Niagara Falls is beautiful year round, and I highly recommend going at different times throughout the year to witness the uniqueness of each season. With a natural wonder this close, there’s no reason not to go more than once! During peak season (roughly late May-late October) you can expect crowds of people from across the globe wanting to do exactly what you do–see the falls.
A brief overview of Niagara Falls State Park
15 Discover Niagara Shuttle Stops
You can get a Discovery Pass that costs about $40 a person, and includes the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds plus a few other attractions. If you can queue up for a while in the hot sun, both are worth the wait! Both get you close enough to the falls to shower you with cool, river water and an exhilarating experience.
Niagara Falls Visitor Center
The Visitor Center is a stop on the Niagara Discovery Shuttle, and is the hub for anything relating to the falls. You can connect here with the other trolleys that run through the town of Niagara Falls, NY and Goat Island. This stop gets you right next to the American Falls at Prospect Point, Niagara Adventure Theater, Niagara Falls Observation Tower and Maid of the Mist. It’s also located next to the pedestrian bridge connecting to Goat Island, Three Sisters Islands, Luna Island, Cave of the Winds, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
I will say this—the Visitor Center is a super-crazy convergence of tourists! If you can avoid the visitor center and do your research and ticket purchases online, you will be able to enjoy the falls for all their serenity. Alas, they are there if you need them with brochures (download or request an official brochure), itinerary planning (like Explorer, Adventurer, and Thrillseeker), hotel and restaurant recommendations, public restrooms, wi-fi, and air conditioning! If you plan to do a few of the major activities, like Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist, go for the Discovery Pass to save a few pennies.
Observation Tower at Prospect Point
Another cool thing to do is head to the Observation Tower at Prospect Point. This is where folks going on the Maid of the Mist tour queue up to descend in the elevators to the river’s edge. Though you do have to wait in the same queue, you can still appreciate the view from the tower, and you ride one of the four elevators down into the gorge. Instead of boarding the boat, you’ll head toward the American Falls along a trail that will take you close enough to be drenched in mist. Climb a series of stairs to the Crow’s Nest for an incredible natural experience. Not bad for only $1.00! You will get wet, as do the steps and any personal belongings you have. Plan to have something waterproof with you, like those beautiful blue and yellow rain ponchos used for the Maid and Cave attractions.
Niagara Scenic Trolley
There is an all day, hop-on/hop-off trolley service (Niagara Scenic Trolley) available that transports visitors throughout Niagara Falls State Park, hitting all of the attractions and parking lots. The price is included in a Discovery Pass or can be purchased separately.
Discover Niagara Shuttle
There is new shuttle in town as of 2016 called the Discover Niagara Shuttle. It takes visitors on a 2-hour, round trip between Niagara Falls State Park and Old Fort Niagara, with 15 stops along the way including Whirlpool State Park, Youngstown, Lewiston and the Niagara Falls Amtrak train station. This is a great way to experience the area, and it’s FREE. The shuttle runs roughly Memorial Day and Columbus Day.
Points of interest around the American and Horseshoe Falls
Rochester Day Trip