The 12 Best Niagara Falls Tours

Explore one of North America's most impressive natural sights and the surrounding region on a tour.

U.S. News & World Report

The 12 Best Niagara Falls Tours

Best Niagara Falls Tours

For many visitors to Niagara Falls, a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat is a must-do.(Courtesy of Maid of the Mist)

A trip to the otherwordly Niagara Falls is a bucket list experience for many travelers. But knowing where to go and the best way to experience the falls, as well as other attractions in the area, can be overwhelming. With that in mind, U.S. News selected the best Niagara Falls tours based on traveler recommendations and expert input. Whether you want to feel the rush of spray on your face or admire the falls from the air, these 12 tours will help you make the most of your visit.

See Sight Tours – Day and Night Tour of Niagara Falls

An ideal choice if you only have one day to see the falls, this eight-hour tour allows you to observe this natural wonder from a variety of perspectives. You'll view the falls from the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek with the Journey Behind the Falls, and take two cruises – one during the day and one in the evening to view the nighttime light show. In the summer, you'll also enjoy nightly fireworks. Tours depart daily at 3 p.m. Tickets, which include a three-course dinner and pickup and drop-off at Ontario hotels, start at $284 for adults 13 and older, $229 for kids ages 5 to 12 and $64 for children 4 and younger. Tourgoers say guides are knowledgeable and applaud the small group size and delicious dinner. See Sight Tours also offers helicopter tours along with separate tours of the U.S. and Canadian sides of the falls.

Hornblower Niagara Cruises – Voyage to the Falls Tour

This 20-minute tour offers a close-up view of the American and Horseshoe falls as well as the breathtaking Great Gorge. The tour is accompanied by an audio commentary and includes access to the Hornblower Niagara Funicular for panoramic views of the falls. Tourgoers say this is a must-do and describe the experience as exhilarating. They also warn that you'll need to wear the ponchos provided by the company as you'll definitely get wet. Tours depart every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day with evening options mid-May through mid-October. Tickets start at CA$29 (about $23) for adults, about CA$19 (approximately $15) for children ages 5 to 12. The ride is free for children 4 and younger. Hornblower also offers a fall fireworks cruise.

Gray Line – Niagara Falls Evening Illumination Tour

For a different perspective of the falls, consider this evening tour from Gray Line. The four-hour tour includes stops at the Journey Behind the Falls, the Floral Clock and the Niagara Whirlpool. Plus, you'll have the chance to observe the falls from atop the 775-foot Skylon Tower after the sun sets and the evening light show begins. Reviewers rave about the guides, who they say provide informative and entertaining commentary throughout. The tour, which runs May through October, costs approximately $115 for adults and approximately $80 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids 4 and younger can join for free. Tours depart at either 5:30 or 6 p.m., depending on where your hotel is located. Gray Line offers a variety of Niagara Falls tours, including daytrips from New York City.

Grape Escape Wine Tours – Afternoon Vehicle Tour

Experience the vineyards of Niagara on this tour that includes visits to four wineries in the region. Itineraries vary daily, but tourgoers can expect to visit one large winery, as well as three boutique wineries with a behind-the-scenes tour at one location, as well as a cheese tasting. Participants will taste at least 12 wines, including the region's famous ice wine, and a tour guide will accompany them throughout. Tourgoers compliment both the guides and the wine. Tours, which pick up from local hotels and welcome up to 20 participants, depart daily at 1:15 p.m. and return between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from approximately CA$84 to CA$99 (around $65 to $76), depending on the pickup location. The company also offers bike tours of Niagara wineries, as well as gourmet lunch and dinner winery tours.

Niagara Vintage Wine Tours – Full Day Tour Lunch Package

Pair some of the Niagara region's top wineries with a gourmet lunch on this daylong tour. Groups of two to 14 participants will set off in the company's Mercedes-Benz vehicles after pickup at local hotels between 9 and 10 a.m. The six- to seven-hour tour stops at four wineries and includes 12 to 16 tastings, winery tours and a barrel cellar tour. What's more, tourgoers get to enjoy a three-course lunch at a private table in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Reviewers say they learn about wine and area history, and rave about the lunch. Tickets cost approximately $101 per person, not including tax. Niagara Vintage Wine Tours also offers half-day winery tours and beer and distillery tours, among others.

