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 by a small island at their south end, from the narrow Bridal Veil falls.
Each side of the falls offers a different perspective, and it is always best to visit both sides to maximize your experience. The American side gives a side-on view of the American Falls, and an observation point only 20yds from the top of the falls. It has a more distant and partially obscured view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, as the closest side of the Horseshoe is obscured by the curve of the falls. There are also views of the hotel skyline on the Canadian side. The Canadian side directly faces the American Falls and offers full views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. The Canadian side also has a greater number of attractions and hotels.
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.
Buffalo Airport Shuttle, 716-685-2550,  offers service from the Buffalo-Niagara airport to Niagara Falls. A family of 4 can expect to pay $22 per person and the drivers often have great tips on where to go and what to avoid.
Niagara Falls International Airport (IATA: IAG) is the closest airport to the falls, but it is served by only one commercial airline, charter, and private flights.
DirectAir  has regular direct flights to Ft. Myers, FL and Myrtle Beach, SC. On-site airport parking is free.
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 Toronto is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from the falls. However, expect to deal with heavy traffic in the Toronto area which could make the trip much longer.
Cleveland airport is around 3 hours drive from Niagara, but is a hub for Continental Airlines, and has direct flights to many destinations. It is another opportunity to seek out cheap fares into the region.
From Buffalo-Niagara International Airport: Take the I-90 East to the I-290 West to the I-190 North. Take the I-190 North (over both Grand Island Bridges, $1.00 toll) to the Robert Moses Parkway.
From Toronto Pearson International Airport: Take HWY 427 S to QEW towards Hamilton. Drive for about 100 km and then keep left to take the Provential Route 420 E toward Niagara Falls Bridge to USA. Provential Route 420 E becomes Roberts St. Stay straight to go onto Falls AVE. Turn sharp left onto Rainbow Bridge.
From New York, Boston, and the East Coast: Take I-90 W towards Buffalo to the 290 W. Exit onto the 190 N towards Grand Island and Niagara Falls. Follow highway through Grand Island, than take the exit immediately after the North Grand Island Bridge (as you're leaving the island) for the Robert Moses Pkwy. Continue until in downtown Niagara Falls.
From Chicago and the Midwest: Take I-90 East towards Buffalo to the 190 W. Follow signs for Grand Island and Niagara Falls. Follow highway through Grand Island, than take the exit immediately after the North Grand Island Bridge (as you're leaving the island) for the Robert Moses Pkwy. Continue until in downtown Niagara Falls.
NFTA bus line #210 runs every 2 hours between Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Niagara Falls. Currently it is scheduled until June 30th. See schedule at NFTA's website.
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 bridge westbound to Canada is 0.50 US or Canadian dollar, paid on the Canadian side coming into the US. (There is no eastbound toll.) It can be paid in American or Canadian quarters. If you travel with any baby carriage, you pay no extra toll.
Bicycling can be faster than walking to get around. The toll for bicycling and walking the Rainbow Bridge is the same, but bicyclists are officially supposed to walk their bikes on the sidewalks.
Car is a convenient option to get around, and to see the attractions surrounding the Falls. If you are hiring a car, check the restrictions on driving it into Canada if you want to see the Canadian side of the falls. Even a day trip across the border by car may be in violation of a rental agreement.
NFTA bus #210 travels a little around the Falls area. Other bus routes run in the area, for example to Buffalo.
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.
Maid of the Mist is a boat that takes you right down to the bottom of both falls, with just a little bit of narration. A thin plastic poncho is provided. Take a rain-jacket and souvenir the poncho. You will get wet. You may get soaked. You can choose which by selecting your position on the boat. The boat runs frequently from both the American and Canadian side. If you check today's exchange rate you can find out which side is cheaper.
Cave of the Winds is an elevator ride followed by a guided walkway down to the bottom of the American Falls. You will get wet. Wet weather gear is provided.
Niagara Adventure Theater
The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
Aquarium of Niagara
Niagara Scenic Trolley
You can combine all these attractions with a Niagara USA Discovery pass for $35, which you can purchase at the attractions.
Whirpool Tours in nearby Lewiston is a jet boat ride that will take you to the falls.
Helicopter Rides Howard Johnson's on Rainbow Blvd.
Must stay a night and see the night view of the Niagara Falls. It is equally beautiful.
Niagara Wine Trail, . Not at the Falls, but within driving distance.
There are many operators offering tours of the area:
Bedore Tours, 1-800-538-8433, . Sightseeing tours of Niagara Falls USA and Canada.
Magic Mist Limousine, 1-800-689-8189, . Private Sightseeing tours of Niagara Falls USA and Canada by limousine.
The Mob Tours, . Historic sightseeing tours of former crime family homes, hideouts and people by bus.
Dare Devil Tours, 1-800-599-2088, . Limousine tours highlighting the real life stories of people who challenged Niagara.
Helicopter Tour,  - its an awesome experience even though the charges of $90 seem too much for a 15 minute ride
Niagara Falls Walking Tours, Old Falls and Prospect Sts. (The corner of Old Falls and Prospect Streets, just outside the pedestrian entrance to the Falls State Park), ☎ (716) 880-6242, . See the funny side of the Falls! 90 minute walking tours of Niagara feature the humorous history of the region. Your guide is a former stand-up comic, so you'll laugh while you learn. The 1.3 mile walk is a gentle course that is handicapped accessible and kid friendly. $15.00.
There are outlet malls, which may be of interest to bargain hunters crossing the border.
Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls (Prime Outlets), 1900 Military Road (ake the 190 to exit 22 (Niagara Falls Blvd.) and head south on the boulevard for a very little way until you hit Factory Outlet Boulevard at the first light off the exit. It's across the road from a Bob Evans.), ☎ +1 716 297 2022. Designer names like Coach
There are numerous places to pick up gifts and souvenirs including:
Three Sisters Trading Post, 454 Main Street, ☎ 716-284-3689, . A wide selection of unique gifts and souvenirs
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Twist O' the Mist. has huge portions of frozen custard, ice cream, Italian water ice, and other specialties for very reasonable prices. It is located one block east of the Rainbow Bridge. The building is hard to miss as it's shaped like an ice cream cone.
Halal Mobile Foods, 102 Niagara Street. the food is very good and is a convenient location, the meal is filling, it is in a tourist area
Judi's, (by the Factory Outlets (across the road)). a greasy little bar that has a great wing special on Sunday nights. But, being that you are so close, you could head to Buffalo for Duff's or Anchor Bar (birthplace of the Buffalo chicken wing).
Misty Dog Grill. the place for cheap eats. With over 100 menu items, you can't go wrong. From several different styles of hot dogs to venison, ostrich, buffalo, and kobe beef burgers, this is the best place to eat lunch. Beef On Weck, a Buffalo favorite, is also available here.
Teds Hot Dog's. The best wings in town! Lots of different choices and will make you almost anything you ask for. Food is made by a local family. Located in Lewiston, about a 7 minute drive from Niagara Falls on Center Street.
The Village Pub.
David's, Niagara Falls Blvd. (just south of the city proper). Home of the cheesesteak hoagie. It has some of the best cheesesteaks in the area.
Fortuna's, 827 19th Street. Main courses include handmade gnocchi, ravioli, steaks, veal, poultry, and fresh seafood. They use the freshest ingredients and even their salad dressings are all made there and there is a substantial wine list.
Michaels, Pine Avenue (little Italy). Very good prices and big portions.
La Hacienda, Pine Avenue (next to Michaels). Very good Pizza.
Casa Nova Restaurant, 3041 Military Rd, ☎ (716) 297-9544.
Koi, (Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel). a fairly new Chinese fine dining place, similar to P.F. Chang's
China Garden, 722 Portage Rd, ☎ (716) 282-8100.
Chu's Dining Lounge, 1019 Main St, ☎ (716) 285-7278, .
Taste Good Chinese Restaurant, 1609 Military Rd, ☎ (716) 297-9318.
Taste of India International Buffet, 302 Rainbow Blvd, ☎ (716) 282-8282.
Royal India Buffet, 421 3rd St, ☎ (716) 282-0444.
New Punjabi Dhaba, 26 Niagara St, ☎ (716) 285-7479.
Passage to India, 441 3rd St, ☎ (716) 285-2625.
Kohinoor Indian Restaurant, 200 Rainbow Blvd, ☎ (716) 284-2414.
India Palace, 539 Main St, ☎ (716) 282-2421.
A Taste of India, 626 Niagara St, ☎ (716) 285-8100.
Punjabi Hut, 26 Niagara St.. the only real Indian food around town. Home-style cooking.
La Galera. real Mexican food...very good on Niagara Falls Boulevard. If you are actually familiar with Mexican food, don't eat here; you'll be disappointed. My tamal was filled with ground beef. This is "Mexican" for gringos.
Collaso Taco II, 2440 Pine Ave, ☎ (716) 284-1498. a high rated Mexican restaurant. They don't know what a burrito is - give this a pass!
Mighty Taco, Military Rd. (about 10 minutes away from the actual falls). Way better than Taco Bell.
The drinking age in New York is 21, however, due to the fact that Niagara Falls straddles the border, many 19 and 20 year-olds cross the border into Canada to legally drink. Alcohol is more expensive in Canada.
Oliver Street was in the guiness book of World records for many years for having the most bars on one street. Upwards of 100 bars are still on Oliver. One of the best being Soos's bar (now called Witter's Sports Bar and Grill). Oliver Street is located in NT (North Tonawanda) about 15 minutes from the Falls. At the end there are many things to do. Roller skating, tattoo shops, The Riviera Theatre.
Seneca-Niagara Casino, 1-877-8SENECA (73-6322), . is a brand new casino and hotel complex with stores and restaurants, a short walk from the falls.
3rd Street is a little strip with clubs and bars.
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. Lewiston also has a nice looking B+B, but this is a little drive from everything (very cute little town however). Niagara on the Lake is always worth the drive (Canada).
Niagara Falls Hostel, 1101 Ferry Avenue, +1 716 282-3700, . Beds start at $18 per night. It is located about a mile from the Falls, but the neighborhood between the hostel and the falls is run down and feels less than safe.
The Red Coach Inn, 2 Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls NY (I-190 North to Robert Moses Parkway, Third Exit), ☎ (716) 282-1459, . checkin: 3:00; checkout: 11:00. Historic bed and breakfast inn since 1923. Modeled after the Old Bell Inn in Finedon, England. Overlooks the Upper Rapids. Two-bedroom suites, one-bedroom suites and guestrooms, uniquely decorated with period antiques and reproductions, kitchens, fireplaces, canopy beds, air conditioned, other luxury appointments. Continental breakfast and newspaper are provided daily in the restaurant, plus champagne with fruit and cheese in your room upon arrival. Smoke-free. Pets are not allowed.$99-$199. (43°05.07 N,79°03.79 W)
Wanderfalls Guesthouse & Hostel, 601 Spruce Ave, Niagara Falls, NY (3 blocks from Portage Bus Station), ☎ 716-804-6235, . checkin: 4 - 9 pm; checkout: 11 am. There are three dorm rooms (four beds per room) and one private room (twin bunk). Dorm beds range from $16 - $22 per night. The private room, bedtween $36 - $55 per night. Free WiFi, guest kitchen, BBQ grill, parking, laundry.
The Niagara Falls area code is 716 for the entire area.
The Niagara Falls zip code is 14301-14305
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.
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