Trip to Niagara Falls in United States of America and Canada
Straddling in-between United States of America and Canada, the Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls - the Horseshoe falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls.
The falls is a must-visit as it is such a great and majestic scene. On our trip to New York, we decided that we had to visit the Niagara Falls even though it is quite out of the way! Niagara Falls is our first stop on our trip to the United States. Of course, if you are visiting Toronto, the Niagara Falls should be in your to-do list!
Which side of the Niagara Falls should you head to - United States or Canada?
This is the dilemma most would have after deciding to visit Niagara Falls. We did too! We've researched through many websites and blogs and decided to stay at the Canadian side, but visit both! :)
Niagara Falls on both sides have their own beauty, so let us analyse both!
Canadian Side of Niagara Falls
View of Waterfall (+)
The Canadian side of the falls is where you'll see the cascading waterfalls, as shown in the picture above!
Distance to the falls (-)
However, it is quite a far bit from the waterfalls so you don't really get to go up close and personal!
There is quite a bustling night life at the Canadian side. With casinos aplenty, as well as a small amusement park, it is definitely much better for the entire family in Canada!
Hotels on the Canadian side were much taller and closer to the falls than those on the United States side. You'll get a better view of the falls! That being said, United States are developing the areas close to the falls and there were many hotels that were in the midst of construction when we were there. So in a few years time, it may be good to stay at the newer hotels in the United States side of Niagara!
We stayed at Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview and Spa. Although it was on the other end of the entertainment side, we were closer to Journey Behind the Falls. It was also a quieter and more serene region away from the hustle and bustle of the Skywheel region. The other hotel we were contemplating was Sheraton on the Falls.
Marriott Fallsview and Spa features a huge room, with two double beds, perfect for families! And the view - is simply amazing (just check out our cover photograph!) Since we were travelling so far, we did pay a bit more and also requested for a room with the view of the fall. We paid about 204 CAD in total for the room with breakfast during low season!
United States side of Niagara Falls
View of Waterfall (+)
Unlike the frontal cascading waterfall view that the Canadian side offers, the American side of Niagara allows you to view the "drop" of the waterfall and the side profile just makes it look even more menacing!
Distance to the Waterfalls (+)
Here, you'll also get up close and personal with the falls, fighting the huge droplets of water splashing onto you as you walk closer to the falls!
Unfortunately, there isn't that much entertainment near the falls. Most of them require you to head closer to Buffalo city.
As mentioned previously, the hotels here are not as well-developed and commercialised as the ones on the Canadian side. They are, however, much more affordable though. You won't get an amazing view of the falls, but you can always make a trip to the falls in the day!
Stay at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, but still make a trip to the United States side for a different view of the falls! (and that is exactly what we did!)
How to get to Niagara Falls?
Next up on your planning to get to Niagara Falls would be how you would get there. The easiest way is to find the closest airport and we will cover the four!
1. Fly into Buffalo Airport, then drive / hire a driver to take you to Niagara Falls
After flying into New York, we rushed to make it for our domestic flight to Buffalo, New York.
We took JetBlue from New York to Buffalo. It was a short trip and I must say, we really did enjoy JetBlue's flight. Since we ran over from Terminal 7 to Terminal 4 of the John F. Kennedy Airport, we were extremely thirsty! JetBlue's kind staff gave us over 4 bottles of water after we quickly gulped down the two bottles that they gave.
After arriving at Buffalo Airport, our driver from Act 1 Transportation Shuttle picked us up at the Arrival area. We catered for a to-and-fro trip from Buffalo Airport as we didn't want to drive for just one day and definitely not after flying for close to 24 hours from Singapore to New York, and then to Buffalo! It was a short ride and for those who are looking to take a road trip, you may want to rent a car and drive to Niagara on your own!
We flew to Buffalo Airport because it was a more accessible airport when flying from other states in America. There are many airlines that fly to Buffalo Airport including the budget airlines like JetBlue, Southwest, and AirTran.
2. Fly into Niagara Falls Airport
This is the airport that is closest to Niagara Falls (about 15 minutes drive away) but only a few airlines serve this airport - Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air.
From the airport, you can then hire a driver, or just rent a car to get to your destination!
3. Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport
This airport is a major airport and if you are flying international flights and are travelling to Canada, this would be a good airport to land in without that many transfers. From the airport, there are a plethora of bus companies that will take you to the Niagara Falls region. Otherwise, you could rent a car to drive yourself to the hotel.
4. Fly into Hamilton International Airport in Hamilton, Ontario
This airport is closer to Niagara Falls than the Toronto Pearson International Airport. However, it has fewer flights and most of its flights are serving the Mexico - Ontario route.
Besides these four closest airports, another way is to drive about 8 hours from New York City! This is the route for most tour groups but it is a long winding journey. Our recommendation? Fly into Buffalo Airport if you are visiting United States and drive down to Niagara Falls and continue from there to the rest of the other states you would like to visit!
What to do at Niagara Falls?
There's a lot to do at Niagara Falls and just admiring the falls, snapping pictures can take up to half a day! :)
1. Head across the rainbow bridge
The rainbow bridge is one of the many bridges that bring you to and fro United States and Canada. It is also the bridge that is closest to the Niagara Falls and you'll get a splendid view of the falls while on it!
This bridge is both for cars and humans and when you head across, you'll have to pass through an immigration that will secure you a passport stamp across the rainbow bridge!
2. Get up close with the falls at Niagara Falls State Park, United States of America
At the United States side, you'll be able to walk close to the falls and feel some of the cascading water splash onto you! On good days, you'll even spot a rainbow! :)
3. Chase squirrels
There's a ton of squirrels at the Niagara Falls State Park. They are roaming about and its just so amusing to watch them hide and run across the fields! Some of them may even stay still and allow you to take a beautiful shot of them!
4. Ride the Niagara Park Falls Incline Railway
Close to Marriott Hotel on the Canadian side, you'll find the Niagara Park Falls Incline Railway. It is just a incline railway to bring you down to the Journey Behind the Falls area. It does save you some walking if you are intending to head up!
Niagara Park Falls Incline Railway
7001 Portage Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3W6, Canada
One-way: 2.43, Round Trip: 4.87, All day: 6.19
5. Journey Behind the Falls
The Journey behind the Falls is a must-go as you learn more about the waterfalls and get to experience the falls up-close! Ponchos definitely a must though they will provide you with a thin one!
Journey Behind the Falls
6650 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 3E8, Canada
Adults: 19.95 CAD
6. Hornblower Niagara Cruise / Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
Credits: Nikon Coolpix S8100, Maxpixel.net
This is the ride that will get you closest to the falls! The Hornblower cruise is on the Canadian side while the Maid of the Mist is on the United States side. On summer months where there could be a lot of tourists, do book the tours beforehand to ensure you'll get a seat! You can book the Maid of the Mist online!
(You may also be interested to find out more about the Hornblower Niagara Cruise vs Maid of the Mist)
We were there close to winter and the tours for both sides have closed for safety reasons! Will definitely want to return to have a go at the cruise someday!
7. Whirlpool Aerial Car
Credits: Lumix18, Pixabay.com
For those who are a little more adventurous, try out the whirlpool aerial car! The aerial car takes you right above the whirlpool where you can marvel at how it swirls all the surrounding water bodies up!
8. Stroll along Clifton Hill
There are a ton of interesting stores along this street. Enter Ripley's Believe it or Not, or just venture into one of the eateries and arcades here. This is where the fun begins when the sun sets at Niagara Ontario! :)
Otherwise, it is a great place for good instaworthy shots! Just check out all the architecture at Clifton Hill, they made it out to seem like a theme park! :)
9. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
On gloomy days, head inside to the waterpark that is perfect for families with young children. Have a splashing great time! :)
10. Try Tim Hortons!
While you're in Canada, try out Tim Hortons! Tim Hortons is a Canadian multinational fast food chain that is well-known for its coffee and donuts! We've tried and some sugary food is great after walking your whole way around the park, and heading from one country to the next on foot!
It will definitely not be boring at Niagara Falls and one shouldn't just see it as a day trip from Buffalo, or even New York. It is definitely worth it to stay over for a night, and wake up to the perfect view of Niagara from your chosen hotel!