I do not know what it is about waterfalls that make them so fascinating. The mass amounts of water swiftly moving towards a drop-off point that plummets into a pool several feet below, the calming sound of the water, or just the idea that nature has provided us with something so unbelievably beautiful to wonder at.
For these reasons, I have always been drawn to waterfalls while traveling. They provide for wonderful photo opportunities. The city of Niagara Falls, Canada is home to the magnificent Niagara Falls. It is truly a site to for the senses. The city offers more to tourists than just a wonderful view. With the surrounding attractions, it provides families, honeymooners, and many others with a few days of excitement. Though the falls separates Canada from the United States, be sure to see the falls from the Canadian side.
There is no doubt that this area is beautiful for a day out in the summer months. The warm weather mixed with the views and sounds of the falls and wandering around Clifton Hill is the perfect combination for a weekend away. However, do not miss out on Niagara Falls in the winter months. There are still many attractions open and activities that are planned during these months to keep you outside in the colder temperatures still enjoying your time. Not only that, but it is also much less busy during these colder periods which means you have more of the Falls to yourself.
In this post, we list the different activities and attractions that you can plan for your stay in Niagara Falls during the winter time, how you can get there, the best places to eat, and where you should be staying to make the most of your time in this wonderful city.
Reasons to Visit Niagara Falls
The Niagara Falls are about 12,000 years old. The Horseshoe Falls are 180 feet (57 meters) high, dropping 6 million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water every minute. The area is an important piece of Canadian history as Europeans explored and began to settle the New World hundreds of years ago. It is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the War of 1812, Lundy’s Lane. Niagara Falls provides a little bit of everything to a tourist with it’s views, attractions, and entertainment.
When you get to Niagara Falls, relax and walk along the pathway that overlooks the falls. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the falls. The best and most famous attraction in Niagara Falls is the falls itself. This is easy to comprehend. It is the landmark of the city and its free to see. Take a romantic walk at night time to see them lit up. The remainder of the attractions in the city cost money, but are well worth taking a look at while you are in town.
From the attractions and activities that the city has planned throughout the year to just being able to walk alongside the falls, there is a long list of reasons to visit Niagara Falls. However, in this post we are going to focus on the things that you can do in Niagara Falls in the winter time. Luckily in the winter time, unless there are major events planned like Christmas and New Years fireworks, it is much less crowded and you can really enjoy the falls to yourself.
Things to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter
There are some great attractions and activities to do during the summer months and though some of these are closed during the winter months, there are still many more additional attractions and activities in the winter months to keep you busy in Niagara Falls.
The only two notable closures during these winter months are the Niagara Speedway (outdoor GoKarting experience), WildPlay Zipline to the Falls, WildPlay Whirlpool Adventure Course, Whirlpool Aero Car, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and the lower level observation deck of the Journey Behind the Falls due to the icy conditions, but you can still get in behind the falls at a reduced rate.
Niagara Falls Winter Attractions
- Seeing the Frozen Falls
- Journey Behind the Falls
- Falls Incline Railway
- Niagara Skywheel
- Skylon Tower
- Fallsview Casino
- Clifton Hill
- Other Winter Attractions in Niagara Falls
Open year round and 24/7, this is completely free. Walking around the area of the falls is the best thing to do while you are in Niagara Falls. Walking the full length and just enjoying the peace of the falls crashing against the rocks is a beautiful thing. If you get up nice and early, you can have the whole place to yourself. By around 9 a.m. people are beginning to show up, but in the winter time there are much less people than there are during the summer months.
Not to mention the Falls are frozen during the winter! Add in some snow and it is a magical place to visit in these freezing months. Of course when it is less cold outside for a period of time then the Falls will be less frozen. But if you get a few weeks of below freezing temperatures along with some snowfall, you can get some incredible photos of these beautiful falls partially frozen or sometimes even completely frozen.
