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When you picture New York, a big city with sights like the Empire State Building and an incredible food culture, come to mind! But the state of New York is also home to the famous Niagara Falls – one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. In fact, people travel from every corner of the globe just to visit this natural wonder.
I was absolutely stunned when I first laid eyes on Niagara Falls. It’s one thing to read about how incredible it is, but when you actually can hear the thundering water topple over the cliff and feel the mist, you can’t help but be mesmerized!
Niagara Falls sits right on the Canada-U.S. border and is actually made up of three different waterfalls. You can easily visit it if you’re staying in Toronto by taking a day tour, but if you’re staying in NYC we have found the best tour options from here too! And while there are so many fun things to do in New York City, taking a trip to Niagara Falls should certainly be on your list.
It is a bit of a drive (about 6.5 hours) so many of these tours are two days to ensure you have enough time at this stunning sight.
In this blog, you’ll find the top three tours to Niagara Falls plus everything you need to know before booking!
Our TOP Niagara Falls Tour from New York City
If you don’t have time to read up on all the tour options, we’ll fill you in on one you can book right this minute! We love this 2-day tour from NYC to Niagara Falls because it’s customizable with lots of fun extras and gives you more time to appreciate the falls since you’ll be spending the night. Your first look at Niagara is after dark including the nightly fireworks show! The next day you’ll have the choice of a jet boat ride or the iconic Maid of the Mist cruise to feel the spray from the falls.
You can buy tickets for this tour online here for $189 USD which includes transportation, a hotel, and your guide!
About Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is a stunning geological feature formed from melting glaciers some 12,000 years ago. These melting glaciers actually created the Great Lakes, which is why Niagara Falls sits right between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. As the glaciers melted, the force from water in Lake Ontario and Erie cut through the earth to create the Niagara River, which formed Niagara Falls.
It’s pretty crazy to think about these giant lakes and rivers being formed just from a melted glacier, but geology is pretty incredible that way!
As I mentioned earlier, Niagara Falls isn’t just one waterfall, but three! The largest and most powerful of these falls is Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Approximately 90% of the Niagara River goes over Horseshoe Falls! The other two falls that make up Niagara Falls are Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls. Collectively, these three falls build up enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool every second – that’s a lot of water!
In fact, there is so much force flowing over these falls that a lot of it is rerouted to power generation stations every evening. This power is used by both Canada and the United States. The falls lose about half their force during these times but are back to full force in the morning when people come to visit.
You can visit Niagara Falls from either the Canadian or United States side. If you’re in Canada, there are some great tours out of Toronto or tours from Montreal where you’ll be able to see the falls from Queen Victoria Park. If you’re visiting from NYC, you can see the falls from Prospect Point Park and we have some great tours that you can find below!
The two sides of Niagara Falls are connected by the Rainbow Bridge. It’s pretty cool to walk over the raging river and see the falls from a different perspective. Keep in mind that if you go all the way across the bridge, you’ll be entering another country so you’ll need to have your passport with you!
There are a lot of ways to experience Niagara Falls, whether you are at the main viewing platform, in the observation tower, taking a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat, or you can catch the nightly firework display!
The best time of year to visit Niagara Falls is the summer months, between June and August. Although this is certainly the busiest season, it is the best time to visit weather-wise, especially if you take a chilly boat ride down to the falls!
Related Read: A trip to New York isn’t complete without indulging in its incredible food scene. Check out our review of a food tour of the famous Chelsea Market, and if was it worth it!
Why take a tour to Niagara Falls from New York City?
Niagara Falls is in upstate New York, about a 6.5-hour drive from the city. Most people who visit NYC don’t rent a car, so the best way to get to Niagara Falls is to take a tour! I always prefer booking tours rather than renting cars in big cities so I don’t have to navigate traffic or look for parking. Some of these tours are even 2-day experiences to ensure you have enough time at Niagara Falls!
Also, there are usually other cool stops included with tours that you might miss out on by going on your own. Some of these tours include a jet boat ride down the Niagara River, visiting Old Fort Niagara, as well as stops at nearby museums and state parks.
Visiting Niagara Falls is impressive no matter how you experience it, but taking a tour really makes your trip stress-free and fun, so you can enjoy the falls for all their beauty!
Best Tours to Niagara Falls from New York City
1. Niagara Falls 2-Day Tour from New York City
This 2-day tour from New York City should be called the “customizable tour from NYC” because you have multiple options to add to your Niagara Falls experience! Not only will you spend some time exploring the epic falls, but you can also check out historical sights and add some exciting excursions.
One of the main reasons we prefer guided tours is because of the included transportation! This tour will let you select a meeting point that is closest to your NYC accommodation, as you’ll be departing early in the morning.
