Planning your first visit to Niagara Falls? You’re in for a treat! Niagara Falls is one of the most fun, unique places we’ve ever visited in the U.S.
Want to plan an amazing afternoon at Niagara Falls U.S.? Get our insider tips here!
The Best Time to Visit Niagara Falls
Summer. The hotter the better. Being cold and wet is no fun. Embrace the July/August heat!
What to See at Niagara Falls
If you’re spending just a few hours at Niagara Falls State Park (U.S.), I highly recommend:
- Maid of the Mist ($18) and/or Cave of the Winds ($17)
- Observation Tower and Crow’s Nest ($1)
- walking paths around the top of the falls (free)
Maid of the Mist is the infamous boat ride around the bottom of the falls. Free poncho included. You will most definitely get wet (and it’s awesome). After the ride, hold on to your poncho, continue straight along the path and climb a series of stairs up into another mist zone, “Crow’s Nest,” next to the falls.
Cave of the Winds is a walking tour among the mist near the bottom of the falls. Free poncho and sandals included. You will also get wet here! (We didn’t actually do this activity, but it looked super fun, so if you have enough time and energy for a second soaking activity, give this a go!)
The Observation Tower gives you a panoramic view of all three Niagara Falls. Tower admission includes use of the elevator, which you can take down to the base of the gorge and climb the stairs to the Crow’s Nest mist zone. (Note: Elevator use is included with Maid of the Mist admission.)
Lastly, there are several walking paths to enjoy around the top of the American Falls, and we spent around an hour meandering around and taking photos. These paths will take you amongst various visitor buildings and viewpoints, and you’ll get a gorgeous view of the Canadian Falls at sunset!
Other activities I would have considered if we’d had more time:
- driving Rainbow Bridge over to the Canadian side of the Falls (don’t forget your passport!)
- going for a gorge hike (Niagara Gorge hikes begin at the Discovery Center’s Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center.)
What to Skip
The rest of the activities are more passive. Walking around indoors and reading, sitting and watching a film, etc. This includes:
- Discovery Center
These all sounded boring to me, so on the gorgeous hot day we experienced at Niagara Falls, we skipped those things. But if you’re looking for quieter activities, it’s great to have the option! (Also good alternatives if the weather isn’t great or it’s too chilly to get wet.)
If you’re a “do-ALL-the-things” sort of person, you can purchase a Discovery Pass — good for the Theater, Aquarium, Discovery Center, Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds — for $45/$34 (adults/kids). More info here.
Where to Park
There are four lots available for parking at Niagara Falls U.S., and you can find all the information you need, including current parking fees, on the parking page of the Niagara Falls State Park website. (It was $10/day when we visited in summer 2015.)
Where to Stay
The city of Niagara Falls is a little bit strange, and you won’t find much else to do here. We stayed about 30 minutes away in Buffalo, NY. (Tip: Check Hotwire for a good hotel deal in this area.)
Have you ever ridden the Maid of the Mist or walked through the Cave of the Winds? I’d love to hear if your experience was as awesome as ours was. Please share in the comments!