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Old 03-15-2013, 12:15 AM
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,617 posts, read 65,657,734 times
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My partner has never before been to Niagara Falls, and I haven't been there since 2005 (Canadian side). I don't have a passport (yet) since I've rarely traveled and was wondering if the Canadian side really is "better" than the American side? I want his first experience at the Falls to be a positive one. With that being said we live so close (Pittsburgh) that if we do visit the American side and find it to be a "bust" we can always return next year to the Canadian side.

I did a search and found numerous threads about Niagara Falls, but the majority just discussed the city as being a raging ghetto outside of the immediate Falls area. We're not interested in exploring the rest of the city.

Some attractions on the American side that have piqued my curiosity:

-Cave of the Winds
-Maid of the Mist (was on this in 2005 and loved it)
-Niagara Falls Observation Tower
-Niagara Aquarium
-Niagara Adventure Theater (is this mostly geared towards kids, though?)
-Grabbing Dinner at Red Coach Inn
-Seneca Niagara Casino

From what I can remember in 2005 Clifton Hill on the Ontario side was very tacky. My partner grew up near Hershey, so we have no need for a Hershey store. We have a Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh. We don't need to see Ripley's or a wax museum. We ate at the Skylon Tower and while the views were certainly impressive we thought the food was sub-par, at best, for the price we paid (I think it came to well over $300 for six of us). There's a casino in Ontario, but there's also one in NY.

Why do so many say the Ontario side is "way better"? We're considering finding a cheap hotel somewhere closer to Buffalo and using that as "home base" as we explore not only the Falls but also your fair city, perhaps dining at the Anchor Bar.

Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:53 AM
280 posts, read 550,537 times
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The American side gives you a more close to nature experience of the river and the falls. You can hike around right near the river on Goat Island and Three Sisters island. The Canadian side, on the other hand, is paved over right up to the brink. Although it is pretty cool to stand by the railing right at the precipice.

The Canadian side is thought to be "way better" probably because there are more places to spend money. The New York side is a state park, and the Cave of the Winds & Maid of the Mist are definite must-do activities (you can get the Maid of the Mist from either side). The Canadian side does have attractive landscaping and a very nice botanical garden nearby.
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:24 PM
870 posts, read 1,246,181 times
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There's a cool walk up to the falls on the American side via Goat Island (I think that's the name). Yes there is a good amount of nature there. The nice thing about the Canadian side is the vista of the whole falls. Do them both! I have never done the Cave of the Winds or the Maid of the Mist. I love the rapids that lead up to the falls on the American side. They're loud and you can get right up close. Very cool and don't fall in
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:13 AM
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The Canadian side is far superior without a question. The view of the Falls from the NY side is inferior. Go ahead and stay on the NY side and don't get a passport, but you'll regret it.
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:12 PM
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As others have noted, the view of the Falls is better on the Canadian side. But I had the time of my life last summer on the U.S. side! That park is like a mystical land with the mist and the up close views of the Falls! I had heard so much negative crap about Niagara Falls, NY so maybe my low expectations explain my enthusiastic and positive reaction. I loved it. We ate at a restaurant within the park overlooking the Falls on an outdoor balcony. It was awesome. Overall a beautiful, fun experience. I had been to the Canadian side about 12 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed that as well. I think ya can't go wrong with Niagara Falls.. it's pretty darn amazing from either side of the border.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:04 PM
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
29,617 posts, read 65,657,734 times
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Thanks so much for the very helpful advice thus far! We're considering booking a room at the Aashram Hotel, which is right near I-190 and about a ten-minute drive to the falls. Online reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Any insight?
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:36 PM
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The Niagara Aquarium is highly disappointing, last time I was there I went through it in about ten minutes. I'd recommend the Buffalo Zoo or one of our local fish stores which are some of the best in the country!
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:07 PM
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Yes, the aquarium is meh. If you go at the right time there are lots of mulberry trees along the path.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:43 PM
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I love both sides of the Falls, but I have to agree that the Canadian side is much better. The American side is still beautiful, but there hasn't been much growth and things to do are limited. There are more sights on the Canadian side, MUCH better restaurants, nicer hotels and again, more to do. The American side is less commercial and Goat Island is peaceful and beautiful.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:35 AM
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Butterfly Conservatory | Let your Spirit Soar at Niagara Parks!

Butterfly Conservatory is nice too, esp. in rotten weather

This link is from the Niagara Parks Comission on the Canadian side; lots of other links in it.
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