Visit the Table Rock Visitor Center which is close to the Horseshoe Falls and get more information on the attractions that Niagara Falls has to offer, do some souvenir shopping, have a meal at the restaurant overlooking the falls, and even purchase your tickets to Journey Behind the Falls.
Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on Saturdays) with an admission price of $21.95 for adults and $14.00 for children 6-12 years of age with reduced pricing in the winter, the next thing that we recommend you try is getting in behind the falls. This was an experience that we did not think would be as exciting as it actually was. But seeing the underground tunnels in behind the falls and getting a glimpse of just how powerful that water is as you hear it and see it flowing right past the tunnels within mere feet of you. It was really an interesting 30 minutes to one hour of our time and something we would recommend anyone to try. It took us a few visits to finally try this out and we were so happy that we did.
Though during the winter months the lower observation deck is closed, we would actually recommend you do this one during the winter. This is because you can get right up close to the lower deck and still take some nice photos of the falls in an enclosed space with open windows, the only difference is that you would be 50 feet closer to the falls and getting completely soaked from the water. Because of this, the tickets are also reduced in price. Also, in the summer months this attraction is full of people! It would take you more than an hour of waiting in line to get to the elevators to be bumping into people through the tunnels. In the winter time, we went during its opening hours and were among five other people in the whole place. This is the perfect winter attraction.
Take a short ride before or after your Journey Behind the Falls trip on the Incline Railway. It is open year-round with varying hours during the week open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Tuesdays open at 12 p.m.) and on the weekends open at 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with admission being $2.43 one way or $4.87 round trip with a full day pass costing $6.19. It offers a different view of the falls as you complete a trip up or down in a climate-controlled pod that is fully accessible.
Open 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Fridays and Saturdays until 1 a.m.) the Niagara Skywheel costs $10.99 and takes you around for three revolutions soaring 175 feet above the falls. The first couple of times that we visited Niagara Falls, we did not take this ride. We did not see it being an attraction that would interest us and thought it was too expensive if it was something that we would not enjoy. We were completely wrong. This is worth every penny. Especially in the winter time at night with all of the lights and the falls lit up.
In the winter time, the falls are lit up at night and there are several Christmas lights around the parks surrounding the falls. If you take the Skywheel at night time, you can see these from 175 feet in the air with an incredible view of the whole area. However, the trade off is that the lines will be slightly busier. Still they are nothing compared to the summer months. If you do not want to wait in line, you can get on just before sunset and pretty much walk right on without any wait.
The Skylon Tower, reaching 775 feet above the falls, gives tourists an opportunity to have a commanding 360 degree view of the city. The view from the observation deck, though fairly expensive, is worth the price of admission. To go up the Skylon Tower to the observation deck costs $10.79 (CDN). You can also choose to eat at the top of the tower with the view of the falls from your table. Though it is an incredible place to view the falls from, if you had to choose between the Skylon Tower and the Skywheel, we would choose the Skywheel everytime.
These days I am not much of a gambler, but whenever I want to lose some money we visit the casino in Niagara Falls to do so. It provides a great night out and some entertainment as any casino does in an area with some fancier eating opportunities if you want to plan a more romantic night out with some fun with your significant other.
This is the best place to visit at night time with all of its flashing lights and attractions for people of all ages. This is where all of the shopping, attractions for the kids, and fun is to be had in Niagara Falls once you are finished visiting the Falls themselves. Take a stroll around here at night for the best effect and enjoy a Hershey’s hot chocolate while taking the kids into a wax museum or the Ripley’s Museum. Most of the attractions below are also located in the Clifton Hill area.
More kid-friendly attractions include Zombie Attack, Movieland Wax Museum, Wizards Golf Mini Putt, Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Wild West Coaster, Ghost Blasters, Strike Rock N’ Bowl and Great Canadian Midway, Bird Kingdom Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara’s Fury, Mystery Maze, Ripley’s Museum, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, and many more exciting things to see all located in the Clifton Hill area of Niagara Falls. This area is the perfect place to walk around with your family at anytime during the day and at night to see everything that the city has to offer.
