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11 Best Niagara Falls Tours: Boat Rides & More

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Discover the best ways to tour Niagara Falls – whether by boat, helicopter, bus or even zip line – and note that you’ll need a passport if you’re planning to visit any of the Niagara Falls attractions in Canada (whether you’re on a tour or not).

11 Best Niagara Falls Tours: Boat Rides & More

(Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism)

Just two companies offer boat tours to Niagara Falls: Maid of the Mist, which is based on the U.S. side, and Niagara City Cruises (formerly Hornblower Cruises) in Canada. Some combination Niagara Falls tours (below) include a boat ride and access to other attractions.

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Niagara City Cruises – Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour (Canada)

Price: Adults from CA$32.75 (about $24); kids from CA$22.75 (approximately $17)
Duration: 20 minutes

This 20-minute tour offers a close-up view of the American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe falls, as well as the breathtaking Niagara Gorge. Offered by Niagara City Cruises (formerly Hornblower Cruises), the tour is accompanied by an audio commentary and includes complimentary ponchos (that you can keep), which tourgoers say you’ll absolutely need to wear. Travelers call this an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Tours depart every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day with evening options mid-May through the first week of October. Tickets start at CA$32.75 (about $24) for adults and CA$22.75 (approximately $17) for children ages 3 to 12. The ride is free (though not recommended) for children 2 and younger.

Maid of the Mist (U.S.)

Price: Adults from $28.25; kids from $16.50
Duration: 20 minutes

The ultimate Niagara Falls boat tour, the Maid of the Mist has been in operation since 1846. Now an all-electric fleet of double-decker boats, the Maid of the Mist brings riders face-to-face with the falls on a 20-minute ride. Tourgoers describe the ride as breathtaking and beautiful, saying it’s like nothing they’ve experienced before. Note that you’ll get wet – that’s how close you’ll get to the falls – even if you wear the ponchos that are supplied to all visitors.

Tours operate from mid-April through early November from 9 or 10 a.m. to between 4 and 8 p.m. daily, depending on the time of year. Tickets cost approximately $28.25 for adults and $16.50 for children 6 to 12; children 5 and younger ride for free.

(Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism)

Niagara Helicopters – Classic Tour (Canada)

Price: Adults from CA$180 (about $133); kids from CA$110 (about $89)
Duration: 12 minutes

For a chance to witness the grandeur of Niagara Falls from above, don’t miss this excursion with Niagara Helicopters. The 12-minute flight takes you along the Niagara River to the falls, over Rainbow Bridge and the Niagara Whirlpool, with a prerecorded audio commentary accompanying your flight. You may even be able to see Toronto and Lake Erie on a clear day.

Flights depart daily from 9 a.m. to 5 or 7 p.m., depending on the season. Tickets start at CA$180 (about $133) for adults and CA$110 (about $89) for kids ages 3 to 11. Travelers say they appreciate the crew’s attention to safety, and that the views are well worth the cost. Niagara Helicopters also offers wine tours and charter flights.

National Helicopters – Niagara Grand Tour (Canada)

Price: From $215
Duration: 20 minutes

The Niagara Grand Tour takes travelers on a 20-minute helicopter ride over Niagara Falls and the surrounding region to discover sights like Niagara-on-the-Lake (known for its wineries) the whirlpool rapids and more. The tour also makes a second pass over the falls for maximum views and spectacular photo-ops for passengers on both sides of the helicopter.

Tickets range from $215 to $280 per person, depending on the number of people in your group. Children must be 2 years old to join the tour, which runs daily every half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tourgoers praise this helicopter tour of Niagara Falls, calling it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Reviewers point out that the tour departs from the Niagara District Airport, which is about 11 miles north of the main tourist attractions on the Ontario side. However, passengers say the extra time in the air is worth the drive.

National Helicopters also offers winery tours, sunset flights and wedding packages.

(Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism)

Gray Line – Niagara Falls Evening Illumination Tour (Canada)

Price: Adults from $130; kids from $100
Duration: 4.5 hours

For a different perspective of the falls, consider this evening tour from Gray Line. The tour, which lasts about 4.5 hours, includes stops at Journey Behind the Falls; the Table Rock Centre, a popular vantage point; the Floral Clock, which features thousands of colorful flowers; and the Niagara Whirlpool. Plus, you’ll have the chance to observe the falls from atop the 775-foot Skylon Tower after the sun sets and the evening light show begins. Reviewers rave about the guides, who they say provide informative and entertaining commentary throughout the tour.

The tour, which runs May through October, costs approximately $130 for adults and approximately $100 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids 4 and younger can join for free. Tours depart at 5:30 p.m.

Over the Falls Tours – Niagara Falls Canadian and American Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Price: Adults from $209.95; kids from $154.95
Duration: 6 to 7 hours

This Niagara Falls tour covers it all: a boat ride on Maid of the Mist (New York), a visit to the Cave of the Winds (New York), a bird’s-eye view atop Skylon Tower (Ontario), prime viewing areas for photos and more. Plus, all attraction fees and round-trip hotel transportation is included in the tour rate. Tour guides receive rave reviews for their breadth of knowledge and sense of humor.

