Top 5 Niagara Attractions: US or Canada?
Top 5 Niagara Attractions by Country
You want to visit Niagara Falls, but there are two destinations: The New York side or the Ontario side of the border. While Canada offers a much more robust tourism experience, many would refer to as a “tourism trap,” New York’s attractions have their charm, and nearby North Tonawanda, Lockport, and Buffalo add a lot more things to do. This guide breaks down some of the most enticing attractions on both sides of the border to help you finalize your plans.
In recent years Niagara Parks has begun rebranding this one as Niagara City Cruise, which doesn’t sound appropriate or catchy. I’m going to continue to refer to it by its classical name. The Maid of the Mist boats start off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and take passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls. The tour is available starting from either the Canadian or U.S. side of the river, returning to the starting point in each case.
Niagara Falls hotels, attractions, restaurants, casinos and more await you at Clifton Hill. Located one block from the Falls, Clifton Hill is the heart of the tourism industry for Niagara Falls, ON. You will find a variety of attractions along this busy part of town, from a jungle-themed restaurant to a Hollywood wax museum. Our personal favorites are the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! attraction and the Skywheel.
The single largest provincial investment ever made in the Niagara region and is currently the largest commercial development in Canada. The 2.5 million square foot complex includes more than 3,000 slot machines and 150 gaming tables, a 368-room five-star hotel, fine-dining restaurants, a health spa, shopping mall, a 1,500-seat theater and more. The buffet is killer and it’s worth checking the stage schedule to see what world-class acts are making an appearance.
A visit to the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is like a trip back in time. Historical plaques denoting landmarks and notable events from the War of 1812 spot the area. Classy shops, cafes, bakeries, hotels, restaurants and wineries are aplenty. It’s a totally different and welcomed experience away from the gaudy attractions at the falls. Visit nearby Fort George while there.
Located on the scenic Niagara Parkway and the Great Gorge, just a 10 minute drive north of the Falls, this 99-acre garden setting is home to the Butterfly Conservatory and serves as the unique outdoor classroom for students attending the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. In spring, the gardens are worthy of several hours of exploration. It’s a great way to take a break from the sights and sounds of the city, without going too far into nature.
New York, USA
Whether you take off from the Canadian side or the US side, the ride is all the same, with perhaps larger and more modern boats for those leaving from Canada. It is certainly an unparalleled experience and a must-do no matter what side you visit. When exiting, take the “Crow’s Nest” set of steps that wind up the side of the American Falls.
Recently revamped and our absolute favorite attraction of all of Niagara, the new Cave of the Winds begins with a visit through an interactive history exhibit of the falls. Then after a short cinematic on the falls, guests take an elevator ride 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge. Then, clad in a souvenir rain poncho and sandals, you’ll follow a tour guide over wooden walkways to the Hurricane Deck, less than 20 feet from the torrents of Bridal Veil Falls. Now open well into the fall, it offers the closest, most adventurous experience to the fall you can get.
One of the best ways to get a panoramic view of the Niagara Gorge with the American Falls just below and the Canadian Falls off in the distance. Extending out over the Niagara Gorge, the Tower allows you to look directly out into the cascading waters or down into the raging torrents below. The price is low, the deck is highly accessible, and you can spend as much time as you’d like. Plan your visit right around sunset for an unforgettable experience.
More than 120 species are on display, representing ecosystems ranging from the Great Lakes to coral reefs. While small, the place packs a punch with guided tours, educational presentations, animal encounters (including feedings) and more. The cast of trained sea lions is a crowd favorite.
A massive casino owned and operated by the Seneca Nation of Indians and the only one on the American side, Seneca-Niagara offers plenty of slots and table games as well as shops, restaurants, and world-class shows. The Casino floor has an area of 112,590 square feet with an impressive 2,500+ slot machines and the hotel has some of the most luxurious rooms on this side of the border.