When it comes to natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls is right up there. World famous for its unstoppable flow of water and ‘great plumes of icy mist’, witnessing the falls is a hypnotic experience.
But, before you even get there, you’ll have to tackle the logistics.
Whether you’re planning on visiting Niagara for a day, overnight, for a long weekend, or on Niagara Falls tours, the following information will help you with your planning.
The Logistics of Planning a Trip to Niagara Falls
Choose a Side
The Niagara Falls region comprises of two cities with the same name, divided by the international border between the United States and Canada.
The state of New York hosts the American portion, and the Canadian portion is in the province of Ontario. As good neighbors should do, they share the beautiful river that connects the American Falls and Canada’s Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
The general consensus is that the Canadian side is better, though you don’t actually have to choose – you can easily see the falls from both the Canadian and American sides.
The American side is all about the activities and excursions – the Maid of the Mist is one of the most famous here – an exciting half-hour cruise that sails right into the basin of the magnificent Horseshoe Falls (you will get wet)!
But on the Canadian side you’ll get the gorgeous panoramas you see on postcards. Canada is more commecialized, and has more people, but the walk is easier and you’ll get the best views.
There’s a footbridge that connects the two countries, and you can easily cross from one country to another. If you’re doing this though, make sure you have your passport, and any required visas for the country you’re entering.
The perfect trip to Niagara starts with the perfect hotel, and there’s really no better choice than closest hotel to the falls; Niagara Falls Marriott.
Offering magnificent views, excellent cuisine and the level of comfort and hospitality you would expect from one of the leading global brands, the recently renovated Marriott on the Falls is the closest hotel to Niagara Falls.
Each of the redesigned rooms is appointed with Marriott Signature Mattresses & Bedding, new HD flat-screen TVs, beautiful bathrooms, and comfortable sitting areas to provide world-class accommodation experiences in beautiful Niagara Falls.
You can actually see the rushing water when you dine at Milestones on the Falls Restaurant, as it looks directly out over Niagara Falls. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.
There is no cost to see Niagara Falls – you can enjoy the views, hikes, and picnic areas on both sides of the falls for free. But you’ll need tickets for the attractions.
Do your research into the attractions at Niagara Falls before you visit, because there are some pretty thrilling activities you may want to pay extra for; from ziplining over the falls, to heading to the top of the Skylon Tower observation deck to look out from 775 feet above the falls.
If you’re purchasing tickets for an excursion or attraction, make sure you book in advance, whether this is for a boat trip, or entrance to a paid viewpoint.
Booking in advance means you won’t miss out on the excursions you want, and you’ll be able to skip the queues. Buy online from the attraction’s official website – there are hundreds of scam sites out there that look perfectly legit, so make sure the site you use is official.
There’s a good chance that you’ll find some great deals where 2 or more attractions can be bought together. If you want to experience the falls from both the Canadian and American sides, for example, you can get one ticket for both boat trips.
Plan More Time Than You Need
This is a trip to one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, and while it can be tempting to try and cram as much as possible into your trip, this a holiday, not a military operation.
So plan more time than you think you need, and spread everything out so you can really enjoy each moment. Pick the main attractions you want to visit, stagger them so you aren’t hopping from one to the other, and take time in between to do as you please.
Remember that Niagara is much more than just the falls; explore the city, relax in a bar and do some people watching, embrace the location and just enjoy yourself. There’s golf, cycling, shopping, nightlife – enough to keep you entertained for days.
And the Niagara Region is also known for its award-winning wineries. The Niagara Wine Route on the Canadian side, and the Niagara Wine Trail on the American side feature dozens of wineries with tasting rooms set amid acres of gorgeous vineyards.
The region is particularly famous for its unique ice wine, made from grapes harvested in the winter when temperatures are way below freezing and sugar content is highest.
The Best Time To Go
The best time to visit Niagara Falls is during the summer (June and August). This is peak season, so there will be a lot of other tourists, though it’s peak season for a reason.
Average highs rest in the low 80s during summer, and the mists and breeze from the waterfalls make everything feel cooler. If you can brave the temperatures during summer and fall, you’ll experience cheaper travel and lesser crowds.
Winter feels positively arctic, so our personal tip is go either side of the peak period. Yes it’s colder so you will need a coat, but it’s a lot cheaper and quieter.
Also, many of the attractions close in the winter, though with below freezing temperatures, you will however get incredible photography of the falls frozen over; a sight that not many other travelers get to see.