Things to Do in Niagara Falls from New York Side, USA: A Planner’s Guide, Best Hotels, Travel Tips and More Insights

In this travel guide to Niagara Falls, we will share the best way to commute from New York and Buffalo, how to take the cruise, jet boat, and best hotels!

―By Nguyen Oanh

If you ask us to pick one place we loved the most during our 30 days in the States, it’s Niagara Falls! Welcome to our Niagara Falls travel guide! You’re here because you’re looking for the best planner’s guide before visiting this incredible natural wonder! We’ve got you covered! In this guide, we will share the best way to arrive at Niagara Falls from New York and Buffalo, how to take the cruise, jet boat, and best hotels!

Niagara Falls: What’s It Really Like to Approach the Falls Up Close?

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As the third-largest transnational natural waterfall on the entire planet, Niagara is a real headliner when it comes to sightseeing in America. 

It’s – in fact – a mashup of three different falls varying in sizes. The largest one is Horseshoe Falls followed by American Falls and Bridal Veil. They dominate the border between New York, USA and Ontario, Canada. 

Without a doubt, the best experience to contemplate 675,000 gallons of water dropping into the river per second is riding the Maid of the Mist excursion. But don’t rush to think that’s the only thing you can do when visiting Niagara! 

Venturing out to the fall is a whole experience, from walking State Park and crossing Cave of the Winds, to getting all soaked inside a high-speed jet to hiking behind the falls! You need a whole day plus beautiful weather for a hassle-free trip.

Ready to know how we rocked Niagara in our own way? Read on to unveil the best tips and learn how to get there from New York and Buffalo!

Niagara Falls Is More Impressive and Unforgettable Than You Ever Imagined

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For those who haven’t been to Niagara Falls, when they look into the pictures, that’s a beautiful landscape! And for those who visited the falls once, always want to come back! Because that’s a whole experience right there! The intensity, fierce spray, cascading waters, screams and smells all come together to revoke your adrenaline!

What to Do and Sightsee from All Angles of Niagara Falls (USA Side)?

Niagara Falls State Park on Goat Island

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We decided to take a long stroll around Niagara Falls State Park before hitting Prospect Point Park to board the Maid of the Mist excursion. 

At first, we thought most of the park-goers should be tourists like us. It turned out we were wrong! We came across so many locals and US residents heading out fishing, biking, and hiking along the trails.

The park is huge and you will encounter multiple vantage points offering a sweeping view over different falls. We were closer to American Falls so we decided to climb a few sets of stairs to contemplate the soaring waters from there. Lucky for us, it was a nice crisp air the day we were out. 

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The mist collided with beautiful sunlight to create a double rainbow right behind the trees, drawing a diligent bridge spanning over the water. We spent an hour or so heading across Terrapin Point before ending up at the Horseshoe Falls. 

All the paths and grounds are nicely landscaped with visible signs, so you won’t have a headache navigating here and there. We paid a few bucks to enter the park, so make sure you get some pennies ready along the way!

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Cave of the Winds on Goat Island

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Well if you’re already on Goat Island, just walk across Niagara Falls State Park from its main entry point to enter Cave of the Winds. The reason why it’s so famous is the unobstructed view right next to the cascading waterfall.

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While Niagara Falls State Park offers a mild view up above the stream, Cave of the Winds is more on the intense side. The thunderous sound is barging in your ears when you’re standing on the wooden bridge soaked in the splash. 

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Before entering the bridge, you will put on a raincoat and waterproof shoes. Guess what? You can even bring home the shoes and recycle them. The shoes are pretty comfortable so you won’t be stripping at all. 

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The stunning view over Rainbow Bridge from afar is second to none, you can even see the Canada skyline and casino on the other side of the border. We lingered near the bottom of the Bridal Veil Waterfall where the Cave of the Wind is nestled under.

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Bridal Veil is the smallest waterfall compared to the other two, yet the spray is fierce enough to cling on your lens.

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Board the Maid of the Mist at Prospect Point Park

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Riding Maid of the Mist is hands down the showstopper of our whole trip. You’ll probably know that passengers from the American side wear blue raincoats while those on the Canadian side are in red.

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The landscape is definitely second to none but the spray and wind erupted from the falls are shockingly intense. Those ladies wearing makeup on that day remember to have it light as the spray will surely mess around with your rouge, eyeliners and everything.

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Joke aside, the whole point of the voyage is to experience such a powerful and authentic environment with all the spray and thunderous sound, so you shouldn’t fret over getting all wet and embarrassed! 

The excursions are available multiple times a day and you can check in at Prospect Point. It lasts for 20 minutes and you will cruise around the base of Horseshoe Falls. Once the trip is over, you can bring the raincoat home as a keepsake.

There is a paved way around the exit where you can climb to the observation on the top of the falls to a sweeping view.

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Brace the Waves with Niagara Jet Adventures

If boarding Maid of the Mist is not fully satisfying, you’ve gotta ride the jet! The high-speed jet soars across the waves. Since you sit inside the cabin, the spray is not that bad unless you’re at the backside of the cabin – a better call for young passengers!

Mist of the Maid is way larger and it takes you to the base of Horseshoe Fall. Niagara Jet Adventures rides the rapids of the Niagara River. Just so you know, the Niagara River is extremely famous in North America with the deepest and fastest rapids. 

Niagara Jet Adventures is definitely a wild ride! At some points, it will give you high-speed rotating spins in the water. What a wild ride filled with screams and laughter! The water flooded into our cabin and freaked everyone out. 

If time allows, we highly recommend both rides just like how we enjoyed it. If you’re short on time, then prioritize Maid of the Mist and save the Jet for the next adventure.

How to Get to Niagara Falls from New York and Buffalo?

Since the falls in New York, you can base yourself around this city and radiate out to other parts of town in a multiple-day trip. If you’re traveling with your seniors and kids in family, eliminate all the headaches and hassle by signing up for a four-day tour around Washington and Niagara Falls! 

If you rather just fly it out to Buffalo, it would be the fastest way of an hour flight. Train, bus, and car make more sense for a long road trip that spans somewhere between six hours (by car) to eight hours (by train).

If you don’t want to spend that long for the ride, stay in Buffalo and drive to the falls yourself in just under an hour. The cheapest way from downtown Buffalo to the falls is hailing Bus No. 40 to Portage Road Transit Center, then it drops you off to the falls mid-way.

Best Hotels to Stay in Niagara Falls on the US Side Based on Your Budget

Best Luxury Hotels to Stay Near Niagara Falls:

Best Mid-Range Hotels to Stay Near Niagara Falls:

Best Budget Hotels to Stay Near Niagara Falls:

Wrapping Up: Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Niagara Falls? 

Summer months between June and August when the mists and breeze add a cooler touch to the weather.

Do you need a passport to visit Niagara Falls?

No, if you’re within the US side, and Yes if you want to enter the Canadian side.

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