Niagara Falls, the New York city on the U.S. side of North America’s most famous falls, is an area rich in beauty. While the falls are its biggest drawcard, there’s plenty about this city to attract tourists. Make the most of a day in Niagara Falls with these thrilling experiences.

Early Morning: Have Breakfast at a Local Café

A traditional café breakfast is the ideal way to start your adventure. Niagara Falls has several cafes opening early to cook diners their favorite morning treats. Knack’s Parkview Café isn’t flashy, but its food is so good that locals return again and again. French toast is a specialty; enjoy the traditional variety or order the JB’s French toast, a crunchy breakfast treat coated in cornflakes. Sunshine Café offers old-fashioned service with a smile. Family recipes like Luke’s steak sandwich and the Steve-a-rino sandwich made with French toast instead of regular bread provide a point of difference.

American falls
The American Falls in Niagara Falls.

Midmorning: Admire the American Falls

They aren’t as enormous as the falls across the border, so starting with the American Falls makes sense. Do this in reverse, and you might be a little disappointed! This part of Niagara Falls shouldn’t be missed, though. An observation point puts you just 20 yards from the top of the falls, much closer than you’ll get in Canada. It’s also not quite as commercialized here. The American Falls is inside a state park, so you can really feel like you’re sharing a moment with nature as you take in the watery wonder.

Noon: Have a Pub Lunch

Stop by a local pub for a hearty meal guaranteed to stave off afternoon cravings. Taylor’s Tap & Grill offers fast and friendly service and generous but affordable meals. The Triple Decker Club Sandwich, with slices of roast beef, turkey, ham, and bacon, smoked gouda, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato always hits the spot. The Big Philly, a riff on the famous Philly cheesesteak, is another popular lunch option.

Third Street Retreat Eatery & Pub was recognized as the local Small Business of the Year in 2017. It has more of a cafe feel than a classic pub, but the food is just what you’d expect. Chicken fingers, the American burger, and the juicy hand-cut chef’s choice steak are all delicious. Wherever you choose, make sure you accompany your meal with an ice-cold craft beer.

Rainbow bridge
Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.

Afternoon: Cross the Border to Canadian Falls

Experts insist you can’t say you’ve seen Niagara Falls unless you’ve been to the Canadian side in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Rainbow Bridge, in the downtown area, and the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, just north of the city, provide the best paths for accessing the Canadian side of the falls. Make sure you have your passport, insurance card, and vehicle registration papers handy to show at the border. You can also walk across Rainbow Bridge if you’d prefer exploring on foot.

Either way, the view that’s waiting is a sight to behold. The Canadian Falls, also called Horseshoe Falls for the distinctive curved shape, is grand in scale and beauty.

Gorge discovery cove
Gorge Discovery Cove in Niagara Falls.

Late Afternoon: Meet Marine Animals at the Aquarium

The Aquarium of Niagara is relatively small, so visiting is a wonderful way to kill some time before dinner. Humboldt penguins, seals, and, of course, plenty of fish call the aquarium home. Get up close and personal with friendly marine animals like sea stars, lobsters, and crabs in the touch tanks. The afternoon penguin feeding session and seal show shouldn’t be missed. The aquarium is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s also a rescue facility. Meeting the rescue animals will help you understand its vital role in conservation.

Dinnertime: Treat Yourself to a Special Dinner

With limited time in Niagara Falls, you deserve only the best for dinner. Fortuna’s Restaurant is a Southern Italian restaurant celebrated by locals as one of the best dinner venues in town. The menu isn’t too adventurous, but authentic dishes like the veal parmigiana, chicken piccata, and pasta Pomodoro are real crowd-pleasers. Wine on 3rd is a little more upmarket with a smaller menu of perfected delicacies. The Chairman’s Reserve strip steak with roasted truffle potatoes, salmon with lemon herb risotto, and chicken roulade are all exceptional.

Whirlpool state park
Whirlpool State park.

Late Night: Hit the Casino

Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino provides fun for travelers wanting late-night entertainment. See live music in the Bear’s Den Showroom or let the Barrel of Laughs Comedy Nights tickle your funny bone. If you’re feeling lucky, head to the table games and slot machines.

The waterfalls are marvelous, but if you spend some time in Niagara Falls, you’ll soon realize there’s more to this part of upstate New York than meets the eye. It does get busy during peak season, so book your hotel early to lock in the best rates at