Niagara Falls has the honor of being one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And deservedly so! Straddling the Canada-US border, there are three waterfalls in total: the Canadian Falls—or the Horseshoe Falls—and the smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. It is an extremely popular tourist destination with an estimated 30 million people visiting each year. The following is a list of ten must-do things during your trip to Niagara Falls.
10. Maid of the Mist
The iconic Maid of the Mist is one of the most popular attractions at Niagara Falls. Draped in free ponchos, tourists travel on a boat to the base of the falls—so close you can feel the spray of mist on your face! The first voyage ran in the mid-19th century when it was just a small steamboat which ferried people and cargo across the river. After numerous iterations over several decades, the Maid of Mist became what we know today. It is considered North America’s oldest tourist attraction and has been ridden by Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and many other prominent figures.
9. Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls is the most intimate and thunderously loud experience Niagara Falls has to offer. Made possible by descending 125 feet in an elevator through sheer bedrock, tourists are granted access to portals and observation decks located directly behind the falls at various height intervals. Similar to Maid of the Mist, free ponchos are provided. But for those with sensitive hearing, earplugs are also recommended.
8. Zipline to the Falls
This adrenaline-fueled attraction is certainly one of the most unique ways to view Niagara Falls. Attached to one of four lines that directly face the falls, riders dangle from 220 feet high and travel a distance of 2,200 feet at 40 plus miles per hour before arriving safely at the Horseshoe Falls Landing and Observation Deck. Open all year round, Zipline to the Falls offers a different experience depending on the season; experience the warm weather and blue skies during the summer, or the icy waters and snowy winds during winter.
7. White Water Walk
A self-guided tour, the White Water Walk allows tourists to journey along 1,000 feet of boardwalk at the very edge of Niagara River’s whitewater rapids. Complete with viewing platforms, it is a great place to take in the natural beauty of the Niagara region and snap a few pictures. The tour also includes stories and information about the geology of the Niagara Gorge and the surrounding wildlife.
6. Whirlpool Aero Car
The Aero Car is an antique cable car strung high above the Niagara River that transports you through the air. Since the early 20th century, riders have been able to marvel at the raging whitewater rapids below and the intriguing Niagara Whirlpool. Even though the journey begins and ends on the Canadian side of the border, due to the way the river flows, riders will cross the international borderline into the United States—and all without a passport!
5. Skylon Tower
Open in 1965, the Skylon Tower is an unmistakeable part of the Niagara skyline. From bottom to top, the tower measures 520 feet high. Located at its base is the Skylon Fun Centre, a large entertainment complex complete with food court, 4D theater, and interactive games fun for the whole family. Not afraid of heights? Take the glass-enclosed “Yellow Bug” elevators up to the top! Mounted on the outside, these elevators were the first of their kind at the time. At the top of Skylon Tower are two dining rooms, twelve specialty shops, and various observation decks from which you can view the falls. On a clear day, you can see up to 80 miles.
4. Niagara SkyWheel
Open in 2006, the Niagara SkyWheel is one of the newest and most fun ways to take in the magnificence of the American and Horseshoe Falls. Measuring 175 feet high, it is the largest observation wheel in Canada and offers tourists a great opportunity for photos. Riding it after sundown is a unique experience in itself as you will be treated to the bright lights of nighttime Niagara and—if you are lucky—a fireworks display. The enclosed gondolas are heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer, so you can enjoy the view all year round.
3. Clifton Hill
Dubbed “The Street of Fun,” Clifton Hill is located one block away from the Horseshoe Falls. It hosts an amazing collection of restaurants and entertainment venues including the Niagara Speedway, Dinosaur Adventure Golf, the Movieland Wax Museum, and the Ripley’s Museum. Splashed with color, walking the sidewalk is an adventure in itself! Whether you are with your family, friends, or a group of tourists, Clifton Hill has something for everyone.
2. Fallsview Casino Resort
The Fallsview Casino Resort provides an exhilarating experience for its more mature patrons. Spread out over 200,000 square feet, the casino boasts over 3,000 slot machines and 130 gaming tables. Depending on the time of year, you might even catch an international poker tournament in action. The casino offers special performances all year round as well. Staying in one of their 374 luxury rooms or suites means you can walk outside and already be in the heart of Niagara—and at night fall asleep to the thunderous crash of the falls!
1. Niagara Falls History Museum
Need a break from the thrills and rush of all the flashy attractions? Then the Niagara Falls History Museum might be your cup of tea. An impressive collection of artifacts can teach you about the War of 1812. Or if you are fascinated with geology, you can learn about the natural creation of the falls themselves. Or perhaps you would rather read about daredevils who risked their lives for an adrenaline rush. The museum is guaranteed to have something within its many immersive exhibits that tickles your interest. Closed to the public for a while, it underwent a $12 million renovation, but reopened in July 2012.
About the Author
Nathaniel Whelan has an M.A. from Carleton University and a diploma in Professional Writing from Algonquin College. When he is not serving coffee at his local Starbucks, he can be found reading, writing, or buried under a pile of LEGO. He currently lives in Ottawa with his partner and pet cats Goose and Loki.
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