What do you think of when I say Niagara Falls? Thrill seekers going over the Falls inside a wooden barrel? Daring tightrope walkers tiptoeing across them on a barely-there wire? Honeymooners gazing into each other’s eyes instead of actually looking at the Falls? Well, whether all three or none of the above pop into mind, if you’re heading to one of mother nature’s most powerful, awe-inspiring displays of water you certainly want to make sure you don’t miss a thing. And – you’re in luck because today I am here to introduce to you two fabulous new VIP luxury tours that will ensure that you don’t – the Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – Canadian and American Sides and the Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – American Side Only. Both come with door-to-door service in a comfortable, luxury vehicle as well as a savvy, professional and licensed tour guide whose knowledge of the Falls and surrounding attractions is second to none. But wait – there’s more good news! If you’re heading to New York City, you can take advantage of your proximity to Niagara Falls by adding either of these experiences to your itinerary with a day trip to those uber-famous waterfalls up north. To find out which may best suit your plans check out the attractions you’ll visit on each of these experiences below, as well as optional stops that you can also add to your itinerary. Afterwards you can decide for yourself which to participate in to tour Niagara Falls – either while you are visiting the area or as a day trip from NYC.
A Visit To The US Side
While it’s true that Niagara Falls encompasses two countries, as a US citizen you don’t need a passport to enjoy them. That’s right. If you’re a US citizen without a passport, a visit to the US side of the Falls, will certainly not disappoint. And to prove it to you here are all of the amazing things you can see and experience on American soil when you tour Niagara Falls with BTSQ.
Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Did you know that Niagara Falls is actually a trio of waterfalls – the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls? It sure is and we are going to take a look at each of them to see the part they play in being grouped together as one big waterfall. First, there’s the Horseshoe Falls – also referred to as the Canadian Falls – which is the largest and perhaps the most popular. At 167 feet tall, 2700 feet wide and a crest that curves 3000 feet (hence the name), they also lay claim to being the looong way down for 90% of the water in the Niagara River. The American Falls – at 110 feet tall and 950 feet wide – come in as the second largest and reside entirely on the US side – which you probably already guessed based on its name. Coming in third are the Bridal Veil Falls with an initial 78-foot drop (then another 103-foot drop to the very bottom) and a width of 56 feet. This moniker is it’s third as Bridal Veil Falls were referred to as both Iris Falls and Luna Falls in past lives. Oh – and as you may have surmised, the remaining 10% of H2O from the Niagara River makes its way to the bottom over the latter two.
Maid of the Mist
Probably about as well known as the Falls themselves is the double-deck vessel that gets you up close and personal to them – the Maid of the Mist (whose admission is included in both of our VIP Tours of Niagara Falls). Now if you were a fan of The Office (the American version), you know this attraction as the spot of the long-awaited marriage of Jim and Pam. But it’s been around quite a bit longer than the show – and even television itself – as this must experience boat ride of a lifetime has been carrying its delighted passengers past the bottom of the American Falls into the churning whitewater’s of the Horseshoe Falls for over 150 years. Not only will you come away with an immense appreciation of the power of these natural wonders and their 600,000 gallons of water falling per second – but its highly likely you will also disembark wet. But not to worry – you will be gifted with a souvenir rain poncho prior to boarding. And if you are wondering how this long-standing tradition got started, according to the official website it all started in 1846 when some pretty wise entrepreneurs decided they could profit by transporting people (as well as other cargo) across the Niagara River. Out of that idea the Maid of the Mist steamboat was born – only to be re-branded two years later as the sightseeing adventure that we know today.
