Niagara Falls Travel Guide and Hotel Review

Add ziplining over the falls to your 48 hour Niagara Falls itinerary.

Did you know you can zipline over Niagara Falls?

Yes, zipline!

I got your attention, didn’t I? Yeah, I learned that in journalism school.

Anyway! Did you also know there are Las Vegas style shows, 100+ gambling tables and 3,000 slot machines, award winning restaurants, countless shops and more than 20 wineries in Niagara Falls?

There is so much to do, you will forget you’re there to see the actual waterfalls.

Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., I often visited Niagara Falls for school trips. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it would also make a fun, easy girls trip! And with the current exchange rate of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian, this trip can be done fairlyyyy cheaply for Americans.

Niagara Falls is an easy weekend trip not only from the east coast of the U.S., but also from the west coast.  Unfortunately, there aren’t tons of non-stop flights to Buffalo. But coming from California, you can take a redeye to Detroit or Chicago and be in Buffalo or Toronto, ready for fun, in the morning!

I recommend staying on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because there’s more to do. From the Buffalo airport, it’s a quick 40 minute drive across the border. We arrived at the border around 11 a.m. and only had to wait about 10 minutes to see an agent.

For those of you in Canada, Niagara Falls is about an hour and a half drive from Toronto. Check out my guide on where to eat, stay and play in Toronto.

Things to Do

I had an aggressive 5 page itinerary for my 48 hour girls trip to the Falls! While a lot of it was a joke to make my friends excited, there are a ton of things to do. I think 48 hours is plenty of time to enjoy Niagara Falls. You can definitely fit all of the below in before returning to work Monday morning.

Zipling: Yes, you can zipline over the Falls! OK, so it’s more like along the side of the Falls. But either way, it’s a really fun and beautiful activity. If you’re scared of ziplining, don’t worry! Compared to other ziplines I’ve done, this was the least scary. They basically put you in a little chair and just open the gate and away you go. Also, that view will make you instantly forget your fears! My friends and I each got a Groupon that took $10 off the original price of $49.99/person. But note that you do have to pay a couple dollars of tax when you arrive.

From ziplining to wineries, there is so much to do in the Niagara Falls region for the entire family.

Voyage to the Falls: I’m sure you’ve heard of the Maid of the Mist boat cruise. Well, this is the same exact thing but it departs from the Canadian side of the Falls. If you want to get up close and personal with the falls, this is an activity not to be missed. You’ll get a poncho before boarding the boat but be warned, you WILL get soaked! It is 100% worth it and was some of the most fun we had all weekend! Prices are $25.95 CAD for adults and $15.95 CAD for kids. Children under 5 are free.

You can expect to get soaking wet on the Journey to the Falls in Niagara Falls.
Soaking wet in our ponchos.
Niagara Cruise's Voyage to the Falls gives you close views of both the American and Canadian side of the Falls.
The American side of the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls: If the Niagara Cruises aren’t close enough to the Falls for you, consider the Journey Behind the Falls where you can literally go behind Niagara Falls. You’ll travel about 150 feet down into the bedrock to explore 130-year-old tunnels and feel the power and thunderous noise of the Falls! This is the closest you can get to this beautiful natural wonder. Tickets are $17.30 for adults and $11.25 for kids.

Fallsview Casino: With more than 3,000 slot machines and over 130 gambling tables, the Fallsview Casino is the largest in Canada. Inside you’ll find tables for blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, baccarat and more. There’s also video roulette and basically any slot machine you could possibly want. There are several bars inside the casino but note that unfortunately it’s not like Vegas! You don’t get free drinks while you gamble.

Wineries: Just 30 minutes north of Niagara Falls, you’ll find more than 20 wineries in the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake. The area is famous for ice wine that is made from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine and are picked at just the right temperature. It is a sweet, dessert wine and can be found in several different forms in the region including as an ice wine martini! If wine isn’t your thing (then we can’t be friends…just kidding…kind of), the town also has cute boutiques and shops right on Lake Ontario. If you’re looking to get away from the Niagara Falls crowds for an afternoon, this is a great spot to check out.

Shopping: Just a 15 minute drive from the tourist area of Niagara Falls, you’ll find the Outlet Collection at Niagara. You’ll find everything from Adidas to Saks Off Fifth. See a full list of stores here.

Where To Go Out

I’m not gonna lie…for a girls weekend getaway, I was hoping for some better nightlife in Niagara Falls. Maybe it was an off weekend. I’m not sure to be honest. But there are some fun places to dance and get a round of drinks.

Jack’s: Cheap cocktails with more of a dance club vibe. Definitely livens up later in the evening.

Spicy Olive: We were told this is a “cougar bar” in Niagara Falls. Although we didn’t actually see any cougar activity happening! But it did have live music, a big round bar and good drink selection.

Where We Stayed

Embassy Suites

We stayed at the Embassy Suites because their rates are a bit cheaper than most of the other higher end optons. It’s also the closest hotel to the Falls!

For our group of 6, we chose a two queen bed suite that also had a pull out couch. It was plenty of room for all of us. It had a small mini bar area as well as a giant jacuzzi tub!

When we arrived at the hotel before check-in time, our city view room wasn’t ready. But of course, the hotel had Fallsview rooms available…for a price! For just $80 more for the night, we were able to upgrade to a Fallsview and check-in immediately.

Let me tell you, the Fallsview room is 100% worth it. Once I saw that view, I didn’t even mind that they basically conned us into paying more. If you’re only in Niagara Falls for one or two nights, pay the extra money and get the amazing view. I mean, really, the photos of the view speak for themselves! All 6 of us were just standing in front of the floor to ceiling windows in awe the entire time.

If you're heading to Niagara Falls, Ontario, splurge a little and upgrade to a Fallsview room for a breathtaking view.
Sunset over the Falls
If you're heading to Niagara Falls, Ontario, splurge a little and upgrade to a Fallsview room for a breathtaking view.
View of both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls.

The hotels in Niagara Falls are much like Vegas where you really don’t need to go outside to get your entertainment. The Embassy Suites has three restaurants on site including a TGI Fridays, Starbucks and The Keg Steakhouse and Bar overlooking the Falls. There are several others within walking distance and a couple hotel bars as well.

The hotel does not have self parking or valet unfortunately. The hotel will park your car for you (for a price!) but you have to take a shuttle 3 minutes down the road to a lot when you’re ready to pick it up.

One semi-annoying thing about most of the hotels in Niagara Falls is that it’s a bit of a walk to get down to the Falls overlook. There is a cable car down to the Falls but you have to pay for it. The easiest way to get down to the overlook and main tourist area is to walk out the front door of your hotel and along the street.

Other Hotels:

There are more than 55 hotels in the Niagara Falls area so there’s an option for all budget levels. Here are a couple:

  • Four Points by Sheraton Fallsview – Gamblers unite! The hotel is connected to the Fallsview Casino by an indoor walkway.
  • Sterling Inn & Spa – For those in search of relaxation
  • Travelodge at the Falls – Good for those with a smaller budget

When to Visit

Summer is obviously a beautiful time to visit Niagara Falls for guaranteed warm weather but I actually recommend fall. It’s beautiful to see the leaves changing around the Falls. But make sure you get there early as many activities shutdown when winter comes. For example, the Voyage to the Falls boat cruises stop November 30. And honestly, who wants to get drenched on the Maid of the Mist in the middle of January anyway!?

I’m definitely no expert but I CAN plan you non-stop fun for 48 hours in Niagara Falls! Even if Niagara Falls is in your own backyard, don’t overlook this amazing and action packed place.