We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

Chicago
Level Contributor
35 posts
2 reviews
Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

We are in the beginning stages of planning our trip and have lots of questions. Any suggestions on best time of year to visit the Falls? I have a "free" nite thru Hilton -- should we stay at Fallsview or is there another Hilton? We will be taking the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and Amtrak is advising to take the Maple Leaf from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, ON. are there other options What is the best way to get to the Canadian side and our hotel? Can we avoid renting a car? How many nites should we plan on staying? Thanks in advance for your help.

Best Seller
Niagara Falls Canadian Side Tour and...
1,145 Reviews
from USD 109.95*
Best Seller
Niagara Falls in One Day: Deluxe...
1,194 Reviews
from USD 149.95*
Best Seller
Best of Niagara Falls Tour from...
837 Reviews
from USD 123.30*
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
13,856 posts
47 reviews
1. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

Hi SunnyCHI,

Welcome to the NIAGARA FALLS TRAVEL FORUM.

I am a bit pressed for time at the moment…

So I will no doubt come back to this topic… as I will have much to add so as to help you get a true understanding for Niagara Falls & the Niagara Region (lay-of-the-land… shall we say).

BUT in the meantime… just let me point out that although the info you have received from Amtrak is correct… you DO NOT want to take the train as far as Niagara Falls Canada… (a) there are only a limited number of trains that cross the border daily, and (b) ALL Trains that traverse the Border, spend aprox 2 Hours at the Border for the Customs & Immigration Inspection…

The latter reason is a HUGE time waster… you can easily get off in NF NY and make your own way across the Border…

Or alternatively, just make your way to Niagara Falls from Buffalo… also easily enough to do.

May as well be spending your time enjoying your vacation… vs sitting still on a train !!

You can find info on this in the TOP QUESTIONS ABOUT NIAGARA FALLS Section (Box to the right of the screen) and the FAQ entitled *How Do I Get to Niagara Falls?*

There are technically 5 HILTON Properties in Niagara Falls, Canada… and you Hilton Reward Points should be redeemable at any of them…

# 1 – Hampton Inn by Hilton at the Falls (5591 Victoria Avenue)

# 11 – Doubletree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton – Niagara Falls (6039 Fallsview Blvd)

# 14 – Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel (6700 Fallsview Blvd)

# 24 – Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls / Fallsview (6361 Fallsview Blvd)

# 30 – Hampton Inn by Hilton Niagara Falls – North of The Falls (4357 River Road)

*NOTE – The numbers indicated are the current TA HOTEL Rankings as of today (Sunday ~ April 10, 2011) at just before 2 AM EDT. They represent the Hotel’s current ranking out of 135 Hotels listed for Niagara Falls, and as per HOTEL REVIEWS submitted by TA Members todate.

Of this above listed lot… only the Embassy Suites and the Hilton Hotel & Suites offer rooms which have Fallsview Rooms… be their PARTIAL – FULL – or PANORAMIC (you’ll want to check what it is you are paying for if you book a Fallsview Room).

Check the HOTEL REVIEWS Section (button to the left of this screen) for more info on Accommodations.

As a MINIMUM I recommend one nights accommodation so as to be able to take in Niagara By Night… Nightly Illuminations, Weekly Fireworks, incredible Entertainment options etc.

Niagara and the whole Niagara Region is a “gem” of a spot in Ontario… many Travellers plan on spending a short amount of time to see The Falls, but quickly fall in love with all the other great things the area has to offer… The Niagara Peninsula is this marvellous strip of land between two Great Lakes (Lake Erie & Lake Ontario) that offers so much to see and do… it is not unusual for Visitors to plan 2, 3 or 4 Days exploring the region.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

PS… Will be back again, to offer more info on the lay-of-the-land, transportation options and the numerous things to see and do.

In the meantime, you might find these Websites useful for research…

* Niagara Falls Tourism = www.niagarafallstourism.com

* Niagara Falls USA Tourism = www.niagara-usa.com

* Niagara Region Tourism = www.tourismniagara.com

* Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce = www.niagaraonthelake.com

* Niagara Parks Commission (where you'll read about most of the Bigger Attractions) = www.niagaraparks.com

You will find an absolute ton of info on the TA's NIAGARA FALLS and NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE TRAVEL PAGES, as well as their respective TRAVEL FORUMS.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
332 posts
2. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

The Lake Shore Limited arrives in Buffalo, Depew around 9 AM. The westbound Maple Leaf, which originates in New York City, does not get to Buffalo until 3 PM, so it is an unnecessarily long connection. This is a more critical factor than the wait for customs clearance at the border.

