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NY side vs Canadian Side?

Clarksville...
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NY side vs Canadian Side?

Can you see anything of the falls from the US side? I read somewhere they are going to start requiring passports to cross into Canada as soon as next year. Has anybody heard about this? I want to go before that happens, but I can't. What do you have to do to get passports? Can you see the whirlpool down-stream from the US side? Cave of the Winds, the observation tower, and the Maid of the Mist sound like really cool attractions on the US side. You can take the maid of the mist from the US side. Does it make a difference? Is Journey Behind the Falls worth it, if I can get over to the Canadian side? What other things am I missing? I am not interested in a aquarium or something like that, just the things related to the falls. I know there is also a couple observation towers and a imax theater on the Canadian side. Also,which is better, Whirlpool State Park in NY or the White Water Walk in Canada to explore downstream of the falls? Can you take a jetboat ride from New York? Is the Journey Behind the Falls worth it or is Cave of the Winds better?

Thanks for any help -

Brewster, New York
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1. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

It's easy to get a passport if you are a US citizen. Google on Passport.....go to the US Gov. site and all the instructions are there. It takes at least 9 weeks....so move on it if you're planning to travel soon.

The Canadian side is VASTLY BETTER than the American side. You can see more and do more, and frankly, it's kept up beautifully! Maid of the Mist is a "must do" if you ask me. Journey Behind the Falls is amazing!! I have done the cable car journey over the whirlpools (from the Canadian side) and it was thrilling. I have not done the jet boat trip, though. There is a fun, albeit touristy, area known as Clifton Hill on the Canadian side. Lots of kitchy stuff like "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" museum, a House of Horrors, several daredevil-inspired museums, Madame Tussaud's Wax museum, etc. There is also a nice aquarium and wildlife park over there.

I don't know if you can see the whirlpools from the US side. A local expert may be able to help you better than I can.

Hope your trip is great.....and my advice would be stick to the Canadian side for a better selection of sights/sounds/adventures/restaurants.

troy mi
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2. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

know that they've backed off a bit on passports - would be easy to check on web

Canadian side 10X better than US - for sites, food, hotels, attractions, shopping, etc

also a couple of overlooked attractions are neat - the Butterfly Conservatory and the Great Gorge Adventure know called the White Water Walk (#2 on my list after the Maid).

Only advantage of US is Cave of Winds - but easy to cross back and forth

Queens, New York
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3. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

I've been to both sides and there's no comparison...Canadian is so much better with many more activities. Never hurts to have a passport either, so just get one and you'll be prepared wherever you go. Many post offices have applications and take your photos as well. Never went on the jet boat.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

The Passport requirement was to be implemented effective January 1, 2008. Due to the heavy backlog of issuing passports, I believe the date has been pushed back for about 3 months (not positive though). Not when you are planning on visiting, but up until the passport requirement, all that is needed is a government issued ID and copy of birth certificate (don't always ask for it, but it is helpful to have). Should you go into Canada, I suggest monitoring the bridge traffic carefully -- it can get really backed up coming back into the States, especially Sunday evenings. The back ups can be found at all Western New York crossings (Rainbow Bridge, Peace Bridge, and Queenston-Lewiston). Generally, the crossing is fairly painless (maybe 15 minutes).

An alternative to driving into Canada is walking. Park on the New York side at one of the many parking lots, and walk across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. It maybe about a 1/2 mile walk but the views from the bridge are terrific! Believe the toll to cross is 50 cents.

As shared by an earlier writer, the views from Canada are great, but do believe he may have slightly overstated with "VASTLY" comment. The biggest drawback for Niagara Falls, NY, is the lousy looking downtown. It looks rather bleak and run-down. However, I suggest you park at Niagara Falls State Park (follow the Robert Moses Parkway from the 190), stay to your left, and the street will pass right by the lot. Park here at walk to the visitors center and then on to the edge of American Falls. It is a good view from here as you are at the falls edge and look right down to the rocks below. The one thing you do not get from the park is the full view of the falls as you would in Canada. Also, in this park you can pay $1 and go out on the obersevation deck for a fuller view of the falls. In this same location you can purchase Maid of the Mist (highly recommend this) tickets. Maid of the Mist departs at the bottom of the tower. After you are done w/this portion of the park, get back in your car and travel to Goat Island (about 3/4 mile away). You can walk, but it is a good walk! On Goat Island, the view of Horseshoe Falls is spectacular! You can walk right to the water's edge. The view of the falls from here is about what you would get from Table Rock in Ontario. A short walk away you can walk up to Bridal Veil Falls (the smallest of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls). There are quite of few trails that on the island, the best is the one that follows the upper rapids before the water crashes over the falls. On Goat Island is where you can purchase tickets for the "Cave of the Winds." An elevator takes you to the base of Niagara gorge and you can then walk right up to the base of American Falls. The trail is wooden decking that has to be replaced each year. The roar of the water is really cool and you will get wet!

