5 Things to Do in Niagara Falls, USA (Or “Why the American Side is Way Better. So There.”)

August 19, 2013

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I have been to Niagara Falls more times than I can count.

Seriously, you guys.

I’m not saying this just because I’m particularly bad at counting. Which I am.

I’m saying this because I’ve been there like a lot of times. This is just what happens when you grow up less than twenty miles from one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. You end up going there almost every year on a field trip when you’re in school and every single time someone comes to visit you when you’re an adult.

In the past year alone, I’ve been to the Falls at least a half dozen times.

Not that I’m complaining.

Because, NIAGARA FALLS, YOU GUYS.

It never really gets old.

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You know what does get old, though?

People always saying the Canadian side is better.

Seriously, you guys, I’ve been hearing this for years.

To which I would like to respond with this eloquent, thought-out response:

Nu-uh.

I know what you’re thinking.

You think I’m just saying this because I’m American.

But I’m being completely honest here. If the Canadian side were better, I would totally tell you.

In fact, there are many instances where I’m happy to admit that Canadians are doing a better job than Americans.

Like with national healthcare. And recycling. And poutine. I mean, any country that thinks to smother their fries in cheese curds and gravy is totally genius by me.

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So THIS = genius.

But, in the case of Niagara Falls, the American side is way awesomer.

Trust me.

Just to give you an idea as to why I think the American side is better, this is a picture of your typical afternoon on the American side:

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See? Lovely.

Whereas this is your typical afternoon on the Canadian side:

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See? Shoot me.

I mean, sure, the view  of the Falls is quite lovely on the Canadian side. Due to it’s position across the Niagara River, you can see all three of the Falls from the Canadian side – the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horshoe Falls.

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The 3 Falls: American Falls (to the left), Bridal Veil Falls (the “little” one in the middle) and Horseshoe Falls (to the right)

Which means you can take photos of yourself like this:

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Just chilling in front of Niagara Falls. As you do.

On the American side, you don’t get quite the same panoramic view, but you are able to get much closer to the Falls. I mean, you’re pretty much standing right next to the Falls. I’m not even kidding you. It is JUST RIGHT THERE.

Holy schnikeys, that's close.

Holy schnikeys, that’s close.

Which means you get to take lots of pictures of yourself like this.

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Which, come on, totally awesomer, right?

Not sold yet?

Well, on a recent trip with Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, I found even more reasons to love the American side.

Even if we don’t have fries covered in cheese curds covered in gravy. (Or do we? Someone please tell me poutine exists on the American side.)

Spirit of the Mist Native Dance Performance

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My trip started off at one of the American side’s newest attractions – a dance performance at Smokin’ Joes Native Center.

You got to love it when your day begins with watching hot Native American dudes dancing. Especially hot Native American dudes doing crazy stuff with hula hoops.

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Plus, the people at the Center were really nice, and they even gave me this necklace:

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When’s the last time Canada gave me jewelry?

How about NEVER.

(Seriously, Canada, what’s the deal? How many times have I visited you? And I have yet to even get so much as a ring. I think it’s over between us.)

Cave of the Winds

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Unlike the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which is offered on both sides of the Falls, Cave of the Winds is only offered on the American side.

Probably, because, Cave of the Winds is TOTALLY CRAZY-PANTS, you guys, and only a bunch of crazy-pants Americans would think this was a good idea. (Mind you, I am allowed to say this as a fellow crazy-pants American who thinks this is a really good idea.)

Back in the 1800s, Cave of the Winds referred to an actual cave behind the Bridal Veil Falls. Public tours of the cave were available until it was closed down because, apparently, it was deemed really unsafe to hang out in a crumbley, old cave behind a massive, thundering waterfall. I can’t imagine why.

These days, Cave of the Winds consists of a series of wooden walkways and platforms built at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls. The decking is replaced each year, and, according to the fine people at Wikipedia, the decking is not secured into the rocks with bolts or construction materials of any kind; it’s just wedged into the rock crevices.

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So basically you get to go stand on a piece of magically floating wood underneath Niagara Falls.

Like, I said. TOTALLY CRAZY-PANTS.

And TOTALLY AWESOME-PANTS.

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Yes, this is me STANDING UNDERNEATH NIAGARA FALLS ON A MAGIC PIECE OF WOOD. NO BIGGIE, YOU GUYS.

