Niagara Falls 48 Hours

48 Hours in Niagara Falls

Julie Canada, United States 8 Comments

Niagara Falls is a popular destination in North America. Straddling the border between the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, including the mighty Victoria Falls in Africa and Iguaza Falls in South America.

Tourism is booming here, for better or for worse. Not only can you tour the Falls by boat, helicopter, and your own two feet, but there are plenty of activities in the area to keep visitors busy for days. Sure, you could visit Niagara Falls in one quick, rushed day, but it is better experienced with a two day stay (or longer).

Niagara Falls is best visited from both the American side and the Canadian side. The American side has the best “get-up-close” to the Falls activities that require several hours of your time. The Canadian side has better views of the Falls with an assortment of non-Niagara Falls activities perfect for people of all ages.

In order to have the perfect visit to Niagara Falls, you should plan on visiting the United States and Canada.

48 Hours in Niagara Falls

Day 1

Your visit to Niagara Falls starts on the American side. Enter the Niagara Falls State Park and park in Parking Lot 1 near the Visitor Center.

Purchase your tickets for the Maid of the Mist voyage. This is a twenty minute boat ride on the Niagara River. Get up close with all three waterfalls (American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls) and witness the awesome power of these waterfalls. Ponchos are provided but expect to get wet!

  • Tours run every 15 minutes and last 20 minutes
  • Ticket Prices: Adult $19.25    Child (6-12 years) $11.20      5 years & under are free
  • Tour times cannot be reserved in advance
  • Maid of the Mist runs from mid-May (tentative) to November 3 in 2019.
  • For more information, or to purchase your tickets, visit the Maid of the Mist website.

Maid of the Mist

Kara

After the journey on the Maid of the Mist, walk out to the Observation Tower for views of the Falls and Canada. You can also do this while you are waiting for your Maid of the Mist Voyage.

Tim Tyler Kara Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls View

Next is the Cave of the Winds. The Cave of the Winds was one of our favorite things to do at Niagara Falls. To get to the Cave of the Winds, take the pedestrian bridge to Goat Island.

Visitors take an elevator down into Niagara Gorge, then walk along wooden boardwalks to Hurricane Deck. Why is it called Hurricane Deck? Because you are standing under Bridal Veil Falls…the winds and the mist blowing onto you makes it feel like you are caught in a tropical storm. You will get wet!!! It is a thrilling experience, especially for kids.

Visitors are provided with ponchos and special (ugly) sandals.

  • Interesting Fact: every spring the boardwalks are rebuilt and in November they are dismantled.
  • Ticket Prices: Adult $19   Child (6-12 years) $16    5 years & under are free
  • If there is a long wait for tickets, it is worth it!

Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds Sandals

Cave of the Winds Boardwalk

Kids Niagara Falls

After Cave of the Winds, continue your journey on the American side. Walk up to Terrapin Point, a great spot to view Horseshoe Falls.

Terrapin Point Niagara Falls

Kids Terrapin Point

From here, you can dine at the Top of the Falls Restaurant and/or walk around Goat Island. Then it is time to walk back to your car and drive to Canada.

If you have the time, other activities on the American side include the Aquarium of Niagara, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center (gateway into short hikes around the Falls), and Niagara Adventure Theater (45 minute movie about Niagara Falls).

This concludes the tour of the American side of the Falls. Drive across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canada and check into your hotel.

The views of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side are stunning. Take a walk along the Falls. For those who want a bird’s eye view, go to the top of the Skylon Tower.

Niagara Falls Canada View

Niagara Falls Up Close

Have dinner and if you are traveling with kids, they may want to explore the family friendly area of Clifton Hill.

Clifton Hill Niagara Falls

Day 2

Start your day at Journey Behind the Falls. From two viewing decks you can look out from behind Horseshoe Falls. Again, ponchos are provided and expect to get wet. This is fun, but not quite as thrilling as Cave of the Winds.

Journey Behind the Falls

Spend the remainder of the day exploring the area around Niagara Falls. Here are some of the best things to do:

Clifton Hill. This was a favorite of our kids. Putt-putt, the Niagara SkyWheel, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and the Great Canadian Midway are fun activities for families.

Niagara Falls Putt Putt

Take a Helicopter Ride over Niagara Falls. Prices are $149 CAD for adults and $92 CAD for children. Visit the Niagara Helicopters website for more information.

Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservancy. Walk through a rainforest setting, viewing over 2000 butterflies.

Niagara Glen Nature Areas. Hike along the Niagara River.

White Water Walk. This is a walk on a boardwalk along the Niagara River. Visitors get to see the awesome power of this river…Class 6 whirlpool rapids!

Go on a Wine Tour. Winery Tours of Niagara is one of the most popular companies offering wine tours near Niagara Falls. Learn more about the wine region here.

Where to Stay

All of these hotels are on the Canadian side.

Radisson Hotel and Suites Fallsview. This is the place to stay to get a view of the Falls at a budget price. Not all rooms have views of Niagara Falls, so this will need to be requested when you make your reservation.

Marriott Fallsview Hotel and Spa. Excellent views of the Falls and within walking distance of many sites on the Canadian side.

Sheraton on the Falls. Another hotel with views of the Falls. You will need to specifically request a Fallsview room. Having a high floor is ideal. This is where we stayed and we were very happy with it. We loved the views of the Falls and being able to walk to Clifton Hill in a matter of minutes.

View from Sheraton Niagara Falls

Great Wolf Lodge. This is a more expensive option and does not have views of the Falls, but for families that love the Great Wolf Lodge, consider staying here.

When To Go

The best time to go is between the months of May and October. Weekends, especially holiday weekends, tend to be very busy. Several excursions, such as the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds, do not open until mid to late Spring, depending on the levels of ice in Niagara Falls.


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Comments 8

  1. Well done! This post carries its title like a charm! This is more than a mouth full and all that one truly need to know in just one post!
    The pictures are STUNNING! I have never been to Niagara Falls, but I hope to go one day. I knew that the falls crossed the borders, but I didn’t realize that there was a difference in the views/experience! Truly informative guide that I plan to save for when I am able to go on the trip.
    Thank you 😀

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  2. Thanks for sharing this! We went to niagara fall 2 weeks ago and did follow your recommendation visiting the goat island, cave of winds and maid of mist!

    Kids had huge fun playing at hurricane deck. We are glad we spent most of time at US site. It was a great trip.

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      We love the hurricane deck!! Niagara is so much fun, especially when traveling with kids. We are glad you had a great time! Cheers, Julie

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  3. Wow, Niagara Falls just look spectacular! I love your posts. So interesting and well detailed. Everytime I read one of them I write down the destination on a whish list that keeps getting longer and longer…

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