Niagara Falls Is An Easy Day Trip From Toronto
The Niagara area is an easy day trip from Toronto. We live on the west side of the city and with no traffic we can be in Niagara in about an hour. This means we can visit on a regular basis and don’t need to cram everything into one day. Niagara Falls is the big attraction. The Horseshoe Falls are magnificent and one of the top attractions in the world. There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls in addition to seeing the falls. If you visit Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake (or NOTL for locals) is a great little town to visit. And there is much to see on the Niagara Parkway that joins the two towns.
You can visit from Toronto or stay in a great hotel with a view of the Falls. There are a wide range of accommodations. You can stay at a big brand hotel or one of the many B&Bs in either Niagara Falls or NOTL. At one time, Niagara Falls was a major honeymoon destination and you can still find hotels with heart shaped beds and tubs. There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls and the surrounding area that you will need more than one day!
1) Enjoy The Beauty Of The Waterfalls
You can see Niagara Falls from both the U.S. and Canadian sides. I am a bit biased and think that the view of the Falls is better from the Canadian side. You will get a great view of both Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls from the Canadian side.
We generally start our walk at the top end on the Niagara River above the Horseshoe Falls. Parking at this end was expensive ($22CND on our last visit) and it was a long walk back when we wandered all the way along the river. This vantage point provided a view of the fast flowing Niagara River. If you visit in the winter, parts of the river may even ice over. And the night light show with ice on the falls is stunning!
As we moved forward, we got a variety of views of the Horseshoe Falls. We were constantly on the lookout for rainbows above the falls. The crowds are thick so you may have to wait your turn to get to the front of the wall for an unobstructed view.
Looking down the river we saw the American Falls and the Rainbow Bridge crossing between Canada and the U.S. The American Falls is a very different waterfall than the Horseshoe Falls but worth a walk down the river to get a closer view.
Seeing the waterfalls is definitely the top of the things to do in Niagara Falls list!
2) See The Waterfalls From A Different Perspective
It is easy to walk along the promenade and get awesome views of the waterfalls. But it is always interesting to get a view from a different perspective.
The most common way to see the falls from another perspective is to take a boat ride on the river up to the falls. There are boat rides offered from both the Canadian and U.S. sides. You will be dressed in a rain poncho and get a view of both of the waterfalls pounding down in front of you. There is also an opportunity to do a walk behind the Horseshoe Falls.
If you are on the U.S. side, you can walk down the stairs to the Hurricane Deck. This will give you a view of the American Falls from the bottom.
A view of the falls from above is a magical view. There are helicopter rides offered on the Canadian side if you drive a little ways down the Niagara Parkway. We got amazing views from above when I flew my own small plane over the Falls. There is a very strict path small planes must follow over the Falls but the planning is worth the view!
A new attraction has opened on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. You can now do a zipline along the Niagara River with a view of the falls.
If you want to get a great panoramic view of Niagara Falls, the Skylon Tower. You will get a view from about 775 feet above the Falls. There are also several dining options if you want to enjoy a romantic view of the Falls while you eat.
The Niagara Skywheel is a large ferris wheel with views over the falls. As it slowly moves you can get your views from this high perspective.
Seeing the falls from multiple perspectives is one of the things to do in Niagara Falls!
3) Enjoy The Tourist Attractions In Niagara Falls
In addition to seeing the Falls, there are so many other things to do in Niagara Falls. There is an authentic British double-decker bus that will take you around the tourist sites. There are also horse and carriage rides. If you want to get from the lower falls level up the hill, you can take the small funicular. This is great is you are staying at one of the hotels in that area.
You can head up Clifton Hill and see all the tourist shops along the way. You will find every kind of food you might want to eat. Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks provides a collection of famous people wax figures created by wax artists from around the world. Kids will enjoy the midway, mini putt or the many arcades on the street.
There are two casinos on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and one on the U.S. side. Nighttime entertainment is also available.
When I need a bit of peace and quiet in Niagara Falls, I head to the Secret Garden. This is past all the hustle and bustle of the Falls. There is a restaurant with a patio if you want a view while you eat.
If you are a chocoholic, you can indulge at the Hershey Store on the main drag.
It is not hard to find things to do in Niagara Falls!
4) Head Along The Niagara Parkway
Many of the things to do in Niagara Falls are right in the centre of town and easy to walk to. But there are also other attractions further down along the Niagara River. If you have a car, you can drive down the Niagara Parkway and stop at the various sites. If you don’t have a car, there is a WeGo bus service that stops at most of the sites. There is a small cost to use the bus.