You also get free shoes.

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I can’t even remember the last time Canada gave me free shoes.

Oh, probably because they haven’t.

Helicopter Ride Over Niagara Falls

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When I was told that my trip would include a helicopter flight over Niagara Falls with Rainbow Air, Inc, I basically stopped breathing for two days. Because HELICOPTER RIDE OVER NIAGARA FALLS, YOU GUYS!

I already knew the ride was going to be pretty much the coolest, but it was made even cooler by the fact that I got to be shoved into the helicopter by a bunch of cute boys.

And then I got to sit right next to the pilot and wear one of those headphone-thingies just like they do on The Bachelorette.

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And take photos like this:

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And this:

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And then my ride ended with me having my picture taken while holding a wrestling title belt. I’m not entirely sure why, but I figured it was best not to ask questions and just hold the title belt and smile.

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Don’t even ask.

Sure, you can take a helicopter ride over the Falls from the Canadian side, but will there be cute boys pushing you into a helicopter and a title belt involved?

I seriously doubt it.

Oakwood Cemetery

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Feeling like quite the daredevil after my helicopter ride, I was super excited to commune with my fellow daredevils.

Too bad they were all dead.

At Oakwood Cemetery, I got to visit the graves of some of Niagara Fall’s bravest stunters, including Annie Edson Taylor, a sixty-three-year-old former teacher and the first person to survive the trip over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel.

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I also got to go inside the E.B. Green-designed mausoleum, where I learned a whole bunch of stuff about crypts.

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Seriously, you guys, when has Canada ever invited me into its mausoleum to check out its crypts?

TOTALLY NEVER.

Eat, Drink, and Eat Some More

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I have had plenty of phenomenal food experiences in Canada. I mean, who can forget the cheese-wrapped-in-maple-syrup-wrapped-in-what-I-can-only-assume-was-heaven from Toronto?

But I’ve never been that impressed by the food options available on the Canadian side of the Falls. The restaurants there tend to be more touristy and of the chain-variety.

Whereas the American side offers a lot more unique food experiences, in my opinion.

Like this brick oven pizza which I got at Wine on Third Pizza Bistro.

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Pizza at Wine on Third Pizza Bistro

Which maybe doesn’t seem all that unique but it was supposed to be the “half-pizza” and it was basically the same size as my head and I could only eat half of it. And I have a big head and an even bigger appetite, you guys.

And there’s the new Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, which is open to the public and offers everything from an upscale restaurant and a European-style patisserie to community education classes and wine tastings of regional wines.

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Wine tasting at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute

And, well, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this in Canada:

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Twist o’ the Mist ice cream shop

See? It’s an ice cream cone in front of an ice cream shop in the shape of ice cream cone. Which you have to admit is pretty genius. Even if it’s not fries covered in cheese curds covered in gravy.

Have you ever visited Niagara Falls? Which side is your favorite?
 
P.S. I’d like to give a huge thank you to Niagara Falls Tourism & Convention Center for organizing and sponsoring my trip. I’d also like to thank the people at Rainbow Air Inc, Oakwood Cemetery and Niagara Falls Culinary Institute for spending time to talk to me and generally being awesome.
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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On August 19, 2013 at 10:04 am Christy@SweetandSavoring said:

    That’s it, I am planning a trip up there for my first three day weekend once the semester starts. My husband’s been up to the Falls, but I, the one actually born and raised in NY, have not. I think you’ve done your job well when you make huge tourist attractions look appealing ;)
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..Three Weeks at a Medieval German Castle

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm Sally said:

      You must! It really is fantastic. I’ve visited it in all 4 seasons (even winter — BRRR!) and it’s just phenomenal every time I go there.

      • On June 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm Cheryl Alessi said:

        My husband and I grew up in Dunkirk, NY and have been going to the Falls on the Canadian side since we could drive! We have never been to the American side (really!) but we are going next week with our three children who do not have passports. We now live in NC and it’s been a long time since all of us have been to the Falls. So, thank you for this blog with all the fantastic things to do! Our adventurous 17 year old will be excited about Cave of the Winds and I did not realize Maid of the Mist was accessible on the American side. My husband will love the restaurant rec’s, actually my entire family will!

        Many thanks; I’m glad I stumbled on your blog!

