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For decades, thousands of Americans, Canadians, and visitors from around the globe have traveled to Niagara Falls to experience the place where four of the Great Lakes converge and flow into the stunning Niagara River Gorge. The park is open 365 days a year, making it extremely accessible and perfect for a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation. Whether you’re strictly in it for the water, or you’re planning a family trip to Niagara State Park (American side) or Ontario (Canadian side), here are a few things you should know as you begin to book your trip.
Check Out the Views From Canada
Believe it or not, the best views of the American Falls are actually from Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Here you can get sweeping views of not only the American Falls, but also Bridal Veil Falls (also on the American side) and Horseshoe Falls (which lie on the Canadian-American border). Don’t forget your passport! You’ll need it to enter Canada, no questions asked.
Wear Clothes You Can Get Wet
Maybe this goes without saying but we will say it—if you get anywhere near the falls, you’re going to get wet. If you want to stay dry, you can certainly don one of those stylish plastic ponchos, but be sure to protect your phone, cameras, and any technology you bring along to document the experience.
Do Some Vineyard Hopping
Lucky for all those wine-o’s, both Western New York and Southern Ontario are home to small but buzzing vineyard scenes, thanks to the accommodating lakeside climate. Do some research before and pick out a few vineyards to visit—you can expect small, local wineries that produce grapes like riesling and chardonnay, and offer some seriously gorgeous views of the rolling hills and vines beyond. It’s also worth looking into special vineyard tours and wine festivals, depending on what time of year you’re visiting.
Budget for Lines and Book Ahead
If you’re planning your visit between June and August, you certainly won’t be alone, as summer is the peak season for travel to the Falls—on either side. The Canadian side tends to get a little more crowded, thanks to those breathtaking views of the American Falls, but don’t let that stop you. You can have a wonderful stay on either side, but be sure to spend time booking tours, hotels, and restaurant reservations a few months in advance to beat the lines.
See Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds
If you want to get up-close and personal with the falls, we recommend embarking on a Maid of the Mist boat (small ferries that depart from the river on both the Canadian and American sides) that carry passengers into the Niagara Gorge for excellent views of Horseshoe Falls (quick tip: wear a poncho and pack dry socks!). Another adventure is Cave of the Winds on the American side, which guides guests 175 feet down into the gorge by way of wooden footpaths that wind behind Bridal Veil Falls—it’ll be blustery down there!
Take a Hike Through Niagara Falls State Park
If you decide to hang out on the American side of the falls, you’ll certainly get your fill of natural beauty. This 400-acre park is the oldest in the United States—and arguably one of the finest. Aside from the obvious draw of the falls, there are tons of things to do to get the most out of your Niagara trip within the park. Wander along the cliffside trails to hear the thundering rush of the water below, hop on the Niagara Scenic Trolley, watch a firework show from the Observation Tower—the list goes on. If you purchase a Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass, you can get admission to Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds, unlimited rides on the trolley, entrance to attractions like the aquarium, and savings on local dining and shopping.