One of the considerations when planning a family trip is the practicality. When venturing between country lines, you have hard questions to ask, such as whether you require a passport. Can you visit Niagara Falls without entering Canada?
You can see two of the three waterfalls at Niagara Falls without entering Canada: Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls. You can even view part of Horseshoe Falls – Canada’s waterfall – from the American side of Niagara Falls, but you will need to visit Canada to see it fully.
I’ll provide practical guidance for your Niagara Falls vacation in this article so you can plan seamlessly and have the best time when you get there.
Do You Need to Enter Canada to Visit Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is split between New York and Ontario, Canada. You can’t see the entire park without crossing between the two countries.
Therefore, you don’t have to enter Canada to visit Niagara Falls. You can go to Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara County, New York and witness the majesty of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Activities like Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, and the Top of the Falls Restaurant allow you to stretch out your time here and make a day out of it. After all, it doesn’t take an entire day to see Niagara Falls, only a few hours at most.
However, there are plenty of reasons to get your passport and visit the entirety of Niagara Falls.
You Can Say You Saw the Whole Thing
Niagara Falls has three waterfalls. Perfectionists won’t be satisfied having said they only experienced two of them. Crossing to the Canadian side is the only way to fully check Niagara Falls off your bucket list.
Horseshoe Falls Is Worth Visiting
Although getting through the border is time-consuming and moderately arduous, it’s also completely worth your while.
Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls due to its location, is 170 feet or 52 meters tall, with a crestline width of 670 meters. Although you’d never find out from experience, its river depth at the waterfall base is 184 feet or 56 meters.
The water flow rate of Horseshoe Falls is nothing short of breathtaking. The water moves at a pulsing rate of 168,000 cubic meters per minute. The rate of water travel is 68 miles per hour or 109 kilometers an hour.
It’s truly one of life’s most glorifying and gratifying sights, and you and the entire family will be so glad you did it.
Ontario Has More Activities Than the US Side
Despite the pure majesty that is Horseshoe Falls, I must mention that visiting all three waterfalls still doesn’t take up a tremendous amount of time. You will seek activities to round out your experience, especially if you stay in the area for several days.
I mentioned some of the activities you can do on the New York side of Niagara Falls earlier in this section. While there are certainly more, they pale in comparison to the variety of activities and attractions available in Ontario.
From indoor water parks where the temperature is always balmy to outdoor theme parks with dark rides, up-close-and-personal tours of Horseshoe Falls, scenic drives, outdoor parks, and the free Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, families can stay entertained no matter their budget.
Can Niagara Falls Be Seen From the USA?
Perhaps you didn’t realize you needed a passport to visit all three waterfalls within Niagara Falls, but it’s too late, and you’re already on your way.
You can at least see the three waterfalls from the US side. Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are accessible on your trip, but you’ll have to settle for glimpsing Horseshoe Falls from afar.
It’s certainly better than nothing, but for the reasons above, I recommend visiting both sides of the park if you can.
Can You Go on Maid of the Mist Without a Passport?
Maid of the Mist is one of Niagara Falls’ most prominent attractions. This boat tour is perfect for sightseeing. You can take in a new vantage point of Niagara Falls as you ride the Nikola Tesla or James V. Glynn boats.
The boat tour agency that provides the tours is located in Niagara Falls, New York. The trip takes you across the three waterfalls, so you will briefly enter Canada, but the ride ends where it began, in New York.
You don’t need a passport if you’re an American visiting Niagara Falls. You’re not technically stepping onto Canadian soil, and no Maid of the Mist boat staff will ask for a passport or other forms of identification.
However, you must have a passport to enter the United States if you’re a Canadian coming from the other side of Niagara Falls or visiting from another part of the world.
The staff at Maid of the Mist won’t check for a passport, but border patrol certainly will.
Can You Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge Without a Passport?
Niagara Falls’ Rainbow Bridge links Canada and the US and connects both sides of the Niagara River gorge. The western side of the bridge is in Ontario, and the eastern side in New York.
The bridge is 1,450 feet, but it only takes about five or 10 minutes to walk across it. On the way, expect border patrol to ask for a passport.
It’s one thing to ride a boat across Canadian waters and another to walk onto Canadian soil as an American. The same applies to Canadians venturing to the New York side of Niagara Falls via the Rainbow Bridge.
You must have your passport ready. Children under 16 don’t need a passport, but teens and adults do. If you don’t have a passport or it’s invalid, border patrol will turn you away.
Which Side of Niagara Falls Is Prettier?
Whether you prefer the New York or Canadian side of Niagara Falls is purely subjective. You can see all three waterfalls from both sides of the area, so there’s really no right answer.
Many visitors exclaim that you can enjoy a more panoramic view of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. I’m partial to the US side myself, given my family’s proximity to the park in New York and the more park-like ambiance, but we find the Canadian side lovely as well.
Here’s what I propose. If you have the opportunity, visit both sides of Niagara Falls to formulate your own opinion about which is best. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Is It Safe to Go to Niagara Falls at Night?
Visiting Niagara Falls after dark is a safe experience, and one I recommend very much.
The complexion of Niagara Falls transforms for the best once the sun sets. Glittering lights within the waterfalls cast a soothing glow, the rainbow of colors shining brightly underneath the rushing water.
It’s such a mystical sight that words can hardly describe its wonders. Your family will ooh and ahh at this new, beautiful side of the waterfalls.
Attractions like the Niagara SkyWheel are best experienced after dark. You will feel like you can reach right out and touch those dazzling colors. The gondolas you ride in on the Ferris wheel have temperature control, so even on a chilly night, you can expect a smooth, comfortable ride.
Fireworks shows also light up the sky seasonally throughout the year. Watching the fireworks pop over the glimmering waterfalls will be the biggest and best extravaganza you and the family have seen.
The availability of other attractions after dark varies. Most tours and waterfall experiences are only open during the day, so plan accordingly.