Get soaked at two incredible Niagara Falls attractions
If you were to power-rank the top North American travel destinations, Niagara Falls would definitely flirt with the No. 1 spot.
And while the thundering Falls isn’t an official Natural Wonder of the World, that snub hasn’t stopped this international attraction from attracting millions.
Niagara Falls State Park
First off – the park is incredible. Central Park designer, the famed Fredrick Law Olmsted, designed the park in a way that preserved native vegetation, embraced wooded footpaths and gave millions of visitors access to the unparalleled beauty of the roaring Falls and the fast-moving Niagara River.
As you enter the park, you’ll see that there are numerous parking lots (paid, not free). As one lot fills, you’re directed to the next. Or you can just choose a lot that fits your agenda for the park. But rest assured, no matter where you land, you’ll be able to jump on the clean and convenient trolley and get to wherever you want to go. Trolley staff share fun facts and tidbits about the Falls as you motor along. Tickets for the trolley can be purchased at the parking lot. And note, the trolley runs from the beginning of July until the end of November.
If you get the chance, find time to roam the park or have a picnic on one of the many patches of green space throughout the enormous park. It’s great scenery and just hearing the roar of the Falls is worth the price of admission.
Cave of the Winds
Open mid-June – end of March
niagarafallsstatepark.com (Cave of the Winds)
We took the trolley to the Cave of the Winds first.
Just FYI, it’s not an actual cave. Apparently it was a cave in the 1800s, but over time the cave gave way and now it’s just an open area beneath the falls.
Pro tip: Both attractions require tickets, but the Cave is the only one that is a timed attraction. So get your reservation and then plan around that. Also, the Cave is a much longer experience with some standing around, especially on a summer weekend. For the Maid of the Mist, there’s a very short wait period.
The Cave of the Winds starts with a self-guided multimedia tour in “The World Changed Here” pavilion, which beautifully tells the amazing Niagara Falls story through models, artifacts, and historical tidbits.
After a short wait in the pavilion, our group was ushered to a small theater to watch a very well-produced video on the Falls and its history of generating electricity, all thanks to Nikola Tesla’s smart noggin.
From there we once again were on the move to get in line for the actual Cave of the Winds climb. It was about a 30-minute wait on the Saturday we visited – but it was worth it!
We worked our way through the series of wooden decks and stairs at several levels of the Falls. Each offered breathtaking views and varying amounts of water crashing down on us. Each guest is given a recyclable poncho that helps a bit – but plan on doused. Wear footwear that can navigate steps. Surprisingly it never felt slippery, but still have good traction.
You would never expect to get this close to the Falls safely, but you end up just feet away from the rushing waters!
The Hurricane Deck is the grand finale, where the rush of water will make you feel like you’ll be swept away. You can try and get a picture in this spot, but you better have a strong hold on your phone – and a great insurance policy. If you pull it off, you’ll have photo evidence of what is sure to be one of your greatest memories.
Maid of the Mist
Open mid-June – start of November
Ticket needed, but not timed entry
While you ring out your shirt, take a couple wet, squishy steps to the trolley and ride over to the Maid of the Mist. The Maid – the oldest attraction in North America – has carried millions of guests since 1846.
Again, you’ll need a ticket, but boats run regularly so it’s not a timed attraction. Just jump in line and wait your turn.
Board the Maid and find your spot. There’s not a bad spot on the two levels of the massive boat, but left/front is where most settle in. Once you get motoring, you’ll wonder how the boat can battle the river and make its way toward the base of the Falls.
Along the way you’ll experience scenery and angles you could only dream of. Rainbows are all around you, and of course – you’re soaked again.
But it’s fun!
Give a wave to the Canadian boat on the opposite side of the river as it chugs along, because you know those nice Canadian folks will be waving at you!
If your phone is still working, grab some pictures for your Christmas card and to make your Facebook friends jealous. All-in-all, the whole experience is magnificent, really, and only takes about 30 minutes.
Nothing compares to a trip to Niagara Falls. It’s an attraction that energizes all your senses and leaves you marveling at nature. Take a trip and soak it all in!