Because many folks who stay in the Finger Lakes region are on their way to or from Niagara Falls, I’ve decided to include this article on Niagara Falls, although I primarily cover the Finger Lakes Region:

Niagara Falls

Many people who visit Niagara Falls choose the Canadian side.  While the Canadian side certainly offers the more spectacular view, it is also more tourist-y.  If you’re coming from the American side, there’s also the rigmarole of getting over the bridge and back.

We recently visited the American side where we rode the Maid of the Mist.  What a delightful surprise!

Maid of the Mist and Bridge

Maid of the Mist and Bridge

It was a warm summer day and after a short wait on line, dressed in our blue Maid of the Mist ponchos which acted very much like personal saunas, we filed onto the boat.  The 80′ boat was much less crowded than the times we’d ridden the boat on the Canadian side, so we were able to station ourselves right next to the railings. 

The boat pulled out from the pier and almost immediately, mist from the falls began sprinkling on the ponchos.  It quickly became difficult to carry on a conversation over the roar of the Falls, and soon people were lacing the ponchos tighter in a vain attempt to keep their glasses and faces dry.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “maid of the mist“, posted with vodpod

We chugged past the American Falls, which ranges in height from 70 to 100 feet because of boulders at its base, and the narrow Bridal Veil Falls, and head toward the enormous Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, which has a 173 foot drop.

Now some may be anxious about cruising into the basin of a Falls that drops as much as 202,000 cubic feet of water per second, but the Maid of the Mist boats have been ferrying passengers in these waters since 1846.  Not to worry though…the original Maid of the Mist has long since been retired!  In fact, the Maid of the Mist boats have been known to rescue people, including a seven year old boy who fell in the water upriver and plunged over the falls in nothing more than swim trunks and a life preserver, and lived to tell the tale!

You can practically hear the engines groaning as the boat pulls close to the base of the falls and remains stationery there for several minutes, allowing passengers to feel the force and try to capture the Falls in a photo.  With the sun out, we also saw the famous rainbow that the falls is known to reveal to lucky visitors.

Back at the dock, we discovered that we could mount steps on the east side of the American Falls and view the scene and feel the spray from above, which added to the whole experience.

Surrounding the Falls on the American side is Niagara Falls State Park with the Niagara Gorge Trail System and14.5 miles of trails.  Although we did not hike that day, we were definitely tempted to return because many of the paths lead you very close to the Niagara River.  Visitors can also mount the Observation Tower, visit the Discovery Center, or traipse up wooden steps in “storm wear” to the hurricane deck on the Cave of the Winds Tour.

Note: Video included courtesy of youtube and “Michellening.”

For more on the American side of Niagara Falls, visit:


2 Responses to “Niagara Falls – The American Side”

  1. Andrea Says:

    We are attending a wedding in Skaneateles in June 2009. We are from California and wanted to spend some extra time in the area. Also want to see Niagara Falls. Is it worth it to go to Toronto? Thought we would stay in Niagara-On-the-Lake. Any suggestions about things we should not miss would be very helpful.

  2. thetravelmaven Says:

    Hi Andrea –

    Skaneateles is a lovely town and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the wedding there! You didn’t mention what you enjoy doing, but if you have the time while you’re in the Finger Lakes, you might consider taking in one of the wine trails (The Cayuga Wine Trail will be the closest). If you’re thinking of spending a couple of days in the Finger Lakes, let me know what you like to do and I would be happy send you some other suggestions.

    Niagara-on-the-Lake is charming and a good choice for a place to stay. At the Falls, you’ll want to do the Maid of the Mist boat ride, from either the American or Canadian side. There’s also the Cave of the Winds Tour on the American side where you practically walk into the falls. The Canadian side has a grander view of the falls and has attractions such as Ripley’s wax museum and a butterfly sanctuary. If you have the time, you may want to stop at the American side to do the Maid of the Mist Tour, possibly the Cave of the winds, and see the Park, then cross to the Canadian side for the view.

    Depending on how much time you have, I would definitely go on to Toronto. It’s a lovely city with fun things to do, very much known for its arts, culture and food. Don’t miss the CN Tower if you’re not afraid of heights. There are a couple of great museums there and I’ve seen some wonderful performances there.

    If you’d like more suggestions, please don’t hesitate to write back with your interests. I’m happy to help!

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