Don't plan on making a day out of the falls; you really can see it in an hour or two. If you have the opportunity, check it out from the Canadian side -- it is more well kept. If not, walk to the edge, take your pictures (please don't jump -- there are a lot of tourists there who would be scared for life), maybe walk over to Goat Island or Three Sisters Island and then leave. Seriously. Don't spend your money on the Maid of the Mist (though I know people would argue that with me) or the Cave of the Winds, or any of the other stuff that'll suck you dry.
Unique Suggestions: If you go, go at night when the falls are lit up. It's pretty and romantic, and there aren't hordes of people wandering around, and you won't be tempted to do any of the tourist crap because it'll all be closed.
Fun Alternatives: While the falls are nice, if you want un-touristy water falls, go to Letchworth State Park. It is a bit of a drive, but it is gorgeous. If you like photography, make sure you bring plenty of film, as it's gorgeous. The park is open year round.
Along the Genesee River, 35 miles south of Rochester. Exit 7 Interstate 390.
Niagara Falls may be a tourist trap, but it's a necessary tourist trap. Everyone should see Niagara Falls in their lifetime, but plan only to spend one day there. Your best bet would be to park on the American side. Make sure to get on the Maid of the Mist for an up close and personal view of Mother Nature's majesty. After that you'll want to do the cave of the winds tour, which actually takes you underneath and inside the falls. After that hoof it over to Canada to get your best view of the falls. But don't do anything else. It's a waste of money. Clifton Hill is a tourist trap.
When visiting this area Niagara Falls (the city) is mostly a very cheap tourist trap.The only things that are worth seeing and doing in Niagara Falls are the falls themselves and going on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Almost everything else we saw was one cheap to downright worthless attraction all along the Several block-wide 'strip', with a lot of attractions geared towards the frustrsted'I'm bored kids' to the ridiculous trash attractions( Ripley's believe-it-or-not and downhill from there)There are some great things to see in the area near the Falls, such as Fort Niagara, and also some Harriett Tubman and 'underground railroad historical sites and museums in the area.Niagara Falls is also an incredibly noisy city late at night with all kinds of college kids and other I'm-not-at-home-any-more-and-I'm-gonna-raise-hell types abounding at all hours of the night.If you have to stay in Niagatra Falls it's probably a good idea to spend a few extra dollars for a nicer hotel that will ensure you a better chance at a good nights sleep.
Well, of course, some of the best sights in the world have a lot of tourists, but it's worth it for such a view. This is the Canadian side, Horseshoe Falls.