New York : Safety by City
- Fair Haven
- Greenport Village
- Lake George
- Lake Placid
- Long Island
- Mt Vernon
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- New Rochelle
- New York City
- Niagara Falls
- Saranac Lake
- Saratoga Springs
- Seneca Falls
- Shelter Island
- Sleepy Hollow
- Watkins Glen
- White Plains
Thundering torrents of water cascade down sheer cliffs, cloaking you in cool mist as rainbows dance in the air.
Welcome to Niagara Falls, New York – an exciting city where natural wonder and urban energy converge.
Since the falls were discovered thousands of years ago by indigenous peoples, this raging waterfall has summoned travelers to its awesome power.
In the late 1700s, European settlers established a village overlooking the Horseshoe Falls that later became a booming industrial city, harnessing the waterfall’s hydraulic force.
Today, three gravity-defying waterfalls stretch across the Niagara River, anchored by the colossal Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.
On the American side, Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls plunge dramatically next to ode-inspiring observation towers.
Beyond the falls, fun surprises await in Niagara Falls’ lively tourist district, filled with more attractions, dining options, and shopping sprees waiting for you.
With so many incredible sights and experiences concentrated around one amazing natural phenomenon, Niagara Falls guarantees you’ll be left in awe.
Its raw beauty and vibrant energy make this dynamic city a memorable place to visit, and it’s open day and night with a special nighttime display you don’t want to miss.
While the falls are amazing, the city has some serious safety issues and crime rates we need to discuss.
Don’t let that statement dissuade you, but it’s good we can talk about this so you can have a safe trip.
Warnings & Dangers in Niagara Falls
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here in the city of Niagara Falls and certain safety risks at the falls themselves. Nothing about that risk level should prevent you from visiting, but I want to help you avoid first-time rookie mistakes.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Niagara Falls has a local trolley with three routes, allowing you to choose a scenic riding tour, historical tour, or "get me to the falls" tour. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Many people choose to rent a car or drive themselves for the flexibility of visiting Canada. All options are at low risk, but you should know that parking spots could run you $30-$50 a day.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
You should treat this with a medium risk due to the large crowds pressed together in this popular tourist spot. Don't carry valuables with you, and keep your mobile device in your jacket or purse when you aren't taking photos.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Niagara Falls experiences extreme weather year-round, including severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, tornadoes, blinding blizzards, heavy lake-effect snow, ice storms, high winds, dense fog, and frigid temperatures. Visitors should consider Niagara Falls a medium risk and monitor forecasts closely.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The robbery risk is 91% higher than the national average, but your risk is low if you stay near the falls and the tourist areas and don't venture into the city neighborhoods. This is another reason to limit what you carry, and don't wear flashy jewelry or valuables.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Niagara Falls is an international treasure, and that's going to cause it to be a medium risk. In 2013, a terror plot thought to have targeted a passenger train crossing Niagara Falls was thwarted. While the risk is there, you have so many levels of security and protection that you shouldn't feel that medium risk when you visit. It is still imperative to report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Treat this with a medium risk because even if someone isn't trying to scam you, there are aggressive salespeople trying to get tourists to use "their" tour company instead of another. For this reason alone, it's better to buy tickets ahead of time. You won't be pressured into a situation if you're already prepared. High-pressure tactics can also risk you getting into the boat of a non-certified operator.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Nothing in the crime data suggests there is a higher risk for women, but you should use all the standard safety precautions you would in any tourist city. If you're traveling solo, stick with group tours for safety. Always let someone know where you are going and when you will check in with them upon return.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
I absolutely love that the Niagara Region water company posts the current status of water quality (or as recent as possible) and not just an annual report that has data up to 18 months old. At my most recent check, all standers were met and the utility was fully compliant.
Safest Places to Visit in Niagara Falls
You have several tourism websites to consider for a trip to Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls USA is the main website that covers tourist attractions.
The Niagara Falls State Park’s website might be a bit redundant, but it specifically focuses on the rules and attractions within the park.
For information on the Canadian side, use Niagara Falls Tourism’s website.
One of the best ways to truly experience the raw, thundering power of Niagara Falls is to take a boat tour.
Options range from large tour boats that get you up close to the bottom of the falls to small, adventurous jet boats that take you right into the raging current for a thrilling ride.
