As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of North America, Niagara Falls sees millions of visitors every year. People come from all over the world to marvel at the sheer power and beauty of this natural spectacle that sits on the border shared by Canada and the United States. Whilst the falls themselves are definitely the main draw, there are plenty of things to do in the area that help you enjoy fantastic views and have a memorable holiday. Here are some of the best activities to add to your to-do list.
Maid of the Mist/Hornblower Cruises
The company which takes you closer than anyone else to the Horseshoe Falls will depend upon which side of Niagara you visit. The famous Maid of the Mist boats depart from American soil, whilst anyone visiting the Canadian side can climb aboard a Hornblower cruise. There are very few differences between the two experiences (save for the colour of the poncho you are given and the Maid of the Mist being slightly smaller, so the choice is likely to depend on which side you are staying.
You will sail past the American and Bridal Veil Falls to the base of the Horseshoe, where the boat gently bobs about for a few minutes. Whilst the onboard PA system educates you regarding this natural phenomenon, you can watch on in awe as you feel the power of the mist and the wind. There’s no better way to truly appreciate Niagara’s force.
Tickets for the Maid of the Mist can be bought on their own or as part of the Niagara Discovery Pass (featuring five activities on the American side of the falls). Hornblower tickets can also be bought separately or as part of the Niagara Adventure Pass (featuring activities on the Canadian side of the falls).
If you’re looking for uninterrupted views and an adrenaline rush, the zipline is definitely for you. This is one of the newest attractions in Niagara and is situated on the Canadian side of the falls. Sitting in a comfortable, hammock-like harness, you will travel a distance of 670 metres at speeds of around 40mph. The zipline runs through the gorge, parallel to the American Falls, and offers unrivalled views of the Horseshoe Falls. Top tip: book and fill out your waiver online so you can skip the queues on the day.
Whirlpool Cable Car
Proving there is plenty of fun to be had away from the waterfalls, the Whirlpool Aero Car is another thrilling experience. Upstream, where the turbulent Niagara River rages in a series of whirlpools, you can travel across the gorge in an antique cable car (it’s made to look that way and isn’t really that old). As you travel smoothly through the air, on a return journey, you can look down at the white water and the jet boats playfully riding the crests of the waves.
Cable car riders are asked to rotate around the car on the way back, so everybody gets to enjoy the view from both sides. The Whirlpool Aero Car can be added to your Niagara Adventure Pass and can be reached via the local Wego bus service.
Journey Behind The Falls
If you are looking for a different perspective of the Horseshoe Falls, this amazing attraction definitely provides it. A lift takes you down to the bottom of the waterfall, where you can walk through tunnels that have been carved into the gorge behind it. Information plaques line the walls of the tunnel, providing interesting information regarding the history and the various daredevil attempts to conquer Niagara.
As you make your way along the walkways, you can peer out at the cascading water through large holes in the cliff face. You can feel the rumble of the water and hear its power, proving you are directly behind this natural wonder. There is also a lower-level outdoor viewing platform where you can get just as close to the base of the Horseshoe as the sightseeing boats. This is another attraction included in the Niagara Adventure Pass.
Explore Clifton Hill
If you have ever been on holiday to Blackpool or Great Yarmouth, you will know exactly what to expect from Clifton Hill. Located two minutes from the Hornblower Cruises dock on Niagara Parkway, this area features a range of amusement arcades, rides, shops and snack huts that will keep everyone busy for a few hours at least. It may look a little tacky and commercialised at first, but you’ll soon see how much fun it can be and you’ll likely find yourself swept along in the atmosphere.
Even if you don’t purchase anything or pay for any of the attractions, it’s interesting to walk up one side of the hill and down the other to see everything up close. From mini-golf courses and 4-d rollercoasters to an upside down house and more haunted mansions than you can shake a spooky stick at, there is so much to do for all the family.
Bonus: Watch The Fireworks From Your Hotel
If there’s one recommendation we have to make, it’s to stay in one of the hotels that overlook the falls. There are many different options that claim to offer this, with differing levels of success, but being able to gaze at the falls from your balcony or through a floor-to-ceiling window will make your trip unforgettable.
Booking one of these will also give you a front row seat for the regular firework displays that take place in the summer. You can avoid the crowds and watch the show from the comfort of your own room. There’s nothing better than falling asleep to the soft sound of rushing water and waking up to the magnificent sight of Niagara Falls every morning.
If you would like to visit Niagara Falls, we have a range of different tour packages available or we can help you plan a trip of your own making. Call 0800 021 3237 or drop by and speak to one of our team in our Ipswich or Woodbridge travel agents.