagara Falls Park is the oldest state park in America, which opened in 1885.
Niagara Falls straddles the United States of America and Canada. A trip to these Falls can be seen from both Niagara Falls, Ontario or Niagara Falls, New York.
3 Niagara Falls Adventures
The Observation Tower
The Observation Tower is an opportunity to glimpse all three Niagara Falls, which includes the fall on the Canadian side. A quick trip 175 feet down to the Niagara Gorge in an elevator and you will be standing on Niagara Falls USA Observation Deck.
This deck provides breathtaking views of the falls. This deck is open year-round but can close depending on weather conditions. So, be sure to check the weather before you visit the tower.
Cave of the Winds
Behind Bridal Veil Falls is a stupendous natural cave. Although there is no access inside the cave, the views from outside the cave are stunning. The World Changed Here Pavilion and display share history of the falls and helps you prepare for the 175-foot trip to the Niagara Gorge for an up-close and personal view of the Bridal Veil Falls.
Once there, you can stand at the “Hurricane Deck” and watch the falls crash against the rocks. You can’t get any closer than this. Don’t worry about getting all of your clothes or shoes wet because the admission fee includes free sandals as well as a poncho.
Rainbow Air Helicopter Tour
If you want to get a real bird’s eye view of the Niagara Falls of New York, then you must take flight. You don’t need a passport to travel through the sky with this tour. The aerial views of these beautiful falls will leave you breathless. You even get to check out the “competition” of the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls
3 Places to Find the Best Views of Niagara Falls, NY
If you want to explore one of nature’s most spectacular wonders, here are some of the most spectacular spots in Niagara Falls to view the cascading waterfalls.
Fun Fact: Niagara Falls is the most Instagrammed waterfall in the waterfall and more than 3.4 million hashtags
From the Niagara Falls State Park
The oldest park in the USA has the most perfect views of the falls. This park is located in the vicinity of many hotels, which allows you to easily walk to the park. If walking is not the best option, then a trolley bus can take you there. Many improvements have been made over the years that allow for stunning views, especially during the summer fireworks extravaganza. One of the best parts of the American side of Niagara Falls is the close proximity to the river and powerful falls.
Maid of the Mist boat ride
Some of the best views can be seen up close and personal while aboard the Maid of the Mist. Maid of the Mist departs from the New York Side of the falls and gets you close enough to feel the spray of the water. Although this is truly a touristy thing to do, the views and proximity to the falls don’t get any better than this.
If you’re trying to decide whether to take the Hornblower or Maid of the Mist, note that the Hornblower boat departs from the Canadian side while the Maid of the Mist departs from the New York side. Both boats follow the same basic route.
While photos of Niagara Falls are beautiful, nothing is better than seeing this Wonder of the World in person. This boat ride starts with gearing up in a provided poncho with a hood and takes you on a ride to the falls with an epic point of view. Prepare to get wet!
From Goat Island
This is a small island on the Niagara River, in the middle of Niagara Falls between the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. This island is only accessible from the Niagara Falls, New York side.
On one end of the island you can see Horseshoe Falls. At the other end there are beautiful views of Bridal Falls and American Falls. From Goat Island, one can take a quick walk through the footbridge and check out Three Sisters Islands, which has immaculate views of the Upper Rapids of the falls.
Best Time to Visit Niagara Falls
If you don’t mind the crowded months, then the best time to visit Niagara Falls, New York is the summer. June to August offers the best weather and more open attractions.
Although summer temperatures can reach the 80s, the cool mists and breeze from the waterfalls can help cool you down. If you are looking to spend less on room rates, winter is a good time to visit. But keep in mind that the temperature can reach freezing levels, causing some attractions to close early.
Where to Eat in Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls in New York has some great eateries. For breakfast, Marketside Restaurant is a cash-only place that serves up the best homestyle breakfast, complete with home fries.
Tasty dishes are always coming out of the kitchen of The Griffon Gastropub located on Military Road. Another great restaurant on Military Road is Steak Stone & Sushi Niagara Falls. This restaurant has something for everyone to love from the filet mignon to mango chicken stir-fry; plus, they have reasonable prices.
Let’s not forget about dessert at the Paris Crepes Café. This café has perfectly brewed French coffee and the best Nutella-filled crepes!
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls, New York
There are plenty of budget-friendly and luxurious hotels in Niagara Falls, New York. If you are traveling during the summer (peak) season, then it’s best to book your hotel room in advance. Some great places to stay during your trip to Niagara Falls, New York are:
Doubletree by Hilton in Niagara Falls
This hotel gives you a front and center view of the stunning falls and the river. The path along the Niagara River is just steps away, which is a huge plus. As you walk from the hotel toward the falls, the river begins fairly calm to turns into rapid waves as you get closer to the falls.
