Canada in my memory lane… was a frozen one.
I visited Niagara Falls around Christmas (some years ago) and it was cold. Some shops still opened, but it was much quieter than it should be like summer. Sightseeing tours were closed due to the weather (well, obviously, it was not a good time to take a boat ride, reach the bottom of the waterfall and get drenched.), yet the majesty of the falls still left me in awe.
Something about… Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls, and Victoria Falls, are namely the world’s three greatest waterfalls, located in North America, South America, and Africa respectively. All of them are located on two countries’ borders, and they have its own grandeur that makes them stood out from the crowd; so they may not be “the tallest” or “the largest”, but they hold dear to the traveler’s heart and today, all these areas are famous travel destination with world-class facilities, top-notch resorts and theme parks, or well-rounded guided tours.
Niagara Falls is located between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, draining water from Lake Erie to Ontario with the highest water flow rate in North America. 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Halls every second! The waterfall is actually comprised of three waterfalls with the Horseshoe Falls being the largest, and probably the most recognizable one among the three. Given its impressive volume of water flow, the waterfall is actually not that high in a mere 50 meters.
Now, the area around the falls is a popular vacation destinations not only for foreigner, but also the locals for a perfect weekend getaway; When I was staying in Toronto, I visited the falls for a day trip and it’s about 128 kilometers away from the city and the drive takes about 1.5 hours. If you don’t have a car, there are various bus lines that would connect you to the falls in a short time. We checked out some shops and entered a haunted house for some good scream; More, the Winter Festival of Lights is a holiday tradition with lighting displays, shows, and events.
In the spirit to learn more about what to see and do around Niagara Falls, I invited my fellow bloggers to share with us their taste of Niagara Falls. I was excited to learn that there are so many more things to see and do in the area, apart from the jaw-dropping view, from active to relaxing, on both the American and Canadian sides. Check it out!
Opening in June 2006, Niagara’s SkyWheel is the crown jewel of the Clifton Hill area located in Ontario, Canada, side of Niagara Falls. Standing 175-feet tall, visitors enjoy unique views of this iconic North American destination.
The beauty of the enclosed nine-passenger cars is the climate control – allowing riders to enjoy it no matter the temperature outside. And the views! Visitors enjoy 8 to 12 minutes of glorious views of the Niagara River, including both the Horseshoe and American Falls, as well as other Clifton Hill attractions.
The SkyWheel is open daily from 9 am to 1 am. While it’s open all day, the night views are absolutely amazing! Purchase tickets online for a discount or purchase a Clifton Hill Fun Pass to enjoy several area attractions. And of course, don’t miss an actual visit to Niagara Falls themselves while you’re in the area!
If you are interested to check out more about the world’s great observation wheel, visit: Ferris Wheels in the World.
Maid of the Mist
Neha – Travelmelodies.com
A visit to Niagara Falls is incomplete without experiencing the Maid of the Mist. What is it? Maid of the Mist is the iconic boat ride that takes you on the Niagara gorge near the Horseshoe falls that you can feel the mist all over you. This is an experience that is beyond words and just to be felt. The raging waters falling down from the falls and making a cloud of the mist rising above is just a spectacular sight.
The Maid of the Mist is the name of the tour that runs from the US side from the Niagara Falls State Park while there are similar cruises from the Canadian side as well. You can surely differentiate from the color of the ponchos people are wearing. The Americans are in Blue ponchos while Canadians in Red.
The ticket of Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls USA costs around USD 22 for Adults while USD 13 for children aged 6- 12 years, which includes the poncho. The tickets can be booked online or from the Niagara Falls State Park Visitor Center. Be prepared to wait for a longer duration to board the cruise during the peak summertime.
The Maid of the mist rides are seasonal and close around November for winters while opening back in late April/ early May depending upon the weather. The timings vary during months varying from 10 am – 4 pm to 9 am – 8 pm during summer.
