There is just something about the thundering waters of Niagara Falls that gets people’s hearts racing. Ever since Annie Edson Taylor’s trip over the falls in a barrel, dozens of daredevils have attempted death-defying (and sometimes not defying) feats on and around the falls — and tourists today can get a taste of that thrill thanks to a bevy of (much safer) adrenaline-pumping attractions and activities. Niagara Falls isn’t just for love; it’s also for the love of adventure, and these high-octane adventures will prove it to you.
Niagara River Cruise
As an appetizer to the high adrenaline you are likely to experience later on during your trip, a river cruise is a less-intense, relatively leisurely adventure that is well worth your time. In truth, there are two famous river cruises to choose from: the world-famous Maid of the Mist and the slightly less-famous Hornblower Cruises. The former launches from the American side and often has a waiting list for tickets that requires reservations months in advance, while the latter launches from the Canadian side, closer to the best hotels in Niagara Falls. Both will take you up close to the base of all three waterfalls, so you can feel the pounding water and the excessive mist.
Skylon Tower Observation Deck
Once you get the view from below, you should get the view from above. Skylon Tower is 775 feet tall and was built to offer the best views of the falls, city and region. The observation deck isn’t dangerous, but looking down from such a great height might give you some goosebumps. You can get free entry to the observation deck by enjoying a meal in the revolving dining room, which will also give you 360-degree views of the surrounding area.
Niagara Falls Helicopter
If Skylon Tower isn’t high enough, you can always book a helicopter tour of Niagara Falls. It’s not every day that you get to ride in a helicopter, so the experience is likely to get your heart racing. From so far up, you’ll get a new perspective of the world below — let alone the enormity of the Niagara River and waterfalls. On a clear day, you should also get views of Toronto, Lake Erie and other major landmarks on the horizon. Plus, you can also book helicopter tours that take you to specific places, like Niagara wine country where you can taste some iconic tipples in between flights.
Whirlpool Jet Boats
While the falls are indisputably an international treasure, hiding in the Niagara Gorge is another jaw-dropping, breath-taking natural wonder: the Whirlpool Rapids. These Class 6 whitewater rapids boast speeds as high as 30 miles per hour, making them too fast and dangerous for unmotorized watercraft. However, you can still experience the white-knuckle power of the rapids — and the thrill of the natural whirlpool for which they are named — on the Whirlpool Jet Boat tours. These high-speed boats have the capability to take you up the Niagara River, into the Niagara Gorge and right next to the yawning whirlpool. If it’s adrenaline you’re after, it’s hard to skip a powerboat ride across rapids.
Whirlpool Aero Car
Then again, if you’re more comfortable in the air than on the water, there’s another high-octane way to see the rapids and whirlpool: the Aero Car. This cable car was first installed across the Niagara River in 1916 — though the system has been upgraded several times since then. The cable across the river is more than a kilometer long, and the car travels at a decent clip of nearly 5 miles per hour, so you have plenty of time to stare down at the rushing whitewater directly below. It might not sound thrilling on paper, but when that cable car is dangling from a wire over nothing but rapids, you’ll feel the adrenaline pump.
Niagara Falls Zipline
Finally, no list of high-octane attractions is complete without a zipline, and Niagara Falls has one of the best. Called the MistRider and maintained by the same company that hosts the Nightmares Fear Factory (a haunted house attraction that is sure to get your hackles raised) the Niagara Falls zipline crosses the Niagara River and provides outstanding views of all three falls as well as several Niagara parks — if you can bother to appreciate the scenery as you are flying through the air.
Niagara Falls is so much more than boring views of unchanging scenery. There are dozens of exciting places to explore and things to do — and even if you don’t partake in any of the above adrenaline-pumping attractions, you’re sure to remember your Niagara trip for the rest of your life.