Photo: Danny Hoang / Unsplash
Contributor Chris Occhiuzzi shares his list of favourites … whether you live here or are passing through, we know you’ll enjoy these top things to do in Niagara Falls experiences
It’s a place of legends and myths, of romance and adventure. Yes indeed, Niagara Falls is so much more than just a tourist attraction: it’s an iconic Canadian destination known the world over. The rushing falls on both sides of the border and the mist which reaches sky high as the water from the Niagara River hurdles downward at an amazing 600,000 gallons per second are awe-inspiring sights to be sure.
Then there are the stories of people in barrels tumbling over the Falls, and of lovers eloping to this romantic site to tie the knot. In fact, one of the best things to do in Niagara Falls is getting married, judging by the many couples who come here year after year to do just that.
Many families visit Niagara Falls to walk around and wonder at the natural marvel, as well as partake in some of the many other fun activities nearby. There are boat tours which take you close enough to feel the power of the falls without having to jump in; there are beautiful national parks and gardens to wander and explore; and fun adventures like helicopter tours and so much, much more.
To help make your next visit to this amazing place easier to plan, here are the top things to do in Niagara Falls.
Have Fun @ The Falls: The Top Things To Do in Niagara Falls
Explore the many Niagara Falls’ Attractions
I remember as a child standing at a spot looking at the water as it rushed over the edge of the Horseshoe Falls – also known as the Canadian Falls – at Niagara Falls. The scene was hypnotizing as the water seemed to move in slow motion despite its tremendous speed. Indeed, I looked over at my father and said, “it makes me want to jump in. That childlike awe still holds true even for us adults.
The closest you can get is with the Journey Behind the Falls tour, which takes you through tunnels behind the rushing water, letting you glimpse them up close on pathways and through portholes. Despite the ponchos provided you’ll get soaked anyways, so make sure to choose a relatively warmer day for this adventure.
Other fun things to do in Niagara Falls include:
- See the Niagara Falls lights, which illuminate the Falls every evening
- See the Niagara Falls Fireworks, a spectacular event which takes place throughout the summer and during the Winter Festival of Lights
- Visit the Table Rock Welcome Centre, which includes an entrance to the Journey Behind the Falls adventure; it’s located right beside the Falls and offers a boatload of information as well as restaurants and amenities
- View the American Falls on the New York State side
Learn more about the Falls at www.niagarafallstourism.com.
Take a Cruise to the Foot of the Falls
Almost as famous as the falls themselves, the Maid of the Mist boat tour has been taking visitors to the foot of the Falls for decades. This legendary boat tour creates memories that last a lifetime as you feel the thunderous roar of the Falls as your vessel creeps ever closer to the thundering water.
Also good are the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which offer similar tours to the iconic Maid of the Mist.
For Maid of the Mist tickets and schedules, visit: www.maidofthemist.com.
Enjoy a Meal (and the Views) from the Skylon Tower
Perhaps the best view from above the falls (without having to get into a helicopter) is from the iconic Skylon Tower. Set overlooking Niagara Falls with two levels of fine dining (both sitting 775 ft above the falls), the Skylon Tower Restaurant is famous for its revolving dining room which quietly rotates 360-degrees each hour.
This rotation provides guests with ever-changing views as they dine and offers a fantastic vantage point for viewing the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. Visibility on a clear summer’s day is 129 kilometres (80 miles), allowing you to literally see for miles and miles.
In addition to a fun elevator ride, the Skylon Tower includes indoor and outdoor observation decks, making the tower one of the iconic Niagara Falls attractions. A bonus for diners at the restaurant is the opportunity to see the rainbows created by the Falls’ mists when hit by sunlight. The best time to see rainbows from the Skylon Tower Restaurant are during late afternoons on sunny days.
For further information about the tower and restaurant, visit www.skylon.com.
Have a Flutter and Enjoy a Show at Fallsview Casino Resort
If you’re planning Niagara Falls vacation and looking for a place to stay offers up plenty of excitement, look no further than Fallsview Casino Resort. And there’s plenty more fun things to do here than having a flutter on the gaming tables.
A therapeutic spa allows you to relax and rejuvenate after a long day visiting the sites, while live performances in the Entertainment Centre gives guests plenty of fun non-gaming options. In the mood for shopping? Well, Fallsview has that for you, too – without having to the leave the resort. Enjoy boutique shopping with dozens of stores featuring all manners of items, including fashion, gifts, specialty foods and more.
Of course, there are also the restaurants, bars, and lounges to enjoy, featuring over 20 dining options including Italian, Chinese and Asian, steak and seafood, buffets, and a deli.
