There’s so many things to do in Niagara Falls USA that it can be hard to get to it all! If you’re working on a limited timeline — a weekend getaway, for example — you’ll want to go for our narrowed-down list of things you absolutely have to do here. Get ready for a heady mix of history, culture and, of course, the spectacular nature the area is known for!
1. Niagara Falls State Park
Did you know Niagara Falls State Park is the nation’s oldest state park? Not only are the Falls breathtaking, they’re also embedded in early state and U.S. history. Take in the drama and excitement of the Falls from the Observation Tower near Prospect Point, the only panoramic view of all three Falls. Take the elevator down from the tower to board the iconic Maid of the Mist.
2. Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
Once you’re on the Maid of the Mist, hold on for a boat ride like you’ve never experienced before! Operating since 1846 as a sightseeing tour, the Maid of the Mist can hold up to 600 visitors on each of its two double-decker boats. Famous visitors to the boat have included Princess Diana, President Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev. You’ll go past the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side, then past the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side before ending back at the U.S. side at Niagara Falls State Park.
3. Old Fort Niagara
Originally established in the 1600s by the French, Old Fort Niagara played a role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812. With some of the oldest buildings in the entire Great Lakes region, it’s Western New York’s most tangible link to the Revolutionary War period. Depending on when you visit, you might even experience one of the period re-enactments that take place at the fort throughout the year.
4. Cave of the Winds
How close is up close? Bring your waterproof camera, slip into the special yellow poncho and footwear provided, and follow your tour guide through a series of wooden walkways (built fresh each year!) to the famed Hurricane Deck of Cave of the Winds. There, you’ll find just feet away from the base of Bridal Veil Falls, so expect to get wet from the spray coming off the Falls itself and be awed!
5. Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruise
Take a cruise through history on the Erie Canal on this scenic cruise. You’ll go past five of the original 1800s locks, including the only double set (the boat will rise 50 feet due to the 3 million gallons of water it takes to fill the locks!). You’ll also pass the widest bridge in the U.S. (the Big Bridge) as well as rock cuts, lift bridges and the Upside Down Bridge.
6. Niagara Gorge Hiking Trails
For the serious hiker, getting off the beaten path and descending into the heart of the Niagara Gorge is a must (those who are less experienced will want to stay on the top trails). Just 3 miles from downtown, you’ll find Devil’s Hole State Park where you can access the signature route of miles of trails that take you down to the rapids of the Niagara Whirlpool, edged by rock formations and canyon walls for a breathtaking view of nature up close.
7. Niagara Jet Adventures & Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
The Class V rapids of the Niagara River can be daunting to even seasoned mariners. However, when you add jet-powered boats to the equation, you get a white-knuckled ride that'll test your vocal cords. Both Niagara Jet Adventures and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours take guests on a guided, 45-60 minute tour through the Devil's Hole Class V rapids of the Niagara River. Offering both a wet and dry experience, these high-speed boats will have you craving another adrenaline-packed adventure.