Clifton Hill is the original area taken over by sky-scraper hotels, a casino and well-known tourist restaurants. It is now a tourist Mecca, sporting Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Café and Hard Rock Café. There are no fewer than four haunted houses, a maze, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, several arcades and recognizable restaurant chains. Maid of the Mist is located at the bottom of the hill in one of the more shallow entries into the gorge.
You can drop a bundle on Clifton Hill. Depending on how much you like your tourist traps, some of the attractions are worth the money and some are not. Recommendations: Ripley’s Believe It or Not and NIGHTMARES Fear Factory.
Lots of building and growth has transformed the Fallsview area in recent years. It is across from the larger of the falls, Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side. Most of the area is up on a bluff, requiring a ride on the Falls Incline Railway to reach the falls and some of the falls activities, such as a Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara’s Fury. This area is higher brow than its touristy-trap competitor, Clifton Hill. A new casino/mall forms the hub of the hotel and entertainment district. In addition to gaming, the casino also offers Las Vegas-caliber shows and concerts. The area also has several well-known chain restaurants, including Wolf Gang Puck’s.
When in Fallsview, walk down the hill at Murray Street, have a beer at Edgewater’s Tap & Grill and walk along Niagara River Parkway to Table Rock Center. At Table Rock, you can see the Horseshoe Falls up close and/or gets tickets to an attraction, such as Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara’s Fury, a new thrill ride to open in 2008 consisting of a circular, 4D theater. When you’re done, you’ll be kind of damp and maybe tired and ready to complete the circuit back to your hotel. This is a great time to ride the Falls Incline Railway back up the hill, affording you a great view of the Horseshoe Falls during the ride.
Realtravel.com provides some great interactive maps of the Niagara Falls area.
- Of the restaurants, Edgewater’s Tap and Grill is a great choice. It is on the second floor of Queen Victoria Place on Niagara River Parkway, just down aways from the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Aside from providing a nice interlude in your long walk along the Niagara River Parkway, the roadhouse has a wonderful view of both the American & Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls from its second-floor terrace. It is also one of the more reasonably-priced restaurants in the area with a large menu, including soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, burgers and entrees.
- Of the Falls attractions, the Maid of the Mist and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours are among the best. Maid of the Mist is a ride on a double-decker ferry-type boat into the heart of the horse-shoe shaped falls on the Canadian side. You can’t beat the vantage point, the mist bath and the sway of the boat as it holds its own against the rushing water. The Whirlpool Jet ride can be done in a covered or uncovered boat. As the guide will tell you, you can expect to get as wet as if you just jumped in the lake if you take the open boat. The boat is guided through the Devils Hole Rapids and into a whirlpool area. You end up getting about three passes through the rapids and are hammered with water as you dip beneath some of the swells. The best part, however, are the 360-turns done for your amusement during the hour-long tour.
- Of the tourist traps along Clifton Hill, Ripley’s Believe It or Not provides both a museum and a 4-D ride. They are among the best of the many ride and museum attractions on the hill. NIGHTMARES Fear Factory is a permanent fixture, which means it out does or at least rivals some of the best haunted houses established on Halloween. A maze traversed in total blackness is made more interesting by unexpected hills, spongy floors and ghosts/goblins that run fingers down your hair and jump out unexpectedly. Like a roller coaster ride, pictures of your best fright are captured for prosperity and available for purchase. Fair warning: it is scary. Over 90,000 people have chickened out. If you are one of them, you’ll number will be added to the running total on a chalkboard in the attraction’s lobby.
- If you like glass blowing, Niagara has an Rossi Glass with a near constant glass-blowing demonstration by renowned artist, Angelo Rossi.
- Don’t miss the Falls at night when they are lit of with a spectrum of colors. There are also fireworks on the weekends.
Other Things to Do in the Area:
Niagara on the Lake is a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario that has a plethora of bed and breakfasts, boutique-type stores, bistros, wine-tasting vineyards, galleries and the Shaw Festival Theatre. It is also home to the Whirlpool Jet ride advertised throughout Niagara Falls. Driving north on Niagara River Parkway, the road eventually turns into River Road, Niagara Parkway and finally Queen Street, the main street running through Niagara on the Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass the Artistic Glassblowing Studio, scenic overlooks, the Butterfly Conservatory, White Water Walk and several wineries. There are also several golf courses.
- Many attractions and restaurants haven’t compensated for the fact that the Canadian Dollar is about equal to the American these days. This means that it is important to check out a menu before picking a restaurant or you will definitely have sticker shock when you sit down to eat.
- The American side is not nearly as developed as the Canadian side, although it is starting to be with the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. The Cave of the Winds tour definitely looks interesting as you walk on a staircase and deck near the base of the American Falls. It may be worth the trip through customs.
- There are two casinos available on the Canadian side these days. The Fallsview Casino is definitely the swankier of the two, with the Casino Niagara now getting more of a horse-track like crowd. The return on slots seems good and there are several Japanese slots and games because many of the tourists to Niagara Falls are from Toronto where there is a large Asian population.