Rainbow Bridge is the first place we ever changed countries on foot. Linking the cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York, it offers splendid views of the Niagara River and Falls. It's OK to stop and take pictures of the scenery while crossing the bridge.
Before going, make sure you have your passport on you, as there are border control points on both sides of the bridge. Quarters are handy too: to exit Canada, you have to pay a 50-cent toll by putting two 25-cent pieces (either American and Canadian, it doesn't matter) in an automatic turnstile.
Bicycles are also allowed on the bridge, but they are subject to the same toll as cars ($3.25) and, for obvious reasons, can't be ridden on the pedestrian path.
Explore Niagara Falls State Park in the comfort of the Niagara Falls Scenic Trolley. Enjoy an overview of the park in half an hour as a knowledgeable guide shares the history of the park with you along the three-mile route, or get off at each of the six stops and explore the Niagara Falls attractions. The Niagara Falls Scenic Trolley is a favorite because they allow you to see the park while you relax and enjoy the ride. Each vintage-style trolley is equipped with modern conveniences and tickets are available at various locations throughout the park, so you can zip from one Niagara Falls attraction to the next.
Trolleys run every 30 minutes
First trolley starts - 9 a.m.
Last trolley starts - 11:30 p.m.
Ride all day for just $1 visiting downtown Niagara Falls USA hotels and attractions. Just purchase a Trolley Day Pass when boarding. It is valid for one adult and two children, age 11 and under. Senior citizens (age 65+), disabled and Medicare cardholders with valid ID pay 50 cents. Exact change is required.
Although there could be a convenience factor when little ones are along for the ride, but we discovered that during American long weekends, they can become jam packed. It is then better to hike then to ride the trolleys.
However, even when they were crowded, we had to take the trolley to cover one long stretch from Parking Area P3 to Parking Area P1. The trolleys make six stops on a three-mile route. We could have stayed on for the full 30-minute loop if it were not very crowded, but we took advantage of the hop-on/hop-off system.
You'll find a number of commercial lots near the falls, especially around the state park. I ended up in the "official" lot right next to the visitor center (I was the second one there.) Parking was $10, and I assume it was for the day - I never did find clarification on that though. It's a good lot, because it was centrally located between the American side, and Rainbow Bridge and the walk over to Canada. Later, there were people across the street hawking a $5 lot, but it was a gravel lot that seemed slightly chaotic. As I was walking around, I did see some areas where it looked like there was street parking, but I imagine this fills up very quickly and would have added a little bit more to a hike that included crossing the border. In the end, the location of the lot next to the visitor center was ideally located and worth the money - after all, if you're walking and viewing the falls, this is really the only charge you'll have!
When I arrived at the airport the information desk suggested using a taxi for $60. fixed price. However what they don't tell you is that, it's common for a lot of the travelers to be going to the falls and that you can share a cab. I was lucky enough to share with a couple, which saved me a few dollars.
The ride is about 30 minutes to the U.S. side, but can take much longer if you are going across the boarder, depending on the traffic on the bridge.
The return trip set up by the hotel was $10.00 less. So you may wish to check with your hotel about setting up your transportation to and from.
As a rule I don't do fixed tours. The idea of being treated like cattle, rushed from place to place, having to listen to someone else's 'little angels' yelling... just isn't my idea of a good time. However this was so different I just had to recommend it. The Grayline - Presidential Tour U.S. & Canada.
To start off they pick you up at your hotel, you ride in a nice limo style van, with comfy sofa seats with lots of leg room, stocked with free ice cold water, soft drinks and wine. Max amount of people 12, the day I went there was only 9. Because of the price ($239) and the fact it's a 10+ hour tour, kids are very rare. Of course the price included everything, including VIP access to all of the sights (no lines), a little box lunch, and a nice sit down dinner at the Hilton's Watermark Restaurant that offers a perfect view of the falls.
The driver/guide (Ron) was by far the best I've had on any trip I've ever taken. First he was a 'mature' gentleman, who appears to love his job. He was extremely knowledgeable of the area, and most of all took the time to learn what was important to each guest. If photos are your thing, he made sure you had time to get your shots, if it was history and info, the would give a mini lecture. Best of all we never felt rushed!
In one day we did/saw:
Maid of the Mist Boat Ride
Journey Behind the Falls
White Water Boardwalk
Cave of the Winds
4 D show
Drive up to see the stuck barge
Several power plants
The Niagara Scenic trolley runs throughout the whole park with designated stops (stops are close to major attractions). You can purchase it seperately for $2.00 which entitles you to hop on and off the whole day and you will be given a wrist band to wear.
