Niagara Falls (New York)

See Niagara Falls (Ontario) for information about the Canadian side of the falls
Falls seen from Prospect Point on US side, Canadian city in background on the right

Niagara Falls is in the Niagara Frontier region of New York state.

Understand

The Niagara Falls consist of three sections. The large Canadian falls—with their distinctive curved shape—are also known as the Horseshoe Falls. They are separated by Goat Island from the American Falls, which are separated from the narrow Bridal Veil Falls by a small island at their south end.

Each side of the falls offers a different perspective, and it is always best to visit both sides to maximize your experience. In contrast to the panoramic view of the falls afforded by the Canadian side, what is seen from Niagara Falls, New York is a heart-pounding, sidelong, close-up look at the rushing water at the moment it tumbles over the precipice. On the American side, the immediate vicinity of the falls is part of Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the nation. The presence of the state park (originally laid out by renowned landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted) serves to preserve the natural beauty of the area and prevent the kind of commercialization that you'll find on the Canadian side. Visitors looking to experience the falls as a natural wonder will appreciate this.

During the Winter season, a lot of maintenance of the falls, tours, and surroundings takes place. Many areas, such as Terrapin Point and Luna Island, are closed due to slippery conditions. Plan accordingly and attempt to visit during the warmer seasons.

Get in

Overview map of Niagara Falls

By air

Buffalo-Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUF), in Buffalo is a major airport, with flights across the United States. It is about 30-40 minutes away.

Niagara Falls International Airport (IATA: IAG) is the closest airport to the falls, served by two commercial airlines as well as charter and private flights.

John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (IATA: YHM) is about a one-hour drive west of Niagara Falls in the Canadian province of Ontario. The airport hosts low-cost Canadian carrier WestJet which offers frequent flights all over Canada. In addition, Transat Holidays offers weekly direct flights to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ), in Mississauga is about a 1½ hour drive from the falls. However, expect to deal with heavy traffic in the greater Toronto area which could make the trip much longer.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (IATA: CLE), in Cleveland is around 3 hours drive from Niagara Falls, but is a hub for United Airlines, and has direct flights to many destinations. It is another opportunity to seek out cheap fares into the region.

By train

By car

By bus

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA Metro). Route 40 buses provide service from downtown Buffalo.

Get around

The City of Niagara Falls in winter

By foot

You can really do a lot without a car once you get to the immediate vicinity of the Falls. If you are staying downtown you may be able to get by without a car. The toll for walking the Rainbow Bridge westbound to Canada is 50¢ (both U.S. and Canadian currency accepted), paid on the Canadian side coming into the U.S. (There is no eastbound toll.) If you travel with any baby carriage, you pay no extra toll. Do not photograph or film on the Bridge without getting Bridge Commission approval and signing a liability waiver first. You cannot walk across the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

By bicycle

Bicycling can be faster than walking to get around. The toll for bicycling and walking the bridge across the national border is the same. On the bridge sidewalk, bicyclists are officially supposed to walk their bikes, but you may bicycle on the far right lane of the Rainbow Bridge and Lewiston-Queenston Bridge like a car.

By car

Car is a convenient option to get around, and to see the attractions surrounding the Falls.

There is ample parking on the American side of the falls, and parking on the American side and walking across the bridge may be an attractive method of getting to the Canadian side for a day trip.

If parking in the downtown falls area, there are clearly posted signs which should direct you pretty hassle-free to the tourist area. Most shops and attractions are within walking distance from the downtown falls area.

Crossing the Border

If you want to see the Canadian side, you can cross at the Rainbow Bridge (downtown) or the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge (north of the city). Be sure you have proper documentation for yourself (passport or other approved alternative) and your vehicle (registration, insurance card, etc...) If you're driving a rental car, pay particular attention to your rental contract. Unlike driving into Mexico, most national rental firms in the US don't have an issue with you driving into Canada; however, there's a decent chance that Canadian travel is not included in your unlimited mileage allowance, (unless the rental originated in New York State) and surcharges may apply. Remember, you can always park in downtown Niagara Falls, NY and walk across the Rainbow Bridge to enjoy the sights there.

