Niagara Falls is undoubtedly one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders and a must-visit destination for any traveler to North America. In fact, many would consider a visit to Niagara Falls to be one of the top Canada or USA bucket list experiences.
While the waterfalls themselves are the main attraction, visitors are often faced with the question of which side to experience them from – the Niagara Falls Canada side vs US side?
Each side offers a unique perspective and a range of activities and attractions to explore, making it a tough decision for travelers.
In this Niagara Falls travel guide, we compare the two sides of Niagara Falls, highlighting the differences in experiences, viewpoints, and family-friendly options to help you choose which side is best for you and your family.
About Niagara Falls
Millions of people visit Niagara Falls to marvel at the sheer power and beauty of the cascading water. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Niagara Falls is not just one waterfall, but a group of three distinct waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
Horseshoe Falls is also known as Canadian Falls. As the name suggests, this waterfall has a distinctive horseshoe shape and is the largest of the three falls.
Located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, Horseshoe Falls is an impressive 51 meters (167 feet) high and spans a width of over 820 meters (2,700 feet).
It is also the most powerful waterfall in North America, with a flow rate of over 168,000 cubic meters (6 million cubic feet) of water per minute during peak season.
The second waterfall at Niagara Falls is the American Falls, located on the US side of the border.
While the American Falls is not as wide or as powerful as the Horseshoe Falls, it’s still an impressive sight, with a height of 34 meters (110 feet) and a width of 290 meters (950 feet).
The American Falls is known for the large boulders at its base, which were deposited there by centuries of erosion.
Bridal Veil Falls
The third and smallest of the three waterfalls is Bridal Veil Falls, also located on the US side of Niagara Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls is named for the misty veil-like appearance of the waterfall, which is created by the strong winds and powerful spray from the nearby American Falls.
With a height of just 78 feet and a width of 56 feet, Bridal Veil Falls is not as impressive as the other two waterfalls, but it still offers a unique and beautiful perspective of Niagara Falls.
Our experience visiting Niagara Falls in the US and Canada
Niagara Falls is one of those tourist destinations that children in the United States learn about in school.
Growing up, you read historical accounts of adventurous people going over the falls in wooden barrels and suicidal people ending their life by dramatically leaping into the mist below. Because of these tales of danger and demise, the falls are fascinating.
If you’re considering a trip to Niagara Falls, you may be wondering which side to visit – the Niagara Falls Canada side or US side?
As seasoned travelers who have explored both areas of this iconic attraction, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on what each side has to offer and help you decide which side is best for your family.
How to get to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls spans the border of the United States and Canada. It can be viewed from both countries, but which side is better? When planning a visit to this famous landmark, the debate over Niagara Falls Canada vs USA side is sure to cross your mind.
Although you can view Niagara Falls from both the United States and Canada, the vantage points are vastly different.
Luckily, you can easily see and experience both sides of Niagara Falls in one day. However, if you give yourself a few days in the area, you’ll find there are so many things to do in Niagara Falls to keep you entertained.
Most people who visit Niagara Falls from the United States arrive via Buffalo, New York. Buffalo is roughly a 30-minute drive away from the tourist attraction.
There are numerous road signs leading from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to Niagara Falls. So, you don’t even need a GPS to get there.
On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the Ontario city of Toronto is about 1 hour 30 minutes by car. You can also take a day trip to Niagara by boat from Toronto.
But whether you visit from Buffalo or Toronto, getting to Niagara Falls from either city is easy and convenient.
Comparing Niagara Falls Canada Side Vs US Side
|Activity||US Side||Canada Side|
|Boat Tour to Base of Falls||✅||✅|
|Cave of the Winds||✅|
|Jet Boat River Tour||✅||✅|
|Power Station Tour||✅|
Niagara Falls attracts millions of visitors each year. Because this magnificent natural wonder straddles the border between the United States and Canada, let’s dive in and discover the differences between Niagara Falls Canada Side vs US side!
Niagara Falls USA Side
The American side of Niagara Falls is not as developed as the Canadian side. Upon first impression the area surrounding the waterfalls leaves a lot to be desired. This becomes even more obvious the moment you cross into Canada.