So, get ready to get drenched.
Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds is the best way to get up close and personal with Niagara Falls. It’s not really a “cave” but a series of wooden walkways that take you to the Bridal Veil Falls on the USA side. There’s nothing quite like the hurricane deck where you experience tropical storm force conditions.
When you arrive, they will give you some water sandals and a poncho, but know that you will still get a bit wet. Don’t bring anything that might get ruined by water as there are no lockers. After you get suited up, you can take an elevator down to the lower level where the adventure begins.
The full Cave of the Winds experience is only available during the summer. The weather conditions created by the falls are so intense that they have to rebuild the scaffolding each year. During the off-season, there are alternate experiences. The hours and admission prices vary by season.
To get to the Cave of the Winds NY you need to be on the American side of Niagara Falls. It is about a 15-minute walk from the Rainbow Bridge. You cross over the river leading to the American Falls and the Bridal Falls then you will see signs.
Niagara Brewing Company
Annick – The Common Traveler
I was surprised to find the Niagara Brewing Company in the middle of the action in Niagara Falls. Located just a short walking distance from the famed Hornblower Niagara Cruise on the Ontario side of the falls, the brewery can be found in the middle of the more adrenaline-inducing activities on Clifton Hill. Niagara Brewing’s congenial neighborhood brewery atmosphere was just what I needed after a long day of exploring.
For guests staying at nearby resorts, coupons for sampling boards are frequently included in the resort fee. But the sampling boards are just a way to ease visitors into all the wonderful beer flavors offered at this working brewery offering many of the traditional craft beers found at most microbreweries. In addition to its great beer selection, Niagara Brewing offers a variety of light food items. Try their out-of-this-world charcuterie board!
The brewery is open Tuesday through Sunday, beginning at 11 am Live music is offered throughout the day Friday through Sunday, starting around noon until shortly before closing time. Daily Happy Hours from 3-4 pm and 7-8 pm feature $4 beer specials.
A visit to Niagara Brewing Company is not only a fun place to visit during your Niagara Falls trip but visitors will be able to purchase tasty souvenirs to take home! Craft beer lovers should consider a side trip to the Finger Lakes Region.
Susan – Thrifty after 50
Have you ever stood at Niagara Falls to admire the view and wondered what it would be like to go over the edge in a barrel? As crazy as it sounds, multiple people have made the attempt, with some daredevils like Dave Munday going back to try it again.
The first daredevil was a 63-year-old schoolteacher, Annie Taylor, who along with her cat plunged over the falls in 1901 an attempt to make her fortune.
If you are fascinated to learn more, you can visit the Daredevil Museum which is dedicated to their exploits and you can even see and touch some of the actual barrels on display! The museum tells the stories of the thrill-seekers who put their lives into the hands of fate, climbed into a barrel, and took the big drop over the edge of Niagara Falls.
The Daredevil Museum is a fun way to spend a few hours and is located near the IMAX theatre at 6170 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagara Falls. Tickets can be purchased online via the Niagara IMAX Theatre website.
Wineries of Niagara on the Lake
Christina – Travel2next.com
Not far from Niagara Falls is the lovely wine region of Niagara on the Lake. One of the most relaxing things to do at Niagara on the Lake is to spend some time visiting cellar doors and sampling the menus at the region’s excellent winery restaurants. A great way to get there is to take an exhilarating helicopter flight right to the doorstep of one of the vineyards. The wineries of the region produce excellent red and white wine because of the soil and the weather. Its location by Lake Ontario provides a cooler climate in summer and warmer winters. Most wineries offer tours and tastings. The scenery is a lush, green, peaceful and you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the countryside in Europe.