The connection comes up in the Amtrak computer because the Maple Leaf is the only Amtrak train the goes through to Niagara Fall, ON. There are other trains that go to Niagara Falls, NY, but they do not connect well with the Lake Shore either.

You will have the same problem in reverse on the return journey. The westbound Lake Shore Limited leaves Buffalo around midnight, long after other trains from Niagara Falls have departed.

Buffalo, Depew is a suburban station in Cheektowaga near the airport. To explore the Niagara Region a car would be best, so it would be easy to take a cab from the station to the airport and rent a car. You may also be able to arrange in advance to pick up the car at the station. You need to let the rental company know that you are going to take the car over the border.

If you do not want to rent a car Niagara Airbus operates shuttles from the Buffalo International Airport to Niagara Falls, ON. Finally, it is possible to take local transit to Niagara Fall, NY then cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot. That is definitely the budget option.

Edited: 10 April 2011, 21:30
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
13,856 posts
47 reviews
3. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

Hi SunnyCHI,

Good info here from my colleague COTTAGE-LIFE014 in regards to the train situation.

As promised I am back with more info in regards to Lay-of-the-Land, Things to See and Do, Transportation, Timing... and some more general bits & pieces.

* LAY-OF-THE-LAND

The Niagara Falls are on the Niagara River which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario… the river is the dividing line between the USA and Canada, with Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Lewiston & Youngstown NY on one side of the River (South to North) and Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, and Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake on the other.

Niagara Falls USA and Niagara Falls Canada, are sort of twinned cities… that look across The Falls Gorge at one another.

To get a better perspective of that, I suggest that you take a look at an On-Line Mapping Program (I like GOOGLE MAPS). Not only can it calculate times & distances for vehicles (but in close up mode can also do so for Walking, Cycling & Public Transit). GOOGLE with its many features… including Satellite View and Street View (via the “little yellow man” offers you a curb-side look… or a virtual drive anywhere you choose to see)… all these features combined make GOOGLE MAPS a valuable tool for Trip Planning, in that it’ll give you a real sense of a Destination long BEFORE you ever arrive.

Here on the Canadian side… the Niagara Parks Commission has a huge amount of Parkland that follows along the Niagara River for aprox 50 Kms… from Fort Erie on Lake Erie to Historic NOTL on Lake Ontario… and along side this Parkland you’ll find the incredibly scenic Niagara River Parkway. (All of these features well marked on GOOGLE MAPS).

Additionally, there is an excellent Niagara Falls Interactive Photo Map that clearly shows the Touristy area of NF Canada… niagarafallslive.com/Niagara_Falls_Interacti…

In the foreground is NF Canada… and the skyscrapers in a row is the Hotel area of Fallsview Blvd atop The Escarpment (ridge). The Parkway, and the change in elevation is visible in some spots alongside The Falls Gorge (see the bottom right hand corner, which is where Table Rock Centre is located… you may have to slide the scroll bar to the right to view this corner of the photo).

The Falls Gorge and Rainbow Bridge is visible in the centre of the photo… on the Canadian side of the Bridge, this is also the Clifton Hill area… look for the Niagara Skywheel. The aprox distance from Table Rock Centre at the Brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls to Rainbow Bridge is 1 Mile (1.6 Kms).

Niagara Falls USA is across the gorge… and Niagara Falls State Park is the “green space” that appears between the two sets of Falls.

The City of NF NY, is in the background of the photo, and upstream from The Falls themselves… consequently no Hotels on the US Side with views to The Falls.

* THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN NIAGARA FALLS & THE NIAGARA REGION

Activities at the Niagara Falls State Park (US Side) include… Niagara Falls State Park Visitor Centre - Niagara Gorge Discovery Centre – Niagara Adventure Theatre – Cave of the WindsMaid of the Mist (also on the Canadian side) – Prospect Point Observation Tower – Goat Island, Luna Island, Prospect Point, Terrapin Point, and Three Sisters Islands (all observation spots) – Great Lakes Garden – Top of The Falls Restaurant

Farther afield in NF NY you’ll also find… Aquarium of Niagara - Niagara Gorge Discovery Centre – NF Daredevil Museum (also one on the Canadian side) – along with various other private attractions like the Niagara Wax Museum – Haunted House – Hard Rock Café – Helicopter Tours – and Niagara JetBoats (all of which also are featured on the Canadian side)… and also some great Historic Sites (Fort Niagara – War of 1812 Sites – Underground Railroad Sites, etc).

