Niagara Falls Travel Guide

Canada  #1 in Best Family Vacations in Canada
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Niagara Falls Area Map

Neighborhoods

Niagara Falls is three separate waterfalls that straddle the U.S.-Canada border; the American and Bridal Veil 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. If you're having trouble deciding, several of the region's top guided tours make stops on both sides of the 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 smallest of the three waterfalls, Bridal Veil 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 most impressive of the three is 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 up close to 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 Ontario that is not unlike a miniature 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 located in this neighborhood, as well as a few golf courses. This is also where you'll find the Niagara SkyWheel.

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.

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