        • On June 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm Sally said:

          I can’t believe you’ve never been to the American side! I think I went there almost every year growing up on some field trip or another. Have a great trip. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  2. On August 19, 2013 at 12:27 pm Linda said:

    Niagara does have a lot to offer as you say and I enjoy Goat Island as much as possible. If the Orchard Grill on Main St was still open you could enjoy Poutine there. Sadly our pizza did not look like the one you picture. Ours was a slightly burned pepperoni pizza not pretty at all and we were disappointed, so will not go back there. We miss Lola’s.
    LOVE the Culinary Institutes food.

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm Sally said:

      I didn’t have a chance to try the Culinary Institute’s food as the restaurant wasn’t open when I was there — I’ll definitely have to go back!

    • On August 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm Kathleen Ordiway said:

      Do go back to the Pizza Bistro and give them a second try. It’s actually the same chef and I haven’t had a bad meal there yet! Don’t let one bad pizza scare you!

  3. On August 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm Colleen Brynn said:

    I think the only real reason anyone ever says the Canadian side is better is because of that view you mention. Yes all that Vegas-lights-casino-hotels garbage is just that – garbage. But it’s kitschy and amusing to some tourists I guess. I like that you actually have some good solid reasons to back up this post though. Like food. But let’s be real, that’s all you really had to write about to get me on board.
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..City Quirks: Perm

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm Sally said:

      There are definitely times when I like my kitschyness — like in Japan, I was a huge fan of all the kitschy tourist stuff. I was the first person to hop in a ferris wheel or run around taking cheesy photos of myself in front of stuff. I guess because it was new and different to me, so I can understand why people would be into that kind of thing. But, for some reason, it just drives me a bit mad on the Canadian side of the Falls — probably because I’m used to it and it’s not “exotic” to me.

  4. On August 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm Ang said:

    Great News! You can buy a VARIETY of poutine just outside the main gates of the park on Old Falls Street! Don’t miss the Buffalo Chicken Poutine… because plain old poutine wasn’t good enough!

  5. On August 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm Kathleen Ordiway said:

    LOVE your blog!! It’s great to hear someone rave about Niagara Falls USA! I have the pleasure of working at the falls 2 days a week all summer long… as Annie Edson Taylor, herself! I get to talk to tourists, get my picture taken and dress in Victorian clothing, too. That’s something else Canada doesn’t have – History come alive with 6 different characters wandering the park and making the visit a little more cool.

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm Sally said:

      I’ve seen you guys at the Falls this year, but haven’t had a chance to stop and talk to you. I’m going to have make it a point to stop and chat next time — I especially want to talk to Annie Edson Taylor. I’m dying to know the true story about her cat!

      • On August 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm Kathleen Ordiway said:

        Annie and the rest of the cast of characters only have 2 more weeks before they go into partial hibernation! Tuesdays 11 – 4 and Saturdays 12 – 5, as well as the Sunday of Labor Day weekend 12 – 5. Track us down and Annie will definitely share the TRUTH of her cat!

  6. On August 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm Miriam Lou said:

    Great article!! They do have poutine, or the American homogenized version at Jim’s SteakOut. http://www.jimssteakout.com/jims-steakout/menu-2/page/3/#prettyPhoto/4/

  7. On August 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm palmajo simmons said:

    I am born and raised in Niagara Falls, N Y Still live here and am in awe of the falls every time I see it-which is at least once a week! It really is a wonder of the world-and is kept so well on American side -no honky tonk!

  8. On August 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm Shawn said:

    It’s nice to see someone not from here have such nice things to say about our city. :) Two points: It’s Bridal Veil Falls, and yes, you can find poutine in the US, but you have to go to Buffalo. That said, our neighbor Buffalo is pretty swell, so the trip there is worth it. :)

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm Sally said:

      Well, I am kind of from around “here.” Well, not technically Niagara Falls, but I grew up in Buffalo (as I kind of mentioned in my post) and moved back to the area about a year ago. So I imagine the American side does have a hometown advantage in my heart, but, to be honest, I preferred the Canadian side when I was younger.
      And thanks for the tip on the name of Bridal Veil Falls. I made the changes, but I’ve actually seen it referred to by both names. The City of Niagara Falls brochure that I was using for lots of my information on Cave of the Winds refers to it as simply “Bridal Falls.”