On the Canadian side… the Niagara Parks Commission Parkland features… Rapidsview at Kings Bridge Park – Floral Showhouse – Dufferin Islands Park – Table Rock (at the Brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls) – Niagara FuryJourney Behind the Falls – Maid of the Mist – Queen Victoria & Oakes Garden Theatre Parks – White Water Walk – Spanish Aero Car – Niagara River Glen - Botanical Gardens – Butterfly Conservatory – Sir Adam Beck Generating Station – Floral Clock – Queenston Heights Battleground & Park – Brocks Monument – and the nearby Laura Secord Homestead

The Niagara Parks Commission also oversees many other areas of Parkland, Conservations Areas, and National Historic Sites in the Niagara Region (the peninsula between Lake Ontario & Lake Erie) including… the Niagara River Recreation Trail – Paradise Grove - Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum - McFarland House – and Old Fort Erie

The various Niagara Parks Commission sites are linked together in the High Season with the PeopleMovers.

Also on the Canadian side you’ll find a wide assortment of private attractions such as… the Marineland - IMAX Theatre & Daredevil Museum – Skylon Tower – Niagara Skywheel – Indoor Waterparks - Hardrock Café – Planet Hollywood – Bird Kingdom – Niagara JetBoats – and the various Attractions & Arcades on Clifton Hill… and you’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg that is available in Niagara Falls.

Add to this Niagara By Night… with Nightly Illuminations – Weekly Fireworks – Dinner Theatres (Greg Frewin – Oh Canada Eh? – The Buttery, King Henry’s Feast) – Live Theatre (Shaw Festival in NOTL) – Comedy Clubs – two Casinos – and a huge assortment of Restaurants, Bars, Clubs and Dance Spots… and Niagara Falls is 24 Hours of variety.

Lol… and we haven’t even touched the rest of the Niagara Peninsula and Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake (just down the very scenic Niagara River Parkway)… where you’ll find Award Winning Boutique Hotels, Country Inns, B&Bs and Spas… some of Canada’s Finest Restaurants (the highest concentration in Canada of CAA / AAA 4 Diamond Restaurants), the Shaw Theatre Festival, Music Venues, Artisans, Art Galleries and Antique Shops, Unique Shopping, Historic Sites (Old Fort George – War of 1812 Sites – Terminus of the Underground Railroad) – Biking & Hiking Trails – Fabulous Golf Courses – Vineyards & Orchards – and of course Ontario’s Premier Wine Country.

And out in the countryside in the Peninsula… more Wineries (there are over 150 in total in the region), Great Lake Beaches, Conservation Areas, the Welland Canal and the Engineering Marvel that is the Staircase Locks that links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, and brings the huge Ocean going ships and Lakers inland over 2500 Miles (4000 Kms) from the Gulf of the St Lawrence thru to the “Lakehead” at Thunder Bay… and The Niagara Escarpment and the change in elevation (100 Metres = 325 Feet) having been the greatest challenge in the building of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway.

So as you can see… an absolute ton to see and do in the Niagara Region… considered to be a real “gem” for Ontario.

* TRANSPORTATION

The various Niagara Parks Commission Sites are linked together with the PeopleMovers in HIGH Season. So getting around is quite easy… the Adventure Pass will cover entrance to 4 Main Attractions (Niagara Fury – Journey Behind the Falls – Maid of the Mist – White Water Walk) and 2 Days UNLIMITED Use of the PeopleMovers and the Incline Railway (which connects Table Rock to Portage Road, and the Hotels UP on The Escarpment on Fallsview Blvd).

There are also Falls Shuttle Buses (colour coded lines) to various sites, as well as the Regular City Transit in Niagara Falls. For more info on transportation (to and from NF as well as within the city) see the TOP QUESTIONS ABOUT NIAGARA FALLS (Box to the right of this screen) and the FAQ entitled *How Do I Get to Niagara Falls*… there are two sections… one on “Arriving & Departing” and the other on “Public Transportation”

Transportation to Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake and out into the Niagara Peninsula is a bit more tricky… there truly is no regular public transit out into the countryside (think farmland here). Although the 5-0 Transportation Company does run a limited service Shuttle Bus to and from NOTL during daylight hours… for more info see their website…

5-0 Transportation Co. (NOTL Shuttle Service) = http://www.5-0taxi.com/shuttle.php

And of course there are several companies that offer Organized Wine Tours to Niagara’s Wine Country.

BUT if your wish is to see any of the Niagara Region in addition to Niagara Falls, then renting a car to do that would be a good idea. You can rent at any of the nearby Airports… or arrange to have one delivered to you at the Train or Bus Stations.

If your plans including taking the car across the Border… do let the Car Rental Company know that… so they can make sure you get a car that is insured for both countries… they will then note that on the Rental Agreement… and you may be asked to provide this paperwork to the Border Agents when you cross (can happen in either direction).

A good lot of the Niagara Region can be driven without encountering Expressways… the Niagara River Parkway is considered one of Canada’s prettiest drives… and the streets around Niagara Falls are not terribly busy or confusing… the paved country roads thru the Peninsula and Wine Country… are truly gorgeous.

There is no need for a car in Niagara Falls itself… it is very easy to get around during the High Season with the various forms of public transit… infact having a car in NF can be a bit of a hassle (especially when it comes to Parking). On street parking is virtually non-existent… and the lots near The Falls tend to be expensive. Hotel Parking is a fact of life in Canada in our Big Cities and at major Tourist Areas, and NF is no exception. Hotels in The Falls area will charge “on average” anywhere from $ 20 to $ 30 a day / night (PLUS Fees & Taxes)… some Hotels farther away from The Falls (ie Lundy’s Lane) may offer FREE Parking… while some Fallsview Hotels that ONLY offer Valet Parking could be even higher.

Anyone with any apprehension about driving in Canada (wrong side of the road… or our busy Expressways) can easily avoid stress by just having the car delivered right to your Hotel in Niagara Falls Canada… many Travellers choosing this as a one-day option… and thereby also by-passing all the expenses that come with Hotel Parking in Niagara Falls.

* TIMING

I always recommend that Travellers look at spending a MINIMUM of an OVERNIGHT in Niagara Falls so as to take in as much as possible of The Falls area and its attractions (including Niagara By Night).

BUT ideally one will want to spend several days in the area exploring both The Falls and the region on both sides of the River (lol, I haven’t even touched here on NY State’s Canal Region ~ Erie Canal… or their Wine Country).

Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region is truly a Destination in its own right… and one can easily find enough to do to fill up a week… a typical visit though seems to run from 2 to 5 Days.

* REFERENCES & RESOURCES

As I outlined in my original post there are some great Tourism websites with info on both specific areas (like NF USA – NF Canada – and NOTL) as well as for the whole region.

I also find that Wikipedia is a great source of “general” overview info… you will find just about everything Canadian be it a place or a landmark, etc has an entry (they say that Canadians are their largest contributors)… and the Niagara Region is no exception… you can learn a lot about a wide variety of topics just by starting out with one page, and reading thru the various links… here are two to get you started…

Wikipedia – Niagara Falls, Ontario = en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls,_Ontario

Wikipedia – Niagara-on-the-Lake = en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara-on-the-Lake

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

PS… As always if you have more Questions… just ask… although if they change focus (ie not connected to your OP ~ Original Post)… you might want to start a NEW Topic… so that more people will be aware of it (as some Local Advisors & DEs don’t click back into a topic that they have already read or replied to)… can also make organizing your TA TRAVEL FILE easier (which connects to your TA PROFILE Page).

Edited: 11 April 2011, 00:38
Chicago
Level Contributor
35 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

Great info! Appreciate all the feedback. We decided to delay our trip to NF since we want to have enough time to do everything -- it was going to be a side trip on our way to Lake George, NY. I'll post questions about Lake George in another forum. Thanks again everyone!

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
13,856 posts
47 reviews
5. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

Hi SunnyCHI,

You are very welcome... glad to help.

Lake George is another great spot... gorgeous scenery, and again lots to see and do. Enjoy !!

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

6. Re: Niagara Falls from Chicago via train

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 26 October 2012, 22:20