Book your visit to the resort www.fallsviewcasinoresort.com
Have a Thrill at Clifton Hill
Visiting Niagara Falls wouldn’t be complete without getting in on the action at Clifton Hill. With plenty of excitement on tap – from family fun to great restaurants – Clifton Hill Niagara Falls is a must-visit for both the young and young-at-heart. With more than a dozen hotels close by (many of them in the luxury hotel category), it’s easy to get to during your stay.
Just a block away from the Horseshoe Falls, the Clifton Hill area features amusement park style attractions such as the Niagara Skywheel. The Niagara Speedway featuring go-kart style racing gives family members and friends a chance to see who the fastest driver among you really is, while the Greg Frewin Theatre’s magnificent Wild Magic show is sure to delight.
When touring Clifton Hill, be sure to engage in the Zombie Attack interactive theatre ride. Fight off the dead and see who can get the best score while saving humankind. Also worth checking out are Wizard’s Golf mini putt.
See all the attractions at www.cliftonhill.com
Ride the Aero Car over the Niagara Whirlpool
With rapids rushing at up to 33 km/h on a clear, low-wind day, the Niagara Whirlpool is a beautiful naturally occurring spectacle. One of Niagara Tourism’s most asked about features, the Niagara Whirlpool is best viewed from the relative comfort of the famous Whirlpool Aero Car (a cable car which takes you above the water).
Designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo, the Whirlpool Aero Car provides a chance to witness the powerful whirlpool without having to get too close. Travelling about 1 km between two Canadian shorelines of the Niagara River, the aerial cable car is supported by six extremely strong cables and has received several upgrades in design and function over the years.
While hanging high above the water is close enough for some, those looking to get some real action should get on board one the Niagara Whirlpool Jet Boats. Don’t forget your camera as the photo and video opportunities are priceless. Speeding along the Niagara River at 80 km/h, you’ll be awestruck by the power of the jet boat as its 31,000 lbs of thrust allow it to navigate the extreme force of the rapids and the whirlpool.
To find out more about how to experience this amazing natural attraction, visit www.niagaraparks.com/visit/attractions/whirlpool-aero-car.
Located in the Clifton Hills area, the Niagara SkyWheel is one of the most popular Niagara Falls attractions. Also known as the Niagara Falls Ferris wheel, the SkyWheel is Canada’s largest Ferris wheel and gives visitors a glorious view of the Falls (its top height is 175-ft above the Falls).
From here you’ll enjoy incredible views over the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, Niagara River, and other landmarks. Enjoy the 12-minute ride in the comfort of the SkyWheel’s climate-controlled gondolas, a special trat at night when the Falls are lit up.
Learn more about the SkyWheel at www.cliftonhill.com/attractions/niagara-skywheel.
Take a Drive Along the Niagara Parkway
There are few things in life more enjoyable than a lovely, scenic drive. And in particular one which then British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill famously described in 1943 as the “prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.”
Since 1931, the Niagara Parkway has provided motorists and their passengers fantastic scenery as it travels from Fort Erie to Niagara on the Lake. While those staying in Niagara Falls for a few days may not travel the whole distance, there are opportunities for a short trip to see some amazing sites close to their accommodations.
Brock’s Monument at the Queenston Heights National Historic Site is a place to absorb Niagara and Canadian history. The monument itself is 56-metres (185-ft) tall and is an ode to Major General Sir Isaac Brock, a Canadian hero from the War of 1812. It’s Canada’s third oldest war memorial and a crypt beneath the monument is the final resting place for Brock. The monument is situated above the battlefield where he lost his life.
The Butterfly Conservatory is another must-visit destination along the Niagara Parkway. One of the largest glass-enclosed conservatories in North America, it allows you to envelope yourself among the fluttering beauty of over 2,000 brilliantly hued butterflies. Explore 180 metres of winding paths surrounded by lush vegetation that makes the butterflies feel at home.
For further details on the Niagara Parkway, check out www.niagarafallstourism.com/blog/the-niagara-parkway.
Take the Kids to Marineland
Let’s face it… everyone loves Marineland! Or so says the jingle for one of the most famous places to visit in Niagara Falls. Part aquarium, part zoo, part amusement park, and all family fun, the long-running site is a place to play and learn for the whole family.
Their dolphin and marine mammal shows are legendary, while Beluga Whales are also on hand for up close encounters. However, it’s not only marine life which delight the crowds. The Marineland Zoo is home to many North American land mammals including black bears, elk, deer, bison, and more.
While the animals big and small are wonderful to see, the team at Marineland takes each opportunity to educate guests about each animal’s role in maintaining the ecological balance on the planet and other important facts. And when you’ve had enough of learning, jump on a few of the amusement park rides with options for all ages.
Check out more about what Marineland has to offer at https://marineland.ca.
Contributor Occhiuzzi is a staff writer at Dockside Publishing and founder of Muskoka Unlimited.