The “Maid of the Mist” is the most famous tour operator in Niagara Falls.
(Have you seen the movie Bruce Almighty?)
The Cave of the Winds viewing platform is in the state park, and despite its name, there’s no cave.
“The name “Cave of the Winds” is a bit deceiving. In the 1800’s there was a rock overhang –or a cave-like structure– that allowed people to stand under the Falls.
The Cave collapsed in the early 1900s but the name stuck.”
– Niagara Falls State Park Rangers
One of the newest attractions at Niagara Falls is the Niagara Parks Power Station, with a tour through a long tunnel beneath the falls.
It just opened in 2022, but the tour is only accessible on the Canadian side of the border.
Check the schedule for the Falls Illumination Tour, which happens several times a night most of the year.
The falls are lit up in a colorful display that gives a different perspective from the daytime view.
You can also book a helicopter tour over the falls if you want to see it from a bird’s eye view.
Strolling along the Niagara River just upstream from the falls offers incredible views.
The Niagara River Parkway on the Canadian side and Niagara Falls State Park on the American side offer miles of scenic walking and biking trails.
You can also opt for a hike on the Niagara Gorge Trail System.
The International Bridge between the U.S. and Canada is one of the top viewing spots, but you will be crossing the border before you cross the bridge.
Beyond the falls themselves, there is so much more to discover.
Venture to nearby attractions like the gorgeous 40-acre Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, the Journey Behind the Falls for a closer underground look at the falls, or the charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake for shopping and dining options.
The Fashion Outlet of Niagara Falls is on the other side of the city, with name brands at discount prices.
This is also a great place to buy a raincoat outside of the main tourist area, where the prices might be higher.
This is also wine country, with ice wine being made from frozen grapes.
The sweet reward of this rare method of winemaking is worth a visit to places like Arrowhead Spring Vineyards and Schulze Vineyards & Winery.
It’s impossible to list all the amazing things to do in this article, so I highly recommend you download the tourist guide from the visitor’s bureau to get a more robust look at options.
Places to Avoid in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, New York, breaks the mold of most tourist cities.
Usually, the more popular parts of town have higher crime rates.
In Niagara Falls, it’s the opposite.
Also, Main Street in Niagara Falls isn’t like most Main Streets in America.
It doesn’t have the bulk of activities along the route.
Stay south of Niagara Street and west of John Daly Boulevard around the convention center for well-lit, walkable streets.
One plus for first-timers is that you’ll know by the appearance of a neighborhood if it’s safe or welcoming.
Use the Niagara Scenic Parkway to get in and out of town instead of driving through the central and eastern sides of the city.
Crime maps show that the neighborhoods around the airport have the highest crime rates.
You’ll hear this a million times during your trip, but avoid climbing the railing or sitting on top of it near the falls.
Do not lean onto the railing or do anything that could cause you to fall over the falls accidentally.
The chances of you surviving a fall are slim.
The railings, ground, and rocks are usually covered in a fine mist, which can turn into ice in the winter.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Niagara Falls
- The City of Niaraga Falls has its own police force. You can find them on Facebook @NFPoliceDepartment or call them at (716) 286-4547. The state park where the falls are located also has its own police department. Their Facebook page is @NYStateParkPolice, and their phone number is (716) 278-1777.
- Avoid renting a Kia or Hyundai car for a trip to Niagara Falls, as those have been the target of car theft in recent years. If you do have one of these vehicles, use extra caution when parking and try to use a locked or monitored garage to park inside safely.
- If you are staying at a local hotel, you should get a free pass to the Niagara Falls Trolley. The trolley runs from late May through the end of October but only runs daily from mid-June through mid-September.
- Be prepared for the weather. Bring rain gear, layers, and sunscreen. The mist keeps the area damp, and the sun reflects brightly off the water. You might not even realize you’re getting sunburned until it’s too late.
- Only use experienced tour guides when taking a boat tour or visiting by the water. Do not go out on your own. The waters of this region are just too dangerous for self-navigation. Only use certified tour guides through the tourism website.
- Stay behind guardrails and barriers. Do not climb over them or lean over for photos. The currents are extremely powerful and can sweep you over the falls. Listen to all the warning signs. Assume any wet surface or rock is as slippery as ice.
