The cool spray rising from the mighty Canadian Horseshoe Falls reminds me of many childhood driving trips to Niagara Falls from my home in Toronto. Niagara Falls can easily be seen over a short day trip, but with so much to see in the area, it is great to spend at least a couple of days.
During a midweek two-night getaway with my husband at the end of March, ahead of the busy summer tourist season without the crowds, I found so many amazing things to see, do, explore, and experience in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Here are some of them:
This visit was hosted by Niagara Falls Tourism. All opinions are my own.
1. Table Rock Visitor Center
Take time to walk in the Fallsview area with a panoramic view of the falls during the day and at night. My favorite place to watch the water as it pours over the brink and crashes down is just outside the Table Rock Visitor Center. You may have to wait a few minutes to find a spot along the railing, but it is definitely worth the wait! When the sun is shining brightly, watch as colorful rainbows appear in the mist over the falls. I enjoyed a delicious light pasta dinner at the Table Rock House Restaurant with a magnificent sunset view of the falls.
2. Journey Behind The Falls
If you want to get up close for a view of Niagara Falls from below and behind, head to the Table Rock Center to enter Journey Behind the Falls. Travel down 125 feet by elevator through the bedrock to the 130-year-old tunnels leading to the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal. Feel the power as the freshwater thunders over the brink crashing into the basin below you. Yes, you can get pretty wet down there, but they give you a rain poncho to help keep dry.
3. Niagara Power Station And Tunnel
Just steps from the Table Rock Center, the Niagara Parks Power Station and Tunnel is the first major power plant on the Canadian side of the Niagara River to open its doors to visitors. Admission includes a tour of the main historical generating hall and access to the tunnel formerly used to expel spent water used in the power station back into the Niagara River at the base of the falls. Ride a glass elevator down 180 feet to the tunnel portal and the 2,200-foot tunnel leading to a viewing platform at the base of the falls.
4. Niagara Helicopters
If you want an overhead view of Niagara Falls but are just not up to the thrill of a zipline, you can book a helicopter ride at Niagara Helicopters. We did the most popular 12-minute (around $160 CDN per person) ride with aerial views of the Botanical Gardens, Fallsview area, Whirlpool Gorge, American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and the Niagara River. Because the operation of the helicopters is weather-dependent, it’s best to check the weather before heading over to the helicopter base and booking your flight. We’ve recently taken a helicopter over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and found our ride over Niagara Falls equally thrilling.
5. Butterfly Conservatory
One of the most fascinating (and educational) places we visited was the Butterfly Conservatory at the center of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Thousands of colorful butterflies surround you while you walk along the paths in the humid glass enclosure with a tropical rainforest including waterfalls, enormous plants, and ponds. If you stay still, they even land on your head and in your hands, which thrilled the children who were visiting. As you enter, there is a movie with the curator of the conservatory explaining the life cycle of butterflies and the various species present in the sanctuary. You might also enjoy a walk around the Botanical Gardens surrounding the Butterfly Conservatory and enjoy the fragrant blooms in the spring and summer months.
6. Clifton Hill
For a bit of a throwback and a dose of kitsch, walk along the streets in Clifton Hill, with the wax museums like Legends of Rock, haunted houses including Dracula’s Castle, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, and of course, candy shops with taffy apples and all flavors of fudge! Clifton Hill is classic fun for all ages and stages.
7. Niagara Skywheel
Located in the heart of Clifton Hill in the Great Canadian Midway, you can’t miss the Niagara Skywheel. For yet another awesome sightseeing view of American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, the Niagara River, the casinos and hotels, and other landmarks, we rode the Niagara Skywheel, taking us 150 feet above Niagara Falls. We appreciated the fully enclosed and heated gondola since the weather in March was brisk. The gondolas are also air-conditioned if you visit in the summertime.
8. Voyage To The Falls
One of the most iconic experiences in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is a Voyage to the Falls boat tour with Niagara City Cruises. Be sure to wear your pink poncho to protect phones, cameras, and anything else you don’t want to get wet on the 20-minute boat tour. The boat sails from Niagara Falls, passing the Niagara Gorge, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls before reaching Horseshoe Falls.
9. Skylon Tower
For yet another spectacular view of Niagara Falls, the 764-foot-high Skylon Tower has an indoor/outdoor observation area, along with two restaurants, including the Skylon Tower Revolving Dining Room. After riding the glass-enclosed Yellow Bug elevators up and down, head over to the amusement area at the base of the tower and grab a snack in the food court.
10. Fallsview Casino Resort
You don’t need to be a gambler to enjoy the Fallsview Casino Resort — the largest gaming resort in Canada. We stopped by Bar Barista for a cocktail and light snack. The creative mixologist fixed us some wonderful quirky cocktails made with fresh local ingredients, and then we did some window-shopping as we walked through the mall. Check the casino calendar for shows and concerts at the OLG Stage ahead of your visit or go to the box office. We plan to return to see a concert soon since there were no shows happening when we visited.
11. The Keg Steakhouse And Bar
We chose to have a delicious steak dinner at the Keg restaurant in the Embassy Suites Fallsview Hotel while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Niagara Falls Illumination. All three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls were illuminated with glowing colors moving dramatically against the dark sky from American Falls to Canadian Falls. Niagara Falls is illuminated every night of the year and can also be seen perfectly from Illumination Cruises, at Table Rock, or from other Fallsview hotel rooms.
Whether you are taking a day trip or visiting for a few days, Niagara Falls will not disappoint. There are so many things to do, see, and experience, you will want to come back again and again.
Pro Tips: Visiting Niagara Falls
Be sure to check out the packages available for tickets to all the attractions through Niagara Tourism.
If you’re coming from Toronto, you can drive or take the Megabus from Union Station. On weekends, taking a GO Train from Union Station is a great option. Buy a bus pass with WeGo, to get around to all the Niagara Falls attractions and hotels.
Stay at one of the Fallsview hotels that are close to many of the attractions.
Bring a waterproof bag for your camera and phone and other personal items that can’t get wet.
If time permits, visit the Niagara Wineries and Niagara on the Lake, just a 20-minute drive or a ride on WeGo from Niagara Falls.
Most of the experiences including the helicopter ride, Skylon Tower, boat cruise, Power Station and Tunnel, the Butterfly Conservatory, and Journey Behind the Falls are fully accessible.