Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
One of Canada’s most visited tourist cities, Niagara Falls welcomes approximately 12 million visitors every year. The main Niagara attraction is the 12,000 year old waterfall located between Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Niagara Falls includes three different waterfalls: The Canadian side of the Falls is known as Horseshoe Falls and stands at 170 feet tall. There is also the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Canadian Falls are one of the world’s largest, not by size but by the volume of water that flows down every second: an average of 600,000 gallons.
Besides this natural wonder, visitors come to Niagara Falls for many other reasons. This unique Canadian city offers both romance and family fun, and lots of attractions and activities in nature to enjoy. From the excitement of Clifton Hill to the pretty wine region of Niagara-on-the-Lake, there is much to be discovered in Niagara Falls. For more information about Niagara attractions, read our travel guide.
Who Should Go
All Canadians should visit Niagara Falls at least once to experience the loads of activities, sightseeing, and attractions the area has to offer. With great food, bars, golf courses, spas, wineries, shows, casinos, and shopping, there will never be a dull moment on a Niagara Falls vacation.
Niagara vacations are at the top-of-mind for quick and affordable family vacations. From thrilling attractions to interesting museums, kids will have a blast on a Niagara Falls vacation. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the beauty of this area. Nestled between the south shore of Lake Ontario and the north shore of Lake Erie, the Niagara Peninsula boasts beautiful parks and conservation areas for hiking, biking, and freshwater swimming. A great place for romance, couples can celebrate their honeymoon or anniversary, or simply arrange a relaxing getaway paired with a date at the spa, winery, or one of the top restaurants. Finally, wine lovers flock to the region for wine tours and tastings of some of Ontario’s and Canada’s finest.
Waterfalls: One of the first things on a Niagara Falls bucket list is to visit the waterfalls themselves, whether you get up close and personal with a daytime boat tour or view them lit up every night after dark. Take a 20 minute ride on a Hornblower Niagara Boat Cruise to feel the refreshing mist and hear the thunder-like crashes as hundreds of thousands of gallons of water fall quickly before you (we suggest you wear a rain poncho). Experience Journey Behind the Falls and walk through a short tunnel to a series of observation decks behind the Falls to watch from above.
Clifton Hill: This walkable strip is known as the Street of Fun because of its kid-friendly attractions, hotels, and restaurants. The strip is lined with wax museums, souvenir stores, and snack shops. Soaring 175 feet high over the Niagara Falls horizon is one of Clifton Hill’s main attractions and Canada’s largest observation wheel: Niagara SkyWheel. Rides are 8-12 minutes long and lend a view of the Niagara River, Niagara Parks, and Clifton Hill. Located inside the Canadian Midway entertainment complex, featuring 70,000 square feet of fun and over 300 games, is Ghost Blasters, the haunted house ride with ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Those who like to be spooked will enjoy Nightmares Fear Factory and the House of Frankenstein. Clifton Hill is also home to favourites like the Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Ripley’s Moving Theatre. Kids love to play around the bridges, mirrors, and stairs in the Fun House or visit Bird Kingdom to discover the tropical rainforest and hundreds of birds flying free. Clifton Hill is also the place for family fun like go karting and mini putting.
The Clifton Hill Fun Pass includes entry into 5 attractions including Niagara Skywheel, Wizards Golf, Movieland Wax Museum of Stars, XD Theater, and Ghostblasters Dark Ride.
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens: Situated on 99 acres of manicured grounds, the botanical gardens boast a famous rose garden with over 2,400 roses, the Butterfly Conservatory, and romantic horse and carriage tours.
Queen Victoria Park: Home to native and international plants, this beautiful garden includes hanging baskets, a tea rose garden, carpet bedding displays, and a rock garden. Springtime in Queen Victoria Park is a sight to see, with over 500,000 daffodils starting to bloom. Horse and carriage tours of the garden are available daily during the summer.
White Water Walk: Four kilometers north of the Falls, step along the boardwalk to view the accelerating waves of the White Water Walk, a deep and narrow Great Gorge created by trillions of gallons of water.
Casinos: Niagara Falls is home to Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino Resort. These casinos attract tourists from near and far to enjoy a night of gaming in the city. Casino Niagara has over 1,300 slot machines spread over 95,000 square feet and two floors of gaming. They also host entertainment with live music and shows. The newer and most sophisticated Fallsview Casino Resort has 200,000 square feet of casino space and a 1,500 seat theatre that hosts over 250 shows per year. Mega-stars like Ringo Starr, Jay Leno, Keith Urban, and Diana Ross have performed here.