  9. On August 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm Christina Gmyr said:

    Loved this post! I grew up a few hours away and then went to college at UofR, so I’ve been to Niagara Falls at least 7 times. And I agree, it never gets old. My appreciation of the American side has definitely increased as I’ve gotten older, in spite of the lack of poutine.

    A heli ride over the falls?! That’s pretty remarkable. Also the wrestling belt made me laugh out loud!
    Christina Gmyr recently posted..Thousand Islands (Alexandria Bay, NY)

    • On August 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm Sally said:

      I totally agree with you on age and appreciation of the American side. When I was younger, I totally thought the Canadian side was cooler because that’s where all the casinos and night clubs were… not that I even went to casinos or night clubs because I was pretty lame. But now I just love how peaceful and naturey the American side is. Sure it gets its crowds… but once you wander off the beaten path, it can really be very peaceful. Plus, the changes they’ve made to the American side in the past few years are amazing. I hardly recognize the place!

  10. On August 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm Leslie in Portland, Oregon said:

    Thanks for all these tips, given in your inimitably delightful way! I have not yet been to Niagara Falls, but when I first go, it will definitely be to the American side.

    • On August 20, 2013 at 4:29 am Sally said:

      Well, I definitely recommend checking out the Canadian side, too. If only to see what all the hype is about… and the view IS quite nice. Plus, you can easily do both in a day.

  11. On August 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    Looks like you had the FULL Niagara Falls experience. I’m exhausted just looking at all these photos.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Outdoor Adventure Activities at Hood River

  12. On August 20, 2013 at 12:31 am Ross said:

    I’ve been there a couple of times (only because I was in the area for other reasons). I tend to be biased towards Canada for many things but I much prefer the USA side. Just need the Canadian/USA side photos to know why. Actually just need the Canadian side photo to know why.
    Ross recently posted..Scars

    • On August 20, 2013 at 4:27 am Sally said:

      Yep, just LOOKING at that photo from the Canadian side gives me the heebie jeebies. I will say that that was taken on a holiday weekend, so it was particularly packed. But I don’t think I’ve ever been there when it hasn’t been packed — whereas the American side can be quite calm on a weekday. I suspect this has something to do with the fact everyone thinks the Canadian side is better! Maybe I shouldn’t have let the secret out!

  13. On August 20, 2013 at 12:41 am Nicole said:

    The minute I find that poutine-smothered French fry, I’ll let you know. I think I would skip around on the borders and see both sides. A lovely day in the park and a lovely day on a Ferris wheel sounds nice.

    Actually, no. The Ferris wheel part sounds scary, especially at the very top. I’ll go for a walk in the park. :)
    Nicole recently posted..A Shoe and Hand Guide up Cat Ba Mountain

    • On August 20, 2013 at 4:26 am Sally said:

      I definitely recommend checking out both. You can easily visit both sides in a day. Plus, you get to walk across the bridge to Canada which I think is super cool. How many times can you just walk to another country?

  14. On August 20, 2013 at 4:11 am Emily Wilson said:

    Canadian side rocks! We have dare devil graves ( Drummond hill cemetery) and a Casino! Although you are bang on…..we do not have anything close to the Cave of the Winds….by far the best attraction going. Been in the Maid of the Mist 16 times….a small unhealthy obsession of mine. Truly love Niagara Falls, both sides….but have to like my is more….lol

    • On August 20, 2013 at 4:12 am Emily Wilson said:

      *my side more*

    • On August 20, 2013 at 4:25 am Sally said:

      Ooo, I didn’t realize the Canadian side had a daredevil grave site as well. I’ll have to check it out. We also have a casino on the American side. And, yes, the Maid of the Mist is totally worth the obsession. That boat is so cool and definitely doesn’t get old no matter how many times you’ve been on it. Although I don’t think I’ve ever been on it on the Canadian side — maybe I’ll have to try that. It may sway me. Although, I’ll have you know the ponchos for the Maid of the Mist on the American side are MUCH nicer… :)

  15. On August 20, 2013 at 9:34 am Heather said:

    I’ve only been once and went to the Canadian side, but next time I go I want to check out the American side. The free shoes are a bonus, and I would LOVE that helicopter tour. A must in my book! Thanks for giving us the scoop.
    Heather recently posted..May the 4th be with you! Small ways to incorporate Star Wars into a May 4 wedding

