You simply cannot come this far and not see the Falls, which are one of the seven natural wonders of the world. When you arrive, step up to the low railing that runs along the road and take in the spectacular view over Horseshoe Falls. Then consider climbing aboard the Maid of the Mist (5920 River Rd.; tel. 905/358-5781; www.maidofthemist.com). The sturdy boat takes you right in to the basin -- through the turbulent waters around the American Falls; past the Rock of Ages; and to the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, where 159 million L (42 million gal.) of water tumble over the 54m-high (177-ft.) cataract each minute. You'll get wet, and your glasses will mist -- but that just adds to the thrill. Boats leave from the dock on the parkway just down from the Rainbow Bridge. Trips operate daily from mid-May to mid-October. Fares are C$15 adults, C$8.90 children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under.
Go down under the falls using the elevator at the Table Rock Centre, which drops you 46m (151 ft.) through solid rock to the tunnels and viewing portals of the Journey Behind the Falls (tel. 905/354-1551). You'll receive -- and appreciate -- a rain poncho. Admission is C$13 adults, C$7.50 children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under. Another attraction at the Table Rock Centre (which has just completed a C$32-million renovation) is Niagara's Fury. Visitors "experience" the creation of the falls in a chamber that swirls visual images over a 360-degree screen. It's a sense-surround ride, complete with shaking ground underfoot, an enveloping blizzard, and a temperature drop in the room from 75° to 40°F degrees (24°-4°C) in 3 seconds. It's an intense experience, and not appropriate for young children. Fares are C$15 adults, C$9 children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under. (Warning: The operators advise that Niagara's Fury may not be appropriate for children 6 and under, as they might find it too scary. Also, adults with a history of heart disease or back/neck injuries may want to pass on this attraction.) Open daily 9am to 9pm.
If you can't get enough of the falls, ride the external glass-fronted elevators 159m (522 ft.) to the top of the Skylon Tower Observation Deck (5200 Robinson St.; tel. 905/356-2651; www.skylon.com). The observation deck is open from June to Labour Day daily from 8am to midnight; hours vary the rest of the year, so call ahead. Adults pay C$13, children 12 and under C$7.55. It's pricey for an elevator ride.
The Falls are equally dramatic in winter, when ice formations add a certain beauty to it all and the crowds of high summer are wonderfully absent.
The Honeymoon Capital of the World
Seeing Niagara Falls as it is today -- in all of its loud, neon, tacky glory -- you might wonder how anyone would have thought it a romantic destination for a honeymoon. But back in 1801, when the Falls was simply a natural wonder of the highest order, Aaron Burr's daughter, Theodosia, chose it as the perfect place for her honeymoon. Napoleon's brother Jerome Bonaparte followed in her footsteps with his bride a few years later, and then suddenly everybody thought Niagara Falls was the place for newlyweds. Well, not everybody. Oscar Wilde visited Niagara Falls in 1881 and then quipped: "Every American bride is taken there, and the sight of the stupendous waterfall must be one of the earliest if not the keenest disappointments in American married life."
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.