Niagara Falls is considered a natural wonder and is actually the combination of three waterfalls; Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
Last month I began my New York adventures by flying into the Buffalo/Niagara airport. I just couldn’t be this close to the most powerful waterfalls in North America and NOT go visit! So I took an extra day to spend at Niagara Falls and see how much I could in 24 hours. These 10 things prove that you don’t need a long time in a destination to have an amazing time!
Hike one of the gorge trails
The Niagara Gorge Rim trail runs 7.62 miles along the Niagara River and the Devil’s Hole and Whirlwind Rapids trails are great hikes that take you down to the river to see the raging rapids. With limited time, I chose to walk along the top of the rim trail to get a glimpse at the blue waters of the Niagara River to kick my day off. But if you plan to get up earlier for a more epic hike, the Devil’s Hole Trail is a 2.07 mile out and back trail and the Whirlwind Rapids Trail is 1.70 miles, so totally doable as part of your day.
2. Learn the history at the Niagara Adventure Theater
Before I headed over to experience the falls for myself, I took in the 30-minute film at the Niagara Adventure Theater. Hearing the history of the falls, the legends behind it, and the stories of those who went over it, it was a great way to get a grasp for the power of Niagara Falls. This is all a part of the Discovery Pass package which I HIGHLY recommend as it’s only $46 for adults and you get 5 attractions with it.
3. Ride the trolley to save time!
The trolley is a godsend when you’re trying to see it all in one day! I discovered this service WAY too late in my day but it really helped me get around. The trolley also picks up at the FREE parking lot by the Discovery Center and Aquarium and is part of the Discovery Pass package for unlimited rides! (Otherwise it’s $3 a ride). As an added bonus the trolley driver is like your own personal tour guide giving facts and stories about the falls along the way!
4. Check out the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
The Discovery Center offers an interactive experience learning about the falls with information and displays all around. It’s also known as the Schoellkopf Geological Museum and you can tour the power plant ruins. I highly recommend parking here and enjoying the Museum and the Aquarium (both a part of the Discover Pass) across the street and then taking the trolley over to the main falls area.
5. View the falls from the Observation Tower
How have I been the falls before and NEVER seen the incredible view from the Observation Tower!!! Because it’s where the Maid of the Mist entrance is, I think a lot of people assume you need to purchase the boat tour ticket to get this view. While it IS included with the Maid of the Mist, on it’s own it’s only $1.25 to just walk out onto the Observation Tower and take in the views. The tower extends out over the Niagara Gorge and it is the only place to get a panoramic view of all three waterfalls. As an added bonus, you can take the elevator down to the base of the gorge and climb up the stairs to the Crows Nest and get up close and personal to the falls.
6. RIDE THE MAID OF THE MIST!
I had been to Niagara Falls a few times as a kid but I don’t think I’ve ever truly experienced of appreciated the falls until seeing them straight on on the Maid of the Mist boat tour! The Maid of the Mist has been around since 1846. This incredible boat tour takes you along the Niagara River right up next to all three waterfalls. Standing in the middle of Horseshoe Falls, feeling it’s incredible spray, and hearing the thundering waterfall is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had!
7. DO CAVE OF THE WINDS!
If the Maid of the Mist is a 10 in awesome experiences, Cave of the Winds is a 15! Feeling the spray is incredible but standing under it…EPIC! The great thing is with the Discovery Pass you get BOTH (did I mention you should get a Discovery Pass). Cave of the Winds takes you down the river under the American Falls and as you walk up the stairs there are different platforms to stand on and feel it’s power. At Hurricane Deck, you can stand within feet of the crashing falls getting pounded with the spray. It’s truly an exhilarating experience! I couldn’t get enough and kept heading back under!
8. Head to the Canadian side and take in some nightlife
Well, leave it to me to accidentally book a hotel in another country! Niagara Falls is on the border on the United States and Canada and both sides offer epic views and adventures. So if you come with your passport, whether accidentally or on purpose, make sure you hit both sides! The Canadian side offers a more straight on view of the falls and the nightlife is hopping filled with a carnival like atmosphere.
9. Check out a brewery or winery
Both New York AND Ontario are quickly becoming known for their craft beers and delicious wines. The region offers an ideal climate for both growing hops and producing grapes. On the Canadian side, I headed to Silversmith Brewery where not only was the food and beer on point, but the atmosphere and locals made for a great night! This old church is full of rustic charm between the bar made from wood of an old barn around the corner, to the balcony where the church organ used to play, this was a unique and awesome introduction into the regions craft beer!
10. Watch the light show
Every night, Niagara Falls is turned into a multi-colored wonder as lights hit the falls and make them seemingly change colors. From the Canadian side, you can watch as all three waterfalls are lit up and change brights reds, blues, greens, and more. It was the perfect end to one incredible day!
Check out the full video below!!!