I’m sure you’ve heard about this little place called Niagara Falls. It’s one of the most romantic places in the world. People flock here from all around the world, whether you live down the road in Toronto or you’re visiting from across the planet. I live less than an hour away, and trust me, marvelling at this magnificent waterfall never gets old.
However, there’s so much to see in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the nearby town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. You need to take at least a couple of days to properly visit and explore. It’s time to discover the Falls…and beyond!
Things to Do in Niagara Falls
Start your journey off by viewing the Falls themselves in from different heights and perspectives. In late spring or early fall, the crowds disperse but the weather is still lovely. These seasons are my favourite times of year to visit Niagara Falls. With that said, Niagara Falls is spectacular in all seasons, and each one offers an entirely new experience.
From early spring to late fall, I highly recommend taking a Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat tour to get as close as possible to the Falls on water. Pull that bright red plastic poncho over your head, feel the mist on your face and listen to the intense roar of the Falls.
Next, take a self-guided walking tour on the Journey Behind the Falls. Stroll through 130-year-old tunnels behind Niagara Falls with several outlook points. The highlight of the tour is the observation deck right beside the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It’s about as close as you’ll get to Niagara Falls. Watch one-fifth of the world’s fresh water cascade down to the Niagara River.
Another unique attraction is Niagara Parks’ White Water Walk. It’s a boardwalk that extends along the Niagara River just beyond Niagara Falls. This is no ordinary river walk; you’ll be left in awe of these class six white-water rapids. These rapids are among the most intense in the world, and they’re created by the sheer force of the water from Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is an entirely new experience in the winter. While you’ll have to bundle up from head to toe, the waterfall is seemingly more magical when it’s covered in layers of ice and snow. All year long, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls are illuminated with a rainbow of lights in the evening.
It might seem touristy, but a day in Niagara Falls isn’t complete without checking out Clifton Hill. Be sure to wander around any attractions that capture your attention, like wax museums, miniature golf courses, haunted houses, video arcades, and other themed rides and attractions. The Niagara Skywheel is open all year long, during both day and night, for panoramic views of the surrounding region. If you’re travelling with kids, you may even want to stay right in the heart of Clifton Hill.
WildPlay’s MistRider Zipline
For the thrill-seekers, you can soar across the sky right past one of the most breathtaking natural phenomena in the world. Fly across one of four parallel ziplines with your pals, reaching speeds up to 70 kilometres per hour.
Dine at the Skylon Tower
For yet another unique perspective of Niagara Falls, dine at the Skylon Tower’s revolving restaurant. Enjoy a fine dining experience, 775 feet in the sky, as the restaurant completes one full rotation every hour. The Skylon Tower opens for lunch and dinner. In addition to the regular menu, there are menus featuring local Ontario wines, international wines, and a vegetarian/vegan menu for those following a plant-based diet.
Niagara Brewing Company
After dinner, check out one of Niagara’s newest establishments, the Niagara Brewing Company. Just a stone’s throw away from the Falls, you can taste award-winning ales and seasonal brews. With Niagara-inspired names like, “Amber Eh!”, “Beer Devil IPA”, and “Honeymoon Peach Radler,” there’s a beer for every taste. They’re open late nightly, so it’s easy to pop by after dinner for a nighttime viewing of the illuminated waterfall.
Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview and Spa
trivago Hotel Pick
With sweeping romantic views and a full-service spa, the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview provides a luxurious stay, even for those keeping to a budget. The rooms feature gorgeous views, pillow-top mattresses, flat-screen TVs with premium channels, and mini refrigerators.
The on-site fitness centre has a sauna, whirlpool, an indoor swimming pool, and a steam room. Connected to the Terrapin Grill, Starbucks Coffee, and the Niagara Fallsview Casino, you barely have to leave the hotel for an entertaining and exciting getaway.Check availability »
More accommodation options around the Niagara region…
Things to Do in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Moments down the road, there’s an entirely different kind of vacation awaiting you. Situated in a small village and the surrounding countryside, Niagara-on-the-Lake is Ontario’s premier wine destination. Relax and indulge in the sights and tastes of the region.
You can visit the wineries independently or book a wine tour. There are wine tours by coach transportation that pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Alternatively, you can reach each winery by bicycle on a guided tour, too. From whites and reds to the region’s ice wines, there are sumptuous flavour profiles to savour. Pick up your favourite bottle or two while you’re there to bring back home with you.
Niagara-on-the-Lake has a quaint downtown core filled with shops, galleries, and restaurants. While there are souvenir shops aplenty, I advise that you check out the stores featuring handmade gifts by local artists and artisans. There are shops selling coffee and tea in every flavour and variety imaginable. Local jams and preserves from Greaves make excellent gifts for you or a loved one.
Shaw Festival Theatre
In the evening, attend one of the several performances at the famous Shaw Festival Theatre. The theatre company showcases the works of Bernard Shaw, as well as those inspired by his plays. World-class live stage shows run from April to October every year, so be sure to catch one if you’re in town then.
Zee’s Grill at the Shaw Club Hotel
You’ll find delectable and memorable meals at Zee’s Grill, part of the Shaw Club Hotel. While you can stop in for a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a pint of beer, I recommend that you dine in for a full meal. From burgers, fish, and vegetarian/vegan-friendly dishes, there’s truly something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the romantic ambience in the enclosed, heated patio.
Pillar and Post
trivago Hotel Pick
The Pillar and Post is ideal for a couples’ vacation, a trip with friends, or a family holiday. Situated in a quiet neighbourhood, you’re within reach of everything in town, including shopping, local golf courses, and nearby wineries. Every room contains an LCD TV, a coffee maker, plush bathrobes, complimentary amenities, and several rooms have their own fireplace.
The highlight of the Pillar and Post is the 13,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor spa. There’s a heated indoor saltwater pool, a heated outdoor pool, hot springs, a fitness centre, and an extensive list of spa items. Treat yourself!Check availability »
Day 3: The Road Home
On your way out of town, make a pit stop in the neighbouring city of St. Catharines. Tackle a portion of the Bruce Trail, a 900-kilometre hiking trail network that extends between Niagara and Tobermory. You’ll find sections of the Bruce Trail in Short Hills Provincial Park, Morningstar Mill, and the Welland Canal. Any of these are an excellent choice for exploring the great outdoors.
Rise Above Restaurant
In downtown St. Catharines, you’ll find one of my favourite restaurants. Rise Above features delicious plant-based meals and it’s a wonderful choice for lunch or dinner. Be sure to try the cheddar mac & cheese, dumpling noodle bowl, or the apple tempeh grilled cheese. It’s healthy comfort food at its finest.
Wander around the corner to the best bakery in town, Beechwood Donuts. Get your dessert fix here, especially if you have a sweet tooth. Deciding which flavour to eat will be your most difficult decision of the day, so I suggest you grab a half-dozen or a dozen donuts for the road.
The wonders of Niagara Falls and the charms of Niagara-on-the-Lake make for a perfect weekend away with your loved ones. Whether you’re an adventure traveller or more intrigued by enticing food and drink, explore the Niagara region for an enchanting weekend holiday.