- More than 5,000 people have died going over the falls since 1850, one as recently as early 2023. Park rangers estimate about a dozen of those deaths each year are people taking their own lives. You should know that the United States has a suicide prevention hotline by simply dialing 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. If you see odd behavior or someone climbing over the rail, please alert security immediately.
- Do not swim in the Niagara River, even if you feel you are downstream enough from the falls. In Tonawanda, there’s an outlet of the river known as “Little River” that is infamous for its strong current, locally called “The Chutes.” If you need to find a swimming spot, talk with state park officials for the best recommendation in the region, and don’t judge the water of any river by eyeballing it.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. There’s a special license for non-residents, and you’ll pay more than the residents, but it’s still required for any fishing activity.
- Most of the major attractions at the falls stop in the winter, but you can still visit during that time. In fact, the Winter Festival of Lights is now more than 100 days long to get the most out of the frozen falls experience.
So... How Safe Is Niagara Falls Really?
The safety problems in Niagara Falls cascade as much as the falls themselves.
With a violent crime rate 139% higher than the New York State average and 120% higher than the national average, Niagara Falls consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in New York.
Theft rates are 40% higher than the national average.
Another challenge is the economic decline in recent years that impacts industries and leaves people at or near the poverty line.
Nearly one in five Niagara Falls residents live in poverty.
The average income is $43,000.
Now, to the “really” part – Niagara Falls gets about 21,000 tourists a day.
That means almost eight million additional people coming through the New York or Canadian side of the falls.
The crime rates don’t include the tourist visitation numbers, only the residents vs. raw crime data.
If you were moving to Niagara Falls, we’d be having a different discussion.
However, those visiting will find plenty of safe places to explore and see this natural wonder under the watchful eyes of security, both locally, federally, and internationally.
The future of the tourist attraction is bright, with new plans in the works announced in 2022.
“We are forging a new path forward for Niagara Falls — making targeted investments that will help draw tourists and transform the community,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“The Niagara Heritage Gateway Project and Great Lakes 360 will bring exciting new developments to the city’s downtown, attracting new visitors, stimulating the local economy and making the community an even better place to live.”
The advancement of the tourism industry is sure to bring in more much-needed tax dollars, but it’s up to the city to put those dollars to use to make walking the streets a safer experience.
Is staying on the Canadian side of the falls safer?
It will also offer better views of the falls from most hotels.
Is the New York side too dangerous to visit?
Just keep aware of your surroundings and use common sense.
How Does Niagara Falls Compare?
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Since you will likely be visiting the United States and Canada, you need to confirm you have the right documentation with both the U.S. Border Patrol and the Canadian Border Services Agency. See if you are eligible for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). A passport that isn't within six months of expiring will be required as well.
On the U.S. side, you can only use the U.S. Dollar (USD). Canada's currency is the Canadian Dollar, but most locations in Niagara Falls, Ontario, will accept USD. Usually, the Canadian dollar has a better exchange rate, so you might want to spend that on the other side of the border. With either option, currency exchange kiosks are located in tourist areas near both sides of the border.
The falls are wet and splashy, so you should bring a rain poncho with a hood or be prepared to pay a higher price for one in the tourist corridor. The ideal time to visit is June through August when the temperatures are warm (low 80s F), and the mist cools down the humid feeling. Fall foliage is stunning here, but you should bring layers of warm clothing. The closer you get to winter, the more you'll bundle up with average temperatures at or below freezing. Spring can still be chilly, so plan for winter clothing and hope you can peel off some layers on warmer days. Pack shoes with good grip and comfortable wear for long walks.
The closest major commercial airports to Niagara Falls, NY, are Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport, located about 30 minutes and 90 minutes away from the falls, respectively. You will need all the documentation to get into Canada if you choose the Toronto airport, but you might find cheaper flights there, too. Do not confuse the Buffalo airport with Niagara Falls International Airport, which only offers flights through Allegiant to Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg, Florida. However, that is the closest airport to Niagara Falls.
You'll waive liability for any boat tour or activity that comes with a guide, so talk with a travel insurance agent about the best way to protect yourself from accidents, severe weather events, or health emergencies during your visit here.
Niagara Falls Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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