Many often think of Niagara Falls as being in Ontario, Canada, but most people don’t realize that two of the three falls that comprise Niagara Falls are actually located in the United States. While the Canadian side does boast fabulous views of the falls, there are some fun water activities that you can do in Niagara Falls, NY – leaving your passport at home!
Maid of the Mist
Both countries currently offer rides on the Maid of the Mist, although the Canadian Maid of the Mist will cease operations this year (with another company poised to take over in 2014). It’s a family-friendly attraction that’s appropriate for kids of all ages. Guests don a complimentary blue poncho and board the short boat tour of the falls. While guests on one side of the boat got soaked, it’s easy to move over to the opposite side if you’d prefer to only get slightly wet. The Maid of the Mist is the best way to get up close to the falls, and any tourist to Niagara Falls should do it.
Adrenaline junkies can’t leave the Niagara Falls, NY area without a trip on a Whirlpool Jet Boat. These boats travel through class five rapids at a quick speed, soaking passengers in the process. There are three Whirlpool Jet Boat locations in the Niagara Falls area, with one in Canada and two in New York. We visited the Lewiston, NY location, where I was impressed with the professionalism of our guide Shaun and captain Aleeshia. Despite the layers of clothes they provide you, you will get absolutely soaked on the ride, so be prepared with a full change of clothes. If you sit in the first three rows of the boat you’ll feel almost submerged by water at some points, so sit in the back if you aren’t comfortable with that.
Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds is located in the Olmsted-designed Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in America. Guests receive specially-designed sandals and yellow ponchos, and ride in an elevator 175 feet down into Niagara Gorge. Wooden boardwalks are rebuilt seasonally and take you right by the Bridal Veil Falls. If you are brave, be sure to walk all the way to the Hurricane Deck, where you’ll experience the rushing winds and waters of the falls. It’s the closest guests can get to the falls!
If you go:
To get the best photos, invest in a small, waterproof camera. Although you won’t be able to use it during the Devil’s Hole Rapids runs on the Jet Boat, you will be able to use it during part of ride.
This is a guest post by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine. Photo is courtesy of Jodi Grundig.
Disclosure: I experienced these attractions at no cost as part of the TMS Family Travel Conference.