Niagara Falls is one of the most visited destinations, not only in North America but in the entire world. And it’s rightfully so. The falls in itself is a magnificent natural wonder, but besides that, the area around Niagara Falls itself is dotted with hundreds of activities for you to choose from. It is estimated that it receives around 30 million visitors a year. So naturally, it can be crowded especially during the peak holiday seasons. But don’t let this discourage you from visiting!
Niagara Falls is located in the border between Canada and the US state of New York. In this guide, we’ll help you to plan out your Niagara Falls trip from the Canadian side. We’ve curated a list of activities to ensure that you’ll have the best time of your life in the world’s biggest waterfall.
When to Come?
Summer is definitely the busiest time in Niagara Falls. When you come between June and August, you will have the guarantee that all of Niagara Falls attraction will be open, you can also take advantage of the free Discover Niagara Shuttle service. On the flip side, however, the influx of tourists will definitely raise prices up in the area. You may also want to book your accommodation way in advance, especially if you’re planning to stay near all of the main attractions.
During the winter some of the attractions may be closed due to the temperature. If the main reason for your visit to Niagara Falls is to try the iconic Niagara Falls cruises, then the months between November and April are to be avoided. However, with significantly fewer visitors around, you will definitely get the best deals during this period plus you’ll also be rewarded with one of the most magical atmospheres as the entire city of Niagara Falls, ON transformed into a winter wonderland during the annual festival of lights.
Where to Stay?
Source: Falls Avenue Resort
Being a major tourist destination, you will never run out of lodging options in Niagara Falls regardless of the time that you choose to come to visit, from budget motels to major five-star hotel chains. While it provides convenience and better access to all the main attractions, room price can be significantly higher the closer it is to the Horseshoe Falls.
A room with an unobstructed view of the falls will set you back at least US$500 per night. However, If you are on a budget you can go with any of the well-maintained motels or a bed and breakfast in the city, and take advantage of the free shuttle to go around.
Day 1 – Friday
Source: Holiday In Niagara Falls
Most hotels will only check you into your room after 2 pm in the afternoon. As soon as you are checked into your room, don’t waste time and head out immediately to the Table Rock Center, where you can get that iconic view of the Horseshoe Falls.
Fun Fact: Niagara Falls is actually the birthplace of hydroelectric power! Look out for the statue of Nikola Tesla in Queen Victoria Park, on the way to Table Rock.
Once you are in Table Rock, get an even more intimate view of the falls by going on the Journey Behind the Falls. This attraction will take you on an elevator ride to the bottom of Niagara Gorge. A series of tunnels then will lead you to a viewing deck on one side and an opening on the other side, where you can see all of the water falling down the cataract, from behind the falls.
Cap the evening off by having dinner at the Table Rock House restaurant. You can also go back to the city for even more dining options.
Day 2 – Saturday
If you’re looking for a fun place to have breakfast, head over to the Flying Saucer in the heart of the city. Don’t let the fact that it’s shaped like a flying saucer fool you. The food here is exceptional which is the reason why it’s almost always full.
As soon as you’re done, spend the rest of your morning to have a second go at experiencing the Falls. You can visit one or two of these Niagara Falls attractions before lunch. Each attraction provides a different perspective on Niagara Falls.
Hornblower Niagara Cruise
Another chance to get up close to the falls. This iconic cruise will depart from the Hornblower Landing located on the intersection between Clifton Hill street and Niagara Parkway. The boat ride will start slow from under the Rainbow Bridge until it reaches the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls where you will experience the full force of Niagara Falls.
Accessible from Queen Victoria Park, this 160 meters (520ft) tall observation tower will give you a 360-degree view, not only of the falls but the surrounding area. The tower also features a revolving restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner with full bird’s-eye’s view of all the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls.
MistRider Zipline to the Falls
This is certainly not for the fainthearted. When you ride the MistRider, you will free fall from a 67 meter (220ft) tall vantage point to the bottom of Niagara Gorge at a speed of 70+ kph. On the other hand, if you are brave enough, you will definitely be rewarded with a view like nothing you have ever seen before.
Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour
Take your Niagara Falls experience to a whole another level with this 12 minutes ride. Being so high up above, you will not just be able to see far beyond a gorgeous view of the falls, all the way to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Once you’re done with lunch, head south towards the Niagara Whirlpool Rapids, a natural whirlpool along the Niagara River. The average depth of the rapids is approximately 138 meters (125ft.) and with a speed as high as 30ft. per second, it is a category 6 rapids.
Hop on the Aero Car to experience the whirlpool from a different angle. The Leandro-Torres-designed cable car will transport to the middle of the gorge, right on top of the rapids. If you prefer to be as close to the water as possible, you can also go to the White Water Walk, for a self-guided tour to get an up-close and personal look at the geology of Niagara Gorge, the flora and fauna of the area and of course the full power of the rapids.
Return to the tourist district right in time to catch the sunset from atop the Niagara Skywheel and then have your dinner at one of the many restaurants along Clifton Hill. Cap your night off by hitting the casino.
Day 3 – Sunday
Source: Visit Niagara Canada
After two full days in the center of all the actions, dedicate your third and last day in the area to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist district and take the 30-minutes-drive towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. All you have to do is simply drive straight north along the scenic Niagara Parkway.
Make a stop at the Niagara Botanical Gardens along the way. Established in 1936, the Botanical Gardens feature 100 acres of meticulously maintained gardens and the iconic rose garden with over 2400 roses. The gardens also serve as the outdoor classroom for the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture and have an extensive collection of floras. Make sure to also check the Butterfly Conservatory while you’re there.
As soon as you arrive in the city, make your way towards the heritage district. With its tree-lined streets and Victorian-style buildings complete with manicured lawns and red-brick walls, Niagara-on-the-Lake stays true to its moniker as the loveliest town in Ontario. Immerse yourself a bit on the local history by going to the Historical Society Museum and Fort George.
One thing that you should never be worried about when you’re in town is running out of dining options. Epicurean Bistro will make for the perfect pit stop for lunch, after taking in all the history. Or, if you’re in the mood for a picnic, simply pack up your lunch and head over to one of the picnic benches in Queen’s Royal Park, where you can enjoy your meal with the view of Lake Ontario.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is also famous for is its wines. There are dozens of wineries in and around the city, each with its own individual personality. Make a point to visit one of them for a wine tasting.
With over 20 wineries to choose from, you will definitely find an estate that suits your preference. Konzelmann Estate Winery boasts a history dated back to its German foundation in 1893, until its establishment in Canada in 1988. The property is located on the south shores of Lake Ontario, giving your wine tasting experience, a beautiful lakefront vista as a backdrop.
Visiting a vineyard is more than simply a chance to sample Niagara’s local wines. it’s also a chance to deep dive into Ontario’s wine culture. Get behind the scene of life at a winery and get your hand on new releases. While you’re here, you may also sample rare vintage, special Reserve or small batches of specialties, all of which are usually only available at the wineries. And that should serve as the perfect conclusion to your trip.