From the hotels to the additional attractions, the Niagara Falls Canadian side vs the US side is a night and day difference!
Still, there are definitely a few advantages to visiting Niagara Falls on the American side.
From the American side, you can get much closer to the water than you can from the Canadian side. You can also get a birds eye view of the falls from the Observation Tower.
On the American side they offer several popular tours and experiences.
Cave of the Winds
The Cave of the Winds tour can only be done from the American side of Niagara Falls. It allows guests to climb a walkway right up to the American Falls. The wind feels like you are in a category one hurricane when you are standing next to the falls.
Even though it is called Cave of the Winds, you do not actually go into a cave behind the falls. Instead, it takes you to an area between the American and Canadian Falls where you can climb a short stairway to stand next to the Bridal Veil Falls.
The Bridal Veil Falls are much smaller waterfalls that can almost be mistaken for part of the larger adjacent American Falls.
This activity takes you so close to the waterfall that you will get wet. The cascading water actually runs under the platform you are standing on.
No change of clothes is needed though. They give you a poncho that covers you head to toe.
Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist is a boat tour that takes you into the giant cloud of mist at the base of Horseshoe Falls. This is a must-do at Niagara Falls! The boat ride itself is about 22 minutes long. Young kids under the age of five are free.
As with the Cave of the Winds tour, they give you a poncho that keeps your clothing dry. They also have smaller ones for children.
From the American side, once you exit the Maid of the Mist tour, you can walk up a short staircase to stand next to the American Falls at no additional cost.
It is a great photo opportunity, a quick climb, and if you aren’t going to do the Cave of the Winds tour, then this will be the closest you can actually stand to the falls.
Maid of the Mist is truly the best way to experience this powerful wonder of water. Luckily, this tour is available from the American and Canadian sides.
Jet Boat Tour
Another exhilarating tour for visitors to the USA side of Niagara Falls, the jet boat tour along the Niagara River will give you a different experience. You don’t actually see the falls on this tour, but do prepare to get drenched!
The open-air jet boat takes you through the river’s whitewater rapids. You’re sure to laugh or squeal in shock as the choppy water splashes into the boat.
To participate, kids must be at least 44 inches tall.
Best tour package on the American Side
Niagara Falls Canada side
Niagara Falls’ Canada side offers you a view of the falls that you simply cannot get from The United States. You can get much closer to the Horseshoe Falls from the Canada side.
The Horseshoe Falls are the largest, prettiest, and most powerful of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls.
At night, the falls are illuminated in a rainbow of colors which can truly only be experienced from the Canada side of Niagara Falls.
Like on the American side, there are a few tours and experiences only offered on the Canada side. So, if you are contemplating which side to visit, here are a few tours to consider in the Niagara Falls Canada side vs US side debate.
The Hornblower Cruise
The Hornblower Cruise at Niagara Falls is Canada’s version of Maid of the Mist. It is the exact same thrilling and memorable experience that allows visitors to get up close and personal with Horseshoe Falls.
The cruise takes passengers on a journey through the Niagara River Gorge, past the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and into the misty spray of the mighty Horseshoe Falls.
Whether you visit the American side and go on the Maid of the Mist tour, or visit the Canada side and take the Hornblower Cruise, this is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Niagara Falls.
Zipline over the Falls
For thrill-seekers and adventure lovers, ziplining over Niagara Falls is an experience of a lifetime.
Zipline operators on both the Canadian and US sides of the falls offer visitors the chance to soar above the Niagara River and take in stunning views of the falls from a completely different perspective.
Suitable for children 7 and over, the zipline adventure involves a high-speed zipline that takes riders from a zipline launch pad down to a landing pad near the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.
We’ve been ziplining in Costa Rica and Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and it is sure to get your heart pumping. The 670-meter zipline reaches speeds of 70 kilometers (40 MPH) per hour, and will give you an unforgettable experience.
The Skylon Tower stands 775 feet tall and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area, including the falls and the Niagara River.
Visitors can take an elevator to the observation deck, where they can enjoy 360-degree views of the region.