Cave of the Winds
Perhaps the second most popular attraction in Niagara is the Cave of the Winds, to which your admission is also included in both VIP Tours of Niagara Falls. While the Maid of the Mist will get you seriously up close to the Falls, the Cave of the Winds tour will get you even closer. Now – first off, I must note that the name may be a bit deceiving as it isn’t actually a cave. Not that Niagara State Park is trying to pull one over on us, because at one time it was a cave of sorts where visitors could actually stand under the Falls. The cave, actually more of an overhang, collapsed well over 100 years ago however the name remained. But let me tell you – that does not make it any less exciting! After riding an elevator 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge, you’ll be escorted over several wooden walkways ultimately ending up on the “Hurricane Deck.” Once there you’ll be just 20 feet from the thundering roar of the Bridal Veil Falls where you won’t just feel their power, you’ll also feel some of those hundreds of thousands of gallons of water spraying you as well. Again – no worries – as you’ll receive not only a poncho to help ward off some of the wetness – but special footwear as well.
Niagara Falls Observation Tower
Looking for a panoramic view of the Falls? The Niagara Falls Observation Tower, also known as Prospect Point Observation Tower, will provide you with just that – all at a whopping 282 feet – and yes, admission is included with both VIP Tours of Niagara Falls. This mighty structure made of steel, glass and aluminum will give you jaw dropping views of all three Falls and the frothy and turbulent waters they produce. The Observation Tower extends well out over the Niagara Gorge and is accessible via two glass elevators that are situated at the base of the gorge and offer even more great views on the way up. (This is the spot where you would board the Maid of the Mist as well.) In addition to the Falls, visitors can also get a glimpse of downtown Niagara Falls, Ontario from the tower. And apparently the Falls aren’t the only attraction visitors ascend the dizzying heights to gawk at – it is also quite the popular spot for bird watchers. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and a host of different species of gulls have all been spotted by bird enthusiasts and the Niagara Gorge itself is an officially designated IBA – or Audubon Important Bird Area. And for those of you looking for another refreshing blast of spray from the Falls, while visiting the Niagara Falls Observation Tower you can also climb some steps to what is called the Crow’s Nest to get pretty darn close to mother nature’s handiwork.
Niagara River Gorge
Sometimes overlooked by tourists who flock to see the Falls themselves is the beautiful canyon that comes courtesy of the Niagara River and its Falls – the Niagara River Gorge. This 6.8-mile-long cleft is home to some of the most awe-inspiring views you will find anywhere in the world. Up for some adventure? You’ve come to the right place! Niagara River Gorge – though prohibited to kayakers due to its forceful current – has plenty of other options for you thrill seekers out there. For instance – how about riding a zip line over the gorge compliments of Zipline to the Falls? Not only is it a super cool thing to say you did – but it also affords you the chance to grab some pretty unique views of the Horseshoe Falls. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Take the White Water Walk where you can get within feet of the class six rapids via various viewing platforms. If an open-air cable car sounds more your speed, board the Whirlpool Aero Car that takes you soaring 3,500 feet above the gorge. Fun Fact: On this unforgettable ride you’ll actually swing across the US/Canadian border four times thanks to the elbows in the river – no passport required. While not included on either tour, if your interest and adventurous side is peaked, we can always add one of these activities to your itinerary for an added cost.
A Visit to the Canadian Side
Have a valid US passport? Well then – welcome to Canada! Now, some say the best view of the Falls is from the Canadian side (although we think the views from the US side are quite impressive as well) but you can be the judge of that. In addition to all the amazing things you can experience on the American side, the Canadian side certainly has plenty to keep you busy – as well as in awe – when you tour Niagara Falls with BTSQ.
Table Rock Welcome Centre
Sitting atop the Canadian Horseshoe Falls you’ll find another mainstay that’s been a part of the Niagara Falls experience for almost as long as the Falls themselves have been a popular tourist destination – the historic Table Rock Welcome Centre. Newley renovated thanks to Niagara Parks, here you’ll find among its many amenities two levels of shopping, dining options that include fast food at the new Table Rock Market and fine dining at the Table Rock House Restaurant as well as another experience popular with visitors looking to get up close and personal with the Falls – Journey Behind the Falls. What awaits you on this particular adventure? First, you’ll head down 125 feet via elevator to explore 130-year-old tunnels made of bedrock. Along the way you’ll catch a glimpse of portals that have opened behind the water where you can see and feel the mighty Falls that lie just past them. Continuing on you will then head out to the observation decks for one heck of a view of the largest of the three Falls. At the end of your visit, you can opt to take home your bright yellow poncho as a memento of your time in Niagara or leave it behind for recycling. Note: While a stop at Table Rock Welcome Centre is included in the Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – Canadian and American Sides – entry to Journey Behind the Falls would be at an additional cost should you choose to participate.