Other actitivities on the New York side are:

Travel north from Niagara Falls on the Robert Moses Parkway and stop at Whirlpool State Park. Park your car (its' free) and walk to railing on the edge of the gorge and look into the whirlpool. The view is terrific and it is fun to watch the Jet Boats come up into the whirlpool (I've heard they are a blast, but they are a bit spendy at $50 a ticket; the Jet Boat departs in the US from Lewiston, NY, about 15 minutes from Niagara Falls). If you have the time, take the trail to the bottom of the gorge. The views are awesome and the water is rushing by -- believe class VI rapids. The river is only abuot 150 yards wide. Once at the base of the gorge the trail is relatively flat, but on occassion you do have to climb over rocks. NOTE though, the trail can be strenous as there are 300 steps to climb back up.

If you have the time, I would suggest you keep driving North on the Robert Moses Parkway until it ends at Old Fort Niagara. About a 1/2 hour from Niagara Falls. The fort was built by the French in 1737 and has been occupied by British and US troops as well. The fort is well preserved and interesting to tour (tours are self guided). The fort is located where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. Across the river is Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (another great place to visit). On a clear day, you can see Toronto across Lake Ontario (about 25 miles). Believe the cost to get in is about $9.

Ideally, you will have an opportunity to enjoy Niagara Falls from both Canada and the U.S. However, if you can't get to Canada, there is plenty to do on the US side

Clarksville...
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5. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

I didn't know you could see the horseshoe falls from the NY side. So you can? Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist sound like a must for me. Now, the white water walk vs whirlpool state park for the rapids downstream. Which is better? Isn't there also a hydro-electric plant you can tour on the NY side? I have heard the NY side has more natural surroundings especially that state park. Journey Behind the Falls, isn't that the same thing or same type of thing as Cave of the Winds?

Thanks-

Clarksville...
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6. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

PS: A passport costs a lot of money. I can't see getting one just to go over into Canada. I don't really travel outside the US, so it would be useless afterwords. Would it be a mistake to just see everything from the NY side? Don't you get a grand view of the falls from the Maid of the Mist?

Thanks-

Cincinnati, Ohio
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7. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

Yes, Horseshoe Falls can been seen from Goat Island on the New York side. The eastern side of the falls is in NY while the western side is in Ontario.

I'm not familiar w/the "white water walk" in Canada, but it sounds similar to the walk / hike you can take in NY at Whirlpool State Park. The hike in NY (at the base of the gorge) takes you along the edge of the Niagara River. Looking across the river into Canada, I often see folks hiking over there, and I believe that may be the White water walk. So to answer your question, don't believe it is any better on the Canada side or the U.S. side. Again, the hike into the canyon is down 300+ steps.

The Niagara Hyrdo-electric dam is open for tours. It is about 1 mile north of Whirlpool State Park. Just continue north on the Robert Moses and watch for signs for visitors.

Both the US and Canadian sides offer a mix of urban and natural settings. The US side has Niagara Falls State Park at the edge of the gorge whereas there is a road on the Canadian side then runs along the edge of the gorge. There is a park (believe Victoria Park) that is next to the roadway that is beautiful -- well kept lawns and flower gardens.

