Niagara Falls wasn’t originally on our list of places to stop at. We didn’t think we’d be going near it. We were driving from Massachusetts to Ohio and I assumed we’d be going through Pennsylvania. Nope. Turns out you don’t go through Pennsylvania at all. You drive across the entire state of New York and it takes forever.
We were driving along and started seeing signs for Niagara Falls, so we decided to stop and check it out since we were right there. It’s pretty easy to get to, lots of signs pointing you in the right direction. Just make sure you don’t get in the lane that takes you over into Canada. That would probably be a headache if you accidently did that.
There are lots of public parking lots ranging from $10-$20 depending on how close the lot is to the falls. None of the lots are very far away though, three blocks at the most. Traffic is pretty crazy. It’s a small town with a lot of tourists trying to maneuver around, so be patient and be cautious.
There is a visitor center where you can get information about the falls, buy tickets for the maid of the mist, and grab a souvenir. On the other side of the visitor center is the falls. There is an area that you can view the falls from for free and it’s a pretty decent view. For $2 you can buy a ticket to go out on the overlook and walk on the trail that goes out near the falls. You can see the trail in the picture below. It’s definitely worth the $2 because you get a much nicer view.
We were just passing through so were unable to do the boat cruise, but there’s no doubt that that’s the best way to see the falls. The way the falls are, you can’t really get view of the whole thing from the land. At least not from the American side. Taking the boat ride lets you get right up close to the water. That’s why they call it Maid of the Mist, you get so close to it that the mist hits you. You can see the boat getting close to the mist in the picture below.
I would recommend spending at least one full day in Niagara Falls, possibly two depending on what you want to do while you are there. If the falls are the only thing you’re really interested in seeing then one day would be enough to ride the Maid of the Mist, check out the observation deck and trail, grab some food and stroll around town a little bit.
The town does have a few other tourist attractions though, if you want to turn your trip into a two day adventure. There is an aquarium, a Ripley’s museum, an outlet mall, and lots of souvenir shops and restaurants to check out. There is also Niagara Falls State Park and Goat Island, which both offer hiking trails, picnic spots, and beautiful views.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? Did you ride the Maid of the Mist? How was it?