Niagara Falls International Airport serves mostly charter and cargo planes -- the one passenger option is Direct Air (tel. 877/432-DIRECT; www.visitdirectair.com), with service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Fort Myers, Florida. Otherwise, plan to fly into Buffalo Niagara International Airport (4200 Genesee St.; tel. 716/630-6000; www.buffaloairport.com). See section 1 of this chapter for all airline listings. ITA Shuttle runs from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to both the American and Canadian sides of the falls (tel. 800/551-9369 or 716/633-8294). The cost is $45 per person one-way to the American side, $55 to the Canadian side.
Driving from I-90, take Route 290 to Route 190 to the Robert Moses Parkway, which goes right to the heart of downtown Niagara Falls, New York; you'll see signs for the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. The Greyhound station (tel. 800/231-2222) is at 303 Rainbow Blvd.; Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL) stops at the Niagara Falls station at 27th Street and Lockport Road.
On the American side, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation is at 345 Third St., Ste. 605, Niagara Falls (tel. 877/FALLS-US or 716/282-8992; www.niagara-usa.com). Office hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm. (Look for new offices in mid-2010.) In Canada, Niagara Falls Tourism, 5400 Robinson St., Niagara Falls, Ontario (tel. 800/563-2557; www.niagarafallstourism.com), is open June to August, Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm; rest of the year 9am to 5pm daily.
When to Go
A visit during the dead of winter may have its particular charms (the massive, otherworldly ice formations are fascinating), but many of the top falls attractions, like Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds, operate only when the ice has melted -- anywhere from early April to sometime in May. The season usually runs through October, but hotels and restaurants are open year-round.
A car is not essential for getting around on either side of the falls. In fact, if you're just planning to see the in-town attractions, you might be better off without one -- traffic and parking in the summer are nightmarish, and parking in the lots is expensive year-round. Most attractions are fairly close to one another, but you don't even have to walk: Shuttles on both sides of the falls will take you to both the major hotels and the major attractions.
Crossing the Border -- You're welcome to drive over to Canada, though we recommend the walk over the bridge. It's only a couple of city blocks long and you'll get great views along the way. As a bonus, you'll avoid the lineup of cars -- the wait can be an hour or more in summer. Either way, be sure to carry proper proof of U.S. citizenship. As of 2009, U.S. citizens are required to present either a passport or other approved documentation (visit www.getyouhome.gov for details) when arriving by land or by sea. Customs folks on both sides will inquire why you're going and how long you'll be; upon your return, they'll ask if you've brought anything back with you. If you're in a car, be prepared to pop the trunk.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.