The hotel is located in the oldest state park in America and in fact, the park was designed by the same person who designed Central Park in NYC. The hotel is also a short walk to the falls. Stroll on the walkway along the Niagara River. It’s pretty amazing. The river goes from calm to a bit of whitewater and rapids,
Wingate by Wyndham Niagara Falls
There are at least 30 restaurants and 12 attractions within less than .3 miles of the Wingate by Wyndham. Nearby attractions include the Seneca Niagara Casino, St. Mary of the Cataract Parish and the Niagara Falls Walking Tour. This hotel is within walking distance of everything plus their beds are beyond comfortable! After a long day of sightseeing, you can relax in the indoor pool or enjoy the free Wi-Fi.
This hotel is a luxurious way to spend the evening in Niagara Falls, New York. Located on 222 1st St, this hotel is situated in the middle of everything you may want or need. Within less than four minutes, you can get to the Niagara Falls State Park or the Observation Tower.
Which Side of Niagara Falls is Best to Visit?
There are certainly pros and cons to visiting either side of Niagara Falls. While neither side is “better” than the other, there are certain things to consider. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls might offer great views, plenty of attractions and casinos but it is always so crowded that it is difficult to see everything you want, especially in one day.
The New York side of Niagara Falls has beautiful views, a glorious state park and plenty of attractions. The New York side of the falls is cleaner, has fewer tourist traps, and in general, better food. Maid of the Mist boat tours allows you to get close to both sides of the falls without having to choose one or the other.
12 Fun Facts about Niagara Falls
- Sparkling rainbows are often seen in the mist of the Niagara Falls.
- The same person who designed Central Park in NYC was behind the design of the Niagara Falls State Park.
- The American side of Niagara Falls is the number 1 thing for Chinese visitors to see in America.
- At least 9 million guests a year visit Niagara Falls.
- Partial power of New York City is diverted from 50% of the water traveling to Niagara Falls.
- The Great Lakes River is estimated to be 12,000 years old and that is where the Niagara Falls water comes from.
- Niagara Falls ranks high across the board of bucket lists.
- Horseshoe Falls is the most famous waterfall and a combination of flow rate and height makes the falls epic to see in person.
- Niagara Falls does not freeze during the winter, despite popular belief.
- Many famous movies such as Superman and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed at Niagara Falls.
- If there is nothing scientists can do about the current rate of erosion, these stunning falls will disappear completely in 50,000 years.
- The Niagara River serves as an international border between the USA & Canada.
How to Get to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is less than 20 miles from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
There are plenty of ways to get to the USA side of Niagara Falls. One can drive their car or rent one. This route is traditionally the best way to travel with a family and children.
Exploring Niagara Falls once you have arrived: The Niagara USA Official Visitor Center offers at least 15 destinations stops from their shuttle service. Another cheap way to travel is by bus. A daily adult bus ticket is roughly $7.50, which is great for the perfect day at this wonder of the world.
Niagara Falls FAQ
Can you walk from the US to Canada at Niagara Falls?
Within six miles of Niagara Falls, there are three international bridges that connect the U.S. and Canada. The “Rainbow Bridge”, which offers a spectacular view of the Falls, lies roughly 500 yards from the American Niagara Falls. The best way to experience the falls is by walking, bicycling or driving across. Remember that no commercial traffic is allowed.
Do you need a passport to go to Niagara Falls?
No passport is required if you are American and visiting the American side of Niagara Falls. If you want to venture to the Canadian side, then a passport is needed. Remember that proper travel documents are needed when crossing the Canadian border. Even though it is just a hop, skip, or jump away from the American Falls to the Canadian Niagara Falls, be prepared to show your passport.
Can you see Niagara Falls at night?
A spectacular illuminations show is put on display all 365 nights of the year! This is not a fireworks display, but an illumination of water by using colored lights. You can see a kaleidoscopic of colors that bring each waterfall to life. The later it gets, the better the show because it occurs until 2 a.m. during the summer.
Can you walk from US to Canada at Niagara Falls?
Within six miles of Niagara Falls, there are three international bridges that connect the U.S. and Canada. The “Rainbow Bridge” which offers a spectacular view of the Falls which lies roughly 500 yards from the American Niagara Falls. The best way to experience the falls is by walking, bicycling or driving across. Remember that no commercial traffic is allowed.
Do you need a passport to go to Niagara Falls?
No passport is required if you are visiting the American side of Niagara Falls. If you want to adventure naturally to the Canadian side, then a passport is needed. Remember that proper travel documents are needed when crossing the Canadian border. Even though it is just a hop, skip or jump away from the American and Canadian Niagara Falls, be prepared to show your passport.
Visiting Niagara Falls is a magical experience that a person should experience at least once in their lifetime. Niagara Falls, New York not only offers great views but a friendly atmosphere. With so many places to see, stay and eat, how could you not consider Niagara Falls, NY for your next vacation. A splendid day along the Niagara Falls of NY is surely a wonder in itself.
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, here are a few recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses and La Jolla Travel alerts.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.