This has been my first trip to the US, so like any other touristy first-timer, I wanted to see major spots that I only used to see in books and the television. One of these spots is the Niagara Falls. Since my entrance to the US was through JFK and Niagara Falls is in New York, I thought why not?
This, of course, comes with the ignorance of coming to the US for the first time. New York is humongous! An 8-hr train ride to be exact, from Penn Station in Manhattan all the way to Niagara Falls exit station in Buffalo. The Niagara Falls is located between the New York and Canadian border which flows between two great lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
How To Get There
Our hotel was located in Manhattan, so we took the 7:15AM Amtrak Train from Penn Station. The station has a lot of food options, so it’s better to get some breakfast and lunch which you can enjoy onboard the train. There is a cafe located at the backend of the train, but the food options are limited and the coffee (especially for coffee lovers like me), tastes a bit stale. You can book your tickets online and check updated schedules on their website.
Printing of tickets is not necessary (save paper), you can show the digital e-mail for the QR code. When you get to Penn Station or any station you are embarking from, it pays to arrive a little earlier. If you book coach, it’s free seating, and normally during the tourist season, seats fill up fast. In Penn Station, they form lines early on by the gate. Although it may be tempting to relax in the lounge, go line up and save the lounging for the long train ride. By Bus:
There is also an option to take a bus so you get to enjoy a more scenic route. But with scenic routes comes longer journeys, so if you are limited with time, best to either take the train or fly.
You can fly from JFK to Buffalo, it takes around 1-hr. Airlines such as Jet Blue offer this flight.
When you search for accommodation in Niagara Falls in popular hotel booking websites such as Booking.com or Expedia, you have to be quite attentive before clicking the “reserve” button as you will get offered both New York and Canada options. If you are a tourist with an American visa, you will need to get a Canadian visa to cross the border to your hotel, even though it is a bridge away from each other.
When you read reviews online, many people will suggest visiting Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. The view is better, and the town is more lively with more activities to do. I visited the falls on June, which is supposed to be the start of tourist season, and I was a bit disappointed that restaurants and fast-food chains were still on “holiday” mode, opening only at 11AM.
I stayed in Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, merely for the fact that I can enjoy a great view of the mist of the waterfalls from the room. The accommodation cost around $195 per night, excluding taxes and other fees.
The nearest viewing point to Niagara Falls is located a short walk away from Seneca Niagara Resort. But there are other lookout points where you need to see the waterfalls from, including the lookout from Goat Island and the rainbow bridge. You can also get a sweet view while having a sweet cocktail from the Sheraton.
Maid of the Mist: If you want to experience the full waterfalls adventure, you have to check out Maid of the Mist. For this adventure, be ready to get wet! This is a twenty-minute boat ride from Niagara River, and you get to experience the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls up close.
The tours run every 15 minutes and last about 20 minutes. Ticket costs are $19.25 for adults. The tours are only available between mid-May (depending on the weather) up to early November. To purchase your tickets, click here.
Cave of the Winds: To get to the Cave of the Winds, take the elevator down into Niagara Gorge, then walk across to the Hurricane Deck. Don’t worry about getting wet here as you will be provided with ponchos and sandals. Ticket costs for adults are $19.
If you want to do more than just see the waterfalls, you can explore the other adventures the little town has to offer. To see a list of hotels in the area, click here.
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