Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls

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The Maid of the Mist boat tour, a Niagara Falls attraction for more than 150 years, takes riders past the American Falls into the basin of the Horseshoe Falls.

Guests on the Maid of the Mist boat tour get close to the falls ensuring the mist will drench them. They hear and feel the sheer power of the falling water — something not to miss!

Mother and daughter in rain ponchos with rainbow behind at the Maid of the Mist viewing platform.

This post covers all the information you need to plan your own Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls including:

  • Maid of the Mist tickets (purchase online to save time),
  • Maid of the Mist hours,
  • What to wear to Niagara Falls for a Maid of the Mist tour,
  • and more tips we discovered on our trip.
Maid of the Mist American Falls as seen from the boat.

What to expect on the Maid of the Mist Tour

The Maid of the Mist boat tours to the base of Niagara Falls are a “must do” for almost everyone who visits Niagara Falls, USA. My daughter, Ellie, was more excited about this than any other activity on our Niagara Falls vacation.

The night before our Maid of the Mist tour, as I tucked Ellie into bed, she grinned. “Tomorrow we ride in Niagara Falls, Mommy.”

Ohhhh, I hoped it would live up to her expectations. 

After breakfast the next morning, we walked from our hotel to the Maid of the Mist, an easy half mile stroll through Niagara Falls State Park to the ticket window.

We got our tickets and walked up the ramp to the ride’s access elevator.

Ellie’s eyes grew large as she got her first up-close site of Niagara Falls. Her grin grew even greater. 

Young girl smiling at Maid of the Mist.

After getting tickets, we were given the signature blue ponchos which are included with Maid of the Mist boat tours, aka “free” souvenirs, and stepped onboard to begin our Niagara Falls boat tour. The tour hasn’t changed much since my childhood.

We claimed one of the last available railing spots along the side of the boat and held on as we rode along. As we approached the American Falls, the mist was everywhere. People jostled us to get pictures. Groups pushed and shoved to get “selfies” with the mist behind them. 

If traveling with smaller kids, having a spot along the railing is really helpful. It’s hard for kids to see over adults if in the middle of the boat deck.

Ellie, thankfully, was fairly oblivious to the pushing going on, perhaps because I shielded her from it. Her face was wet — and she laughed at my wet glasses.

After we passed through the mist, we enjoyed looking at the birds, the falls in the distance and the wall of rock all around.

As we approached the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, most riders ran to the far side of the boat to take more selfies. I pulled out my phone to get a couple shots of Ellie and me, but honestly, it was so wet we pretty much gave up. My phone was also my GPS, so I couldn’t let it get drenched! 

Instead, we spent our time looking for rainbows in the mist and waving to the people looking down from the park above. 

The return trip was much less wet, and we enjoyed watching the birds and feeling the warm sun on our faces. Afterward, we climbed the stairs to get a close-up look at the American Falls and some great photos of rainbows (without the mist in our faces. YAY!).

We also enjoyed the views from the Niagara Falls Observation Deck. Even though the Observation Deck was crowded, everyone was really friendly, and groups took turns photographing each other with Niagara Falls in the background.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The Niagara Falls Observation Deck is the best place on the US side to get photos of Niagara Falls!

American Falls as seen from the Niagara Falls Observation Deck.

Tips for Maid of the Mist boat tours at Niagara Falls

As you plan your Niagara Falls vacation and Maid of the Mist boat tour, keep this information handy.

Where can I get Maid of the Mist tickets (and how to purchase Maid of the Mist tickets online to save time)?

Maid of the Mist tickets can be purchased the day of your trip, but they often sell out early in the day, so it’s a better idea to buy in advance, especially during the busy summer vacation season.