The Skylon Tower also features a revolving restaurant that offers fine dining, as well as a shopping and entertainment complex at the base of the tower.
Niagara Power Station Tour
It is no secret that Niagara Falls generates an incredible amount of hydropower. Only on the Canada side, you can visit the Niagara Parks Power Station.
Inside the power station you’ll explore historic artifacts, see interactive exhibits, and learn about the history and technology behind hydroelectric power.
You’ll also get to descend in a glass elevator through the power station and into the Tailrace Tunnel. This 2,200-foot long tunnel opens up in the gorge near the base of Horseshoe Falls.
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour
Like the jet boat tour on the American Side, the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour in Niagara, Canada is the exact exhilarating experience that takes visitors through the Niagara River Gorge.
These specially designed boats are equipped with powerful engines that allow them to navigate the rapids and waves of the river, providing a heart-pumping ride as the boat speeds through the whitewater.
Helicopter ride over Niagara
Taking a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls offers a unique perspective of the majestic waterfalls.
As the helicopter takes off and rises above the ground, passengers are treated to a breathtaking aerial view of the falls, revealing the true magnitude of this powerful wonder.
The 12-minute helicopter tour also provides an opportunity to see the falls from a different angle, allowing passengers to appreciate the intricate details and beauty of the area.
Best tour package on the Canada Side
Other Things to Do in Niagara Falls
Near the river on the Canada side, there are beautifully manicured gardens and peaceful green spaces you can explore or simply relax in.
There is also a lovely walking path right next to the river and the waterfalls and a quaint park with a large grassy area for little ones to roam.
Aside from taking in the beauty of the falls, here are a few other things to do in the area.
Waterparks, Carnival Midways, and More
Besides the spectacular views, where Canada really wins this Niagara Falls Canada side vs US side competition is in the atmosphere.
Kids will love the Canada side of Niagara Falls. There are indoor water parks, a Ferris wheel, a Hershey’s store, live music on outdoor patios, and a lot of family-friendly options for dining.
It is more colorful and lively, and although it is very touristy, you can still find some great local attractions, shops, and restaurants.
Niagara on the Lake
Niagara on the Lake is a charming town located on the shores of Lake Ontario, just a short drive from Niagara Falls on the Canada side.
Known for its picturesque streets, historic buildings, and quaint shops and restaurants, Niagara on the Lake is a popular tourist destination.
Visitors can stroll along the main street, lined with beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings, or take a leisurely walk along the lakeshore to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The town also boasts several wineries, offering visitors the opportunity to sample some of the area’s finest wines and learn about the winemaking process.
Where to stay in Niagara Falls
If spending a night or even a few days at Niagara Falls, it’s best to stay on the Canadian side. It is more developed, has a better nightlife, and offers a lot of hotels with views of the falls.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel. The hotel is located directly next to the Rainbow Bridge as you cross into Canada from the US. You will actually see it on your left as you cross the border by car.
The hotel has a lot of charm, with an elegant staircase and chandelier in the lobby.
There are a few perks included in your resort fee, as well. You get discounts at the attached indoor waterpark, beer tasting for two at Niagara Falls Brewery, a family picture at Hershey, and two passes for the WeGo shuttle that takes you to the tourist attractions in the area.
You can also book a room with a view of Niagara Falls, which is especially great on weekends when they light off fireworks over the American Falls.
COMPARE HOTELS AND FIND THE BEST RATES HERE.
Where to Eat in Niagara Falls
Because of its multi-national draw, Niagara Falls has a wide variety of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world.
For a local brew and pub-style atmosphere, check out Niagara Falls Brewing Company. They brew their own beer, and have several different types from which to choose. There is also a nice patio where you can sit and listen to live, acoustic music.
Hard Rock Café is also a popular choice. Offering American cuisine, like burgers and fries, you can enjoy lunch or dinner while admiring the rock n roll memorabilia and taking in the lively atmosphere.
On the American side, a drive back to Buffalo to visit the home of the original Buffalo Wings is a must. Anchor Bar feels a bit like a dive bar restaurant, but this New York staple is worth the visit.
