It’s one of the world’s largest waterfalls, though technically Niagara Falls is a set of three: Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, and American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side. To make the most of your visit, there are several ways to view Niagara Falls – you can ride a boat to their base, peer down at them from a tower 700+ feet overhead, or even take a peek from a tunnel behind them.
We took the kids to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and seeing them from different vantage points was important. The Teen has become a budding photographer, so great views were an overriding priority. So, these were our locations of choice:
At the Bottom of the Falls: The Hornblower Niagara ride
It’s one of the most popular things to do in Niagara Falls for a reason. Riding in a boat ride along the bottom of falls is a thrilling adventure for all ages! You’re close enough to get drenched by the powerful spray, and it feels as if you could reach out and touch the rainbows arching through the mist. If you’re on the American side, you take the Maid of the Mist. If you’re on the Canadian side, you take the Hornblower cruise, operated by Niagara Parks.
Our 700-passenger catamaran traveled from the dock on the Niagara Great Gorge past the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and into the midpoint of Horseshoe Falls. We didn’t get completely soaked—much to The Girl’s dismay—because we chose a relatively dry spot in back of the bottom deck, and we made use of the complimentary souvenir ponchos.
Behind the Falls: Journey Behind the Falls attraction
This is another great way to get up close to the falls, and, well, to get even more drenched. Which is a delightful proposition for any seven-year old. From the Table Rock Visitor Centre, you take an elevator down a shaft behind the falls. Once you reach 125 feet, you’re released into a tunnel located about one third of the width of Horsehoe Falls. Two shorter, perpendicular tunnels bring you to a gated opening behind the rushing falls. It’s wet, it’s loud, and it’s pretty exhilarating.
Even more exciting is the bi-level observation deck in front of the falls. The Girl couldn’t get close enough. Having read all about Annie Edson Taylor— the first person to survive a trip over the falls in a barrel in 1901—she was even more intrigued once she could feel the power of the water from 20 feet away.
Above the Falls: Niagara SkyWheel and Skylon Tower
To get great overhead views of the falls, you have several options, including dining in a local restaurant’s top floor, or taking the Incline Railway which connects Portage Road and the visitor center. We did both of these, but we also took the ten-minute ride on the Niagara SkyWheel, a 175-foot tall ferris wheel with 42 climate-controlled, enclosed gondolas. The gondolas have low-glare glass windows, perfect for taking photos of the falls, and the dinosaurs in the mini-golf course directly adjacent!
To really push my fear of heights, we took the outdoor elevator of Skylon Tower to the observation decks at 775 feet. You can stay inside, where signs point out the sites visible from each direction.
Or you can go out and brave the winds while walking around the circular deck. Worth it!
And of course, it’s always a sheer delight to stroll the sidewalk along Niagara Avenue to see the falls at eye level to where the Niagara River drops off in roiling fury. At night, powerful xenon lamps bathe the water in soft color, and during the season, nighttime fireworks shows add to the colorful pageantry.
Hey YOU! Go BIG!
Niagara Falls Tourism