  16. On August 20, 2013 at 10:01 am aimee said:

    Um, casinos?! does the American side have casinos? if it does then they’re tied for me. “Oh wow, a waterfall. cool. okay, I’m going to play some slots”

  17. On August 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm joe cody said:

    Ispent 2 years 50 years ago at Niagara U. To this day I have fond memory of Niagara Falls en total. Time and Distance lend enchantment to the view. My grand son a medical student at a Niagara Hospital chose that education location because I talked so much about the total Niagara Falls……St Catherines Ont. and Buffalo and The Tuscarora Nation.These were some of the happiest days of my life

  18. On August 21, 2013 at 12:17 am Sine said:

    Yes, I actually have been there! Five kids in tow! All I really remember is the Maid of the Mist, and mainly just because of the cool name. I mean, what a great alliteration. I also remember cruising forever before finding parking. And I remember almost getting stuck at the border post (we were coming from Toronto) because something wasn’t quite right with one of our passports. I am very happy you wrote this post because ever since I’ve had doubts whether I shouldn’t have visited the Canadian side. So now I know.

    • On August 21, 2013 at 7:28 am Sally said:

      I think both sides are definitely worth visiting… at least so you can form your own judgments and not have to just believe all those people saying the Canadian side is better and one certain blogger saying the American side is better. :)

  19. On August 21, 2013 at 12:59 am Jess said:

    I was going to say the Canadian side still wins because poutine. Because I judge the beauty of natural wonders by the food I can eat while I view them. But the ice cream and pizza may tip things back towards Team USA.
    Jess recently posted..Sod, Sod, and More Sod – Archaeology in the Alaskan tundra.

    • On August 21, 2013 at 7:27 am Sally said:

      The ice cream was pretty phenomenal. And, now according to my lovely readers, I’ve been informed there IS poutine on the Canadian side — Buffalo chicken poutine at that!

  20. On August 21, 2013 at 2:28 am Katherine Belarmino said:

    I’ve only been to the Canadian side of the falls because my best friend who lives in Rochester took us and says the Canadian side is the best. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that she used to go there back in the day to drink before she turned 21? I’ll have to try the American side next time.
    Katherine Belarmino recently posted..Snorkeling Thailand’s Ko Phi Phi Islands

    • On August 21, 2013 at 7:26 am Sally said:

      Ha ha. Probably. I used to think the Canadian side was cooler when I was younger even though I didn’t even drink. Just knowing that I COULD drink on the Canadian side made it cooler to me, I guess.

  21. On August 21, 2013 at 3:28 am Selly said:

    Delighted to find out that I can access your blog without a VPN and also madly jealous. I’ve never been to the falls and would love to go… It’s on my list of places to see. Or day!

  22. On August 21, 2013 at 9:54 am Heather said:

    I grew up in VA, lived in NY for 5 years and somehow never made it up to the Falls. But I’ve already made clear to family that we will be taking a trip up there once I’m back States-side. Hopefully they like helicopters!
    Heather recently posted..The Best Meals We Ate in Budapest

  23. On August 21, 2013 at 11:15 am Priya said:

    Um, I want a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls! Oh, and PS, on The Bachelorette, you get to say “you’re scared” and then hold the guy’s hand sitting next you. OK, that was a little mean. I might be saying that because I’m totally jealous of your helicopter ride.
    Priya recently posted..Legends Of The Summer (AKA My Secret Love For Boy Bands Which Is Not So Secret)

    • On August 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm Sally said:

      Excuse me, the Bachelorette would NEVER say she’s scared. She would just talk about how a helicopter ride is a lot like love… scary and exciting and full of highs and lows but also cute guys shoving you in the butt. Or something like that.

  24. On August 24, 2013 at 9:19 am Ceri said:

    As always, I am now sooooo hungry after reading your post.

    Also, that random wrestling belt made me laugh way too hard.
    Ceri recently posted..Ten Years, Five Years

  25. On August 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm Allison said:

    Going to be making our first trip to Niagara Falls with in a year. We were trying to choose between this and Las Vegas. (I lived in Las Vegas years ago) Your blog sold me on Niagara Falls. Thanks. I never thought I would enjoy a helicopter ride but your photos made me want to. I also wanted to say I loved your down to earth blog.

