Niagara Falls is another natural tourist attraction whose reputation precedes it. Located at the border of New York state in the US and Ontario, Canada, it consists of three large waterfalls that demonstrate the sheer power and beauty of nature. The largest of them, Horseshoe Falls, sits right on the border between the two countries. The other two, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, lie securely within the United States. Formerly swarming with commercial tourist attractions and events—and known as a performance space for more than a few daredevils attempting to cross them on a tightrope or go over them in a barrel—the Falls have since evolved into more of a sightseeing destination that also serves as a major source of hydroelectric power for Canada and the United States.
That said, there are still a wide variety of attractions for tourists planning to visit Niagara Falls. Keep reading for more information about this prime destination, things you can do while you're there, and why you need to purchase visitors medical insurance or travel insurance before you go.
Visitors Medical Insurance for Travelers at Niagara Falls – FAQs
Visitors medical insurance is short-term health coverage for people visiting the United States from another country. It is important to have, as healthcare prices in the US are quite high, and foreign insurance is not typically accepted.
Do I need visitors medical insurance for Niagara Falls?
It is not legally required to have visitors medical insurance to visit Niagara falls, but it could be a costly mistake to go without it. If you get sick or injured while visiting the United States and do not have visitors medical insurance, you will be solely responsible for paying all treatment costs yourself. A trip to the doctor can cost several hundred dollars. A minor emergency room procedure can cost over $5,000. A major surgical procedure can easily surpass $50,000. To avoid paying this entire amount yourself, get visitors medical insurance.
Why buy visitors medical insurance before traveling to Niagara Falls?
You cannot predict when or if you will get hurt or sick. And it can often be more likely to happen in a foreign country where you are concentrating on sightseeing, and eating unfamiliar food. Visitors medical insurance allows you to get the care you need in the USA for a predictable price.
When shopping visitors medical insurance plans for Niagara Falls, take into account if you are going to be solely staying on the American side, or if you’re going to be visiting the Canadian side as well. Some visitors insurance plans will only provide coverage within the United States, whereas others include the USA and Canada, or coverage anywhere outside your home country.
If you’re only planning on visiting the Canadian side of Niagara Falls as part of a trip to Canada that does not include travel to the USA, consider purchasing travel medical insurance instead, as it is specifically designed to offer short-term health insurance coverage for international trips outside the United States.
Trip Cancellation Insurance for Travelers at Niagara Falls – FAQs
If you were to have to cancel your trip to Niagara Falls, you would undoubtedly be disappointed at missing out on the experience. However, you could also be disappointed at all the money you’ve lost through your prepaid trip expenses. You can at least avoid the financial disappointment by purchasing trip cancellation insurance.
Why should I get trip cancellation insurance for my Niagara Falls travel?
Most of your prepaid trip expenses are either nonrefundable, or charge big cancellation fees. What kind of expenses are we talking about? Think airfare, hotels, tours, and event tickets. You have to pay for these things ahead of time, and you won’t necessarily get your money back for them if you cancel your trip.
However, with trip cancellation insurance, you can be reimbursed for your nonrefundable, prepaid travel expenses. You just need to have canceled the trip for a covered reason as outlined by the policy you’ve purchased.
What can be covered by trip cancellation insurance for Niagara Falls?
While trip cancellation coverage can be very valuable, a travel insurance policy for Niagara Falls can offer more than that. Depending upon the plan you choose, you can receive coverage for:
- Travel delay – In case you incur additional expenses due to a flight delay or other transportation delay.
- Trip interruption – For those times when you need to interrupt or cut your trip short due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Emergency medical care – Medical coverage that is especially valuable for American residents traveling to the Canadian side of the Falls, where their domestic health insurance may not be accepted.
- Lost baggage – If you have to replace important items due to your airline or other transportation provider losing your bag.
In addition to these benefits, some travel insurance plans offer optional cancel for any reason coverage, which can allow you to recoup a portion of your prepaid travel expenses if you decide to cancel your trip for a reason not covered by standard trip cancellation insurance.
