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 188-foot waterfall at about 20 to 30 (and up to 68) mph, your mouth will drop. The speed at which the river falls creates a misty fog and an unmistakable roar heard from miles away. From the top, crowds flock to the railings to feel the mist on their faces. As you follow the water's path downward, boats, platforms and observation decks support colorful poncho-clad visitors.
Over the years, Niagara has gone from classic honeymoon spot to cheesy honeymoon spot and, now, it's an odd mix of the two. In addition to the stunning waterfalls, there is a large concentration of quickie wedding chapels and hotels backlit in blaring neon. But strolling through the icewine vineyards of the nearby Inniskillin Winery is truly romantic, as is enjoying the lush landscape at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. So hop in the two-seater with your special someone or pack your family in the minivan and take a spectacular trip to the majestic Niagara Falls.
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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 rest 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. Plus, the free Discover Niagara Shuttle is in full operation during the summer season, making it easy to get from one attraction to another. Spring and fall welcome fewer tourists thanks to the plummeting temps, but there are a few advantages to each season. Fall constitutes harvest season at local wineries, while spring's warming temperatures usher in colorful blooms at the botanical gardens. Winter sees below-freezing temperatures, causing many attractions, such as the Maid of the Mist boat tours, to shut down. However, the frigid climate does drive down hotel rates.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
Niagara Falls harbors a history dating back thousands of years. The falls themselves were formed by the Wisconsin Glacier during the ice age, and the area was settled by numerous groups, including the Iroquois Native American nations, the French and the British. Visitors can learn more about Niagara Falls' history at the several museums and historical sites in the area, including Old Fort Niagara.
U.S. travelers will feel a sense of familiarity crossing over into the Canadian half of Niagara Falls. Although Canada has two official languages, English is more prevalent than French in Niagara Falls.
The official currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar (CAD). One Canadian dollar is roughly equivalent to one U.S. dollar. Businesses on the Ontario side of the falls will accept American currency, but you may want to trade in your U.S. dollars for Canadian ones to capitalize on the exchange rate. Similar to the United States, it is customary to leave a 15 to 20 percent tip for quality service at restaurants, though larger groups will find it included in the fee. A small tip is also appreciated for hotel workers. All major credit cards are accepted.
As is the case with large tourist attractions, you'll find plenty of chain restaurants clustered around the falls. But if you're on the hunt for a unique meal that shows off the region's flavors (and wine), you won't be disappointed. If a farm-to-table menu is what you're after, AG, Weinkeller and Tide & Vine are popular for their reliance on local ingredients. For something more casual, try Piccadilly Restaurant, which receives praise for its fish and chips. Along with fish and chips, you'll notice many of the Canadian restaurants borrow traditions from the U.K. Nowhere is this more evident than at the popular Queen Charlotte Tea Room. This family-owned outpost is beloved for its hospitable staff and menu of English classics, including bangers and mash, coronation chicken and, of course, high tea.
Some travelers argue that the Ontario side of the falls offers a better selection of restaurants, but if you'd rather stay on the New York side, you can still find some delicious, traveler-approved eateries. The restaurant at the Red Coach Inn is popular with visitors for its upscale pub fare and quaint atmosphere. The Griffin Gastropub offers a similar vibe as does the Third Street Retreat. For a more formal experience, try Savor, Wine on Third or Bakery Restaurant and Lounge.
Although it welcomes a large number of tourists every year, Niagara Falls is still a relatively small and safe town. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use common sense. Keep a close eye on your personal items, especially in more crowded areas. You'll also want to exercise some caution around the falls themselves. They produce a large amount of mist, which can impose a slippery film on the walkways surrounding the falls. Wear shoes with traction, and hold on to the rails to avoid slipping.
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. What's more, attractions are generally close together and within walking distance of one another. If your feet are feeling a bit weary, you can hop on the area's efficient (and free) Discover Niagara Shuttle. Having a car can make your trip more stressful, since roads are prone to congestion and parking is very expensive.
If you're not driving in from a nearby city, you'll likely fly into Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), which sits about 30 miles southeast of the falls. Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) is located much closer to the falls (less than 10 miles), but it only operates flights from Spirit and Allegiant departing or arriving from southeastern U.S. cities, such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, among others. There are shuttles from both airports to both sides of the falls, plus rental cars, taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft can be utilized to and from the airports.See details for Getting Around
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At Niagara Falls, you can cross from the U.S. into Canada (and vice versa) over the Rainbow Bridge, though all persons (including children) must have a passport or proof of identity. No matter how you cross (on foot, by bike or by car), you'll also be expected to pay a small toll. For children, a birth certificate will suffice. Visit the Canada Border Services Agency website for the latest information on foreign exit and entry requirements.
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