    • On August 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Allison. So glad you enjoyed the post. And, if it makes any difference, I totally vote for Niagara Falls over Vegas. Not that I have anything against Vegas but it’s NIAGARA FALLS. Come on!

  26. On August 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm Julia said:

    I’m so jealous! I’ve never been to Niagara Falls but have always wanted to (my mom and brother went and left me home with my Dad -so not cool).

    Thanks for the entertaining post…and I totally want to try some poutine now, because you really can’t go wrong with adding cheese/gravy to anything.

  27. On August 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm Gail said:

    I’m from Ohio and visit about 6 times a year. I’ve gone to the Canadian side countless times over many years but it’s the American side that I prefer – and not just Niagara Falls but the entire Niagara Region, U.S.A. Great article! You said what I keep imploring to others. Except I didn’t get a free necklace… And the helicopter ride is in the near future. I want to see the Falls from above and also the neighborhoods where my grandmother grew up over 100 years ago.

  28. On August 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    Right well … here’s the thing … our activity list on the Canadian side on our last trip:

    Bird Kingdom
    Butterfly Conservatory
    Clifton Hill
    Greg Frewin Theatre
    Fort George National Historic Site
    Journey behind the Falls
    Marine land
    Niagara’s Furry
    Niagara Sky wheel
    Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
    Sky con Tower
    Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
    White Water Walk
    Elements on the Falls Restaurant (FOOD & VIEW)
    Table Rock
    Shaw Festival
    Fort Niagara
    Inniskilin and Reif Winery Estates (WINE!)
    Short Hills Provincial Park
    Navy Hall
    Willowbank

    Maybe both sides just rock?
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..What Dog Owners Should Know About the Islands of Folegandros – Greece

  29. On August 28, 2013 at 11:19 pm Noel said:

    Amazing shots. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls but hopefully soon, my wife and I will go there. We’ve just arrived in New York so we need to plan our trip over there. Anyway, thanks for giving me a general idea of what to expect in Niagara Falls most especially on the American side. We’ll also visit the Canadian side to see the entire greatness of Niagara.
    Noel recently posted..Filipino Businesses on Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, New York City

  30. On August 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm Alouise said:

    I went to Niagara Falls for one night before going to TBEX, and while the views on the Canadian side are pretty awesome I have to admit the American side was really cool. I especially liked that when I walked over to Niagara Falls, New York from Niagara Falls, Ontario that I was greeted with seeing a very pretty state park, and not the strange commercialization that’s found on the Canadian side. The nice thing about Niagara Falls is that it’s really easy to visit the US and the Canadian side.

  31. On September 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm becky hutner said:

    Ha! I’m Canadian & have never liked all the tat on our side that in my opinion, spoils the vibe. You’ve made me think though…why have I never BEEN to the American side? All those trips as a kid…did my family have some kind of misguided patriotic sense that we’d be traitors if we crossed that line? You’ve made a convincing argument here, Sally. I will right the wrongs of my childhood next time I’m at the Falls.
    becky hutner recently posted..Back to SE Asia Part 2

    • On September 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm Sally said:

      Hmmm… obviously your parents were involved in some Canadian plot to brainwash you into thinking there’s only one side of the Falls. And, yes, please do visit the other side!

  32. On September 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm Choi Kum Fook said:

    Comparing the falls of Niagara between USA and Canada is a bit diffcult.Everybody has his own directtion of viewing. As for me, both are equalvalant! The Falls are really magnificent and wonderful! I do not know when I could see them on the spot! May be one day I hope, of course not so long! Ha! Ha!

  33. On September 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm Jonathan said:

    Great post! I went to both the American and Canadian sides of the falls but that was like 8 years ago. I think the next time I go I’ll stick with the American side :) The helicopter flight sounds pretty awesome.
    Jonathan recently posted..Tucan Travel Overland Tour Experiences: Driving Days

  34. On October 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm Sand In My Suitcase said:

    Even though we live in Canada, we can’t disagree with you on which side of Niagara Falls is better – since OMG – we’ve never visited (one day…). Now, if you like food, get your taste buds out to Vancouver (our hometown) – you’ll luv our restos.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..Exotic Thailand

  35. On October 3, 2013 at 8:36 am Chelsea said:

    I just discovered your blog via The Huffington Post and I wanted to tell you what an amazing first impression you made! I just bumped Niagara Falls up a few spaces on my to-do list (I’ve never been that far North in the US!) because you made it look so fun! Although I might have to venture to the Canadian side despite your case for the American side because really, let’s be honest, POUTINE! Thank you for this post, and for all of the other ones I will be reading in the near future! :)
    Chelsea recently posted..Stockholm or BUST!

