The Best Ways To Experience Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of those destinations that everyone should visit during their lifetime. There are many ways to appreciate and absorb this incredible creation of Mother Nature.
Start by visiting Niagara Falls State Park, which encompasses 400 acres of lush terrain. The park offers an array of exciting activities and attractions; in addition to well-manicured gardens, visitors will find more than 15 miles of challenging trails and stunning views throughout. Many protected wildlife also call this park home.
The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. However, some park attractions are seasonal and have their own schedules.
Options for exploring Niagara Falls
The Niagara Scenic Trolley offers passengers a guided overview of the park and also includes historical anecdotes, fun facts, and tips for checking out the park’s most popular attractions.
As the only restaurant overlooking Niagara Falls, Top of the Falls Restaurant will give you a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The Top of the Falls menu offers modern American cuisine and classic dishes, and spectacular waterfall views. The venue, located within Niagara Falls State Park on Goat Island, overlooks Terrapin Point and features panoramic views of Horseshoe Falls through floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor dining decks.
Nighttime viewing of the Niagara Falls offers a completely different experience. Capturing photos of the stunning visuals provided by numerous colorful lights belongs in every visitor’s scrapbook.
You can experience the falls up close and personal with a boat trip aboard the Maid of the Mist, which drives right into the falls! The Maid of the Mist boat tour of Niagara Falls has been in existence since the original boat was christened in 1846.
The tour begins and ends on the American side of the falls while crossing briefly into Ontario. Though the boat tour starts off in the calm waters of the Niagara River, things get a little more exciting near the Rainbow Bridge.
From this point, it takes passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls). Don’t be fooled by the term “mist” because the amount of water that sprays you is anything but gentle. This trip is unforgettable!
History of Niagara Falls
The first European to document the area was a French priest, Father Louis Hennepin. After a 1678 expedition to the area, he later published an account of his travels in “A New Discovery.” The book brought Niagara Falls to the attention of the western world for the first time and inspired further exploration of the region.
It wasn’t until the development of the rail system in the 1800s that Niagara Falls would be introduced to visitors, making it a prime destination for travelers from all over the world.
Niagara Falls is roughly 12,000 years old and is actually made up of three waterfalls: The American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
For a home base while visiting the area, consider staying at Branches of Niagara Campground and Resort in Grand Island, NY. Located just 10 minutes from the falls, this resort offers plenty of amenities that make for a comfortable stay. Featuring full hookup RV sites, the resort also offers Wi-Fi, restrooms, showers, a camp store, recreational trails, a nearby casino, and fishing.
If you want to leave the driving to someone else, Gray Line Bus Tours will pick you up right at the resort. Their itinerary includes several attractions in and around the falls.
Another falls viewing opportunity can be experienced on the other side of the border. Just show your passport and walk across the footbridge into Canada. The views are equally stunning.
Tee it up
With more than a dozen golf courses in the Niagara Falls area, it’s easy finding a place to tee off, whether in the U.S. or Canada. One course that’s located a short distance from Niagara Falls is Hyde Park Municipal Golf Course. Measuring 6,320 yards from the tips, Hyde Park Municipal Golf Course offers terrific views and challenging play for golfers at every skill level. The 18-hole, par 70 course opened in 1928 and is one of the popular tracks in Niagara Falls, NY.
When it comes to witnessing the awe of Niagara Falls, there’s never a bad seat in the house! For more information on the area, visit NiagaraFallsUSA.com.
Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer, and writer who lives in Olympia, Washington. Rick writes a weekly golf blog, The 19th Hole, for RV LIFE. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer, and writer who lives in Olympia, Washington. Rick writes a golf column, “The RV Golfer,” which is published every month in rvlife.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Actually, the best way to see the Falls is from the Canadian side!. Great hotels, RV parks, gardens and walkways. And the Falls at night are a must see.
Wayne R. says
We were just at the “Falls” last month. Stayed for one week on the Canadian side in our 5th wheel. Even with the $$ exchange rate of 1.26 at that time, it was still fairly expensive. Average breakfast was $18 (Can.) per person. Average dinner out was $28 to $30 p/p (Can.).
Yes, the best views are from the Canada side, but currently, the best bargains are on the US side. Crossed the border both times on Monday mornings between 10:00 – 11:00am. No hassles & no delays. Entering Canada it took exactly 8 minutes to clear and coming back into the USA, it took 14 minutes to clear. Officers never entered our 5th wheel for inspection in either direction.
