Everything You Need to Know About What to Do in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario has been popular with tourists for over a century. It has changed a great deal in that time, from a scenic destination riddled with postcard vendors to a powerhouse tourist site complete with haunted houses and magic shows. With so many changes, advice about what to do in Niagara Falls can become outdated quickly and even returning travellers are always looking for great, up-to-date times.
That’s why we put together this handy article on the best of today’s Niagara Falls. We’ll share the details you need to know, some must-visit sites, and handy tips to make your trip memorable on your terms. Let’s get started!
Niagara the Natural
We have to begin by talking about the waterfalls which started it all: Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is a collection of three waterfalls located on the border of Canada (Ontario) and the United States (New York State). The waterfalls are:
Horseshoe Falls: At 167 feet high and 2,700 feet wide, this is the largest and most jaw-dropping of the three waterfalls. It lies right across the border, with one-third of the waterfall in the United States and two-thirds in Canada. The best view of it on a clear day comes from the Canadian side, which is why the majority of Niagara Falls tourist attractions are located north of the border.
American Falls: The second largest waterfall is known as the American Falls, so called because it is located entirely on the American side. At 110 feet high and 950 feet wide, the American Falls complements the Horseshoe Falls most when viewed head-on on the Canadian side.
Bridal Veil Falls: The Bridal Veil Falls appears similar to the American Falls, though it is slightly smaller in stature. It gets its name for its mere 56-foot width, which (especially side-by-side with the other Niagara Falls waterfalls) makes the fast-flowing water appear like a bridal veil.
Want to see the three waterfalls in all their glory? Start with a Niagara Falls boat tour on the Canadian side of the border. From there, take a walk starting from where the boat tour docks to get a full view of the Horseshoe and the American Falls. Before you leave, you can get up close with Horseshoe Falls through the Journey Behind the Falls experience.
Less time is typically needed to explore the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, though the Cave of the Winds is a must to get the full waterfall experience. Here, you will get come face to face with the foot of Bridal Veil Falls. We recommend leaving this experience until the end of your trip, so you have enough time to explore the extensive options on the Canadian side of the Falls.
Niagara the Adventurous
Niagara Falls has always attracted thrill-seekers, so you’re in the right place if you’re seeking adventure. The Niagara Falls Adventure Pass is a fantastic option for those looking to get a taste of all the area has to offer. For a single rate, the pass includes:
- Hornblower Niagara Cruises Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour
- Journey Behind the Falls
- White Water Walk
- Niagara’s Fury
In addition, we recommend keeping your eyes out for other adrenaline-pumping attractions as you walk around Niagara Falls, including the MistRider Zipline and the Niagara Speedway Go Karts.
Niagara the “Touristy”
A visit to Niagara Falls can be as “touristy” or as relaxed as you would like – the choice is yours.
If you prefer to avoid the kitsch, chances are you’ll prefer to stay closer to the waterfalls. After enjoying a few of the hallmark attractions there, you may enjoy venturing into other regions like Niagara-on-the-Lake or Twenty Valley.
Those who like bright lights and goofy attractions will find their home in Clifton Hill. There, the streets are lined with fun things to do. Among the most popular are the Great Canadian Midway, themed indoor mini-putt, haunted houses, a wax museum, and Ripley’s museum and ride. The best way to explore Clifton Hill is to take a stroll, starting with the main road, and dip into spots that strike your fancy throughout the day.
Niagara the Night Owl
Nighttime means entertainment for people of all ages and interests in Niagara Falls. Here are some of the most popular options:
Niagara Falls and Clifton Hill after dark:
Those who enjoy an evening in Niagara Falls will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the famous, year-round Niagara Falls illumination. Along with the dazzling waterfalls, there are daily fireworks shows from mid-June until the end of summer (plus plenty of weekend and special occasion shows the rest of the year). The best seat in the house for these displays is the Falls Fireworks Cruise, where you can enjoy the open water while getting close to the illuminated Niagara Falls. After taking in the sights, consider walking down Clifton Hill in the evening – all the attractions are open late, and the bright lights at night are something to behold!
The two most prominent, ongoing shows in Niagara Falls are O Canada Eh? Dinner and Show and Wild Magic at Greg Frewin Theatre. Both theatres often present special shows along with their ongoing headline offering, so if you have been and enjoyed the entertainment before it is worth looking at what’s on their calendars.
Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. Niagara’s casinos boast slots, table games, poker, and more. Plus, the “resort” aspect of Fallsview gives those who stay access to a spa, waterpark, and the Dragonfly Nightclub. For a night of gaming, dining, and entertainment, this is a great spot to consider.
Niagara the Delicious
Niagara Falls is smack dab in the middle of farming country, with delicious peach orchards, vineyards, and vegetable farms only a short distance from the tourism region. Restaurants which use local ingredients are in high supply in the area, making it a prime destination for foodies.
In the tourist district of Niagara Falls, people looking to sample seasonal produce and wines can walk into Weinkeller for a fresh meal. Other fine dining favourites include Remingtons and the Watermark, the latter of which is renowned for its view of Niagara Falls. Skylon Tower also offers romantic meals with an unbeatable view of the famous falls.
Nice days are made for patio dining in Niagara Falls. If the sun is shining, consider having a drink and meal at an outside area overlooking the falls. The closest patio to the action (with amazing views!) is the aptly named Riverside Patio. Right next to the Hornblower Niagara Cruises dock, it is the perfect place to get refreshed while taking in the majesty of Niagara Falls.
Final tips on visiting Niagara Falls
There is no one “right” way to enjoy a Niagara Falls vacation. Some people take the relaxing route, Niagara’s gardens, patio drinks and boat tours for the duration of their stay. Others fill up their itineraries with shows, attractions, and adventures. If you are staying for a couple days or more, it is easy to do both!
It is possible to see the main bits of Niagara Falls in a single day, though we recommend staying the night if you can to enjoy the famous illumination and catch a glimpse of the nightlife. If you have longer to spend in Niagara, you may wish to venture to some of the heritage sites and wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Or, you can take a hiking excursion to some of the more scenic areas of the region.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is your idea of fun. (Oh, and be sure to get a couple pictures – Niagara is nothing if not selfie-worthy!)