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Today's Family Magazine

Ideas for a great trip to Niagara Falls

View from the Skylon Tower.

By Kim Miller
Today’s Family Publisher

My husband and I recently did a two-night trip to Niagara Falls, Canada.  In talking  with family and friends before and after our excursion, we were surprised to find out many have never been there.  This was our fourth time and the experience is always incredibly fun.  So for anybody who has never been, here are some tips from two Niagara “experts.”

First, you need to decide which side to stay on – American or Canadian.  

The American side features beautiful Goat Island, where you can explore the Falls, enjoy a relaxing picnic, and still have access to two popular tourist attractions –– the Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist.  

For this visit, we stayed on the Canadian side.  There are many more attractions available there and the views of the Falls from the street level, hotel rooms and many dining establishments are spectacular.  Remember to bring your passports!

Before crossing the bridge to our hotel, we were sure to take in the experience of the Cave of the Winds on the American side.  You ride an elevator 175 feet deep into the Niagara Gorge.  Then, clad in a bright yellow poncho you travel over wooden walkways to the famous “Hurricane Deck.”  As you stand at the railing, you are a mere 20 feet from the billowing torrents of the Bridal Veil Falls.  Be sure to wear proper footwear and prepared to get very wet unless you clench your poncho tightly around your head.  Even then you WILL get wet. Just be sure to have a towel in the car before heading to your next destination! 

We stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel which has 42 floors that tower above Niagara Falls with an unobstructed view of both the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls.  Spacious two-room suites with kitchenettes and separate living areas provide all the conveniences of home and all the indulgence of a first-class vacation.  Enjoy the nightly illumination of the Falls from the comfort of your own private suite.  Free breakfast is included!

The Falls Incline Railway is near the base of the hotel and allows easy access to and from the Table Rock Centre which features shops, restaurants and access to the Horseshoe Falls.

Table Rock Centre is where the popular Journey Behind the Falls attraction is located.  This consists of an observation platform and series of tunnels near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls that allow visitors to view water cascading in front of open cave entrances.  The tunnels and platform can be reached by elevators from the street level entrance.  The tour is unguided.

Perhaps the most iconic feature, and our personal favorite, is the Voyage to the Falls boat tour run by Niagara City Cruises.  (On the American side this is known as the Maid of the Mist.) 

This is a 20-minute tour that takes you near the base of the Horseshoe Falls and provides great views of the gorge, Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls.  Don’t get caught in the hoopla of getting a spot on the open-aired upper deck.  The front lower deck actually provides the best view and exhilarating experience of water splashing on you.  Recyclable ponchos are provided but the force of wind and water will get you fairly wet.

Another great attraction is the Whirlpool Aero Car.  The antique cable car is suspended from six sturdy cables and offers a wonderful view of the Niagara Whirlpool which is formed at the end of the rapids where the gorge turns abruptly counterclockwise and the river escapes through the narrowest channel in the gorge.

If you are looking for even more spectacular views, consider a glass elevator ride to the observation deck of the Skylon Tower.  This is the highest point from which to the view the falls, is open-aired (windy, but enclosed by fencing) and gives you a 360 degree view of the entire area.

No visit would be complete with out a trip to Clifton Hill aka the “Street of Fun.”  They have it all—fun shops, wax museums, mini golf, souvenir outlets, fudge shops, burgers, themed restaurants, hotels, nightlife, Niagara Skywheel, Niagara speedway (go-karts) and much more.  This is an especially great spot to visit if you are bringing children.  

If walking long distances is not an option, the WEGO hop-on, hop-off visitor transportation system connects all Niagara Parks locations to your hotel as well as other Niagara Falls tourism areas.  We used it frequently and highly recommend it.

Other features to consider on the Canadian side include Niagara’s Fury, Zip Line to the Falls, Butterfly Conservatory, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.  

And before heading back to then USA over the Rainbow Bridge, stop by Niagara Duty Free where you can save up to 50% on brand name products including liquor, wine, beer, tobacco products, fragrances, jewelry, imported chocolates, gifts, souvenirs and more.

Niagara Falls is more than “just looking at water go over a cliff” as my sister once said.  (And for the record she has never been.)  It is a fully immersive experience that will take your breath away at the power of nature and the innovation of man. Bon voyage!

Below are some links to get you started.  Feel free to send me an email if you have questions about the attractions featured in the is article.  I would be happy to share whatever info I can.  Email: [email protected].

Cave of the Winds

Canadian side info:


Journey Behind the Falls:

Whirlpool Aero Car:

Voyage to the Falls:

Clifton Hill:

Skylon Tower:

Niagara Duty Free: