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Maid of The Mist: Niagara Falls Boat Tour

Watch 2 million liters of water fall before your eyes as you board the Maid of the Mist. Be part of an unforgettable adventure on this iconic vessel on your next visit to Niagara. There is no other place where you can see the falls like this.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

Maid of The Mist: Niagara Falls Boat Tour

Beginning the tour of the falls at the Maid of the Mist | ©Mustang Joe

Nothing can get you closer to the famous North American waterfalls than the world famous Maid of the Mist boat tours. This tour operates in Niagara Falls (New York) and from the Ontario side of the falls (Canada).

For twenty minutes, you will experience a journey that will take you into the heart of the falls as they thunder down from above. This is a unique experience that is sure to delight you. Not for nothing is it on this list of the best attractions in Niagara Falls.

The Maid of the Mist is the oldest tourist attraction in North America. It has been visited by all kinds of dignitaries and celebrities and celebrities like Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbechev and Brad Pitt, a visit to the base of the falls should be a priority for everyone visiting the region.

Many tour packages include tickets for this experience, but even if they don't you can buy tickets just for the boat. Either way, a trip to Niagara cannot be considered complete without a ride on the Maid of the Mist.

What is it like to ride the Maid of the Mist boat?

Embarking on the Maid of the Mist| ©Robert Linsdell
Embarking on the Maid of the Mist| ©Robert Linsdell

Be prepared to get wet: the Maid of the Mist practically plunges you under the falls and many say it's one of the best ways to experience the splendor of Niagara Falls. In fact, it's one of the best guided tours in the region.

After purchasing tickets, an elevator takes passengers to the pier. Passengers are given a plastic poncho to prevent them from getting completely soaked. You will get soaked anyway. Find a spot by the railings for the best (and wettest) views.

As you approach the falls, look downstream toward the 50-foot-high walls of the Niagara Gorge, sculpted over hundreds of thousands of years as the waterfall eroded the rock.

As they approach the falls, the sound of the water turns to thunder and the boat's two 350-horsepower diesel engines hum against the current. Passengers scream as if on an amusement park ride, but they are perfectly safe.

Important points about this cruise

  • Each boat can hold up to 600 people and is quite a crowded experience, so it is not recommended for the more claustrophobic.

  • Before boarding you will see the staff ready to guide you and there are restrooms before you start lining up to board. You should definitely take advantage of this, as you will see a lot of water flowing during the trip.

  • While the memories that will be created on this trip will last a lifetime, the experience itself lasts 20 minutes at most. **Don't stop to tie your shoes, or blink because you will miss it.

  • When you get on board, it will be a race to the perimeter of the boat. So be prepared to grab and claim a spot, preferably on the top floor for the best view.

What other tourists say about the Maid of the Mist boat trip

Recent visitors say you can't leave Niagara Falls without taking a ride on the Maid of the Mist. Aside from the incredible views, tourists were also pleased with the length of the ride (20 minutes) and the modest ticket price.

Maid of the Mist boat as part of an organized excursion

Tour group on the boat| ©Ashwin Kumar
Tour group on the boat| ©Ashwin Kumar

There is so much to see in Niagara Falls, it can be difficult to plan a trip on your own. So an organized tour becomes the best option. The best part is that it's a process you can do, for the most part, online.

On the other hand, one of the advantages guided tours have is that most of the components of a trip like this come pre-packaged. Accommodation and transfers are usually included, along with many meals and sightseeing. Add to this the fact that the Niagara Falls park visit includes experiences such as the Cave of the Winds tickets or the Maid of the Mist boat ride, and you've got yourself a package deal.

There are guided tours to suit different budgets, from basic backpacker to 5-star luxury and all-inclusive guided tours. Ideally, you should book your tickets and tours in advance, as they tend to be quite crowded.

Book a tour that includes Maid of the Mist

Riding the Maid of the Mist boat on your own

Ticket office to purchase tickets| ©Ansel Adams
Ticket office to purchase tickets| ©Ansel Adams

Tickets for the Maid of Mist are sold directly from 9 A.M. at their dock inside Niagara Falls State Park. There are several pre-sales available directly on their official website, but these sell out quickly and are seasonal.

The advantage of these tickets is that they do not have a specific date, but you have to wait in line anyway, even if you have ordered the tickets in advance. This is because you have to exchange your purchase receipt for the tickets themselves.

Maid of the Mist boat tour dates and times

All passengers receive a recyclable poncho to keep their clothes dry, as they will be exposed to an extraordinary experience that can only be described as awe-inspiring. Maid of the Mist excursions run from April through October each year, depending on weather conditions. Boats can be boarded from the U.S. side of the falls, every 15 minutes during high season.

Know the Maid of the Mist boat ride ticket prices

Depending on the season, tickets for Maid of the Mist can cost up to 25 euros for adults and up to 12 euros for children 6 to 12 years old. Children under 5 are free, but there must be at least 1 adult present for every 4 children.

How to locate the Maid of the Mist boat stop inside the park

The Maid of the Mist docks at the Lower Niagara River at the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Station in Niagara Falls.

1- From the Niagara Falls State Park visitor parking lot, you will only have to walk a little over 300 yards to reach the Maid of the Mist docking port.

2- You have to face east looking for the Niagara Adventure Theatre which has its façade facing the falls.