Tickets start at $209.95 per adult and $154.95 for children ages 5 to 12. Children 4 and younger can join for free. Tours are available April through November, and options also include tours of just the American or Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Note that passports are required.

See Sight Tours – Day and Night Tour of Niagara Falls (Canada)

Price: Adults from $265; kids from $155
Duration: 6.5 hours

An ideal choice if you only have one day to see the falls, this 6.5-hour tour allows you to observe this natural wonder from a variety of perspectives. You’ll view the falls from the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek with Journey Behind the Falls, and take a boat ride to the falls with Niagara City Cruises. In the summer, you’ll also enjoy nightly fireworks. Tours depart daily at 3 p.m.

Tickets, which include a three-course dinner at Table Rock House Restaurant and round-trip transportation from Ontario hotels, start at $265 for adults 13 and older, $155 for kids ages 5 to 12 and $30 for children 4 and younger. Recent tourgoers say they can’t recommend this experience enough, noting that the dinner is exceptionally tasty.

Niagara Tour Company – All-Inclusive Niagara Falls American Tour (U.S.)

Price: Adults from $115.99; kids from $89.99
Duration: 4 to 5 hours

This all-inclusive tour features a boat ride on Maid of the Mist, a visit to the Cave of the Winds and Niagara State Park, a stop at the Niagara Observation Tower and other attractions on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. Bottled water and coupons for discounts at local restaurants and attractions are also included in rates. Recent reviewers highly recommend this tour, noting that the energetic tour guides are full of great stories.

Tickets for this four- to five-hour tour start at $115.99 per adult and $89.99 per child ages 5 to 12. Tours depart four times daily from mid-April through early November. Round-trip hotel transportation is available.

(Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism)

WildPlay Niagara Falls – Zipline to the Falls (Canada)

Price: From $69.99
Duration: 60 to 90 minutes

Zip line toward the falls on this adrenaline-inducing tour offered by WildPlay. Four zip lines take riders 2,200 feet along the edge of the Niagara Gorge, toward the falls, at speeds of up to 40 mph. Following the tour, you’ll have the option to purchase photos and video footage of your adventure. Zip line tours are considered low in difficulty. Visitors must be at least 7 years old and weigh less than 275 pounds to safely participate in this Niagara Falls tour.

General admission is $69.99, though recent travelers strongly recommend upgrading to the skip-the-line ticket ($99.99) to avoid long wait times. The actual ride is pretty quick, but standard wait times can exceed an hour. A Beat-the-Heat Nighttime Experience – when the falls are illuminated – is also offered. Tours are available year-round from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours – Wet Jet Boat Tour (U.S. and Canada)

Price: Adults from CA$74.95 (about $55) or $64.95; kids from CA$44.95 (about $33) or $39.95, depending on departure location
Duration: 45 minutes

If you’re looking for a thrilling ride on Class V whitewater rapids, travelers say you can’t go wrong with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. You’ll venture along the Niagara River to the Niagara Gorge and then the Niagara Whirlpool in a motorized Wet Jet at speeds up to 55 mph. Keep in mind: This tour does not go to Niagara Falls. You will get wet, so plan to bring a change of clothing and shoes, and also dress accordingly in cold weather.

Tickets for the 45-minute tour vary by departure location: Queenston, Ontario, or Lewiston, New York. For the Ontario tour, the cost is CA$74.95 (about $55) per adult and CA$44.95 (about $33) for children ages 6 to 12. For departures from New York, tickets cost $64.95 per adult and $39.95 per child. Note that kids must be at least 44 inches tall to take this tour. If you prefer not to get wet, take the Freedom Jet Dry Tour. All tours are offered May through October.

(Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism)

Whirlpool Aero Car (Canada)

Price: Adults from CA$17.50 (about $11.50); kids from CA$11.50 (about $8.50)
Duration: 10 minutes

Take in breathtaking views of the surging Niagara Whirlpool (located at the end of the famous falls) from an antique cable car that dates back to 1916 (and has been upgraded several times since). The Whirlpool Aero Car is safely suspended by six cables as it crosses the grand Niagara Gorge. The ride, which accommodates up to 35 passengers at a time, lasts about 10 minutes. Recent riders – including those with a fear of heights – agree the long lines are worth the wait for the incredible scenery.

The Whirlpool Aero Car operates between early April and early November. Admission is CA$17.50 (about $13) for adults 13 and older and CA$11.50 (roughly $8.50) for kids between 3 and 12 years old. Tours begin at 10 a.m. every day except Wednesday, when the attraction opens at noon; closing time is 5, 6 or 7 p.m., depending on the day of the week.

Frequently Asked Questions

The boat tours offered by Maid of the Mist (U.S.) and Niagara City Cruises (Canada) last about 20 minutes.

Yes, you can easily explore Niagara Falls on your own. However, many travelers opt for a tour to enjoy a unique vantage point and/or to visit several attractions at one time.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Amanda Norcross has been to Niagara Falls several times, once as a kid and a couple times as an adult. She recommends any tour where you can get up close to feel the thundering rush of the rapids – there’s nothing quite like it.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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