Niagara Falls, USA

Growing up as a kid in India, Niagara Falls was the most popular tourist destination in the USA for me. I vividly recollect pictures of magnificent Niagara Falls featured in Indian magazines, white as snow during the day and brightly illuminated at night. It seemed to me that everyone who went to visit USA from India came back with their pictures with the Niagara Falls. Naturally, it was on my bucket list for a long time and when my mom visited us from India this summer, it was a destination that was definitely on the itinerary.

Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls is the collective name for 3 waterfalls - Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls are the largest of the 3 and are on the border of US and Canada whereas American and Bridal Veil Falls are on the US side. When planning for this trip, I read quite a bit about the pros/cons of visiting the Falls from the US side vs Canadian side. There is only a bridge separating both the sides, so if you have the required visas, by all means cross the bridge and enjoy the Falls from both the sides. However, if you are only able to visit one side, this saying sums it all up for me -  On the Canadian side, you see the Falls, on the US side, you feel them. As the Falls face the Canadian side, there is no doubt that you will get better views from that side, but for me the best part of the trip was not to stare at them but to stand beneath the Falls and experience their force, power and magic and that is possible only on the US side in the 'Cave of the Winds' tour (more on that below). That is a clear winner for me. 

'Rainbow Bridge' connecting US and Canadian sides

If you are anything like me, you don't want to miss the 'Cave of the Winds' tour which typically opens in late May and is available till October. As the dates change each year, you would want to check the Niagara Falls State Park website before booking your trip. It is actually a self-guided tour where they give you a bright yellow poncho and special footwear, take you down an elevator and you follow the wooden walkways to get up-close-and-personal with the Bridal Veil Falls. You start with hearing the roar of the Falls, and as you move closer you feel the spray on your face and as you get to the Hurricane Deck, you are almost standing beneath the Falls. A tiny portion of the Falls even hit the deck and land on you! You can't help but let out a scream as you experience the force, power and magic of the Falls. We went in and out several times and it felt fantastic each time. 

Bridal Veil Falls and View of 'Hurricane Deck' from above

Another popular tour is the 'Maid of the Mist' which typically opens in April. It is a boat tour that starts from the observation tower and takes you past the American and Bridal Veil Falls into the heart of the Horseshoe Falls. As you get engulfed in the mist, you stand in awe of the powerful force of Nature that is right in front of your eyes. 

Maid of the Mist' boat tour

Observation Deck 

You can either purchase the tickets for the 2 tours separately or purchase the Discovery Pass which included the tickets to both the tours, the Niagara movie, Aquarium and Gorge Discovery Center and includes unlimited trolley rides for a day. Niagara Scenic Trolleys are an easy and fun way to get to the various attractions. You can also park your car in the parking lots available and walk to the various sights. We enjoyed the Niagara: Legends of Adventure movie in the Niagara Adventure Theater located in the Visitor's Center. We would not have watched the movie if we did not buy the Discovery Pass, so we were glad we did.

Niagara Falls Scenic Trolley

I also enjoyed the view of the Falls from Luna Island and Goat Island. Though it rained most of the time we were there, I was able to catch a glimpse of the rainbow on the Falls for the brief 1 hour that sun came up on Day 2.

Rainbow on the Falls @ Luna Island

We stayed in an AirBnb in the Niagara Falls area which is a 10-15 minute walk from the State Park and really enjoyed the space. Though I prefer to walk rather than drive to better explore a new city, it would have been cost effective to rent a car as the taxi from airport was expensive at $75 one-way (Uber hasn't started their service here at the time of writing). I was surprised to find several Indian restaurants in walking distance to the State Park, which was super convenient for my mom.

AirBnB in Niagara Falls Area
If you haven't already made the trip, it's a good time plan one for this summer. Hope you get to experience the magic of the Falls soon!


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