Visiting Niagara Falls means that you are experiencing the largest waterfalls in North America. They were the first designated State Park in the US, when they were given the designation in 1885. Three separate falls make up Niagara Falls – Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. Niagara Falls draws around 33 million visitors a year and is especially busy during the warmer months. In the early 1900s, Niagara Falls became known as the Honeymoon capital of the world.
The Canadian side offers a Better View of Niagara Falls
A rivalry over which side offers the best views is real, though many believe that the Canadian side offers superior views of the falls. This is because when you are on the Canadian side you look directly over at the section called the US falls, which are stunning. That being said, if the line is long to cross the bridge over to Canada, there is plenty to enjoy from the US side.
You can still catch the Maid of the Mist, a boat that takes you up close and personal to the falls! We took the boat ride prior to our most recent visit to Niagara Falls. Also, you are a lot closer to the falls on the US side and you’re able to really feel the power of all that water gushing through the falls.
There is also Goat Island, no actual goats live on this island, sorry folks! The island is wedged between the Horseshoe and American Falls. You can get surprisingly close to the water and rapids while enjoying beautiful views. Finally, the Cave of the Winds is on the US side. Here you can venture down to explore the base of the Bridal Veil falls via a series of boardwalks. Expect to get wet despite the plastic ponchos and sandals included in your admission price!
Great Italian American Restaurants and Bakeries in Niagara Falls
One last tip for visiting Niagara Falls on the USA side. I spent the first 8 years of my life living on the American side. While the area has seen better days due to many local businesses along Main Street closing, a childhood favorite remains Di Camillo Bakery. Swing by this bakery to pick up some treats! It’s a wonderful establishment to pick up fresh bread, pies, donuts, pizza, tomato pie and other pastries. Alex’s favorite childhood treat was their brownie. The original DiCamillo Bakery in Niagara Falls, NY is a throwback to Italian roots in Buffalo.
Drive or Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge
When crossing from either side, be sure you have all the appropriate documentation you need both for entering and returning. The toll for a pedestrian crossing is $1 from the Canadian side and for cars $3.75USD. The views from the bridge are beautiful, so consider crossing by foot. The length of the bridge is 950 feet, so it is a manageable walk for many.
Visit the Skylon Tower Observation Deck…
The Skylon Tower, at 71 stories high, offers incredible views over the entire Niagara area, including Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, Goat Island and Grand Island. In the other direction, you can even see the downtown Toronto skyline across Lake Ontario. It is absolutely worth visiting the Skylon Tower for the stunning views. The observation deck not only offers great views over Niagara Falls, but on clear day you can also see downtown Toronto across Lake Ontario in the opposite direction.
Pass on the Skylon Tower Restaurants!
There are two restaurants at the top of Skylon Tower. One has a 360-degree revolving dining room. The other is a buffet. If you eat at either restaurant you get free admission to the observation deck. We were recently visiting Niagara Falls for Canadian Thanksgiving and thought it would be fun to have a holiday meal with amazing views. Unfortunately, while the restaurant serving the buffet can offer patrons stunning views. But this is only if you’re fortunate to get a good table, like we were, and the food is subpar.
Reviews for both restaurants are not very good and as the observation deck only costs $13.95 Canadian, so you’re better off eating elsewhere and just paying the observation deck fee. Alex has childhood memories of eating at the revolving dining room on Skylon Tower so that’s the reason we dined atop the tower for Canadian Thanksgiving.
Light show over Niagara Falls
When visiting Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side you can view the fireworks show occurring on select nights throughout the year. Be sure to check the schedule. But every night of the year the falls light up with beautiful colored lights that switch from solid colors to rainbow and various patterns. It is a mesmerizing sight to take in!
If you are planning a honeymoon at the falls, the tourism office can give you a certificate signed by the Niagara Falls Mayor as a souvenir!
Hydro Power: Tesla vs Edison
For the history buffs, there is a rich history of hydro power in the area. In 1895, Nikola Tesla built the world’s first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, harnessing the amazing power of the falls. Thomas Edison and Tesla had been engaged in a war of the currents and Tesla won. Tesler’s system, the alternating current (better known as AC) is what we use today. Edison had proposed the direct current system, which was less efficient. There was also doubt that Edison’s system could transmit power over long distances. A monument to Nikola Tesla on Goat Island pays tribute to his life.
