You cannot get any closer to the thundering cascades of Niagara Falls than on a Maid of the Mist boat tour. The little steamboats have been chugging away into the falls' misty sprays since 1846, making this one of the area’s oldest tourist attractions. Be prepared to get up close and personal with the highest-flow-rate waterfall in the world—and to get wet, which is all part of the unforgettable Maid of the Mist experience.
The Maid of the Mist tour departs from a calm part of the Niagara River in New York, on the American side near the international Rainbow Bridge. After cruising past the impressive American and Bridal Veil Falls, the boat plies into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of Horseshoe Falls (sometimes known as the Canadian Falls). Be sure to avail yourself of a complimentary blue rain poncho—everyone will get wet from the winds and the spray! Note that some tours departing from Canada also visit the American side and include a Maid of the Mist tour; visitors should have appropriate documentation to enter the United States and Canada.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s best to stay on deck for the whole trip; if you go below deck, you’ll miss the action.
- Boats depart every 15 minutes, weather permitting.
- The entire trip along the river and to the falls takes about 20 minutes.
- All boats are wheelchair accessible and feature free Wi-Fi.
- The Maid of the Mist operates exclusively from Niagara Falls, New York. If you are coming from the Canadian side of the falls, be sure to have proper documentation to enter the US.
How to Get There
The Maid of the Mist boat landing is located on Prospect Street in Niagara Falls, New York. Onsite parking is available near the Visitor Center. Nearby attractions include Clifton Hill sites, Journey Behind the Falls, and Bird Kingdom. All Maid of the Mist boat tours depart from New York, though some tours from the Canadian side include transportation to the boat’s departure point.
When to Get There
The boat tours run from April to October. The summer months are the busiest, so it’s best to schedule your Maid of the Mist ride in advance, and choose an early-morning cruise if you want to avoid the biggest crowds.
Best Views from the Maid of the Mist
When you board your Maid of the Mist boat, you’ll want to get into position for the best views—so head to the starboard side (the right side when facing the front of the boat), which comes closest to the falls. Once the boat departs the dock, it slowly approaches Horseshoe Falls, then it veers left and heads back to the dock. On its return journey, you’ll enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the American Falls—and a veritable shower of mist from the powerful cascade. Most travelers head for the upper deck during the boat ride, but stellar views can also be seen from either end of the lower deck.