Most visitors to Canada or Toronto usually have Niagara Falls on their bucket list. This I know from personal experience as whenever I tell anyone Niagara Falls is my birthplace, there’s an immediate and obviously positive reaction. That initial “Wow you were born in Niagara Falls?” response is often followed by a volley of questions about what to do while visiting Niagara Falls. So there’s no doubt in my mind Niagara Falls is a bucket list favourite for visitors to Canada (of course I’m biased but justifiably so!). Dear reader, now that you know I was born in Niagara Falls, please keep reading to find out my 10 favourite things to do in Niagara Falls.
1-Wet and wild in Niagara Falls
Every time I gather up my courage I head to the choppy waters, the rolling rapids of the Niagara River, to do battle on a watery canyon ride that’s guaranteed to make you wish you hadn’t.
It’s the ultimate challenge and one of the best things to do in Niagara Falls to test your courage.
So, I go for the ultimate courage test but I also go because I hope next time it won’t be so bad.
A ride on the Whirlpool Jet Boat is not an easy sail in the park. Last time I did it, I sat either in the third or fourth row which we discovered far too late is the wet zone, the wish you hadn’t-sat-there-zone.
Picture a boat ride that passes by rapids like “Devil’s Hole” now you know.
2-Best water view of Niagara Falls
Whenever I want to feel the rush of Niagara Falls pouring over me, I take the famous boat ride passing the American Falls en route to the Horseshoe Falls (that’s the other name of the Falls).
Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which is famous in its own right for ferrying folks around Manhattan and taking tourists around the infamous Alcatraz Island in California, has taken over from the Maid of the Mist.
The boat is bigger and gets you right up close to the mighty Niagara Falls.
The ride will take your breath away. Of all the things to do in Niagara Falls, this one is not to be missed.
3-Pure magic in Niagara Falls
This stunning two-story butterfly arboretum located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens brings out the kid in all of us.
I love how they majestically flutter by and if you’re super still, you might be lucky enough to have one of these gorgeous creatures rest on your shoulder.
Sometimes, depending on the season and butterfly lifecycle, you can see them emerge from their cocoon.
It’s especially wonderful to visit during winter or spring as this climate controlled interior feels like a tropical paradise.
Run by the Niagara Parks Commission, the agency reports there are over 2,000 tropical butterflies.
4-Best sky view of Niagara Falls
Running as smoothly as a well-greased motor this iconic aero car trip crosses the great Niagara Gorge and offers unparalleled views of the whirlpool.
You also get a bird’s-eye view of the crazy jet boats whipping by the fast-flowing currents below.
Operational from spring to autumn, a trip aboard the Spanish-designed antique cable car is truly wonderful.
A classic ride that’s been around for years, it’s definitely one of the things to do in Niagara Falls to put at the top of your list.
5-Niagara Falls by bicycle
If you don’t have a bike, bike rental companies can be found either in pretty Niagara-on-the-Lake or in Niagara Falls.
For a good workout, I recommend renting a bike in Niagara-on-the-Lake and cycle the legendary Niagara Parkway passing historical landmarks, wineries then further ascending the steep Niagara escarpment by Queenston Heights.
6-Niagara Falls for history buffs
There’s a lot to see in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake (about a 20-minute drive from The Falls).
This historic town was the first provincial capital of Upper Canada before Toronto (York) became the capital of Ontario. See countless historic plaques in this region.
One of my favourites is Fort George. The Fort was involved in the War of 1812 and played a key role in the defence of Upper Canada.
This National Historic Site is open from May through October. One of the highlights is to sign up for a ghost tour to experience Fort George after dark.
Head to Laura Secord’s homestead, for a glimpse into the private residence of Canada’s most famous heroine, a key figure in the War of 1812.
Ascend the narrow spiral staircase at Brock’s Monument for great panoramic views of Niagara farm country and see Lake Ontario on the horizon.
The monument was made to commemorate the death of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock who died during the Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812 and is also a tomb for two British soldiers.
Brock’s Monument is the largest monument of its kind in Canada and bears an uncanny resemblance of Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square in London.
7-Behind the scenes at Niagara Falls
Can you walk behind the Niagara Falls? Yes. Journey Behind the Falls has been taking curious visitors down to see the catacombs that weave behind the Horseshoe Falls.
As a kid, I remember sporting rental wellies and buttoning up a heavy rubber raincoat for this thrill.
Those retro accessories are gone now but white-water thrill seekers instead get a souvenir rain poncho needed to see this wet’n’wild experience.
You’ll never forget the rush and gush of six million cubic feet of water again. It’s one of the most memorable things to do in Niagara Falls.
8-Nostalgia at Niagara Falls
Take a ride up the yellow bug. The Skylon Tower is a retro tower constructed in the swinging sixties that still has a fun vintage feel to it as sightseers take a ride on the iconic elevator that now looks more like a Minions character.
While the property is sadly in need of a redo you still can’t beat the fabulous view you get once you reach the observation deck.
The Skylon Tower has been the stage for many events, one of which included 81 high wire performances with the legendary high wire artist Jay Cochrane a few years ago.
9-What’s fun and kitsch
Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls’ answer to Vegas with all the flashy lights but minus the casinos, is the strip that’s rife with tacky and big.
Get some big frights at the Nightmares Fear Factory, learn about the weirdest discoveries at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or see if you can beat a world record at the legendary Guinness Book of World Records museum, home to bizarre displays, some which are interactive exhibits.
The new fun thing to do: hang out at the Niagara Skywheel, Canada’s largest observation wheel, looming atop Clifton Hill. The Clifton Hill fun pass offers access to six attractions, including the Skywheel.
There are number of Clifton Hill hotels to choose from.
10-More things to do in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is home to two casinos, the larger Fallsview Casino Resort is the preferred place due to its shops, entertainment, and restaurants.
Located at the top of Murray Hill imagine the falls views. The older Casino Niagara while smaller has two action-packed floors and is within walking distance to the mighty Niagara Falls.
Ilona Kauremszky lives in Toronto and ventures to Niagara Falls nearly every weekend (to visit her Mom) when she is not travelling around the globe.
Are you interested in vacations by rail? Try Via Rail’s train trip across Canada.