Niagara Falls is a MUST SEE for everyone!! We had an absolute blast there. It is the oldest State Park in our nation. We stayed on the USA side of the falls, and I was saddened to discover that the US side is a bit dumpy and unkept. The Canadian side has built up with hotels, suites, restaurants, and such. I will admit that this probably has MUCH to do with the fact that the view of the Falls is marvelous from their side. You get the full on view of all 3 falls.
During the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th Century, the natural beauty of Niagara Falls began to suffer as eager industrialists built mills and factories along the river to harness its power. By the late 1860s, a small group concerned about the preservation of the falls founded the Free Niagara movement, which held that the natural beauty of the land surrounding the falls should be protected from exploitation and free to the public. Members urged New York State to reclaim the falls and the surrounding area.
See more history and fun facts here at the Niagara Falls State Park website. There are some things you may need to know:
- There is a beautiful B&B right near the entrance of the park, no pets allowed at the Red Coach Inn, however I would happily stay there next time we travel through!!
- When booking hotels through a discount website, always do directions, the hotels along Niagara Falls Blvd are a straight shot along that road (which does change names) takes you right to the various visitor centers and parking for the complex.
- The biggest hotel on the American side of the falls is a casino.
- We stayed at Motel 8 on Rainbow Blvd. They had adjoining rooms (necessary for our large, young crew) and a free continental breakfast. The breakfast was donuts and cold cereal, but it fed kids. the rooms were spacious, the queen beds in kid’s room was soft, our king bed was hard, but the location of the hotel bothered me. It was on a corner of a busy intersection, parking surrounded the building ‘alley’ style and none of the entrances were kid friendly with the smoking area right there!! But hey, it was cheap!!! Next time we will stay farther out on Niagara Falls Blvd where the hotels were what I am used to with landscaping and parking lots.
- If you enjoy Indian cuisine, you will love the offering in Niagara Falls. We counted no less than 5 Indian buffets within short walk of the Falls complex.
- Down Niagara Falls Blvd we enjoyed an Asian buffet that was fresh and tasty called New Star Buffet.
- For lunch, we enjoyed a local ‘dog’ joint that was lots of fun called Whistle Pig!! Not only do you get a hot dog just how you wan it (after living in Chicago, this is always fun) but the fries were single cut off the tater and super fun!! The other benefit of this joint was the passing of Wal-Mart 😉 A family vacation staple 😉
- You must ride the Maiden of the Mist! It is the boat ride that takes you right under Horseshoe Falls and past the other 2! You are going to get damp from the spray, however you get a free blue poncho that is longer than most shorts, very handy! For this reason, you may want to do this ride first and use this longer poncho for the Cave walk.
- Cave of the Winds. This is the decking that used to take you into a cave at the base of Bridal Falls, however centuries of erosion has opened it up. This little walk will be a soaker!!! It is also very loud down there, I had terrified youngins. However, my hubby had lots of fun getting his glass of falls water for his boss 😉 My children still remember their experiences on the hurricane deck!!
- Parking on the Sister Islands is only $10 and worth it if walking is a huge problem for you. Getting into the lot before 9am guaranteed us a front row space and a quiet morning view of the falls where we sipped coffee and the kids sat to enjoy the views.
- You can find parking for free along the roads for free and the walks are just beautiful, but they are long.
Next time we visit Niagara Falls, we are hoping to experience it from the Canadian side for the views and hotel options.