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How to Plan a Trip to Niagara Falls

How to Plan a Trip to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls are one of Mother Nature's spectacular wonders that definitely deserve a visit. But before you plan a trip to these falls, learn how to divide your trip between the American and Canadian side.
Neha Joshi
Quick Fact

Niagara Falls is a collective name given to three falls―American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. While the first two are located on the American side, the third is located on the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls are a sight to behold for the sheer volume of water that cascades down; a single look will leave you spellbound. The falls are located 17 miles from Buffalo, New York, and 75 miles from Toronto. Both American and Canadian cities that host these falls are called Niagara Falls, and are referred to as twin cities.
Prior information and planning is vital to enhance the experience of viewing this magnificent natural wonder. There is so much to see and do that an unplanned trip will leave you dumbfounded in no time. There are gardens, water parks, rides, and museums for the kids, while adults can have a ball at several nightclubs, golf courses, pubs, shopping centers, restaurants, and casinos. To make sure you have a great time at the falls, keep in mind each of these tips.
Nearest Airports
Buffalo-Niagara International Airport

John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport

*Niagara Falls International Airport (U.S.) is closer to the falls, but is served by just one commercial airline.
  • First things first. To cross the border from one side to another, citizens of both countries require valid passports. Other international visitors might even be asked to produce a visa.
  • Once you reach the airport, you can either hire a car, use the shuttle service, or walk. I advise you to use the shuttle service; you won't have to deal with parking problems or aching feet after walking.
  • For rides that take you close to the water, you will need a water-resistant camera along with lens cleaning equipment.
  • For a unique but expensive experience, you can choose to take a helicopter ride over the falls. There are several helicopter operators; choose one with care.
  • For certain rides, you're given a plastic poncho with a string to keep the hood in place. It is sufficient to cover a small backpack as well. Don't carry anything more than a small-sized backpack to ensure that your belongings don't get wet.
  • The Queen Victoria Park gives the most spectacular views of the falls from the Canadian side. Make sure you get some great shots here.
  • The falls are lit every night; special colors are used on certain occasions. The lighting usually lasts till midnight. Visit the Canadian side for better views. Also, try to get a better spot for viewing the lit falls during the peak season; reach a little before evening to do so.
  • Visiting the falls during the peak season is generally a bad idea. It can leave you tired and irritated. Instead, visit the falls just before the season begins.
  • Certain attractions such as Maid of Mist®, Whirlpool Jetboat, and Cave of the Wind are closed during winter months. Missing out on these is definitely a disadvantage.
  • Though the legal drinking age in Ontario is 19, in the United States it's 21. Avoid bars, pubs, and casinos if you're underage in the U.S.
  • If you're crossing the border from any of the three bridges―Rainbow, Whirlpool, or Lewiston-Queenston―don't forget to strictly follow the transit times.
  • There are several passes you can obtain from both sides. The Niagara Falls State Park's Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass is your best bet. Along with a movie called Niagara: Legends of Adventure, it covers Niagara Adventure Theater, Aquarium of Niagara, Cave of the Winds Trip, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, and the Maid of the Mist®.
  • Passes on the Canadian side are equally beneficial and can save you some money. The Adventure Pass, especially, includes access to the Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, the Butterfly Conservatory, a 1-day WEGO pass, along with other discounts.
A trip to the Niagara Falls can be truly memorable; it just needs better planning. With so many attractions to cover, a three- or four-day holiday would be sufficient. Have fun!