What’s 775 feet tall, offers amazing views of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls and has a restaurant that rotates 360 degrees every hour? The Skylon Tower of course! Standing tall over the Niagara Falls Gorge the observatory in the tower also offers views up to 80 miles out on clear days – including the Toronto skyline. And to get to those views is a treat in itself as you will board its exterior glass elevators for the ride to the top – that takes just under a minute by the way. And should you choose to partake in our Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – Canadian and American Sides you’ll be treated to lunch at the Skylon Tower’s Revolving Dining Room Restaurant – tax and gratuity included! This Canadian restaurant boasts views as fabulous as the ones you’ll get from the indoor and outdoor observation decks and – bonus – when you dine at the Revolving Dining Room admission to the Ride-to-the-Top and both observation decks is free! From their famous French Onion soup to a selection of seafood and steak entrees – as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options – its continental cuisine is award winning and it is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, special occasions or a memorable meal while on a family vacation.
Toronto Power Generating Station
Another stop on the Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – Canadian and American Sides is the Toronto Power Generating Station, once a source of hydroelectric power to the city of Toronto, and now a designated a National Historic Site of Canada largely in part because of its designer’s (architect E. J. Lenox) unusual use of Beaux-Arts design which gives it the appearance of an ancient coliseum. This honor was also bestowed upon the imposing structure due to its contribution to the industrial history and development of business, industry and technology in Ontario and Canada overall. This architecturally stunning structure which sits on the edge of the Niagara River at the brink of the Canadian Horseshow Falls also has the distinction of being the first Canadian owned hydroelectric facility at the Falls. The plant was in operation from 1906 through 1974 and at its height produced 100 million watts of electricity to the citizens of Toronto. At the time it utilized an underground infrastructure and a network of tunnels under the river that emptied at the Falls base. Now owned by the Niagara Parks Commission it is up for proposals from the private sector for potential redevelopment but still is an active participant in Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights each year as it becomes the site of a mesmerizing light and sound show that you don’t want to miss should you be visiting from mid-November to late February.
Queen Victoria Park
Searching for one of the most popular areas on the Canadian side to view the Falls? Head to Queen Victoria Park – which is also a stop on the Private VIP Tour of Niagara Falls – Canadian and American Sides. It offers not only spectacular panoramic views of the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls – but plenty of other opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. A rock garden, perfectly groomed lawns, a hybrid tea rose garden, various oh-so-pretty floral displays and a collection of unique native and international plants are just some of mother nature’s handwork that you’ll spot here as you walk through the park which was named after Queen Victoria of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Plus – no matter which season you choose to visit, you will be enchanted by its blooms. In spring over 500,000 daffodils appear alongside the tulips and the magnolia trees, then come summer you’ll find thousands of flora and plants among a plethora of carpet bed displays. With fall comes the chrysanthemums and kale, and when winter arrives the bare branches glisten with the freezing mist courtesy of the Falls. If you get hungry check out the modern yet rustic Queen Victoria Place Restaurant featuring locally sourced foods, Niagara Vintners Quality Alliance wines and craft beers found in the heart of the park. Admission to Queen Victoria Park is free and from the park you can access Journey Behind the Falls, the Niagara Zipline and Hornblower Niagara City Cruises.
Thanks to its wonderment and breathtaking beauty, Niagara Falls has long been regarded as a bucket list destination for millions of people throughout the US and beyond. Perhaps the part that many don’t realize is that you don’t have to vacation in Niagara to experience all it has to offer. If you’re planning to be in the Big Apple and have some free time, it’s truly the perfect day trip from NYC. And don’t forget – all of Beyond Times Square’s tours can be customized to your needs and preferences and there is always support available 24/7 when you travel with us. Give us a call and let us introduce you to these world-famous falls the VIP way.