There are several lookout points along the Niagara Parkway that provide a view of the Niagara River far below as it heads towards NOTL and Lake Ontario
If you want yet one more view of the Niagara River you can take the Whirlpool Aero Car over the rapids on the lower river. You will be taken in a cable car over the river and back. If you want an even closer view of the rapids, there is a Whirlpool Jetboat that takes you right into the whirlpool
For a more serene experience, stop at the Floral Clock. They change the flower display regularly so you can stop on every visit and see something new.
History buffs may want to stop at the Brock Monument or stop in at Fort George. You could also visit the Laura Secord house and learn about her role in Canadian and American history.
While Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction, it is also the source of a large amount of energy produced on both the Canadian and American sides. On the Canadian side you can stop at the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station to see the dam and power equipment.
There is also a statue of Nikola Tesla located close to the actual Falls. The statue can be seen looking out over the Falls. Tesla was a major force in the inventions used to generate electrical power from water.
Just before you hit NOTL, you will see the tiny Living Water Wayside Chapel on the side of the road. It looks like something you would find in a miniature village. But you can actually go inside and see a small space. On our last visit, we even got to see a simulated marriage proposal for our daughter Erika. We were happy to know that this was just a pose for the pictures!
5) Don’t Miss Niagara On The Lake
Many people visit Niagara Falls and think that is all there is to see. A short drive down the Niagara Parkway takes you to the quaint little town of Niagara On The Lake (NOTL). This too is a very touristic town but it is quaint and not as tacky as Clifton Hill.
The small town has several large resort hotels with great spas. This is ideal for a short romantic or relaxing getaway. The Prince of Wales Hotel is right on the main drag. It is an iconic sight in NOTL. If you are not staying at the hotel, try Afternoon Tea! You can even catch a romantic horse and carriage ride beside the hotel.
If you don’t want to stay at a bigger hotel, there are a large number of B&Bs in NOTL. We have had some of the best getaway weekends at the small intimate B&Bs.
Strolling along the main street you will find an interesting mix of places to eat, handicraft shops, souvenir shops, a Christmas store and a whole selection of fudge and ice cream shops! There is something for everyone along this main strip.
If you visit in the summer, the street is colourful and in bloom. There are benches along the street to rest and enjoy the view.
If you like live theatre, there are several theatres in town. NOTL is known for “The Shaw Festival”, productions of George Bernard Shaw shows. On the main street there is a theatre named for this playwright. A broad selection of live shows are put on in town at the various theatres. It is a great reason to come for a few days when you visit.
One of the things to do in Niagara Falls is to venture away from the main area and explore the nearby town of Niagara on the Lake!
6) Other Things To Do In Niagara Falls
There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls. But there are also a lot more things to do in the Niagara region. The big draw of the Niagara region is wineries. There are almost 100 wineries in the Niagara region and every year more are added. As you drive around, you can stop in a winery for a tour and tasting. Niagara wines of all varieties are now on the world radar so you will find something that you like.
If you want a truly Canadian wine experience, make sure to try the icewines. While the Niagara region is one of the mildest in Canada, there is still snow. As the weather gets cold, it is ideal conditions to produce a limited stock of icewine. I am not a sweet wine fan but icewine is one of David’s favourites!
If you are coming to Niagara Falls with children, you might plan a visit to MarineLand. You will get both a great water show as well as some amusement rides. If you are a shopper, there is an outlet mall just at the highway exit to NOTL. The Niagara region is a great place to find a wide variety of fruit and veggies. We make a special trip to NOTL for asparagus when it is in season. The Niagara escapement is a great place for hiking.
Close to NOTL you will find the entrance to the Welland Canal. The Welland Canal links Lake Ontario with Lake Erie with a series of locks. You can easily visit Lock 3 and learn more about the history of the canals. You may even catch a large boat moving through the lock. We have seen parts of the Canadian lock system when we visited cottage country. On one cruise, we also travelled along the Panama Canal. We cruised along the Suez Canal and even without locks it was a fascinating experience. But it is always interesting to visit the Welland Canal.
Visit The Niagara Region
There are lots of reasons to visit the Niagara region. Visit for a day from Toronto or stay in a hotel with a great view of the Falls. Do a winery tour. And don’t miss icewine tasting. You will definitely find many things to do in Niagara Falls for all ages!
What is your favourite of the things to do in Niagara Falls? What attraction would you pass on?
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