    • On October 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm Sally said:

      Yes, poutine definitely is cause enough to brave the crowds on the Canadian side. I did hear tale of poutine on the American side, but I never saw it.

  36. On February 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm almas abbasi said:

    Thanks for excellent review. we r planning to go in March. Do u recommend any good hotel on American side. Thanks

    • On February 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm Sally said:

      I’ve never actually stayed in a hotel on the American side as my family lives in Buffalo (a short 30-min drive away). But I’ve heard the Giacomo is lovely — it’s in a beautiful historic building within walking distance from the Falls. That would be my pick if I were staying overnight.

  37. On April 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm pam said:

    i wanna plan a trip on the us side any info on where to stay or what to do? we are a family of 6 i would like to be close in walking distance to everything.since we have kids no casinos lol. what is the rainbow bridge. the maid of mist looks interesting. any info from anyone is greatly appreciated.
    thanks,pam

    • On April 20, 2014 at 10:05 am Sally said:

      I definitely recommend the Maid of the Mist — that’s good for all ages. Cave of the Winds is also excellent — but probably a bit scary for younger kids (also not sure if they have a age/height requirement). There’s a Native American dance show and an aquarium pretty close by the Falls, as well. If you have a few days and a car, there’s lots of fun places to visit nearby. Old Fort Niagara is great. I also really liked the Lockport Locks Erie Canal Cruise. I recommend checking out the Niagara Tourism’s website for more info and hotel recs: http://www.niagara-usa.com/

  38. On April 23, 2014 at 11:58 pm alesia conner said:

    hello. the 3rd pic down… can you tell me the name of this place and exactly where its located. looks like a nice place to go for a walk with the boyfriend :)

    • On April 24, 2014 at 7:59 am Sally said:

      Hi Alesia, I believe this was taken on the walk to Goat Island, which is right next to the Bridal Veil Falls. This is just one of many lovely walking paths between the 3 different parts of the Falls.

  39. On April 26, 2014 at 8:18 am Amy said:

    Loved reading about your Niagara experience! I am a Florida gal and headed to Niagara May 7th for the first time. I am so excited! We will have a full three days there. Any other must see, must do suggestions?

    • On April 26, 2014 at 8:59 am Sally said:

      Hi Amy,
      Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds (if it’s open) are must sees! There are also lots of great day trips that can be done in the area. Old Fort Niagara is great. You can go on a local wine tour and take a boat ride on the Erie Canal. I suggest checking out Lewiston, which is this super cute town just north of the Falls. Here’s the website for Niagara, USA: http://www.niagara-usa.com/
      Also, if you have time, I recommend heading into Buffalo to have REAL Buffalo wings at Anchor Bar or Duff’s. (But, as a Buffalonian, I’m kind of required to say that!).

  40. On April 27, 2014 at 9:15 am Aaron said:

    Honestly, I thought the American side would stink and there would be nothing to do with a boring view. Glad to say I was wrong after reading your comments and seeing your pictures. I have family coming to the United States for the first time to visit and I wanted to show them Niagara falls, which I am excited about doing now. Could you recommend a nice place to stay that isn’t to far from these attractions and is not too expensive. Thank you from Syracuse.

    • On April 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm Sally said:

      Hi Aaron,
      I’ve never actually stayed in Niagara Falls, as my family lives in Buffalo so I just stayed there. I’d check out the list of hotels on the Niagara USA Tourism website: http://www.niagara-usa.com/hotels/hotels/#.U2Ex0YWgXfg
      I’ve heard the Giacomo is really nice — although maybe a bit pricy. There are also some really cute B&Bs and smaller hotels in Lewiston, which is a really cute historic town about 15 or 20 minutes from the Falls.
      Have a great trip!

  41. On May 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm Texas Girl said:

    We went there 40 years ago on our honeymoon. We are going back this weekend. I’ll let you know.

