The biggest change in recent years is that now, the historic Maid of the Mist cruise boards and operates from the US side. The Maid of the Mist heads right in to the basin of Horseshoe Falls, where you are sure to get wet (rain ponchos provided in peak season), and come away with the most memorable highlight of a visit to Niagara Falls.
While in the US, you can explore numerous hiking trails that take you quite close to the falls, plus you can access the islands at the rim of the falls, Goat Island and Three Sisters Island. From Goat Island, hike down to Cave of the Winds and Hurricane Deck to come face to face with the thunderous cascades. This is a favorite vantage when the falls are colorfully illuminated at night.
The Canadian side of Niagara Falls offers their own assortment of attractions and ways to experience the Falls. Here you can journey behind the scenes and “Behind the Falls”, getting an up close and personal encounter with the cascading water of Horseshoe Falls plunging from 150 feet above.
If you prefer to stay high and dry, you can marvel at the Niagara Whirlpool from an antique cable car, or check out the natural forming river “waves” further down river along the WhiteWater Walk.
A newer attraction to the Canadian experience is Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which offer the same cruise to the falls as the Maid of the Mist, plus an additional evening Falls Illumination cruise.
Where to stay
Hotels on both sides of Niagara Falls are plentiful, and range from budget to luxury. On the American side, the Seneca is extremely well located. Be sure to request a falls-view room. But for the most spectacular view of Niagara Falls from your hotel room, we recommend staying on the Canadian side, where Embassy Suites is the closest hotel to the Falls. Sheraton on the Falls is also a good choice, and the best vantage of the night time illuminations and fireworks shows.
Both sides are managed by their respective park services, and both sides offer versions of a packaged pass that allows discounted access to several attractions. In the US, it’s the Discovery pass, and in Canada, it’s the Adventure pass. The Adventure pass includes a WEGO access, which allows you unlimited shuttle rides between attractions and points. On the US side, the Niagara Scenic Trolley stops at several points, and has the added benefit of an onboard tour guide.