By bus

NFTA Route 55T (the Trolley) loops through downtown Niagara Falls and also connects to the Niagara Falls International Airport.

See

Downtown Niagara Falls

Waterfalls

Views of Niagara Falls are free and accessible. Access to the riverside walks and parks offer great views. You can walk across to Goat Island on the pedestrian bridge.

There are a number of attractions designed to give different experiences of the falls.

90 foot, three deck passenger vessel sails close to and parallel with huge waterfall
The Maid of the Mist and the American Falls

You can combine all these attractions with a Niagara USA Discovery pass for $35, which you can purchase at the attractions.

Must stay a night and see the night view of the Niagara Falls. It is equally beautiful.

Other

Do

There are literally dozens of operators offering tours of the area. Only a few offer value-added services on top of simply ferrying you place to place and describing the sites, though. This one does:

If you get bored with the scenery and don't much care for probability and statistics, the local Native American tribe has just the place:

Buy

There is an outlet mall, which may be of interest to bargain hunters crossing the border.

There are numerous places to pick up gifts and souvenirs including:

Book lovers should definitely check out:

Eat

Budget

  • 2591 Military Rd,  +1 716 297-7198. 10AM-midnight daily, drive-thru Su-Th 10AM-1AM, F Sa 10AM-2AM.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

The drinking age in New York is 21, however, due to the fact that Niagara Falls straddles the border, 19 and 20 year-olds may cross the border into Canada to legally drink. Alcohol is more expensive in Canada.

Sleep

There are not really any major luxury hotels in the area, but a new hotel is now at Seneca Niagara Casino. There are several other nice-looking hotels downtown by the Falls, and then a series of motels on Niagara Falls Boulevard, including several $20/night fleabag specials (where they really always charge you more than that anyway).

Downtown, the best hotels are Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, Doubletree Hotel & Conference Center, and The Red Coach Inn. Radisson on the River is coming soon on Buffalo Avenue and is located on the Niagara River overlooking the North Grand Island Bridge.

There are several B&B's: Butler House, Park Place B&B, and the Elizabeth House.

Connect

Stay safe

Downtown Niagara Falls — that is, the area immediately surrounding the falls themselves — is undergoing something of a renaissance, with a small boom in new hotels being constructed, new shops and restaurants on Old Falls Street, and a general sprucing up compared to a few years back. However, many of the residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown remain rundown, a victim of the economic malaise that swept over the region as a whole in the late 20th Century, a time when many of the chemical plants and other industries that employed residents shut down. If you're straying outside of downtown, common-sense rules for any urban area apply: lock your car doors, avoid flashy displays of wealth, keep your wits about you. Exceptions to this rule are the DeVeaux neighborhood as well as adjacent areas along the lower Niagara River north of downtown, which are quite well-to-do residential neighborhoods, as well as the busy commercial strip of Niagara Falls Boulevard and the adjacent middle-class neighborhood of LaSalle, near Niagara Falls International Airport.

Go next

There are numerous other waterfalls in western New York (all much smaller), notably the 3 falls of the Genesee River within Letchworth State Park. Old Fort Niagara, a historical site, is around half an hour to the north, and Buffalo is about half an hour away.

You can travel to the Canadian side for a closer view of Horseshoe Falls and to visit the other attractions in Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara on the Lake, although you will need a passport or another document proving both identity and citizenship, the main Canada article covers documentation requirements and crossing the border by land in depth.

Lewiston is just to the north, and is usually visited as part of a trip to the Falls. Lewiston's Artpark State Park has a popular open-air auditorium in addition to the normal park activities. Lewiston also has The SandDocks and the Niagara Escarpment on Lewiston Rd.

Routes through Niagara Falls

END  W  E  Buffalo Albany (Rensselaer)
Toronto Niagara Falls (Ontario)  W  E  Buffalo Albany (Rensselaer)
Niagara Falls (Ontario) Lewiston  N  S  Grand Island Buffalo
END  N  S  North Tonawanda Buffalo
END  W  E  Lockport Rochester
END  W  E  Lewiston Rochester
END  W  E  Grand Island Clarence
Ends at Niagara Falls (Ontario)  W  E  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.