Niagara Falls has attracted millions of visitors and more than its fair share of daredevils over the years. Jean Francois Gravelet, better known as The Great Blondin, became the first person to cross the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope in 1859. He would later do so on a bicycle, and, even later, he managed to cook an omelet out there. As for surviving the plunge over the brink in a barrel, the first person to pull that off was Annie Edson Taylor in 1901. She did it on her 63rd birthday.
Today, most visitors stay on the safe side of the guardrails, enjoying once-in-a-lifetime views of one of North America’s great natural wonders. The falls straddle the US–Canada border, with segments—as well as hotels and varied attractions—located in both New York and Ontario.
The Canadian Side
The Canadian side of the Niagara River is widely regarded as the finest vantage point to take in all three photogenic brinks: American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe Falls. Stop by the Table Rock Welcome Centre to make use of numerous observation areas and see firsthand the plaza where Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel made a daring rescue in 1980’s Superman II.
- Hornblower: This tour’s boats shuttle poncho-clad passengers to the base of the thundering Horseshoe, Bridal Veil, and American Falls for the most dramatic views—and soggiest experience—on either side of the border.
- Clifton Hills: Located 10 minutes from the falls, this lively neighborhood is jam-packed with funhouses, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf courses, wax museums, and a 175-foot Ferris wheel. * Wine tasting: Niagara-on-the-Lake, a charming Victorian town just north of the falls, is home to nearly 100 wineries that produce chardonnays, pinot noirs, and the regional specialty—ice wine. Inniskillin hosts tastings in a historic barn.
- Skylon Tower: Set 775 feet above the Niagara River, a rotating restaurant serves upscale seafood and grill fare with 360-degree views of the falls as well as the Toronto and Buffalo skylines. Make reservations early for a romantic sunset dinner.
The US Side
On the New York side, you can watch the water thunder over jagged cliffs from pedestrian bridges and observation decks. The best view might be from the Hurricane Deck, a wooden platform located 20 feet from Bridal Veil Falls.
- Cave of the Winds: An elevator takes you down 175 feet into the falls, where can walk along wooden pathways built right on the rocks.
- Nature trails originating in Niagara Falls State Park wind past protected wildlife and scenic overlooks.
Old Fort Niagara: Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Ontario, this French and Indian War site is now a state park featuring a museum with historical exhibits and military artifacts from the 18th century.
Where to Stay
- Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls/Fallsview: Get a look at both sides at the same time from this hotel, hailed by TripAdvisor as one of the world’s top 10 hotels with incredible views
- Sheraton On the Falls Hotel houses an indoor water park and is within walking distance of Clifton Hills on the Canadian side of the falls.
- Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel: Try your luck at slot machines, poker tables, and roulette wheels on the US side.