Niagara Falls Travel Guide
It's not hard to understand why many consider Niagara Falls a top natural wonder of the world. Or why it has been the location of some incredible (and now illegal) daredevil antics over the years. The second you see the mammoth Niagara River rumbling toward a 170-foot waterfall at about 20 to 30 (and up to 68) miles an hour, your mouth will drop. The speed at which the river falls creates a misty ... continue»
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The best time to visit Niagara Falls is June to August. Summer is peak season, and with good reason: Average highs are in the low 80s. Mists and breezes from the waterfalls can make the area feel cooler. You'll spend more money and face more crowds, but visiting in summer will allow you take full advantage of the weather and attractions. Spring and fall see fewer tourists with colder weather. And the winter sees below-freezing temperatures, causing many attractions like the boat tours to shut down. But the frigid climate does drive down hotel rates.Best Times to Visit Niagara Falls»
Niagara Falls Neighborhoods
Niagara Falls is three separate waterfalls that straddle the U.S.-Canada border; the American and Bridal Veils Falls in New York state and the Horseshoe Falls (also called the Canadian Falls) in Ontario, Canada. The Horseshoe Falls are separated from the other two by Goat Island (part of the U.S.), which is accessible by car or foot and provides spectacular views of the rapids and drop-offs.
The Canadian side is better suited for tourists because it features better views and more hotels, restaurants and attractions. However, both sides of Niagara Falls are surrounded by souvenir shops and amusement parks.
The American Falls
The American Falls are best seen from Prospect Point Park, which has a 282-foot tall observation tower for visitors. The Maid of the Mist boat tours picks up passengers at the bottom of the falls.
The Bridal Veils Falls
The smallest of the three waterfalls, Bridal Veils Falls is sandwiched between New York's Luna Island on the east and Goat Island on the south. The Cave of the Winds gives visitors access to the base of the waterfall. An elevator goes from Goat Island to the base of the falls, allowing visitors to tread the wooden walkways to the "Hurricane Deck," where they will enjoy getting soaked by the waterfall's rushing water.
The Horseshoe Falls
The most impressive of the three is the Horseshoe Falls, which sits nearly entirely within Canadian boundaries. Named for its curving shape, nearly 90 percent of the Niagara River tumbles over the falls, producing a heady amount of mist and an incredible photo backdrop. There are two ways to get really up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls. The Maid of the Mist boat tours go to the base of the falls, while the Journey Behind the Falls attraction takes visitors 150 feet down the falls in elevators. Once off the elevators, visitors can walk through tunnels that lead to portals, for excellent views of the gushing falls.
North of the falls is Clifton Hill, a tourist area in Canada that is not unlike a mini-Times Square. Here, there are a handful of wax museums and a Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum. A large number of restaurants (mostly chains) are also here, as well as a few golf courses.
Although it welcomes a large number of tourists every year, Niagara Falls is still a relatively small and safe town. According to TripAdvisor, "The local authorities know to expect millions of tourists unfamiliar with the area to be visiting every year, and they know how to keep them safe." However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use common sense. Keep a close eye on your personal items, especially in more crowded areas.
The best way to get around Niagara Falls is on foot. Walking around the area is relatively easy (when there is no snow). Even getting across the United States to Canada border is only a 20-minute walk across the Rainbow Bridge. Attractions are generally close together and within walking distance. And if your feet are feeling a bit weary, you can hop on the area's efficient and convenient shuttle. Having a car can make your trip more stressful, since roads are prone to congestion and parking is very expensive. Most travelers, who don't drive, fly into Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), about 30 miles southeast of the falls. From BUF, there are shuttles to both sides of the falls. Rental cars also are available at the airport.Getting Around Niagara Falls»