Two of the best wineries in Niagara on the Lake are right next to each other — Two Sisters vineyards, which produces fantastic Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Besides vineyard and cellar tours, the winery also offers a winemaking workshop called the Eleventh Post, where you create your own blend. Their Italian restaurant, Kitchen 76, serves incredible pizzas with views of the vines. Peller Estate has a fantastic experience called ‘The Greatest Winery tour’, which not only offers a tour of the vineyard but the highlight is exploring the winery’s freezing 10Below Icewine Lounge. You rug up in Arctic winter jackets to taste icewine, which the Niagara region is famous for in an ice igloo. Peller Estate’s The Winery Restaurant is a chic place to enjoy excellent food and wine in luxurious surroundings.
Two Sisters is open Monday to Wednesday from 11 am to 5 pm and stays open until 6 pm from Thursday to Sunday. Peller Estate is open from 11 am to 6 pm. You can get to Niagara Falls by car on a private tour or by helicopter.
Kathi – Watch Me See
The Niagara Falls are so big, it helps to see them from further away to really grasp their full expanse. While a boat trip to the bottom of the waterfalls is a great way to experience the power of the spray, nothing puts Niagara Falls quite in perspective as a helicopter flight.
Niagara Helicopters Lt. offers scenic flights over Niagara Falls and the surrounding areas. Departing near the Niagara Whirlpool, the flight leads up the river to see the Whirlpool Rapids and the Rainbow Bridge before heading first to the American Falls and then on to the horseshoe-shaped Canadian Falls. Even though the flight lasts only 12 minutes, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. From high up, I got a much better sense of the sheer size of these waterfalls and in the spray, I could see rainbows left, right, and center. I particularly enjoyed seeing how natural and green much of the river delta north of the falls was.
My helicopter flight over Niagara Falls was a highlight on my Ontario road trip and a great way to end my bucket list adventure in Canada.
The classic 12-minute flightseeing experience costs CAD$149, but charter flights and special occasion packages are also available.
White Water Walk
Visiting Niagara Falls is definitely one of the things to do in Ontario in the summer that you can’t miss out on. There are plenty of things to do in Niagara Falls and plenty of things to do off the main Clifton Hills Strip. one of these things is the White Water Walk.
The White Water Walk is a great way to take in the falls without actually being at the falls. The actual falls are typically seen from further away versus the White Water Walk you’re actually walking on a boardwalk right beside the rapids and you can hear and experience the strength of the water directly. The boardwalk is just over 300 meters long and follows along the class 6 white-water rapids (which make for great photographs). There are two platforms right beside the water in addition to a number of informational tours that make the self-guided walk great!
It is a seasonal activity with the attraction typically being open between April and November. The earlier in spring that you visit the more forceful the flow of the water is (and the smaller the crowd is!). Opening times are typically between 9 am and 9 pm with the last admission being half an hour before closing but check the website ahead of time to make sure they’re open. Adult tickets cost $16.50+tax while child tickets cost $10.75+taxes. The address of the attraction is 4330 River Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 6T2. There’s parking in the area but the Niagara Parks WEGO also has a stop right by it.
Niagara Glen Natural Reserve
Lotte Eschbach – Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog
Niagara Glen is located deep in the Niagara Gorge and a designated Nature Reserve since 1992. This beautiful area offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the mighty, but admittedly very busy, Niagara Falls.
At the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, you can find 4 kilometers of hiking trails (pick up a trail map at the Information Center) that will lead you along prehistoric rock formations and through beautiful forests.
This is one of the best things to do in Niagara Falls with kids as the trails are well-marked and not very difficult. That being said, you do need proper hiking shoes and it’s wise to bring a jacket in case the weather suddenly changes. The trails start at the staircase next to the Information Center and end at the Niagara River’s edge. The views over the bright blue Niagara River and Niagara River Whirlpool are very impressive!
Bring along some drinks and snacks and have a little picnic at one of the lovely spots in this beautiful Nature Reserve. It’s best to arrive relatively early, around 10 am so you can hike before most people arrive. Around lunchtime, the parking is usually full and the trail are much busier than during the morning (late in the afternoon is also a quieter time to visit).