Niagara on the Lake
A beautiful 30-minute drive from the Canadian side of the falls is the charming small town of Niagara on the Lake, which sits on Lake Ontario. Queen Street is lined with lovely small businesses to browse through or grab a coffee or hot apple cider at Victoria Teas and Coffees. The Angel Inn has a delicious selection of meals on their menu in a cozy pub. You can even book a room at the Inn, which is centrally located. Be sure to also take a walk along lovely Lake Ontario.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls offers a lot of accommodation options from luxury to budget. Many of the luxury options have views overlooking the falls. Here are a few great choices on both the American and Canadian sides. To cross the border between the United States and Canada you need a passport or an enhanced photo ID.
Niagara Falls, Canada
Several hotels in Niagara Falls, Canada, offer rooms with great views overlooking the falls. The Niagara Falls Marriott is one of them, with the conveniences that come with staying at a Marriott. The hotel is also very close to the Falls lookouts and attractions.
Kings Inn Near the Falls is a great budget choice to stay in Niagara Falls, Canada. We do not recommend for a Honeymoon in Niagara Falls! Accommodation is pretty basic but the rooms are clean and include mini-fridges and air conditioning and heating units you can control in your room. Parking is free and Niagara Falls is only around a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Kings Inn is the closest you can stay to Niagara Falls without paying for parking.
Niagara Falls, USA
The Giacomo also offers rooms with beautiful views from the US side and rooms are modern in this boutique hotel located close to the falls and attractions in the US. Or you can stay in Buffalo, and experience some more of Western New York!
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Writing by Alex Kallimanis
Photography by Bell Kallimanis
23 thoughts on “Niagara Falls: Expert Tips for Visiting”
Sounds like you had a fun visit! I’ve been to Niagara Falls but it’s been a long time… that’s interesting to hear that the Canadian side is considered the most beautiful, but the view is of the American side falls… let the rivalry continue, haha
Indeed on the rivalry! We love both sides for different reasons, and border crossing can be a pain. We’d love to visit when it gets a little frozen up 🙂
I frequently fly into Buffalo to visit friends in Canada and drive right by the falls but don’t typically stop (having already visited them a few times). I would love to go back though and was wondering if you had a recommendation of the one spot to go if you only have 1 or 2 hours. Thanks!
So depending on the time of day, but Skylon tower is well worth the time, but grab a bite elsewhere. If the weather is nice, grab some treats from Di Camillo and after checking out the views from the tower enjoy those treats in the Queen Victoria Park!
I haven’t visited Niagara falls in over 10 years! Loved the photos and all the tips!
Thank you! It’s a beautiful spot 🙂
I grew up nearby to Niagara and never knew how loved it was from travellers from all over the world. I totally agree that the best view is from the Canadian side!
It’s a beautiful area to call home! Yes, watching the falls from the Canadian side is mesmerizing!
I love visiting Niagara Falls. I agree the Canadian side is way better! I enjoyed doing the journey behind the falls. I also loved going to Niagara on the Lake.
There is a lot to do in the area and some really beautiful spots to just soak it all in as well! We also love it!
I love visiting Niagara Falls, have been a few times. On my last visit we ate at the buffet in Skylon Tower and I agree-the food is not that great and we were not able to get a window table so the views for us weren’t the greatest either. The observation deck was well worth it, but I agree I would skip the restaurant.
We’re sorry on the table, it was the one saving grace of our visit to the buffet. It’s really unfortunate that the food is just that bad because the views are amazing.
I did not know that they do a light show there, looks amazing! Great tip on visiting from the Canadian side for the best view, I probably would have just automatically travelled from the American side if I was staying there and not thought about it.
Always good to have your passport near the border! The light show was beautiful, we also saw a family a raccoons enjoying the show!
Great tips for Niagara Falls! I also agree that you should go across the bridge. And, while Canada by far has the best views, you can actually FEEL the falls on the US side.
Oh my the power generated on the US side is amazing, we agree and it’s definitely worth checking out!
I’ve been to Niagara Falls a few times, but have never seen fireworks there. That would be fantastic! Thanks for the tip about the restaurants at the top of the tower. Good to know.
Yes, avoid it. It’s unfortunate to have to say that about the buffet. But there are better places to eat down on the ground and then go up!
Good to hear about the food at Skylon Tower. I was seriously considering going for the buffet. I absolutely loved going on the zipline down to the old power station.
Ohh we didn’t know there was a zipline there!! Thanks for the tip, we’ll have to keep it in mind on our next visit. But yes, give the buffet a skip and eat just about anywhere else. It’s really unfortunate the food is that bad.
Wow! I never seen Niagara falls in person with colorful lights like this. This must be beautiful when seen most especially during dusk. I can imagine how awe-inspiring it is… The falls glowing like a a curtain of light…
That is a beautiful way to describe the falls, and yes they are very awe-inspiring!