Basic rules for an easy crossing: NO fire wood, NO guns, no beef or pork, no more than 2 bottles of wine or liquor, no more than a 12 pack of beer. Have all your windows at least half way down, do not wear sun glasses, turn radio off and have all your credentials in your hand. If you have pets, have all current Vac. papers ready. Be polite, and do not offer up any more information other than brief answers to their questions.
David Shipp says
I have to agree with the comments about the best way to see the falls ifs from the Canadian side. We stayed at Scott’s Family RV park and took a bus back and forth. The bus stops at their gate. we did a fair amount of easy walking, sightseeing and no need to worry about parking. There are much better walking trails both above and below the falls on the Canadian side. When you are in NY, you are looking up and across the falls. You are not really seeing the majesty of all of it. When on the Canadian side, you can look directly at the falls, either US or Canadian. We spent three days exploring three years ago. With Lyft and Uber, I imagine it is even easier to get around.
Paul Redvers says
The Canadian side is the ONLY way to go. As an Airbnb experience tour guide, I say the onlly experience on the NY side worth having is leaving for Canada ( Passport Required) No guns, no fresh food, no Trump hats. There are several good parks a few miles from Niagra Falls. The nearest parks and restaurants charge more than they should but many many local places offer breatkfast under $10. (CDN). If you are traveling any distance to see the falls, bring your passport and go Canadian
Visited Niagara Falls area early in August, 2019 for a four day excursion. Stayed at Four Mile Creek State Park ($24/night); a 10-15 minute drive to Old Fort Niagara.
After visiting Old Fort Niagara (free parking), catch the free “Discover Niagara Shuttle” to/from Niagara Falls State Park (and several sights inbetween).
After taking in all the sights in Niagara State Park on the US side, (hint: buy the “Discovery Pass for $46), walk across the Rainbow Bridge (from Niagara State Park) to Canada. Then via a walking tour, take in “Journey Behind the Falls”, “White Water Walk” and “Whirlpool Aero Car”.
On the US side, be sure to visit the New York Power Authority Power Vista (via the free Discover Niagara Shuttle); great stuff for the kids and also interesting displays on the construction of the power station and the history of the Tuscarora Indians.
On the way home, I stopped at Lockport NY for the historic cave tour and underground boat ride.
You forgot one of the best parts, The Whirlpool Jet boats on the Canadian side
The cave of the winds walk is really nice.
You can take the Whirlpool Jet Boats from Lewiston, NY at the lower Niagara River, below the Falls, which is a 10-minute ride from the Falls. While your there you can take in the charming town of Lewiston that has several great restaurants such as Carmelo’s for finer dining or the Brickyard Brewhouse featuring brewery and great pub scene along with really good pub food. Up the road is a supermarket, Tops, and across the street is a coal-fired brick oven pizzeria and restaurant and bar.
The provincial government of Ontario puts a lot of money into Niagara Falls, which is their southernmost landmass. This development is supported by very high taxes, over $40 for a case of beer, and a goods and services tax of 15% on virtually everything. As the post from 2018 stated, it can be expensive to visit Canada even with a favorable exchange rate which at this time is around 35%. Gas is about $4.20 a gallon.
Niagara Falls U.S. is a virtual bankrupt city, on life support monies from the one Native American casino there. Organized crime and strong-arm union tactics more associated with the 1920s have raised havoc with the city.. It is a shame as the city draws over 5 million visitors a year to see the Falls. As stated the state park along the Niagara River and Falls is quite nice and some of the attractions mentioned in prior posts. The casino and several hotels are within easy walking distance from the Falls attraction. After that there isn’t much without leaving NF and heading to Buffalo, NY, 20 minutes away, which has many, many things to do with a vibrant waterfront area, Canalside, world-class restaurants, large talented music scene with numerous hot venues and a triving theater district. Tour the world-famous Frank Lloyd Wright house or the president McKinley mansion.
I’m sorry but the only reason to go to the American side of the falls it to Bridal Veil Falls. Just my opinion. The Canadian side is BEAUTIFUL
Lisa B. says
I went to the Canada side as a child, loved it. 2 years ago, took my family with me, stayed on American side, it was beautiful but it felt unsafe even though it was daytime. Got stopped in parking lot by a guy who said he just got out of jail and needed money. Felt like we were being watched at times. We finally left and went to get gas. A car pulled up beside is and the people in the car were giving us angry, scary looks. My husband told me they looked like gang members, so we could not get out of there fast enough. The town there felt very sketchy too.