FAQs about Niagara Falls Canada Side Vs US Side
Now that we’ve outlined the best things to do on each side of Niagara Falls and compared the Niagara Falls US side vs Canada side, here are a few frequently asked questions about this iconic landmark in North America.
What do you need to cross the border at Niagara Falls?
Driving across the border from the United States to Canada, or vice versa, is relatively quick and easy at this checkpoint. The wait time is typically less than 15 minutes.
From the United States side, there were two tolls to pay to get to the border that cost $5 USD combined. There is no entrance or exit fee at the border.
US citizens do not need a visa to enter Canada. However, if you are visiting from a different country and crossing the border at Niagara Falls, be sure to check the requirements for your country of citizenship.
Crossing into the USA from Canada at the Niagara Falls crossing, you will once again pay a toll to cross the bridge. At the time of our crossing, the toll was only $1USD, but the price may change, so it is a good idea to have some extra cash, just in case.
The tolls are cash only unless you have a toll pass.
Also, don’t forget your passport! You will need a passport even if you just plan to cross the border for a few hours to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
How many waterfalls are at Niagara Falls?
It is a common misconception that Niagara Falls is one majestic waterfall. However, there are actually three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
What is Goat Island?
Goat Island is a small island located in the Niagara River, between the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls. The island is accessible from the US side of Niagara Falls, and visitors can reach it by crossing a pedestrian bridge from Niagara Falls State Park.
The island was named after a herd of goats that were kept on the island in the early 19th century to provide milk for residents and visitors to the area.
Do you need a passport to cross the border at Niagara Falls?
Everyone, including children will need a passport to cross the border at Niagara Falls. Whether you are driving across the border or walking across, you will have to go through a border checkpoint and present a valid passport to cross the US-Canada border.
Can you walk across the border at Niagara Falls from the United States to Canada?
Yes! Rainbow Bridge is a footbridge across the Niagara River that allows you to walk between Canada and the United States.
There is a small toll to cross the bridge, and you will still need a passport to do so. But, if you want a unique experience and a great view of Niagara Falls, take the Rainbow Bridge across the river from one country to the other.
When is the best time of year to visit Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is a year-round attraction. However, summer is the most popular and most crowded time to visit. The weather is ideal during the summer months, but you can also expect a lot more people.
If you prefer smaller crowds while still avoiding the freezing temperatures that winter can bring, visit Niagara Falls in fall or spring.
Niagara Falls Canada Side vs US Side verdict?
If I had to choose between the two sides of Niagara Falls, I would stick to the Canadian side solely because there are more options for entertainment, dining, and leisure activities around Niagara Falls. However, both sides offer something unique.
The actual waterfalls are impressive. Although I had imagined them taller, like Lower Falls in Yellowstone, it isn’t necessarily the height as much as the sheer amount of water and power cascading down that makes Niagara Falls one of the best natural wonders in the United States and Canada.
And luckily, when it comes to Niagara Falls Canada side vs US side, you don’t have to choose. As long as you have a passport, it is easy to see both sides of this shared site.
Do you have a comment or question about Niagara Falls American Side Vs Canadian Side? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Like it? Pin this Niagara Falls Canada side vs US side comparison guide to save for later!
This Niagara Falls Canada Side Vs US Side Comparison post was first written in June 2016 and was most recently updated in May 2023 for accuracy and current information.
Did you know…
When you make a purchase or book hotels, tours, or other travel services, through our links, we receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We only EVER recommend service providers, websites, or products we personally use when booking our own travels. Your support enables us to keep producing helpful travel content. Thank you!
- Book a HOTEL
- Book a RENTAL CAR
- Purchase TRAVEL INSURANCE
- Book guided tours or excursions at GET YOUR GUIDE or VIATOR
- Book a DESTINATION PHOTOGRAPHER
- Buy TRAVEL GEAR on Amazon
- Book TRAIN TRAVEL IN EUROPE
- Book TRAIN TRAVEL IN ASIA
- Book a FERRY
- Book BUS TRAVEL IN EUROPE
- Buy a PRIORITY PASS MEMBERSHIP for airport lounge access