Visiting Niagara Falls?

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Oct 30, 2002
Great Lakes
Planning to drive out to the Canadian side of NF this summer (from Chicago suburbs)... I will not have a lot of time, so I was wondering what is the minimum amount of time that's needed to see it?

My plan was to drive out there one Sunday, stay at some motel, then see the Falls on Monday morning and head back home around noon on Monday. So, is about 3 hours enough or will I be missing a lot of good stuff and should plan to stay there the entire day?

Niagara Falls has turned into a tourist trap. IMO, 3 hours is enough time to see it, but you can spend more time there if you want. I've been in the summer and the winter, and IMO, I'd much rather go in the winter. There is almost nobody there, you can get a killer deal on a hotel room (particularly nice if it's just an on-your-way stop) and enjoy the falls for its natural beauty, not all the [censored] they've built around it. I don't remember where I stayed the first time I was there (summer), but in the winter I got an outstanding deal on a one-night stay at the new Seneca Niagara hotel/casino in NY. Of course I think I gave them like another $200 down in the casino...

There's a decent museum on the NY side that is worth seeing, too.
It's doable in 3 hours. The Canadian side has more to see. If you're there for just the falls, you can wander around for 3 hours then drive back. There's hiking in the gorge 7-8 miles downstream from the falls, and that easily eats up a few hours.

For the falls themselves, 3 hours is more than enough.
I live 40 minutes from the falls and go all the time... 3 hours is enough time. I would definitely go to the Butterfly Conservatory near by, definitely worth the price of admission. You get to walk around inside with all the Butterflies flying right past you!

Also go on the big wheel that takes you up in the sky and gives you a birds eye view of the falls (shown below)...

You can get a pass that will let you do both of these attractions.

Here are some pictures:



Canadian side is the way to go. Everything cool is over there. The American side is a ghetto.

Maid of the Mist boat ride is the way to go. You really get an appreciation of the size and power of the falls.

They also have an awesome jet boat ride up that river that goes to the whirl pool.

Of course you could also try a helicopter:

I would say to walk around and see everything like the falls, shops, etc is close to a full day adventure.
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Did you know that the force of the water coming over the falls causes it to recede 1 foot per year? Without the powerplants taking energy out of the falls, it would recede up to 6 feet per year.
Been on both sides, the guys are right the Caanadien side is the way to go. Maid of the mist, as well.
Originally Posted By: StevieC
I live in the country and I didn't even know that... That's cool!

Oops, mean to say that was "on average." There are years with more erosion and those with less. IIRC, 600 years ago the falls wasn't divided into two parts as it is today.

One of many things I learned at the museum on the NY side (though I'm sure Canada has a nice one, too). I recommend it if you're into interesting and nerdy facts.
I might have to go there next time I'm over shopping...

I knew about the 600 years/division thing... I Heard about that on a Canadian TV show we have here called Daily Planet.

and they probably won't be just like the rest of us! mo point int rying to arrest that natural process of water erosion
Thanks all. How long is the Maid of the Mist ride? I can't seem to find this info anywhere.

EDIT: OK, finally got a hold of someone there... they say 30 minutes. Does that sound about right?
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That seems like a lot of driving for a 3 hour visit.
If its your first visit you should plan on being there all day. The maid of the Mist is a must do. The caves behind the falls are really cool, do you remember "Niagara" with Marilyn Monroe.
Yeah , and old movie most likely before your time. The American side town area is not so nice but you should go to the American side to see Goat Island and walk around Bridal Veil Falls. The museum with the barrels that people used to go over the falls is interesting. The cable car over the whirlpool is a chilling ride if you consider its very old and might fail at anytime. Easy to spend a day at the Falls. Oh, two way.
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