Though Niagara Falls is utterly unique — being among the largest waterfalls in the world and certainly the most accessible one — it has become a destination like Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon, where people feel obligated to visit but don’t truly take in the sights and sounds. In truth, Niagara Falls is gorgeous, offering one-of-a-kind scenery and opportunities for fun and excitement that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. If you want to make the most of your Niagara vacation, here are the absolute best things to do, so you can leave feeling fulfilled by your trip.
The Best Hotels
Accommodations matter in Niagara Falls; the right hotel room will significantly improve your experience, while the wrong hotel room could cause your vacation to fall flat. Instead of staying on the American side, you should book a stay on the Canadian side, ideally in a larger resort hotel where you can grab a room with views of the falls. Even better, most of the hotels on the Canadian side are located smack-dab in the middle of the tourism action, so you can sleep, eat and explore Niagara Falls and the surrounding region without worrying much about transportation.
For affordable rooms with amazing amenities, consider Niagara Falls’ best hotels:
• Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls
• Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls
• Marriott on the Falls
• Sheraton on the Falls
• Skyline Hotel
Each of these hotels boasts outstanding restaurants and attractions — and they are just steps from the falls themselves. It’s worth it to pay a bit more for a falls-view room, so you can see and hear the falls during your entire trip to Niagara Falls.
The Best Falls Views
While your hotel room should have a picturesque view, this shouldn’t be your only way to see the falls. There are a number of vantage points from which you can enjoy the natural wonder of the falls. These include:
• Queen Victoria Park. A green space along the Canadian side of the Niagara River, Queen Victoria Park is crammed with visitors during the busy summer months because it provides some of the most iconic views of the falls. Visiting the park is free, and you’ll likely end up back here several times during your trip.
• Journey Behind the Falls. Another popular tourist attraction — but one well-worth the ticket price — takes you deep underground through tunnels built behind and below the falls. You’ll emerge near the base of the falls, where you will gain a unique view of the thundering waters.
• Niagara River cruise. The Maid of the Mist is the most famous (and longest operating) cruise up the Niagara River, but on the Canadian side you can also book space on the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. These boats take you to the base of the falls, where the mists are strong.
• Skylon Tower or Niagara SkyWheel. Both Skylon Tower and the SkyWheel take you up and above Niagara Falls, providing a birds-eye view of the area. Skylon Tower offers a larger panorama of the region, but the SkyWheel is a fun and romantic ride in addition to a viewing space.
• Rainbow Bridge. Many visitors neglect to view the falls from Rainbow Bridge, which connects the American and Canadian sides of the falls. This is a toll bridge, but you can bike and walk the bridge for a lower rate — and greater enjoyment of the view.
The Best Attractions
When you’ve enjoyed more than an eyeful of the falls, you can let loose and have some fun. Against the backdrop of the falls, the city boasts more than its share of entertainment, and there is always something new for you to do. Here are some of the best activities in the area, so you can fill your vacation with amusement as well as wonder.
• Clifton Hill. Like a family-friendly Sunset Strip, Clifton Hill includes shops, restaurants, arcades and more to keep you entertained for hours.
• Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. Farther down the Niagara River is the whirlpool rapids, a class-VI white water that is off-limits to paddlers. You can still experience the thrill of the rapids aboard the jet boat tours, which journey down Niagara Gorge.
• Whirlpool Aero Car. If you prefer air to water, you can experience the whirlpool rapids from above, in an antique cable car that travels to and fro the sides of the Niagara Gorge.
There’s obviously much more to do than this — you can venture into Niagara wine country, enjoy a day at a Niagara Falls spa or focus on the historical significance of Niagara Falls at any of the area’s museums — but if you want the best Niagara Falls vacation, one devoted to the falls themselves, these items must go on your itinerary.