Niagara Falls is home to three major golf courses:
- Legends on the Niagara Golf Complex: Two 18-hole championship courses, a 9-hole course and a 45-acre driving range, all on 1,000 acres
- Whirlpool Golf Course, designed by Stanley Thompson
- Thundering Waters Golf Club, John Dalys first “signature” golf course in Canada
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club is a 9-hole course along the shoreline of Lake Ontario dating back to 1875.
Museums and History
The National Historic Site of Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake was the site of a battle over 200 years ago. This military spot consists of eight restored buildings, live demonstrations, and historical stories of the lives of British soldiers. The Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum is the reformed home of publisher William Lyon Mackenzie and houses 500 years of printing technology including original wooden presses. At the Niagara Falls History Museum, learn the history of Niagara Falls with artifacts, hands-on exhibitions and a gallery dedicated to the War of 1812.
Behind the Niagara Falls History Museum is the Niagara Falls Farmers Market, part of the community for 50 years. This market is open year-round on Saturday mornings. The small building houses four vendors and there are up to 15 vendors outside. The RiverBrink Art Museum, open since 1983, showcases changing exhibitions from Canadian and international collections and fine London, Ontario artist, Samuel E. Weir.
Laura Secord Homestead: In June of 1813, Laura Secord left this home to warn the Canadian soldier of the invasion she overheard. She died in 1868 at 93 years old and was designated a Person of National Historic Significance for her heroic actions during the War of 1812. Now, Laura Secord Inc. chocolates and ice cream are available where the original summer kitchen was said to be.
Spread over 150 acres, Safari Niagara is home to over 750 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. They offer free educational guided tours, train rides, a petting zoo, outdoor amphitheater with live concerts, shaded picnic areas and a restaurant. Waves Indoor Waterpark is located inside the Americana hotel. Splash around in 25,000 square feet of fun, whether you opt for the whirlpools, tube slides, wave pool, kiddy pool, or interactive play structures. The indoor waterpark also has a retractable roof for sunny days. Connected to Falls Avenue Resort is Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, three acres of fun, including 16 waterslides, a wave pool, hot springs, and outdoor sundeck with a pool.
A Niagara Falls favourite, Marineland of Canada has been welcoming visitors for over 50 years. Boasting the largest collection of beluga whales in the world, kids love to touch and feed the friendly creatures or watch them from the underwater viewing section. The petting zoo to feed deer is a favourite among little ones, while older kids enjoy the amusement rides and the Sky Screamer tower.
Helicopter Tour: View Niagara Falls from above with an exciting helicopter tour that can fly you over the waterfalls, landmarks, and wine country for a bird’s eye view – depending on which itinerary you choose.
Niagara-on-the-Lake: Just 15-20 minutes outside of Niagara Falls is the historic neighbourhood of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Known for having over 30 wineries producing world-class blends, people visit this esteemed region to follow the wine route by car, bike, or guided bus tour for wine tastings and tours. Scenic bike rides, visiting farmers markets, or picking your own produce are pleasant ways to pass the time in nature. The Niagara-on-the-Lake downtown area is a quaint, small, and walkable strip featuring an array of restaurants, ice cream shops, cafes, boutique shopping, and art galleries. It is also home to some notable hotels and lovely bed and breakfasts, known for their romance, spas, and attentive service. Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts many concerts and festivals throughout the year, including the Santa Claus Parade, Rib Fest, Springlicious, Niagara Jazz Festival, and Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
Food and Nightlife
Everything from fine dining to laid-back diners can be found in Niagara Falls. The city boasts an array of diverse restaurants at different price-points. For nightlife, you’ll find dance clubs, country bars, and live entertainment venues.
- Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse
- Skylon Tower’s Revolving Restaurant
- The Spicy Olive
- Antica Pizzeria
- The Bier Market
- Dragonfly Nightclub
- Club Se7en
- The Hard Rock Café and Hard Rock Club
- Club Mardi Gras
- Big Texas
Shopping: Niagara Falls has great shopping on Clifton Hill, Niagara-on-the-Lake, at The Outlet Collection at Niagara, and Canada One Factory Outlets on Lundy’s Lane. If you do cross the border to Niagara Falls, New York, visit the Fashion Outlets Niagara Falls and bring this coupon for discounts.
There are over 55 Niagara Falls hotels to choose from including bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and cottages, and hotels and motels. We recommend staying downtown near the waterfalls, Clifton Hill, and the casinos, or opting for the quieter sanctuary of Niagara-on-the-lake.
For families: Located in the heart of the action is Comfort Inn Clifton Hill. Just one block from the Falls and Casino Niagara, the hotel is conveniently located on Clifton Hill, close to many of the city’s attractions. It offers well-appointed guestrooms, complimentary breakfast, and a swimming area. It is a four minute drive to Fallsview Casino and a seven minute drive to Marineland.
For casino-goers: Fallsview Casino Resort has 374 rooms, a full service spa, 24-hour room service, an indoor pool, fitness center, and over 20 dining options, with a convenient location connected to the casino. Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview is connected to the Fallsview Casino Resort by a glass walkway.
For romance: Niagara-on-the-Lake is the spot for romance. The Vintage hotel family has four properties including Pillar and Post, Prince of Whales, Queen’s Landing, and Moffat Inn. They each offer attentive service, elegant culinary options, and a beautiful setting for weddings, honeymoons, and anniversary celebrations. Pillar and Post and Prince of Whales boast exceptional spas, making for a relaxing getaway with the one you love.
For girl’s weekend: For a hotel close to exceptional shopping and a beautiful spa, White Oaks Resort and Spa is a luxury hotel across from the Outlet Collection at Niagara. It features 220 beautifully appointed guestrooms, fine dining at LIV Restaurant and Play Urban Café, a fitness room, and over 67,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Known for The Spa at White Oaks, visitors can get pampered at the famous retreat featuring 17 treatment rooms and a variety of rejuvenating packages.
When to go and for how long?
Most people visit Niagara Falls for a weekend getaway or even a day trip if they are close by. Those coming from further away can pair a Niagara Falls vacation with stops in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
Any season is a great time to explore Niagara Falls. Events take place year-round, such as the Niagara Craft Beer Festival in August and the Niagara Food Festival and Niagara Wine Festival in September. Summertime is a great time to tour the wine region with temperatures averaging 24C-27C. September and October are busy months for grape harvesting and the best time for tours to see the equipment in action.
The coldest months in Niagara Falls are November through March, and snowfall is abundant during the winter. Winter temperatures average 2C to -8C. Cool weather aside, the holiday season is a wonderful time to visit. The Winter Festival of Lights takes place from November to the end of January, where over 125 animated light displays and three million tree and ground lights create a festive atmosphere. Every year, Niagara Falls hosts an exciting, free New Year’s Eve celebration with concerts and fireworks.
Niagara Falls is easy to travel independently. Whether you drive, fly, or bus to the city, you can choose to rent a car or use the occasional taxi and arrange a stay in a hotel of your choice. Day trips and attraction passes can be arranged in advance. Niagara Falls tours are available for those who want to explore the city in addition to others like Toronto, New York, or Montreal. Ontario tours like the Toronto and Niagara Falls Experience is a quick and affordable getaway that includes flights, hotel stays, and tours.
Flying: Those reaching Niagara Falls by plane can arrive into Hamilton (YHM), Toronto (YYZ), Toronto Island (YTZ) or Buffalo, New York (BUF) airport. Niagara Falls is about an hour and a half from Toronto, an hour from Hamilton, and about 30 minutes from Buffalo, making it accessible by car and bus as well.
Daily flights to Toronto Pearson airport are available throughout Canada year-round. On the west coast, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver offer non-stop flights to Toronto, starting at $500, while Calgary offers non-stop flights to Hamilton airport as well. Flights from Montreal and Ottawa start at $225 while flights from the east coast start at $425. Halifax and Moncton offer seasonal direct service to Hamilton.
Crossing the Buffalo Border
You may want to cross the United States border into Buffalo on your Niagara Falls visit for some shopping, casino time, a view of the Falls, or even to catch a flight. Here are some references:
People who do not drive their own car to Niagara Falls can rent a car or use the occasional taxi to get around. Public buses are also available.
Airport transfers can be booked in advance.
Hotel prices range from $80 to $300+ per night, depending on the quality of hotel, room category, and time of year. A decent hotel can be found for less than $200 per night. Flights to Toronto range from $225-$600.