You can get on the trolley and pay at the next station.
During the ride, there is a tourguide who will tell you more about the park, the Falls and its islands. Its a very relaxing way of seeing the whole state park.
A whole day trolley ride is also included in the Passport to the Falls ticket.
If purchsed seperately:
Child (6 to 12): $ 1.00
Children 5 and below are free
There are two distinct sides to Niagara Falls, in two seperate countries - the U.S.A. and Canada. Although the Canadian side draws more visitors and has the best views, both sides have their unique appeal and visitors who have time should definitely experience them both.
Connecting the American and Canadian sides is the Rainbow Bridge. You can drive across, but there might be a long line getting through immigation, and parking is very scarce on both sides. If you are safely parked on one side, I recommend you walk across. On our most recent trip Karen and I walked both sides. I must admit we were tired at the end of the day after 10 hours spent mostly on our feet, but it was worth it.
Remember, this is an international border crossing so be prepared. American and Canadian citizens should have no problem if they have documents to establish their citizenship. For everyone, it's best to have a passport. A visa may be required of those from certain countries.
If you are in reasonably good shape and enjoy walking, then I do not recommend you take the Niagara Scenic Trolley. You may end up spending a lot of your time waiting for a ride. However, for some the Trolley might be just what the doctor ordered.
At the Visitor Center you can purchase an all-in-one admission to the six major attractions in and around Niagara Falls State Park, and it also includes a Trolley pass. You'll save 20% off single admission prices, so if you want to see everything - and why not - you may want to get the "Passport to the Falls."
The Trolly circles Niagara Falls State Park, and has stops at or near all of the major attractions.
There are plenty of travel options for a visit to Niagara Falls including the local airport and Amtrak. However should you wish not to stay in Niagara itself then Buffalo is as good a place as any as a base for a day-trip out.
Buffalo once again is served by a local airport and by Amtrak and is within the Niagara Falls Transport Authority region. There is a regular bus service from Buffalo to Naigara running roughly every hour with a few extra buses around peak times and the 30 mile journey, via Grand Island, takes just under an hour.
At the time of writing a one-day unlimited travel pass covering the whole Buffalo/Niagara region cost the princely sum of $3.50.
There is a really nice walking bridge to get over to Goat Island that crosses over the fast moving rapids, it's very wide and you can bike over too. Goat island is the access to Luna Island, Three Sisters Islands, Luna Island, Terrapin Point and the Horseshoe Falls.
You can take the trolley to catch all the views around the Niagara State Park for only $2.00 all day. You can get on and off all day with no issue, they give you a wrist band to wear which I the rebel put around my belt so I wasn't stuck with it on my arm all day and could take it off when I felt like it. If you are handicapped this is a great way to see the sights, it take you all through the park and over to Goat Island also. You can get on the trolley any where in the park and pay at the next station.
If you go BY AIR: You have to fly into either Toronto (Ontario) or Buffalo (New York). Bus and train service(s) are available directly to Niagara Falls from the airport. The plane ride from NYC to Buffalo is just 45 minutes (flight time). But from terminal to terminal check-in and check out it will usually take 3-4 hours... and that is only if there are no delays! Maybe you've already guessed... yes, we took this option.
If you go BY TRAIN: The train station is approximiately 5 miles from the Falls. The train ride is relaxing if you have the luxury of time to spare.... and the ride is about 8-9 hours long and costs US$58.00 each way. There are usually four departures daily starting from 7:00 A.M until 4:00 P.M. Amtrak offers service from Penn Station in Manhattan. You may wish to surf to Amtrak's website to check their daily schedule. And it should costs you US$10 for a cab ride from the train station to the Falls....
If you plan TO DRIVE: God bless you... It's gonna be a long drive! New York City is 406 miles from Niagara Falls. So, it will take you about 6.5 hours to drive from NYC to Niagara Falls....
If you plan to TAKE A BUS: Greyhound has a bus service to Niagara Falls. And this route takes about 9-11 hours. The fare is roughly US$55.00 one way or US$105.00 for a round trip ticket. You can surf straight to Greyhound's website to check on their departure times but be warned - the ride is exceptionally long. :-(
You can get to the Falls in Cars, Busses, Fly into the Niagara Falls,Buffalo or Toronto Airports. I like to park on the American side and walk over the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. You must go through customs to enter The Usa or Canada.
There is an heavy traffic in Niagara. As we progressed and we were closer to the Falls the price of the parkings were increasing. The first one was at 5$CND, then 7$ and close to the falls : 10$. The streets are crammed by touristic shops, all tourist traps.