After you escape the bustling city, you will make your way to upstate New York. Along the way, you can choose to stop at the Corning Museum of Glass or Watkins Glen State Park. Both are unique experiences, whether you’re learning about ancient glasswork or exploring stunning rock faces.
You’ll make it to Buffalo, New York with time to check into your hotel and catch the Niagara Falls Night Show. You can see fireworks over the falls at 10 pm and the illuminating light display on the waterfalls for a unique first look at Niagara Falls!
The next day is dedicated to exploring Niagara Falls and the exciting sites that surround it! You’ll start out by visiting Niagara Falls State Park, which is not only a beautiful outdoor escape but is home to the iconic natural whirlpool in the Niagara River. You’ll spend a few hours enjoying the outdoor scenery before heading to the Old Fort Niagara, a historic landmark that dates back to 1726!
Okay – here’s where your options come in. If you’re looking for a bit more excitement in your Niagara Falls exploration, you can opt to go on a jet boat ride during the summer months! You’ll zoom through the Niagara Gorge and traverse the whirlpool rapids, it will be a memorable way to experience this beautiful area.
Or instead, add a boat ride to the base of Niagara Falls on the Maid of the Mist. This 40-minute boat ride will get you as close to the falls as possible, and you will end up wet by the end of this! I really enjoyed this part of the tour because it was such a unique way to experience the falls.
This 2-day tour includes roundtrip transportation from NYC and a hotel stay near Niagara Falls. The cost of this tour begins at $189 USD, however, any activities and meals will be an additional cost.
This is a great way to experience Niagara Falls from NYC and I love that it gives you the option to add experiences, so you can tailor it to fit your level of adventure. You can reserve this tour online here!
Related Read: While on the East Coast, you can easily take a trip across the border to Toronto, Canada! With so many fun things to do in Toronto, you’ll have to decide which city is cooler, Toronto or NYC?
2. Niagara Falls in One Day from New York City
If you only have one day to experience Niagara Falls from Manhattan – this full-day tour is for you! This is perfect if you’re on a time crunch but still want to experience these epic falls.
To fit in everything planned for the day, it’s an early start time with a 4 am meeting in Times Square, but don’t worry you can just fall back asleep on the 6+ hour bus ride! Before you know it, you will arrive at Niagara Falls with about three hours to explore and take in the views from Prospect Point. Some of this time is guided, so you can learn about the history of the falls, but you will also have plenty of time to wander around on your own, grab lunch, and enjoy the scenic outdoor area.
You can choose to include a boat ride on Maid of the Mist to the base of the waterfalls in your tour package (which I highly recommend!). You’ll ride by the powerful falls and get soaked by the mist, it’s such a fun way to experience the extreme force of these falls! After the boat ride, you get to head up the Observation Tower and see the falls from above, for a totally different view.
The rest of the tour will take you to various lookout points, such as Luna Island, Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island, and Terrapin Point. You’ll also get great views of Horseshoe Falls, the most powerful waterfall that makes up Niagara Falls!
I especially like this tour because it truly focuses on Niagara Falls and takes you to unique highlights all in one day! It’s also the most inclusive on this list, so you won’t have a bunch of extra activities to pay for on the day of the tour. Round-trip transportation from Manhattan, tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat ride, and entrance to the Observation Tower are included, all you’ll need to pay for are meals!
If you select the tour that includes the boat ride, it is $276 USD per person. If you choose not to partake in the boat tour, this tour is $253 USD per person. You can reserve this tour in advance online here, which I recommend doing because this one can fill up quickly!
3. 2-Day Niagara Falls and Tannersville Outlet Shopping Tour
Rounding out our list, we like this 2-day tour of Niagara Falls because this is your only chance to see the falls from both the U.S. and the Canadian sides (and spoiler alert – the Canadian side is even more spectacular!). This tour is all about the views, from the state park stops on the way to Niagara, to the falls themselves, and down to the Pocono Mountains on the way home.
Since this is a 2-day tour, it won’t feel quite as rushed as the previous tour. You’ll meet at 6:30 a.m. and head north towards Niagara Falls. Along the way, you’ll stop at Watkins Glen State Park. This is not only a gorgeous area to explore, but also a good chance to stretch your legs!
You’ll get to Niagara Falls in the afternoon with time to settle into your hotel and tour Niagara Falls State Park. The U.S. side has great viewpoints of the American Falls, Goat Island, and Luna Island. Later on, you can catch the night show of the falls. The falls are illuminated and you can see the rushing water light up in bright colors!
