Niagara Falls is a gigantic waterfall straddling the US-Canadian border between the Ontario Province and New York State. While they are neither the steepest nor the largest waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls may arguably be the most famous, attracting nearly 20 million visitors each year. They have been variously described as enchanting and awe-inspiring, and since the 1850s, have been among the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls – Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the Falls, the American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side of the border. The Falls can be seen from many vantage points on both sides of the border. On the U.S. side, most of the best vantage points are located inside Niagara Falls National Park and numerous other attractions for visitors to the Falls. On the Canadian side, Queen Victoria Park offers trails and platforms offering spectacular views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls.
Where to best see the fallsThere are many places on both sides of the border from which to see the Falls, but a few are generally accepted as the best. Each of the following vantage points offers a unique perspective on one of the most beautiful wonders of the world.
The Canadian Vantage
The Maid of the Mist
Since the maiden voyage of the original Maid of the Mist in 1846, the Maid of the Mist ferry has carried millions of passengers into the basin to enjoy the thrill of a ride beneath Niagara Falls.
Journey Behind the Falls
Take an elevator down into the gorge, then make your way through a short tunnel to emerge on one of the two observation decks located behind the Horseshoe Falls. See Niagara Falls from the inside out and feel the thundering rush of the water. Journey Behind the Falls is a year-round attraction. In winter, the mist from the Falls freezes, encasing every building and tree in a glittering coat of ice – a spectacle so magical and splendid that it has to be seen to be appreciated.
The Whirlpool Aero Car
One of the most engaging and exciting experiences at Niagara is a ride on the Whirlpool Aero Car. The antique airborne cable car operates between two points on the Niagara River's Canadian side, pausing over the center to allow riders to watch one of the most intriguing natural phenomena of the Niagara Falls area. The rushing waters of the rapids suddenly reverse direction far beneath you, turning into a wild, roaring whirlpool. The ride takes about ten minutes and is a never-to-be-forgotten glimpse of nature at her finest.
Another unique experience, the Whitewater Walk, takes you down 70 meters via an elevator into the Niagara Gorge, where an exit tunnel lets you out onto the Boardwalk that travels alongside the Niagara River's rapids. The quarter-mile-long Boardwalk takes you along the Whirlpool Rapids, a class 6 whitewater rapids area where the water rushes by at about 48 kph (about 30 mph). Visitors can also climb the stairs to a pair of observation decks overlooking the rapids and the Whirlpool seen from above on the Aero Car.
Table Rock Center
Table Rock Center is the heart of Niagara Park on the Canadian side of the Falls. It stands on the lip of the spectacular semi-circular cascade of Horseshoe Falls. Besides observation decks and trails overlooking the Falls, Table Rock Center is home to many park amenities, including Table Rock Restaurant, located on the Center's upper floor. The main dining areas overlook Horseshoe Falls, adding the incredible dimension of natural beauty and awe to your family-style meal.
Nights at Niagara Falls
Wherever you choose to stay when you're in the Niagara Falls area, make it a point to be in view of the Falls at night when eighteen lights on the Canadian side and another three on the US side turn the sparkling rush of water into a living rainbow of spectacular light. Throughout the summer, visitors are also treated to fireworks over the Falls on the Canadian side several nights a week at 10 PM throughout the spring and summer season and during New Years' and holiday time.
The U.S. Vantage
The Cave of the Winds Tour
The Cave of the Winds Tour begins with an elevator descent of 175 feet into Niagara Gorge to the Bridal Veil Falls base. A tour guide leads visitors over wooden walkways to the Hurricane Deck, where you can stand less than twenty feet away from the rushing water. For a truly unique and amazing experience, take the Cave of the Winds Tour at night, and enjoy the illuminated rainbow of colors playing against the Falls from a vantage point that only a handful get to experience.
Niagara Falls Observation Tower
The Observation Tower extends out over the gorge to offer one of the Falls' most spectacular views from the U.S. side of the gorge. From the Observation Tower, visitors can take one of two glass elevators down to the boarding dock for the Maid of the Mist tour and enjoy the stunning view of the Falls as they descend 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge.
Niagara Falls Scenic Trolley
Winner of a 2006 Clean Air Excellence Award, the Niagara Scenic Trolley is an eco-friendly way to enjoy all the attractions of Niagara Falls State Park, including some of the best views Falls. The Trolley stops at six of the most popular park attractions, allowing visitors to enjoy the views and the activities while relaxing in comfort.
Get a different view of the Falls in the most comfortable setting possible – the Niagara Adventure Theater. The theater shows the Imax movie Niagara: Legends of Adventure on an hourly schedule. The movie brings you up close and personal to the explorers, adventurers, and daredevils who have made history at Niagara Falls. With all this in mind, Niagara Falls will surely give you a memorable "wow-ing" experience.