Best Things To Do in Niagara Falls
The waterfalls are the main attraction here, and there’s a range of ways to see them: from their foot on the legendary Maid of the Mist boat tours; from behind in caves accessible by elevator; from the sky hovering in helicopters; or gazing from observation towers. Taking one of the best tours in Niagara Falls is yet another way to view this natural wonder. But away from the falls, both the New York and Canadian sides offer various activities to keep visitors entertained. The area also hosts several family-friendly attractions, including Old Fort Niagara and the Niagara SkyWheel. If you don’t have kids in tow, try your luck at the Niagara Fallsview Casino or sample some of the area’s famous ice wine at the Inniskillin Winery.
Why Go To Niagara Falls
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 ice wine 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.
Culture & Customs
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.
What to Eat
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
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.
Getting Around Niagara Falls
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.
Entry & Exit Requirements
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.