Niagara Falls is really two cities with the same name, divided by the international border between the United States and Canada. The Canadian part is in the province of Ontario, and the American part is in the state of New York. As very good neighbors should do, they share a beautiful river and three spectacular waterfalls, as well as enough outdoor and indoor activities to make a great vacation and then some.
Where to Stay
When you’re planning a trip, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is decide where to stay. You’re in luck here, because Niagara Falls hotels run the gamut from luxury accommodations to very affordable choices including dozens of motels and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns. There are also a number of campgrounds and RV parks in the area, some that offer cabins and all the amenities you’d want.
Top-of-the-line hotels, with fabulous views of the waterfalls from the Canadian side, are the Diamond/5-Star Sheraton on the Falls, the Marriott Fallsview, the Marriott on the Falls, the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls, the Skyline Hotel & Waterpark, and the Clifton Victoria Inn At The Falls. Offering equally fine accommodations on the American side is the Sheraton At The Falls.
Where to Eat
From refined continental cuisine to an authentic 1950s-style soda shop, there’s something to suit every taste. Windows by Jamie Kennedy offers the finest in Canada’s farm-to-table dining, while The Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra specializes in locally sourced Italian cuisine. Among the array of other choices, there’s the world-famous Hard Rock Café for Tex-Mex in a setting of rock ‘n roll memorabilia, and the revolving Skylon Tower restaurant with an unsurpassed view high above the falls.
If you’ve got the kids with you, don’t miss the entertaining Rainforest Café complete with animatronic gorillas and elephants and an 80-foot volcano. And if you’re a devoted wings aficionado, you can even make the easy 17-mile pilgrimage from Niagara Falls to Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, home of the spicy and addictive treats.
What to Do
You can fill your days and nights to exhaustion, or you can kick back and take it slow. Niagara Falls has something for everyone.
1. Explore the Falls
There are two ways to see the falls up close from different perspectives. You may get a little wet, but it’s all in fun.
Get on board the Maid of the Mist for a thrilling half-hour cruise from the Canadian docks past the base of the American Falls and onward into the basin of the magnificent Canadian Horseshoe Falls. In operation since 1846, and the oldest tourist attraction in North America, the Maid of the Mist operates from about late April to mid-October every year, depending on the weather.
At Niagara Parks Journey Behind the Falls, you can take an elevator 150 feet down to a series of tunnels that open your view to the astonishing wall of water crashing down from the top to the basin of the Horseshoe Falls. This attraction is open year ‘round except on Christmas Day.
2. Visit Great Wineries
The Niagara Region is known for its award-winning wines including the unique ice wine, made from grapes harvested in the winter when temperatures are way below freezing and sugar content is highest. 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.
3. Play Golf
The stunning landscape of the Niagara area is home to some of Canada’s best golf courses. Be sure to pack your clubs so you don’t miss out on the many challenging courses there are to choose from.
4. Go Cycling
Experience the breathtaking natural beauty of the region via one of its many scenic cycling trails. There are more than 200 trails, catering to riders of every level. Niagara Parkway has been named one of the top 10 cycling routes in the world, stretching over 35 miles along the Canadian side of the Niagara River, passing many wineries along the way. The Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail stretches over 450 miles, following the shores of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border.
5. Shop ‘til You Drop
Popular brand names at exceptional prices are found at outlet malls on both sides of the border. And there are three duty-free shops selling perfume, food, alcohol, and more to visitors from abroad.