Niagara Helicopters offers tourists a chance to see the beauty of the falls from the air.(Courtesy of Niagara Helicopters)

Niagara Helicopters – Classic Tour

If you'd like to see the grandeur of Niagara Falls from above, don't miss this excursion with Niagara Helicopters. The 12-minute flight takes you along the Niagara River to the falls, over Rainbow Bridge and the Niagara Whirlpool, with a prerecorded audio commentary accompanying your ride throughout. You may even be able to see Toronto and Lake Erie on a clear day, according to Niagara Helicopters. Flights depart daily from 9 a.m. to 5 or 7 p.m., depending on the season. Tickets start at CA$149 (about $115) for adults and CA$92 (about $70) for kids ages 3 to 12; children 2 and younger ride for free. Travelers rave about the views and say they learned a fair amount of history from the onboard commentary. Many also commented on the crew's attention to safety. Niagara Tours also offers wine tours and charter flights.

Maid of the Mist

To enjoy a close-up view of the falls, book a trip on the iconic Maid of the Mist. This famous tour, which has been in operation since 1846, takes riders from the observation tower to the American and Horseshoe falls for a 20-minute ride on a double-decker boat. You'll be given a hooded rain poncho, though you should still expect to get wet, according to reviewers. Tourgoers describe the ride as breathtaking and beautiful. Tours operate from late May through early November from 9 or 10 a.m. to between 4 and 8 p.m. daily, depending on the time of the year. Tickets cost approximately $19 for adults and $11 for children 6 to 12; children 5 and younger ride for free.

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National Helicopters – Niagara Grand Tour

The Niagara Grand Tour takes travelers on a 20-minute helicopter ride over Niagara Falls and the surrounding region to discover sights like the Niagara wine country, Brock's Monument, the whirlpool rapids and more. The tour also makes a second pass over the falls for maximum views and spectacular photo ops for passengers on both sides of the helicopter. Tickets start at $145 per person for up to six passengers and cost as much as $215 per person for one passenger. Children must be 2 years old to join the tour, which runs every half-hour daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tourgoers describe the ride as exhilarating, breathtaking and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. National Helicopters also offers winery tours, sunset flights and wedding packages.

Over the Falls Tours – Canadian Side Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Ideal for travelers based on the Canadian side of the falls, this five-hour excursion includes a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat and a stop at Skylon Tower for a bird's-eye view of the falls, among other highlights. Since the Maid of the Mist tour departs from the U.S. side, passports are required. Reviewers say the guides are impressive, calling them engaging and entertaining. They also add that the tour is a great way to see the best of the falls in a short amount of time. Tickets, which must be booked in advance, cost approximately $130 per adult and about $85 for children ages 5 to 12. Children 4 and younger can join for free. Tours are available April through November up to three times per day. Evening tours and tours of the American side are also available.

BG Tours Canada – Toronto to Niagara Falls Day Tour

If you're in Toronto and want to take a leisurely daytrip to Niagara Falls, consider this bus tour from BG Tours Canada. The tour, which departs from Toronto at 8:45 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m., visits the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and a Niagara winery before arriving in Niagara Falls for three hours of free time. Reviewers praise the guides, who they say provide excellent recommendations for making the most of your falls visit. However, others say three hours is not enough free time given the crowds at the falls. Tours are capped at 24 participants. Tickets start at CA$69 (about $53) for adults and CA$59 (around $45) for kids 4 to 11; children 3 and younger can tour for free. Hotel pickup can be arranged for an additional fee.

Bedore Tours – All American Adventure Tour

This four-hour tour highlights some of the top attractions on the American side of the falls, including a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist boat, the opportunity to walk the wooden decks at the Cave of the Winds, a visit to Goat Island for a view of Horseshoe Falls and a stop at Whirlpool State Park. Reviewers compliment the guides and appreciate the convenience of seeing all of the top sights on the American side. Tickets cost approximately $110 per adult and approximately $80 for children ages 5 to 12. Children 4 younger can join for free, but must sit on the lap of an adult. Transportation and admission to all attractions are included. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The tour departs at 10 a.m. daily with optional pickup from select local hotels. The company also offers Niagara Falls tours from New York City, as well as an evening tour of the falls with lights, among other options.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours – Niagara Falls

If you're looking for a thrilling ride on class V whitewater rapids, travelers say you can't go wrong with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. You'll venture along the Niagara River to the Niagara Gorge and then the Niagara Whirlpool in a Wet Jet or Jet Dome (which keeps you dry) at speeds up to 55 mph. Keep in mind: This tour does not go to Niagara Falls. Reviewers say the tour is fun, but caution that you should plan to get soaked if you're riding in a Wet Jet boat. Tickets for the 45-minute tour cost approximately $70 per adult and $45 for children 12 and younger, though kids must be at least 44 inches tall to take the Wet Jet tour or 40 inches tall for the Jet Dome tour. The tour departs from multiple locations, including Lewiston, New York.

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Lyn Mettler, Contributor

Lyn Mettler has written for U.S. News since 2014 covering a range of travel topics, including ...  Read more

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