By: Ayesha Munir
On your trip to Niagara Falls? A visit to the iconic Falls is a must! Your tour to this iconic destination is simply incomplete without paying a tribute to the three Falls the region is world-known for! For this, you can either hop on a Maid of the Mist boat tour taking you up & close to the Falls, or you can head to the Cave of the Winds boardwalks & observation decks. Not sure which one to opt for? Here, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know before you make your final choice.
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Maid of the Mist is a signature boat tour to the Falls on the American side of Niagara Falls. The boat tour provides an up & close view of the American Falls & Horseshoe Falls.
Cave of Winds is another iconic place offering up & close encounters with the Falls on the American side – not on a boat, but on boardwalks and observations decks. It provides the visitors a unique opportunity to stand by the base of the Falls.
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Your Maid of the Mist journey would begin at the Prospect Point Observation Tower dock located in the Niagara Falls State Park. Here, you’d be provided with a blue-colored souvenir rain poncho to keep you from getting wet. You’ll then board on the iconic Maid of the Mist boat. Choose the place of your choice at its upper or lower deck, and enjoy the mesmerizing roar with breathtaking views of the Falls as the boat moves past the base of the American Falls towards the basin of Horseshoe Falls. You’d then safely be escorted back to the shore.
Fun Fact: This boat tour would take you to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for a moment during your trip – and that too without a visa!
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At Cave of the Winds, your adventure would begin with the 175-feet elevator descending deep into the Niagara Gorge. Here, you’d be provided with a bright yellow poncho to keep you from getting wet as you get close to the Falls. You’d also be given a pair of special footwear designed to help you move about easily. Once you’re cladded into the poncho & special footwear provided, you’d take a series of boardwalks & stairs to reach the “Hurricane Deck” and witness the power of the Falls from close. Here, you’d enjoy the thundering roars and magnificent beauty of the Bridal Veil Falls from a distance of 20 feet only!
Maid of the Mist boat ride provides a close encounter with the American Falls and Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Cave of the Winds provides & a close view of the Bridal Veil Falls.
Well, that’s a tricky question to answer, as both provide an entirely different experience. The maid of the Mist boat ride takes an average of 20 minutes. However, the overall experience here from Observation Tower to the boat tour and back can take up to 45 minutes.
At Cave of the Winds, an average of 45 minutes to 1.5 hours is required depending on the extent to which you’d like to explore its different pavilions and observation decks.
Maid of the Mist charges USD 25.25 for adults, USD 14.75 for children with ages 6-12, and free entry for children with ages 5 & under (with the accompanying adult of course). Cave of the Winds charges USD 12 for adults, and USD 9 for youth. Hence, the Maid of the Mist boat tour is two times more costly than the Cave of the Winds tour!
Maid of the Mist facilities, including the boat tour, are wheelchair accessible. Apart from this, you’ll find free Wi-Fi throughout the facility, and a stroller store where you can store the stroller and pick it up on your return from your tour. Pets are not allowed, except for the service dogs. Parking is not free here.
Cave of the Winds has a designated observation deck built 150 feet from the base of the Falls for handicapped and adults with children in arms. Since this place has narrow, short passageways with over 200 stairs, strollers and baby backpacks are not allowed here. You’ll also find free Wi-Fi throughout the facility. Parking is not free here either. You’ll also find plenty of restrooms and picnic areas nearby. This place also has a gift shop where you can hunt your favorite memoirs.
So, both provide plenty of amenities to make your tour a hassle-free one!
Enjoy Your Niagara Falls Canada and USA Combo Tour
Yes. Niagara Scenic Trolley will drop you at both, Maid of the Mist Observation Tower as well as Cave of the Winds. (For those who don’t know about Niagara Scenic Trolley, this trolley makes a circular route from the Niagara Falls Aquarium to The Goat Island and charges USD 3 for adults and USD 2 for children with ages 6-12 years).
Well, to be honest, comparing these two experiences is like comparing apples to oranges – that have only one thing in common, i.e., both are fruits. Likewise, Cave of the Winds & Maid of the Mist have only one thing in common, i.e., both provide a close view of the Falls. Otherwise, both provide altogether different yet great experiences of Falls on both sides of Niagara Falls. So, if you aren’t vacationing on budget and aren’t facing time crunch, we’d recommend visiting both: a tour of Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist boat ride – for each would offer one-of-its-kind encounter with the Falls!