The Journey Behind the Falls and Cave of the Winds are similar. Journey Behind the falls (in Ontario) takes you down to the base of Horseshoe Falls where there is a tunnel w/openings that allow you to view Horseshoe Falls from behind . Cave of the Winds on Goat Island takes you to the base of American Falls and you can walk right up to edge where the water crashes into the rocks on wooden decking. There is not a tunnel that allows you to go behind the falls, but it is cool! Rest assured you will get wet but they do provide lite rain / water gear

It is not a mistake to just stay on the NY side, however, if you are vistiing the area before the passport requirement is in place, I would suggest you cross the border into Canada. You are correct that a passport is a bit spendy the first tiem -- $97, however it is good for 10 years.

Lastly, yes you get a very good view from the Maid of the Mist.

Clarksville...
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8. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

Do you have any suggestions on what to do with cameras for Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist? Is the view of Horseshoe Falls pretty good from Goat Island? The White Water Walk costs and the state park doesn't. Can you see the whirlpool? Does a jet boat ride go out from the New York side? Everybody say's you are closer to the falls in NY, but then everybody say's that the Canadian side is better views. Certainly, if I go before the passport requirement is in place, I will travel over to Canada. But, if the requirement is in place, then forget it, unless I am really missing something. I am only going to be there 2 or 3 days and I would probably not use it afterwards. Plus, I have three people, which makes it very costly. I kind of like the sound of the NY side better even though Canada has a nicer downtown. Is the NY side alright right by the falls? Aren't they fixing it up? As long as there are some good hotels and good places to eat, it is fine. I am not looking for shopping or anything like that. Is there any nice places to stay outside Niagara Falls? As far as attractions, Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist seems to be the highest rated. Journey Behind the Falls has mixed reviews. I've seen pictures of it and it just a very tiny porthole. Is that all it is?

Thanks-

Cincinnati, Ohio
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9. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

Answers to your questions:

Camera - suggest placing in a Zip Loc bag. Also, you will have a plastic rain coat as cover on both Cave of the winds and Maid of the Mist. The plastic bag can be used when as you get closer to the falls on both attractions.

Yes, you can see Horseshoe Falls very well from Goat Island in New York. I don't have an e-mail address for New York State Parks, but suggest locating it and go to Niagara Falls State Park and tak a look at the map.

The Whirlpool can be seen from NY from Whirlpool State Park. You will be about 200 feet above the whirlpool. Great view!

The Jet Boat departs from both Canada and the US. On the US side, the boat departs from Lewiston, NY, about 15 minutes north of Niagara Falls

If you are only in the Falls area for 2 days, I would not suggest spending $300 for Passports for the family to visit Canada. Views are nice from Canada, but there are good ones from the US as well.

Niagara Falls downtown does need some work and you are correct, they are working on it. Some noticeable improvements over the past year there.

As for hotels, in downtown NF there is a Hampton Inn, Crowne Plaza, and many others. As for towns around Niagara Falls with hotels, suggest looking at the Lewiston, NY area. Nice small downtown with some good local restaurants. In Niagara Falls, there is a Hard Rock Cafe plus many local eateries (suggest Little Italy area) and for dessert stop at Twist of the Mist (near the Rainbow Bridge).

And yes, the big deal at Cave of the Winds is looking at the back of the falls. The opening is larger than a porthole, more the size of window

Clarksville...
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10. Re: NY side vs Canadian Side?

Sounds neat to see the falls from behind. But, to me being close to falls at the bottom sounds a lot more interesting. Both Cave of the Winds and Journey Behind The Falls have this. If the Journey Behind The Falls didn't let you go behind the falls and it was just the overlook at the bottom, which is better? Journey Behind the Falls is at Horseshoe Falls which is the bigger and more powerful one. And Cave of the Winds is at Bridal Veil Falls. Can you see the famed Class 6 rapids from the state park near the whirlpool? I found out that the White Water Walk is a little upstream of the whirlpool state park on the NY side. Even though the Canada side has some parkland, the new york side seems to have more parkland and more natural environment and less commercial. And there sounds like a lot to do on the NY side. The walk along the bottom of the gorge at Whirlpool SP might be just as good as the White Water Walk. I might consider staying in Lewiston, if it is only 15 minutes away. Things I would like to do: Niagara Falls State Park (Goat Island,etc), Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Niagara Discovery Center, Whirlpool State Park, Devils Hole State Park, The Niagara Power Plant, and Fort Niagara. Most of these we have talked about. Some with have not. What's at Devils Hole State Park? What's the Niagara Discovery Center?

Thanks-