  • Regular admission tickets for the 2024 season are $28.25 for adults (ages 13+), $17.75 (for kids ages 6-12) and free for children under 5 with a paying adult.
  • Tickets can be purchased as part of a package including:
    • Niagara Falls Canada Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride — On the Canadian side, this is the most popular tour, and it sells out early. It includes seeing Niagara Falls from the Canadian side and the American side to get the best views all around. The ticket also includes Skylon Tower in Canada, Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Table Rock House, and Queen Victoria Park and, of course, the Maid of the Mist tour.
    • The Niagara Falls TourPass which includes admission to some of the most popular attractions on the US and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls.
    • The Niagara Falls half-day American Tour which includes the Maid of the Mist boat tours, Cave of the Winds, a visit to the American Observation Tower and a tour of Niagara Falls State Park. This guided tour is informative and allows you to see the most popular Niagara Falls US attractions in one day.
    • Maid of the Mist boat tours only — are available online to purchase for use any day during the season, but they do not guarantee a spot on a particular day.

There are many other Niagaa Falls tour options available for visiting the region on both the American and Canadian sides, somoe of which include guaranteed Maid of the Mist boat tour access. Some are really cool, like a nighttime tour that includes great viewing of the fireworks (on my bucket list). For tickets and tour options, click here

What are Maid of the Mist hours?

Maid of the Mist boat tours operate from mid-April through early November each season.

The exact start and end date depend on weather. In spring and fall, hours are limited due to daylight. Summertime, Maid of the Mist hours generally run from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For the complete schedule, click here.

Sitting by the river in a Maid of the Mist poncho with a rainbow behind.

What should I wear to Niagara Falls for a Maid of the Mist tour?

It probably should go without saying, but you get wet on Maid of the Mist boat tours. You also walk down a long gangway to the boat. The best clothes to wear for a Niagara Falls boat tour (or in general for a trip to Niagara Falls) include:

Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim to protect your eyes. The sun’s glare on Niagara Falls can be pretty intense.

Tips for visiting the Maid of the Mist tour

How long should I plan for a Maid of the Mist tour?

If you purchase tickets in advance, allow about one hour for this attraction from parking lot to finish. The ride itself is 20 minutes, and during peak times, you might wait for a while to get a boat. The extra time in this schedule allows for photos after the ride.

Where do I park for Maid of the Mist?

If you are staying in downtown Niagara Falls, consider walking to this attraction. It’s an easy walk through Niagara Falls State Park on paved walkways. Otherwise, parking costs $10/vehicle Monday-Thursday and $15/vehicle Friday-Sunday.  The address for Maid of the Mist tours is 1 Prospect Street, Niagara Falls, NY.

What should I bring on the Maid of the Mist tour?

Ponchos are provided for Maid of the Mist tours. You might want a waterproof bag for any items you bring with you and also a waterproof case for your cellphone/camera, especially if you want to take photos during the tour. Also, wear shoes that grip on wet surfaces. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses.

Do you get soaked on the Maid of the Mist?

The short answer is yes. The Maid of the Mist tour takes you to the base of Niagara Falls. The mist from the falling water mixing with the lower river ensures that everyone gets wet! The ponchos help keep clothes dry, but feet get wet so wear waterproof shoes!

Is the Maid of the Mist rough?

It seems like it would be, but the boats are wide-bottomed and it is not a rough ride. However, everyone stands for the ride and the flooring gets a bit slippery (flip flops and crocs are not suitable for the ride). Also, people jostle each other at times trying to position themselves for the best view.

When is the best time to visit Maid of the Mist?

Niagara Falls vacations are most popular in July and August, so to avoid crowds, plan on going in “shoulder season” — late spring and early fall. Arrive early in summer to avoid long waits. Maid of the Mist opens at 9:00 a.m. during the summer travel season.

Learn more about a Niagara Falls vacation

The Maid of the Mist tour was certainly a highlight of our Niagara Falls vacation. Ellie still talks about it from time to time, and it’s been nine years since our visit!

Read these articles to learn what else there is to do on a Niagara Falls vacation besides the Maid of the Mist tour: