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Tips on What To Do in Niagara Falls

The waterfalls are the main attraction here, and there's a range of ways to see them: from the top, from behind or even at their base. But away from the falls, both New York and Ontario offer various activities to keep visitors entertained.

  • The amusement parks and tacky souvenir shops that surround the falls attest to the area's history as a major tourist attraction. Most of the gaudiness is contained on Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls's toned-down Times Square." -- Fodor's
  • As far as sightseeing goes, you'll definitely want to see Niagara Falls at night, where the city has provided a light show with a splendid array of pink, blue and green. Another fun thing to do is the Journey behind the Falls, where you go into tunnels located underneath and behind Niagara Falls. You can look through portals and see water rushing down. It's very thrilling. There are also many places to see aside from the waterfalls, including the historical aspects." -- AOL Travel

The Falls

One of the most popular ways to see all the falls is by taking a Maid of the Mist boat tour, which travels to all three of the falls -- American, Bridal Veils and Horseshoe falls -- and comes highly recommended by both experts and leisure travelers. The tours get close enough to the gushing falls that guests will get soaked. The 30-minute tours have been in operation since 1846 and have loading docks on both the Canadian and American sides.

At the Horseshoe Falls, the Journey Behind the Falls tour gives visitors just that -- a journey behind the falls -- as well as a loan of boots and a rain coat. To see the falls from a unique vantage point, visitors can take an elevator ride down to the observation decks at the bottom of the falls and can then walk through a series of tunnels behind the falls. From the air, recent visitors recommend the Niagara Helicopters Limited tour, which gives you a mid-air view of the majestic falls, complete with commentary.

Writers recommend sticking around at night, when the falls look their most spectacular. Once the sun goes down, the falls are flooded with lights, illuminating them in different colors.

  • If you want to get close to the foot of the falls, the Maid of the Mist boat takes you close enough to get soaked in the spray." -- Fodor's
  • The best views on the American side are from the Observation Tower (daily 10am-5pm; 50c), and from the area at its base where the water rushes past. In the middle of the river, Terrapin Point on Goat Island has similar views of Horseshoe Falls." -- Rough Guides
  • Don't miss seeing the falls after dark. Twenty-two xenon gas spotlights, each producing 250 million candlepower of light, illuminate them in shades of rose pink, red magenta, amber, blue, and green." -- Frommer's

Wineries

Niagara Falls is well known in Canada for its Icewine, a dessert wine made from grapes frozen on the vines. Around 20 wineries are within a roughly 20-minute drive north from the falls and offer tours of the grounds. Try the Inniskillin Winery or the Hillebrand Estates Winery, both nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake and north of the falls.

  • The visitor center of Inniskillin Wine is housed in a restored 1920s barn, among acres of lush vineyards. ... Be sure to go on the free guided tour, which includes a free tasting of one white variety and one red variety." -- Fodor's

Attractions for Kids

A bit north of the falls in New York is the Aquarium of Niagara, where the family can see penguin and shark feedings, as well as sea lion shows. For a small fee, kids can even personally feed the seals. MarineLand, in Ontario, is a theme park with aquatic attractions and live animal shows, as well as amusement-park rides. Recent travelers also suggest the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark in Ontario.

  • If you're looking for something to keep the kids amused, visit MarineLand. At the aquarium-theater, King Waldorf, the walrus mascot, presides over performances by killer whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Friendship Cove, a 4.5 million-gallon breeding and observation tank, lets the little ones see killer whales up close." -- Frommer's
  • Don't miss the shark-feeding shows offered every other day at the Aquarium of Niagara. The aquarium is located on the U.S. side of the falls." -- Away.com

Historic Attractions

Over the years, Niagara Falls has been the location for some of the riskiest stunts in history, including tightropers and people going over the falls in barrels. At the IMAX Theater Niagara Falls in Ontario, budding daredevils can see the adventurers of the past at the Daredevil Gallery and then catch a flick about the falls' history in IMAX.

For history buffs, Niagara Falls History Museum (currently closed for renovations) in Ontario is housed in a building built in the late 1800s and sits on the site of a battle in the War of 1812. The museum is home to artifacts and displays that depict life back in those times. Recent visitors also recommend a visit to Old Fort Niagara in New York.

  • Besides the Falls, there's plenty to see on each side of the river. … On the Canadian side, it's been turned into a virtual tourist heaven. The Clifton Hill Amusement Area is home to numerous attractions like 'Ripley's Believe It of Not!' and a plethora of shopping opportunities and many other amusements. Keeping with the naturalistic feel of your visit, there are the Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Conservatory and the Bird Kingdom." -- AOL Travel
  • You can see the falls up close and travel back in time for a glimpse of its 12,000-year-old history with Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic, on the six-story IMAX screen. The Daredevil Adventure Gallery chronicles the expeditions of those who have tackled the falls." -- Fodor's

Shopping

The Niagara Falls area isn't exactly known for its shopping. However, the Prime Outlets at Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall are a short drive east of the falls in New York. For local creations, head to the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center closer to the falls but still in New York, where the area's artists have studios and sell their wares.

  • Sometimes malls and shopping centers are the most convenient options, but be sure to check out Niagara Falls's downtown or historic districts to find the most unusual gifts and trinkets, art, antiques, and clothing." -- 10 Best

Nightlife

On both sides and further out from the falls are casinos for those who want to test their luck. Major casinos include the Casino Niagara and the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Ontario and the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel in New York.

  • The drinking age in Canada is 19, and most clubs there cater to the younger (read: much younger) set. ... If Vegas-like shows are your thing, you'll be in heaven in the Seneca Events Center (at the Seneca Niagara Casino), 310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls (tickets tel. 716/852-5000), where you'll find big names like Bill Cosby and Aretha Franklin, or hit the other bars in this huge complex." -- Frommer's
  • There are many clubs in Niagara Falls such as Rumours, Pumps. Pumps is always packed, Daily Planet is always a great time. ... The Croft Lounge, at the Best Western Cairn Croft on Lundy's Lane, is for the older crowd. Try staying close by at The Carriage House, or enjoy a 24-hour delicious meal at The Tropicana Inn." -- Trip Advisor

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