  42. On June 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm Maddy said:

    Love your blog on Niagra Falls. Quick, easy and to the point. What side to visit…obvious no brainer, USA. Thanks for all the links so I could get details without being overwhelmed. Good job!

  43. On June 20, 2014 at 4:04 am Sharon said:

    Hi
    I really enjoyed reading ur post on Niagara falls. I will be in New York on 14th Aug till 16th Aug and want to visit the American side of Niagara.
    I wish to do ‘Cave of the Winds’, ‘Maid of Mist’, ‘1000 islands’, ‘Howes Cavern’ and ‘Niagara Night time illumination’, ‘Hersheys Chocolate Park’, and @Glenn Park’.
    Would you know of a tour that does all this??? If so please let me know.
    Tks
    B Rgds
    Sharon

    • On June 22, 2014 at 10:32 am Sally said:

      Wow! That’s a lot of stuff to do in only 3 days! You should be able to do all or most of the Niagara Falls stuff in one day — including Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist and the night time illumination. However, the other stuff — 1000 islands, Howes Cavern and Hershey Park — are really quite far from Niagara Falls and would probably take at least a day each to visit. I’d suggest either just sticking around Niagara Falls and doing some other sites in the area (Old Fort Niagara is great as is Lewiston… you could also explore Buffalo or go over to the Canadian side if you have your passport) or choose one of the other sites to visit and rent a car. I highly doubt you’ll be able to find a tour that will fit in all those sites. Good luck!

  44. On June 27, 2014 at 11:26 am Chrystal said:

    Hi! I really enjoyed reading this article!! I even read every single comment and reply! I just have one question… My fiancé and I are considering going to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon. Are there enough things to do to keep us busy for a week? Or do we need to plan other activities away from Niagara as well?

    Thanks for all the info!!

    • On June 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm Sally said:

      The Falls itself is worth a good full day of exploring. I’d say if you have a week, you should definitely plan on getting out and about in the area. Nearby there’s Old Fort Niagara and the really cute town of Lewiston. There are also plenty of parks and other outdoorsy stuff in the vicinity — I went fishing in Lewiston; that was super fun. You can easily drive to Buffalo (about 40 minutes away) and catch some museums, a show or a sports game. If you have your passports, you can also go to Canada to check out the Canadian side or go to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
      You definitely won’t have any trouble filling up a week. Have a great time! And congrats on your future wedding!

  45. On July 5, 2014 at 11:32 pm Bob Foss said:

    Yes, you are so right. I went to the Falls the first time in the late 1950s as a kid. My father said the Canadian side was better, but having been to both, I love the tranquil, park setting of the State Park in New York, and like others said, you can get really close. Now, I have advised several sites, including Wikipedia, that according to the U.S. Geological Survey maps, one-third of Horseshoe Falls is in the U.S., despite some people calling it the “Canadian” Falls. Most of it is in Canada…but not all of it…and with erosion more of it will be in the U.S. in the future. I really like Canada, especially their social policies, but I found Niagara Falls, Ontario, to be quite tacky, touristy, and much less relaxing. They have a bit better view of all the Falls, but I’d rather walk my dog or have a picnic on the U.S. side.

  46. On September 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm Mel Rolph said:

    We are coming to NF in Oct. I am trying to plan the trip (first one)and your blog has been really helpful. I think we will be staying on the US side and walking everywhere (we are English!!). Thanks.

  47. On October 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm Nat said:

    Hi, I’m planning a trip over winter where most of the attractions/activities would be closed… Sadly. Any recommendations on what to do, where to go over winter if I still want to visit Niagara Falls?

    • On October 11, 2014 at 8:55 am Sally said:

      I actually LOVE Niagara Falls in the winter. It’s so magical… and really cold… but mostly magical. It’s true that a lot of the attractions are closed, but you can walk around the Falls. And a fun bonus is the observation deck which usually costs money is free in the winter. If you have a car, I’d suggest checking out some nearby attractions. Old Fort Niagara is great and would be fun to visit in the winter. And nearby Lewiston is an adorable little town with lots of quaint shops, cafes, restaurants and a spa. Or if you want to go a little bit farther afield, you can go to Buffalo (about a 30 minute drive) where there’s tons to do in the winter, including museums, theater and, of course, hockey.
      Have a great trip!

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