Niagara Falls: Which Side is Better?
Because a waterfall such as Niagara Falls
spans two different countries it's natural to ask which side is better. In this case, is the American side
or Canadian side
You've probably heard that the Canadian side is better, and quite frankly, it is in terms of the photographic possibilities. But before you go off jumping to conclusions
and spend most of your time on the Canadian side, there are things you should know about the American side that might help you get the most out your experience here.
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The American side (New York, USA) was where we were able to get up close to all three components of Niagara Falls - Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and American Falls. This meant that unless you're going on a paid excursion
(not counting admission and parking fees), you're pretty much going to see the falls only from the top down or in profile. So in that sense, it could be underwhelming if you're not shelling out additional money to go on those excursions.
It was also quite noticeable how much quieter it was on the American side (though it was still busy). We could probably attribute that to the reputation that Canada was the better side. In addition, we also saw the impact of Vegas-like developments across the Niagara River on the Canada side as the American side pretty much looked right across to those developments. When you compare those developments to the relatively more humble developments on the American side, that could help enhance the feel of the falls being more park-like instead of more Vegas-like on the Canada side.
Naturally, in order to get the most of our Niagara Falls experience, we did go on some of those paid excursions allowing us to experience the falls in many other ways, including getting drenched at the base of Bridal Veil Falls or from the lookout decks looking upstream along the Niagara River towards the mighty Horseshoe Falls among others.
Below are some photos of what you can expect to see and experience on the American side without going a paid excursion (click here
to see photos from the paid excursions)...
The overlook at Terrapin Point
The American side's view of Horseshoe Falls
View towards the Rainbow Bridge and American Falls
Looking along the brink of the American Falls
Another precipitous view over American Falls
Looking down at the catwalks of the Cave of the Winds
The edge of American Falls
Looking past American Falls towards Horseshoe Falls and the Canadian side
Looking over the brink of Bridal Veil Falls
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The Canadian side is where you get gorgeous panoramas of both the American Falls and the mighty Horseshoe Falls. While you can't get right up to the American and Bridal Veil Falls, you can get right up to the brink of Horseshoe Falls. This is the one side where you can get satisfying panoramas of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. Of course, there was a big price tag to go along with the privilege of being so well-situated at the falls as it was definitely more expensive to both stay at, park, and eat on this side.
If you have had enough of the falls, there were numerous casinos and activities for the family both around the falls as well as further downtown away from the falls. There was even the historic Queen Street District (you're better off driving there from Niagara Falls
), which was both charming and provided a little bit of a nice culinary experience (at least at a crepe place we ate at over there). That said, the Vegas-like atmosphere did make us feel as if Niagara Falls
on the Canada side was more of an urban side attraction as most of what was natural was pretty much all gone unless you go further downstream towards the reserves and whirlpools way out of sight of the falls.
Below are some of the photos we took from the Canada side (excluding paid excursions)...
Maid of the Mist boat about to enter the Horseshoe Falls torrent
Right at the brink of Horseshoe Falls
Walking amongst the crowd while trying to find a suitable place to squeeze in and take photos by the falls
The overlooks and sidewalks on the Canadian side were also sandwiched between the Niagara Gorge and the busy road
Looking downstream along the Niagara River
A commanding view of Horseshoe Falls surrounding the Maid of the Mist Boat
Looking across the river towards American Falls
A Canadian side view of all components of the Niagara Falls
View from further downstream on the Canadian side
Lots of people checking out the falls
Looking down at the lower viewing deck of Journey Behind the Falls
Looking right at Bridal Veil Falls dwarfing people on the Cave of the Wind Tour
Exclusive to the Canadian side is the ability to stay in a hotel
with a commanding view of Niagara Falls. See the photos below for a taste of what you can see from the comfort of your room...
Looking out of our hotel room
towards Niagara Falls
Contextual view of Niagara Falls from our room
Looking right down at Horseshoe Falls and tiny people besides it from our room
Another look at the brink of Horseshoe Falls from our room
Looking down at the American Falls from our room
Also best seen from the Canadian side is the Niagara Falls floodlit at night. This usually occurs from the onset of darkness until midnight. They tend to change colors seemingly in random order so you can easily be mesmerized staring at what combination of colors are going to be next. See below for photos that we took of what this looks like...
Context of the lit up Horseshoe Falls fronted by some building lights from our hotel room
Looking down at the floodlit American Falls from our room
Context of the lit up Horseshoe Falls from our room
Floodlit American Falls
Floodlit Horseshoe Falls
Another look at the lit up American Falls
Looking back at Horseshoe Falls and the high rises
Floodlit Niagara Falls from our room
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In our opinion, the Canadian side is better in terms of what you could do without paying extra for the excursions. We also loved staying at a hotel
with amazing views of the falls because we were able to enjoy the falls in the comfort and privacy of our room
However, I'd argue that it's an incomplete experience if you exclusively visit only one side. That's because in general, Canada has the panoramic views while America gets you up close and personal with the waterfalls (including American and Bridal Veil Falls). And both sides gets you up close to the Horseshoe Falls.
Of course, the visual experience isn't all that the considerations to make upon planning a visit here. Indeed, we learned that our experience at the American side was quieter and relatively less commercialized than its Canadian neighbor. It also felt as if the Canadian side was more of a Frankenstein-like hybrid of Las Vegas and waterfall world wonder given its high rise casinos, intense foot traffic, and high prices.
So with both sides, you have to take the good with the bad to make an informed decision.
In any case, it's pretty convenient and straight forward to see both sides. So why not check them out? What do you have to lose?
With all the textual and visual information provided here, we hope you can decide for yourself how to plan your trip (regardless of which side you might think is better).
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What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Going to Falls Since 1955
Just returned from Niagara Falls last week with my wife. My first time was as a kid in 1955. The writers are quite correct. The Canadian side has great …
? about Niagara Falls
We are traveling to the Falls in the summer of 2014. We are coming from MA. I have been reading all the reviews and I am wondering if you all think its …
US Canada Border crossing dilema
The discussions on which side of Niagara Falls is better, the US or the Canadian side, does not take into account what side of the border one starts …
USA Side Disappointing
USA side is not kept up, except state parks. Town is not clean, run down. No little food booths on street except India food. India people have taken over …
Needing passports for the entire family makes seeing the Falls from both sides complex and more costly!
Having been to both sides now...
The New York side is MUCH better!!!
On the American side, you can park free and easily walk to areas with great views of the falls .
On the Canadian …
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