Which is Better Canadian or American Side of Niagara Falls

Ayesha Munir2023-02-22

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Niagara Falls is the geographical wonder in North America, welcoming more than 12 million visitors from around the globe. However, not all visitors coming here know that Niagara Falls is a destination that falls on both sides of the border between the USA and Canada. Surprised to know? You’re not the only one. For many, it is quite surprising to know that Niagara Falls is divided into American and Canadian sides, each offering a unique combination of places to see and experiences to experience. Not sure which side to choose for your upcoming Niagara Falls Tour?

Here’s a detailed account of American side vs. Canadian side to help you make an informed decision about which side to choose. But before that, let’s bust the myth of the name ‘Niagara Falls’!


What Niagara Falls is By-the-Way?

Wait! Let’s ask this question from you first. What do you think Niagara Falls actually is? A territory? A destination? An attraction? – well it’s all three of these depending on the context you take it in! Within the geographic context, it is a territory divided between the United States and Canada with the Niagara River marking the international boundary.

Within the attraction context, Niagara Falls refers to the three falls that together make this place a crown jewel in the natural beauty of North America: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge. Within the destination context, Niagara Falls is a tourist destination offering a variety of experiences from nature-filled episodes to historical lessons, and from adventure sprees to food lovers’ & shopaholics’ paradise. Woah! What other place on earth would provide you such a wide array of things to do and experiences to undertake? 

So, what’s our take on Niagara Falls in this blog? Good question! Here, we compare the two sides of Niagara Falls as a tourist destination! 

(Credit: Aye Thein/ Facebook)

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What are the Two Sides of Niagara Falls? 

This might seem cliché to ask, yet many travelers really don’t know that Niagara Falls has a national divide. For them, it might be surprising to know that Niagara Falls has two sides: the American Side which falls within the New York state of the United States of America, and the Canadian side which falls within Ontario, Canada.


Which of the Three Falls Does Each Side Feature?

The American side is home to two separate falls, the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and provides a panoramic view of all three waterfalls. The American Fallsare the second-largest fall among the three falls that together make up Niagara Falls. The Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three falls and is separated from American Falls by Luna Island. Only 10% of the Niagara River flows over these two falls. 

The Canadian side is home to only one, yet the largest of the three falls, that is, Horseshoe Falls (also known as the Canadian Falls). Nearly 90% of the Niagara River flows over these falls. Goat Island separates the Horseshoe Falls from the Bridal Veil Falls.


Which Side Has More Attractions?

Most of the region surrounding the American side of Niagara Falls is a protected area supervised by the New York State Park. Most of the natural landscape here has been preserved, implying that this side has fewer attractions for visitors to visit. Some attractions worth visiting on this side of the Falls include Whirlpool State Park, Cave of the Winds, Old Fort Niagara, Erie Canal, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Niagara Falls State Park, Art Alley NF, and Riviera Theatre & Performing Arts. 

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls has a relatively less protected area than the American side, leaving more room for attractions and destinations for tourists. Here, you’ll find plenty of places for your type of enjoyment – be it nature, adventure, or arts. For nature-filled experiences, you can head to Butterfly Conservatory, Bird Kingdom, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, Old Scow, Niagara on the Lake, Niagara Glen Nature Areas, Dufferin Islands, Queen Victoria Park, and Botanical Gardens.

For your fun-filled adventure spree, available options include Illumination Tower, Skylon Tower, Niagara Parks Power Station Currents Light and Sound Show, Whirlpool Aero Car, Niagara Fury, and Clifton Hill. To appease your love for arts & history, you can explore Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Niagara Falls History Museum, Battle Ground Hotel Museum, and Willoughby Historical Museum.

(Credit: Maid of the Mist/ Facebook)


Which Side Provides More Nature-Friendly Experiences?

Well, this one is difficult to choose as both sides abound in places where you can commune with nature and appease the nature lover in you. However, it can safely be assumed that since Niagara Falls, New York is largely a preserved area, it provides more nature-friendly experiences. Most of the visitor activity on this side entails hiking and trekking. 

It would be wrong to say that the Canadian side is devoid of nature-friendly experiences as it is also home to some iconic destinations that can provide one-of-its-kind nature-filled experiences such as the Butterfly Conservatory, Botanical Gardens, Heartland Natural Forest, and Niagara Glen Nature Areas.

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Which Side Offers More Adventure Experiences?

Again, a difficult choice to make, but Niagara Falls, Ontario certainly has more to offer for an adrenaline-pumped day! The Canadian side adventure experiences range from a ride on Niagara Wheel, Canada's Largest Giant wheel to testing your mettle at Wildplay Zipline, and from traveling back in time at Niagara’s Fury to coloring the Falls with your favorite colors at Illumination Tower

It would be wide of the mark to say that the American side has no adventures at all! Your adventure here may include The Aquarium of Niagara, and Niagara Falls Observation Tower – yet the options are not as wide as those on the other side of the border. If you’re adventure-love is all about hiking & trekking, this side is meant for you for this side abounds in hiking trails and walking tracks that would take you above and below the falls!


Which Side Offers Up & Close Experiences with the Falls?

Well, this is something tricky to answer. Your up & close encounter with the falls can take two forms: boat ride and observation decks. 

For boat tours, the American side has Maid of the Mist while the Canadian side has Hornblower Niagara Cruises to take you as close to the falls as possible. See this article on Hornblower Niagara Cruises vs Maid of the Mist to know more about differences between the two boat ride experiences. 

For close encounter to the Falls at designated observation decks and pavilions, the American side has Cave of the Winds while the Canadian side has Journey Behind the Falls. See this article on Journey Behind the Falls vs. Cave of the Winds to know more about differences between the two experiences.

(Credit: Maid of the Mist/ Facebook)


Which Side Has More Amenities?

Canada wins, yet again! The Canadian side has more amenities in terms of transport, accommodation, paved trails, water fountains, rest rooms, lookout stops, shuttle service, parking lots and much more. 

It would be inexact to say that American side has no amenities, but these amenities lose their shine when compared to the amenities available on the other side of the border.


Can the Other Side be Visited from One Side?

Yes! The Rainbow Bridge serves as a gateway connection for both sides of Niagara Falls. Please note that crossing the border through this bridge is charged with a fee of $4.00 in US funds or $5.50 in Canadian funds and is collected when departing the USA, and $1.00 in US or Canadian funds and is collected when leaving Canada.

Fun Fact: Want a free escape to other side of the border from Canada for a while? Hop on the Whirlpool Aero Car! It will escort you to the Unites State four times during your ride, and guess what? That too without a passport and additional charges! 

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The Verdict: Which is Better? Canadian or American Side of Niagara Falls?

The verdict between Canadian side of Niagara Falls vs. American side has to be subjective, and tends to vary for everyone. But if we keep the above comparison in view, it can safely be claimed that the part of Niagara Falls on the north of the border (read Canada) has more fun per-square-foot to offer than the part of Niagara Falls on the south (read USA). The Canadian Niagara Falls not only claims the largest of the three falls but also offers classic adventure, nature, dining, shopping, and entertainment options than the American Niagara Falls.


But if you aren’t vacationing on budget and have enough time, we’d recommend visiting both, as each has something that the other certainly doesn’t have. Explore it all on both sides of the border with these Niagara Falls Canada Tours and Niagara Falls Tours USA. You can also extend your Niagara Falls USA Tour to Niagara Canada with this Best of Niagara Falls Canada Tour from Niagara Falls USA. Choose to go off the beaten path and see it all with this Niagara Falls Canada Helicopter Tour, and/or Niagara Falls USA Helicopter Tour