Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls State Park at night
After spending the weekend on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls, I decided to pay a visit to Niagara Falls State Park, on the New York side. Not only does it offer the closest overlooks of the falls, but it’s the oldest state park in the country. Even better: it’s open 24/7, so you can experience the majesty of the falls any time of day.

I lucked into some free street parking nearby and then headed into the park. There are some gorgeous overlooks of the American falls right from the start.
Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York

Exploring Goat Island

Walking or driving across a bridge will take you to Goat Island, which is what divides the Canadian falls from the American ones. You can explore the island, and get up close right at the brinks of all three waterfalls.
Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York
One of the coolest spots is on Luna Island, the tiny little bit of land that separates Bridal Veil falls from the rest of the American falls. Standing right between two waterfalls is a really neat experience. Looking straight down at the rocks below gives a pretty good idea of why those barrel-over-the-falls thrill-seekers back in the day picked the more intimidating Horseshoe falls for their stunts.
Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York

Looking straight out over the top of Bridal Veil Falls

Walking around the island gives you a chance to enjoy every angle of the falls. I love taking pictures, so just wandering around with my camera was a great way to kill the afternoon.
Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York
On the south side of Goat Island, you can access bridges to the much-smaller Three Sisters Islands that take you out into the main river channel. You can see the water around you picking up speed as it rushes toward the upcoming drop. One couple nearby decided to climb the railings and take some selfies right along the river bank. I was pretty sure that I was going to see natural selection in action, but they made it back in one piece.
Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York

This is not a good idea.

Rainbow Bridge Crossing

International Boundary Line between the United States and Canada on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls

As I was leaving the park, I noticed the sign for the walking bridge to Canada. The closest crossing to the falls has a pedestrian lane so visitors can walk back and forth between the two sides. Since I still had my passport on me, I decided to go for it even though I was pretty well frozen by that point. I’ve crossed international borders by plane, train, and car before, but never on foot, so this experience was something new. The mist coming up from the water kind of obscured the view of the Canadian falls, but walking out on the bridge gave a unique view that I’d never seen before and was well worth it. Keep in mind that this is an international border, so once you set foot on the bridge, you’ll need a passport to get back into the US.

International Boundary Line between the United States and Canada on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls

Read about our time on the Canadian side of the falls here.

Have you ever visited Niagara Falls? Let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to pin this post for later!

Niagara Falls State Park, on the New York side, offers a chance to get up close and personal with the waterfalls.

Don't miss a chance to visit Niagara Falls State Park on the New York side of the river to get up close to the famous waterfalls.
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Kris's suitcase never rests. She's either traveling the United States for business or exploring somewhere exciting and new for vacation. She's a former Disney World Cast Member and loves writing about Disney parks almost as much as visiting them.


  • Ha Truong April 26, 2017 at 2:38 pm Reply

    The light at night looks interesting. I think Niagara looks beautiful even morning or night! I also want to explore Goat Island as well.

    • nomadbytrade13 April 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm Reply

      It was lots of fun. I hope you get a chance to explore the island someday.

  • Leigh | Campfires & Concierges April 26, 2017 at 2:41 pm Reply

    I have been thinking about heading back to Niagara Falls…I’ve only been once, we didn’t do any exploring at all. Whichever side is less impressive…that’s the side we saw. Only when I got home did we realize there was so much more!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm Reply

      You should visit if you get a chance. It’s a perfect weekend destination if you’re not too far away.

  • Momma To Go April 26, 2017 at 3:39 pm Reply

    Hubby and I went to Niagra Falls, both sides in 2008. we did the maid of the mist (duh!) but I didnt realize you can go on these islands. I would like to return with the kids. And I have walked across the US/Mexican boarder… a long time ago when you didnt need your passport!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm Reply

      I’ve always wanted to do the Maid of the Mist. The last two times I’ve been in Niagara Falls have been in the winter when the boats aren’t running though. I’ll have to visit in nicer weather sometime.

  • Sara MacIntosh April 27, 2017 at 2:22 am Reply

    This looks like a great view point to see the falls from! I also never knew that the fall lit up in the dark, that is so cool!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:33 pm Reply

      It’s gorgeous at night! The colors rotate, so the falls look different every few minutes.

  • Rimsha April 27, 2017 at 9:59 am Reply

    Really cool photos and your commentary was so much fun to read! This is definitely on my list of places to go and now i’ll always remember your post when I plan a trip 🙂

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:33 pm Reply

      Thank you! I hope you get a chance to visit soon.

  • missairportsandpassports April 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm Reply

    I have never visited Niagara Falls, but it’s on my list!! Reading your article reminds me of the time my grandfather and his wife visited Nigara Falls, but his wife accidentally booked a hotel on the Canadian side. Neither of them had their passports. Border patrol was generous enough to let them pass though. Lol

    • Aarti Kamath April 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm Reply

      lol!.. This is funny!!..

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:31 pm Reply

      That was lucky! Even though I’m American, I found it much harder to cross back into the US than going into Canada.

  • Aarti Kamath April 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm Reply

    Good info on the islands!…The Canadian side is what looks very inviting to me!.. I keep seeing excellent pics of the other view.. Loved your article on that too!..

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:34 pm Reply

      Thank you! It’s such an incredible natural wonder that you really can’t go wrong when visiting.

  • maniniexp April 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm Reply

    That is pretty cool to say you crossed over by foot. Love the photos, as a typical American, I have yet to see many of the big iconic sites such as Niagra Falls but its on my list!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:34 pm Reply

      I’m lucky that it’s only a few hours from where I live so it was easy to visit. It’s very cool though, and I hope you get a chance to visit sometime soon.

  • Shelley Treadaway April 27, 2017 at 3:03 pm Reply

    Absolutely incredible photos, especially niagra falls after dark! I had no idea they put on a mini show. You captures its beauty wonderfully !

    • nomadbytrade13 April 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm Reply

      Thank you! Night time is my favorite. Having the lights is nice because you can still enjoy the scenery even after dark.

  • authenticfoodquest April 28, 2017 at 12:06 am Reply

    Even though I have been to Canada several times,I simply have not made it to Niagara Falls. Thanks for the inspiration….this is indeed something I must do. Amazing pictures. My favorite is of Goat Island. Appreciate the inspiration!!

  • thewaywardwalrus April 30, 2017 at 12:20 pm Reply

    Super cool hearing what’s on the other side! Years ago I visited the Canadian side and it was absolutely gorgeous. Our hotel bathroom had a view of the falls, how nuts! My friend just moved to New York and wanted to hit up the US side so I’ll have to pass the article along to her:

  • The Wanderlust Dietitian April 30, 2017 at 10:10 pm Reply

    I have not been to the falls yet but am hoping to see it soon! What beautiful photos!

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