Niagara Falls, NY Tourist Attractions
New York State - Canadian province of OntarioThe Niagara Falls - among the largest, most impressive and best known falls in the world - lie in the extreme north-west of New York State.
Here masses of water from Lake Erie plunge over an almost 200 ft drop to flow into Lake Ontario. First described and sketched by a missionary, Louis Hennepin in 1678, they attract over 12 million visitors a year.The flowing water is used to produce energy. The present hydroelectric power stations have a total output of 3 million kW. Before the falls were harnessed to produce electricity, water poured down at the rate of almost 1,300,000 gallons per second. A Canadian-American agreement of 1951 on the joint use of the water guarantees a daytime flow of just under half that amount during the summer and just under a quarter at night and in the winter.Formation The origins of the Niagara Falls go back to the Ice Age, when the river, flowing at a higher level than today over a limestone plateau on the Niagara escarpment, dropped down to the level of Lake Ontario near the present-day town of Lewiston. Then, as a result of retrograde erosion, the falls rapidly moved upstream. Over the last 3000 years they have moved back from the Rainbow Bridge to their present position. The pace of erosion depends on the volume of water going over the falls; but at present rates it can be expected that within a few hundred thousand years the Niagara Falls will be close to the American city of Buffalo.GeographyThe masses of water from Lake Erie thunder over a horseshoe-shaped rock wall 700 yds long at the Horseshoe Falls, which are in Canada, and, a short distance north-east, over the straight American Falls, 360 yds long. The frontier between the United States and Canada runs along the middle of the river.Below the falls the Niagara River flows through a deep gorge varying in width between 90 yds and 330 yds. To the north-west the gorge narrows and forms a series of rapids (the Whirlpool Rapids).The best views of the falls (which are illuminated at night) are to be had from terraces and observation towers on the Canadian side.Even more impressive is a rather damp boat trip in the "Maid of the Mist" (waterproof coats and hats provided). The boat sails past the American Falls into the clouds of spray under the Horseshoe Falls.A cableway on the Canadian side, the Spanish Aerocar, crosses the surging waters of the Whirlpool.Sightseeing helicopter flights are available both on the American side (Goat Island) and on the Canadian side.
Maid of the Mist
The Maid of the Mist is a long running tour boat, and one of the most popular ways to experience the falls on a tour. The boat takes visitors up close to the falls. So close in fact, passengers are given rain coats to protect against the heavy mist and spray from the falls. It passes directly in front of the falls and enters the Horseshoe Basin. White water surrounds the double-decker boat while the water plunges down right in front of you.
From Prospect Point a path crosses a bridge on to little Green Island, in the middle of the rapids just above the American Falls, and then over another bridge on to Goat Island, between the American and the Horseshoe Falls. From the northern tip of this wooded island a gangway leads on to little Luna Island, beyond the narrow Bridal Veil Falls, which are separated from the American Falls by Luna Island.On Goat Island, at the foot of the American Falls, is the entrance to the Cave of the Winds (elevators and tunnel), from which boardwalks lead to just under the falls. From the end of the tunnel under the American Falls the Horseshoe Falls Lower Gorge Walkway leads to the foot of the Horseshoe Falls.
Cave of the Winds Trip
Located on Goat Island, the Cave of the Winds Trip offers a close up, and somewhat wet, look at the falls. Visitors descend into the Niagara Gorge and walk up a several sets of stairs to the Hurricane Deck. From this lookout platform you are only 20 ft / 6 m from the tumbling water of Bridal Veil Falls. Massive amounts of water are falling above you while smaller streams run below the lookout deck. This is one of the most popular activities for tourists in Niagara Falls. It is one of the few ways to see the falls from below, rather than the traditional view from the waters edge at the top of the falls.Participants on this tour are given rain jackets to wear and should expect to get wet.
Niagara Falls Aquarium
The Niagara Falls Aquarium, offers a variety of marine animals, including sea lions, penguins and otters; natural world of the Great Lakes and North Atlantic. Some of the highlights include seal, shark, and penguin feedings, and the sea lion training sessions.
Address: 701 Whirlpool Street, Niagara Falls, NY 14301-1094, United States
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Always closed on: Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $10.00, Senior over 60 $8.00, Child 12 & under $6.00, Child 2 & under FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
Three miles below the American Falls the river changes course again, forming the Whirlpool in a great cauldron originally created by tectonic movements and turning north-east over the Lower Rapids towards Lake Ontario.
Schoellkopf Geological Museum
North-east of the Rainbow Bridge is the Schoellkopf Geological Museum, which traces 500 million years of geological history in the Niagara area. From the museum the Upper Gorge Nature Trail leads to Whirlpool Rapids State Park.
Prospect Park flanks the Falls on the American side, from which there is a fine view. Here the Observation Tower rises above the bottom of the gorge, offering magnificent panoramic prospects. Elevators run down to the landing stage from which the "Maid of the Mist" departs. From the foot of the tower wooden gangways run below Prospect Point to the American Falls. On the upper rim of the gorge, across the road, is the New York State Parks Visitor Center.
Prospect Point Observation Tower
Located at the base of the American Falls in Prospect Park, this 282 foot structure is made of aluminum, glass and steel.
Robert Moses Parkway
The Robert Moses Parkway runs downstream through Whirlpool State Park and then along the Lower Rapids to Devil's Hole State Park. Ahead is a view of the massive Robert Moses hydroelectric station. Then comes the campus of the old Niagara University, with the Castellani Art Museum (art of the 18th-20th centuries). The road continues to the Robert Moses State Power Plant then on through the Niagara Escarpment, a fertile fruit growing area, to where the Niagra River flows into Lake Ontario north of Youngstown.
Niagara Falls State Park
The Niagara Falls State Park is New York's oldest state park, opened in 1885, and home to the three famous sets of falls that it is named after. The parks is composed of an area on main land, and five islands on the Niagara River. It offers over 400 acres with nature and bike trails, paths, picnic facilities, and all kinds of activities and attractions.
Address: Box 1132, Niagara Falls, NY 14303, United States
Located in the Niagara Falls State Park Visitor Center, the upgraded Adventure Theater features a 45 foot screen. It presents the award winning film "Niagara: Legends of Adventure". This is an entertaining piece on the history and drama surrounding the falls over the centuries.
Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University
The Castellani Art Museum features a permanent collection that includes contemporary and 20th century artwork as well as folk art that dates back to the 1850's. Paintings, drawings, photographs and pre-Columbian ceramics are on display. The museum also focuses presents works by well known and emerging contemporary artists.
Niagara Aerospace Museum (Closed)
THIS ATTRACTION RELOCATED AND OPENED UNDER A NEW NAME IN BUFFALO.The Niagara Aerospace Museum is dedicated to Western New Yorkers who contributed to the world's aviation and space flight endeavors. Buffalo was America's center of aviation from 1917 to 1940.
Niagara's Wax Museum of History
Frontier life in Niagara is displayed at the Niagara's Wax Museum of History as well as daredevil's barrels, the making of electrical power, street scenes of the Niagara Falls of yesteryear, and Indian villages using life-size figures.
St Mary of the Cataract Church
Over the Falls Tours
Rainbow Tours of Niagara
Rainbow Tours has 4 hour boat and bus tours that visit the American and Canadian sides of the falls as well as other stops along the way.
Map of Niagara Falls Attractions