3- Then past the Niagara Falls Fireworks Observation Point you will see the location of the ports.

Tips to keep in mind when visiting Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Entrance to the State Park| ©Ken Lund
Entrance to the State Park| ©Ken Lund
  • Don't do it on a hot weekend. Lines can last up to two hours and high summer temperatures can ruin the experience.

  • If you go on a holiday weekend and it is very hot, it is best to wait until later in the day when there are fewer people in line.

  • Bring water and an umbrella. I would suggest a small umbrella that you can fold up and put in your purse or backpack. They let you bring things like that, although you can confirm it on their website.

  • If your physical condition allows, I recommend climbing the steps up to the side of the falls. You will get wet, but the views are AMAZING.

  • Watch out for the kids! I'm not kidding. There are some potentially dangerous places where a person could get hurt. Be aware of your surroundings. Hold your children's little hands tightly or secure them in the stroller.

  • Carry a waterproof camera if you have one handy, if not, be careful not to get your cell phone too wet.

Best parking spots in Niagara Falls

Entry is through Niagara Falls State Park, you will be greeted with flags from various businesses directing you to their own private parking lots. Try the state park parking lotsfirst ; they are cheaper and closer to the falls.

At Prospect Point there is a parking lot open year-round. There are also two parking lots on nearby Goat Island. The entrance fee for vehicles is €6 to €9, depending on the season. Parking is free if you have the annual state park passport.

Traveller Tip

If the day is nice and you want to picnic in the area, there is room to do so if you come well prepared. This can also be a good way to save money.

What to see during the cruise

View of the Falls from the Boat| ©Col Adamson
View of the Falls from the Boat| ©Col Adamson

The Maid of the Mist ride has been a favorite attraction at Niagara Falls State Park for more than 150 years. The dramatic ride will take you through the waterfall's rushing waters and massive rock formations:

  • The journey begins at the Observation Tower, where visitors receive a souvenir rain poncho and board the double-decker Maid of the Mist tour boat.

  • From there, the boat passes the base of the American Falls and arrives at the Horseshoe Falls Basin.

  • The majestic view of Niagara Falls is the main attraction of this tour to which words alone cannot do justice.

  • You can choose to stand on the deck or stay on the boat to enjoy the view of the waterfall.

  • The highlight of the trip is when the captain drives to the center of the waterfall as far as the weather conditions make it possible, giving the tourist an enviable and unrepeatable view.

  • The trip ends by returning back to the U.S. side at Niagara Falls State Park.

Maid of the Mist from the American side and from the Canadian side

Boat going inside the Falls| ©Ken Lund
Boat going inside the Falls| ©Ken Lund

A similar boat trip is offered on the Canadian side: the Hornblower Niagara Cruises. The biggest difference between the Maid of the Mist and the Hornblower is the story behind it. Although Hornblower has been around for more than 35 years, it has only been offering Niagara River cruises since 2014. The route followed by both ships is the same, with the only difference being that Hornblower also offers night cruises, complete with illumination and fireworks.

You can combine both rides, but if you have to choose, location is the best way to decide when debating between the Maid of the Mist and the Hornblower:

  • If you find yourself staying on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, choose the Maid of the Mist.
  • If you're on the Canadian side, choose the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which is basically the Canadian Maid of the Mist.

Difference in prices

Hornblower Niagara Cruises tickets for adults cost around €20, and the adventure pass, which includes the trip behind the falls, the whitewater ride and the 4D Niagara Fury experience, which costs around €28.

This pass also includes a two-day transportation pass for the WEGO transportation system and coupons for Niagara Parks restaurants and stores.

The price difference for cruises may be more if you have children. The Maid of the Mist is free for children 5 and under accompanied by an adult, while the Hornblower only lets children 2 and under board for free. It's a minor detail, but if you have several children, the difference can make a big difference.

Difference in dates and duration

They also differ in itineraries: Hornblower runs its daytime cruises from April 1 through November 30, weather permitting. The Maid of the Mist ends its season in early November.

These cruises last 40 minutes and sell out quickly, so it is wise to purchase tickets in advance. The evening cruise is more expensive than the daytime cruises because it is longer, but it is one of the most romantic experiences your trip to Niagara Falls can offer.

  • Maid of the Mist
  • Operation: From April to October
  • Ticket Price Adult: Around 22 Euros
  • Children Free: Up to 5 years old.
  • Departure Point: Niagara Falls State Park (USA)
  • Hornblower Niagara Cruises
  • Operation: April 1st to November 30th
  • Ticket Price Adult: Around 22 Euros
  • Children Free: Up to 2 years old.
  • Departure Point: Niagara Parkway (Canada)

Is it worth it to ride the Maid of the Mist?

The most famous tourist boat in Niagara Falls.| ©Mike Goad
The most famous tourist boat in Niagara Falls.| ©Mike Goad

There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls, USA that it can be difficult to take it all in.

If you have limited time (e.g., a weekend getaway), it's best to opt for a short list of must-dos. And definitely riding the Maid of the Mist boat is one of the experiences you can't miss.

We don't usually like to recommend activities where you have to wait in long lines, but this cruise is definitely worth your time and money. Anyway, check out what is the best time to make the most of your visit to Niagara Falls.

Being able to see the falls from river level is already a great experience, but getting into the heart of this mighty waterfall, hearing the roar and feeling the force of the water crashing around you is simply spectacular.