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  • Writer's pictureMatt Huster

Day Trip to Niagara Falls, New York: Everything You Need to Know

What exactly is Niagara Falls?

Niagara Falls is a group of several waterfalls that flow along the Niagara River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and creates a natural border between the United States and Canada. There are two main sections to the falls: American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

Goat Island

Goat Island is an island owned by the United States that State Park visitors can access via both a walking and driving bridge. Here, visitors are able to view Horseshoe Falls and the island side of American Falls. In addition, the must do attraction, Cave of the Winds, is located on the island.

Birdseye view of Niagara Falls

American Falls

American Falls flows on the United States side of the Niagara River, between New York and Goat Island. There are several viewpoints from the top of the falls.

On the "New York" side of the falls, you can first check out American Falls by walking right up to the railing at the base of the falls. Once you've taken in the view from right next to the falls, there's an Observation Tower that you can walk on. It's essentially a half bridge that protrudes over the valley so you can have a better view of the falls.

American Falls in Niagara Falls, New York
American Falls

Because the falls are on the United States side, it is hard to get a full view of the falls, whereas the Canadian side is looking directly at the falls for a full view. This is why the observation tower is a must if you really want a great picture of the falls!

When you cross over the bridge to Goat Island, you will be able to see the same falls from the opposite side. Get right next to the falls by crossing a small bridge over to Luna Island! Once you've checked out American Falls from both sides, you'll want to make your way over to incredible Horseshoe Falls.

American Falls in Niagara Falls, New York
American Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the two falls and wraps around in a U-shape, resembling a horseshoe (..its all starting to make sense)! It can be viewed from the western-most side of Goat Island as it bends around to connect to the Canadian Coast.

The falls are so powerful that mist shoots up in the air from the crashing water and rains on the surrounding area. If you want to get right up next to the falls, be prepared to be standing in what seems like a rain shower, for however long you're there. I definitely recommend coming prepared the mist and getting up close to the breathtaking falls.

Unfortunately, all that mist makes it incredibly hard to get a good photo of the falls. Some days probably have better vision than others but we were not so lucky and failed to capture a quality picture of Horseshoe Falls.

Cave of the Winds

As magical as the views from on top of the falls are, Cave of the Winds won my favor. This attraction allows you to take an elevator down to the bottom of the falls. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Each ticket has assigned times as to keep the viewing deck from getting too crowded.

Here, you will get an absolutely incredible view of American Falls from down bottom, where the water is crashing. It was also the perfect spot to catch some sick rainbows near the falls.

The view of American Falls from Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds

Maid of the Mist

The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour that takes passengers up to the base of Horseshoe Falls. If you thought standing at the top of the falls would be misty, just wait until you get right next to the bottom of them!

An adult ticket and child ticket for this tour is $22.25 and $13 respectively, as of Nov. 2020. Unfortunately, this tour was closed when we visited due to COVID-19.

Niagara Falls at Night

Niagara Falls at Night is an absolute must see if you're planning to stay in the area! Projectors on the Canadian side of the river light of the falls at night with changing colors! The falls and the mist combined with the different color create an otherworldly feeling. Be sure to check this out during your time at Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls at Night, Horseshoe Falls


  • Niagara Falls is a group of waterfalls located on the border between the United States and Canada along the Niagara River

  • Goat Island can be driven or walked two and is the viewing point for Horseshoe Falls

  • There are two main falls: American Falls and Horseshoe Falls

  • Visit Cave of the Winds for awesome views of the bottom of the falls

  • Be sure to check out the light show on the falls at night time

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