Niagara Falls’ Most Popular Tourist Attractions
The US Side of Niagara Falls
On the American side, the falls are contained within Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States. Founded in 1885, the park offers a number of scenic outlooks offering breathtaking views of all three waterfalls. The Observation Tower at Prospect Point, a 230-foot overlook, is the only US location where people can see both American Falls and Horseshoe Falls at the same time. The base of the Observation Tower is also the launch point for the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which takes visitors on a trip through the turbulent waters leading to the falls.
Other attractions within or near Niagara Falls State Park include Cave of the Winds; a soaking-wet tour that leads you underneath and behind the American Falls to the Hurricane Deck, the Niagara Scenic Trolley; a quick half-hour guided trolley tour of the entire park, the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, which includes interactive displays and a multi-screen theater, and the Niagara Aquarium, which houses more than 1,500 aquatic specimens from a variety of ecosystems. Don't miss the Visitors Center either, which offers park information, tickets to attractions, exhibits, gift shops, and refreshment opportunities.
The Canadian Side of Niagara Falls
The Canadian side of the falls has just as many draws for tourists. The Regional Municipality of Niagara in Ontario, Canada, is a tourist destination centered around Niagara Falls that also offers everything from dining and wineries to downtown shopping activities and outdoor recreation.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises take visitors directly into the basin of Horseshoe Falls for an up-close-and-personal look at one of Canada’s most famous landmarks. The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory contains more than 2,000 butterflies from more than 45 species. The Niagara Parks White Water Walk takes you along a 300-meter boardwalk to various observation decks where you can view the Niagara River’s Whirlpool Rapids, one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of whitewater with a Class 6 classification – the highest level of danger.
The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is known for its historical sites and old-fashioned colonial style, its wineries, and its quaint downtown experience. Similarly, Twenty Valley is the largest wine-producing region in Ontario, featuring more than 50 vineyards. The city of St. Catharines is known for its slower pace, offering attractions like the Bruce Trail, Port Dalhousie (featuring a 111-year-old wooden carousel), and its downtown area's pubs, restaurants, and shopping. And the South Coast area, situated on Lake Erie, offers more of a beach vibe. Visitors can lounge at any number of individual beaches and participate in activities like wakeboarding, boating, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, and more.
Key Information for Travelers in Niagara Falls
About Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The falls were formed at the end of the last ice age, when glaciers melted and water from the newly formed Great Lakes worked its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall on the continent as measured by flow rate. Combined, the three falls drop water at a rate of more than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) per minute. Horseshoe Falls drops about 187 feet (57 meters); American Falls between 69 and 98 feet (21 to 30 meters), depending on large boulders lying at the base; and Bridal Veil Falls about 181 feet (55 meters). The Niagara Falls area also has two islands: Goat Island, which separates Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls, and Luna Island, which separates Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls.
Turning Off the Falls
Very occasionally, Niagara Falls are “turned off” – that is, the waterflow is restricted in a process known as dewatering—for maintenance purposes. The last time this happened was in 1969. However, as of 2016, it was slated to happen again sometime in the next 5-7 years to repair bridges within Niagara Falls State Park. A bid to make this happen in 2019 fell through, and an exact date has not yet been set. On one hand, visiting a dry Niagara Falls would truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On the other, it would be unfortunate to visit one of the most stunning natural tourist attractions in the world when they happen to be closed for repairs. Make sure to check for updates before you lock in your travel dates.
Before You Travel to Niagara Falls – Do This
- Pack the right clothing – Niagara Falls is a windy and wet destination. Look at the weather forecast, and choose your wardrobe appropriately. Water-resistant clothing is highly recommended, and women should choose pants over dresses due to the wind.
- Bring the right gear – There are a lot of activities around Niagara Falls. If you’re going to be hiking, bring appropriate boots. If you plan on birdwatching, you’re going to want binoculars. And no matter what, bring a quality camera. You’ll want to savor the shots you take here for a lifetime.
- Consider where you plan to spend your time at Niagara Falls and what you intend to do while there, and get visitors medical insurance or travel insurance that can provide appropriate coverage.