This is also when you will have the chance to cross the Rainbow Bridge and check out the Canadian side. In my opinion, Horseshoe Falls is much more impressive simply due to its massive size! You’ll have some time to check out the attractions on the Canadian side, so have your passport with you.
The next morning you’ll head back to Niagara Falls State Park to see the falls from the bottom of the Maid of the Mist cruise! This is an iconic activity and my favorite part about visiting Niagara Falls. Not only can you feel their sheer force, but you can’t help but laugh while you’re getting soaked by the mist! You’ll finish up here with a bit more time to explore and dry off before boarding the bus back to NYC.
But, there is one more bonus stop that makes this tour unique! Before you hit the city, you’ll go to Pocono Premium Outlets, the biggest outlet mall in the United States for a little shopping spree.
This 2-day Niagara Falls experience includes roundtrip transportation from NYC, a 1-night stay at a hotel with breakfast included, and a sightseeing tour of Niagara Falls. Be sure to bring your passport as you will be in both countries! All you will need to pay for is meals and any extra purchases (ahem at that outlet mall for example!). This tour is $375 USD per person and can be booked online here.
Related Read: New York is known for its iconic skyline and incredible views. What better way to see it than from above at one of New York’s best observation decks!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Is Visiting Niagara Falls from New York City worth it?
Yes, visiting Niagara Falls from NYC is totally worth it! If you’ve made the trip over to the East Coast of the United States, it’s well worth a visit while you’re in the area.
The falls are even more impressive than blogs and photos can begin to express. It is one of those places that you truly have to experience on your own to understand how amazing it is!
While the waterfalls are the main attraction, there is a lot of beautiful scenery and fun activities around Niagara, so there is a lot to experience here. These 1 and 2-day tours make it accessible for anyone, whether you’re a NYC local or just traveling through.
I highly recommend taking a tour of Niagara Falls from NYC so you can experience the jaw-dropping beauty of this place too!
Related Read: Experience New York in luxury by setting sail on a dinner cruise! Here are all the things to know before booking a New York City dinner cruise so you can pick the very best one.
Other Activities to do While You’re in New York City
There’s so much to do in New York, it’s impossible to get bored here – it’s not known as the “City that Never Sleeps” for nothing! New York City is full of exciting experiences you won’t want to miss. If you’re looking for activities to fill up your NYC itinerary, these are a few of our favorites.
- Take a food tour – New York has a world-renowned food scene. The question is how can you try as much of it as possible? We took this famous Chelsea Market Food Tour, which is a historic market that boasts the best food in the city. We loved taking a food tour and found it to be a helpful way to experience the booming food culture and find spots we wanted to come back to!
- Visit the Empire State Building – As the most iconic building in the city, visiting the Empire State Building is a must-do for every traveler! Not only is it impressive to see from a distance, but you catch the best views of NYC from the top. Tickets to the main observation deck on the 86th floor are $48 USD for adults, or you can catch a sunset view from the top for an extra $12!
- Go on a helicopter tour – Seeing New York from above is an experience most people only dream about. While this is a costly excursion, we can wholeheartedly say it is WORTH IT! This 15-minute Helicopter tour over NYC offers incredible views of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge – just to name a few!
- Walk Central Park – Central Park is a quintessential New York stop and a giant outdoor haven right in the middle of the city. It has been featured in tons of movies and is still a spot where locals like to hang out. There’s a lot to see here, so I recommend a few hours to stroll along its historic paths and relax in the sun to get the whole vibe. You can even book a walking tour if you’re keen on learning its history or book a bike tour for a fun afternoon of exploring!
- Experience a dinner cruise – For an upscale and elegant way to see the city, taking a dinner cruise is an amazing experience! Not only do you sail right past the Statue of Liberty and catch stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the NYC skyline, but the whole experience feels luxurious. We took this Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise and enjoyed a delicious dinner, live jazz music, and a beautiful evening cruising on the Hudson River.
Where to Stay in New York City
New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.
Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!
Motto by Hilton – $$$
Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood only 600 meters from the Flatiron Building and close to the Chelsea Market. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes.” In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views! Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax.
TBA Times Square – $$
TBA Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean and modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, K-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc.). Plus, the location is ideal, it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square! Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week.
Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $
For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $100 USD per night.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Niagara Falls is even more impressive than I expected. The grandeur is stunning, and I appreciated the outdoor escape from the city life of New York! Taking a tour to Niagara Falls from NYC is an absolute must – when else will you be this close to one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls? Plus, I loved how convenient taking a tour made it to visit this iconic spot.
I hope this blog is helpful as you plan your day trips from New York City, as there is so much to do! And while you’re exploring North America, check out our other blog posts about the USA and Canada to feed your travel inspiration! Here are some of my favorite places to visit: