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24 Hours in Niagara Falls, New York

Our guide for only 24 hours in Niagara Falls, New York, tells you what to see & do, where to eat & stay in this iconic American city.

(UPDATED APRIL 2022) I’m showing my age by admitting that I’d been dreaming of seeing beautiful Niagara Falls since I was a child. I had seen it as a luxurious travel giveaway on The Price is Right game show and I dreamed about the romance and mystery of it ever since. 

Luckily, I got to check off Niagara Falls, New York, from my bucket list when I went there for a travel conference. Though my time was limited, it was magical seeing the fantastic falls. I didn’t realize how many other outdoor opportunities were around the city or what a superb food scene Niagara had. I was happily surprised. This slice of paradise is somewhere you should at least visit once in your life. Here is how I recommend spending 24 hours in Niagara Falls, New York.

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Viewing the Incredible Falls

First, when visiting Niagara Falls, New York, the most important thing is to get to the falls to appreciate its gorgeous scenery. You will want to take the Maid of the Mist boat tour of the Niagara Falls basin for the best views of the falls and a legendary boat ride. The ride starts and ends at the Niagara Falls State Park (America’s oldest state park!) but crosses into Ontario for a bit. You will most likely get wet on this remarkable and thrilling ride.

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While the boat doesn’t feel unsafe at any time, the waterfall sprays’ strong forces make it hard to miss getting wet. Never fear, as blue rain ponchos are provided to help keep you somewhat dry. Niagara Falls has 600,000 gallons of water falling every second!

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Maid of the Mist has been running continually since 1846 and holds 600 passengers. The three waterfalls you will see on the ride are Bridal Veil Falls, the American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian Falls and the largest).

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Be sure to take the Cave of the Winds tour at Bridal Veil Falls, separate from Maid of the Mist. From observation platforms at Bridal Veil and American Falls, you’ll have fantastic photo-ops at these favorite tourist attractions as you walk down wooden platforms to get up close and personal with the falls.

Rubber sandals and ponchos are provided, while a museum (World Changed Here Pavilion) explains how Nikola Tesla’s AC powered the mighty falls.

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Where to Eat in Niagara Falls

A great lunch option in Niagara is the tantalizing lunch buffet from Zaika Indian Cuisine & Bar. Choices may change or rotate daily, but you will find several main entrées, a handful of veggie side dishes and accompaniments, and plenty of vegetarian fares. Zaika offers free parking and has a noteworthy happy hour. Save room for the Carrot Kheer or Rasmalai sweets for dessert. 

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In Buffalo, New Yor, the mother of all bar, ballgame, get-together, and munchies, was created accidentally. We can all thank Teresa Bellissimo for the iconic buffalo wing. While we aren’t in Buffalo, Niagara Falls is blessed to have a second location of Anchor Bar in Niagara Falls, serving up the mouthwatering appetizer favorite.

Have the wings served with the flavor you want (mild, medium, honey-garlic, hot, spicy-hot, bbq, suicidal, chipotle BBQ), paired with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, or try the buffalo wings on a salad, which is how I prefer them.

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Bonus Offering

Did you know that you can gamble in Niagara, New York? I loved Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. This casual high-rise has a glitzy, glamorous feel with fabulous shopping, restaurants, and a spa. Slots (3600), poker, keno, table games (90)— are all available on this 147,000-square-foot gaming floor. You may even want to take in a musical performance at either the intimate Bear’s Den Showroom or in the 2,400- seat Seneca Niagara Events Center.

Be sure not to miss eating Timbits from Tim Horton’s Cafe and Bake Shop while you are there, but don’t make the mistake of calling them donut holes. I learned this one the hard way. 

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Where to Stay in Niagara Falls

We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Niagara Falls, and it was a perfect choice. The hotel is within walking distance of the falls and Anchor Bar and downtown and is nice and new. The Doubletree’s rooms are spacious and have comfy beds with nice linens. I enjoyed having a mini-fridge in my room and stellar views from the enormous windows. The lobby bar is swanky; you will want to stop by for a drink. 

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Niagara Falls: An Iconic American City

It only took 50 years for me to make it to Niagara Falls, New York, for a look at the famous falls. Better late than never! I hope you, too, will get to visit this fantastic wonder. You are going to be amazed!

Niagara Falls Fun Facts: Four of the Five Great Lakes (minus Ontario) water flows over Niagara Falls. The water then travels to Lake Ontario, followed by the St. Lawrence River, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. 

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Thanks to Destination Niagara Falls USA for hosting my visit. As always, opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.

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Read more of our New York posts: 

Things to Do in The Catskills 

A Winter Getaway to Lake George

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