If you are traveling with your significant other, maybe you would prefer to visit the Niagara region’s vineyards and taste some of the world class wines that this area has to offer. Especially trying some of the ice wines during this time really makes for the best pairing with the Falls.
Niagara Falls Winter Activities
With the winter months in full effect during the months of December, January, and February, Niagara Falls takes on a completely different look and includes many different activities to satisfy anybody visiting the city. Let’s take a look at what each of the months have to offer during your stay in Niagara Falls.
- Niagara Falls in November
- Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
- Niagara Falls Santa’s Day Parade
- Niagara Falls Fireworks
- Niagara Falls Illumination
This kicks off in the middle of November until the middle of January. It features an 8 kilometer stretch of surrounding parks and areas lit up with light displays transforming the area into the perfect winter wonderland. This also includes nightly Falls illumination and weekly firework shows. Check the website to find this year’s schedule for the Winter Festival of Lights. This is a free event.
This parade is around the time of the launch of the Winter Festival of Lights so it is the perfect day trip time for anyone wanting to see both of these events. Make sure to check on the website listed above for this year’s schedule and to arrive early to get parking a good seat for the parade.
Generally the fireworks shows are every Friday at 9 p.m. following the Winter Festival of Lights (sometimes starts one or two weeks after the launch of the festival) and continues to the end of this festival. During the last week to week and a half of December over Christmas and into the New Year there are nightly shows at 9 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve there are two shows, one at 9 p.m. and the other at midnight. Check the website here to find this year’s fireworks schedule.
Every night the Falls will be wonderfully illuminated, so even if you are going to miss a fireworks show you will still get a chance to see the Falls in all of their glory lit up in the night sky.
- Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
- Niagara Falls Fireworks
- Niagara Falls Illumination
Ongoing during the month of December.
Ongoing during the month of December with extra shows at the end of December until January 1st.
Ongoing every night.
A festival of ice wine. What else more do you want? This festival features the best ice wine from various vineyards across the region of Niagara kicking off with a Gala in January and then more than two weeks of the festival that you can visit. Visit the festival website here for more information on dates, times, and locations. This is a paid event.
Ends in the middle of January.
Ongoing every night.
Make sure to check in here with the Niagara Falls Tourism website for more events as wineries and other locations throw annual or one-off events, concerts, dinner theater shows, or other events that may interest you.
Where to Eat in Niagara Falls, Canada
Niagara Falls has some excellent places to eat. From fancy feasts to family-friendly atmospheres, there are no shortage of places to visit for a nice meal with family or on a romantic date with your significant other. Here are some of our favorite places:
- Family Friendly Restaurants in Niagara Falls
- Rainforest Cafe
- Hard Rock Cafe
This wonderful restaurant in Clifton Hill features a rainforest full of animatronic animals that come to life a few times during your meal. They feature an excellent menu of burgers, pastas, and typical Western food. It is a lovely place to bring your little ones to.
You are likely familiar with this famous franchise. It is a great choice to please both the adults and children in your family offering various Western dishes in its menu.
- Views of the Falls
- Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
The Skylon Tower Revolving Restaurant or the Table Rock House Restaurant both feature excellent views of the falls if you are looking for this when dining with your significant other. The Table Rock House Restaurant features better reviews online and is likely your best choice and slightly cheaper.
This is the top choice if you are looking for a good steakhouse while in Niagara Falls. The perfect restaurant if you are also looking to get to the Fallsview Casino before or after this meal.
- Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse
- Niagara Brewing Company
- Beaver Tails
- Hershey’s Store
This is our number one choice when visiting Niagara Falls. It features a buffet of meat brought right to your table and taken off a skewer. You choose which ones you want and you are welcome to a salad bar to go along with whatever choice of meats you make at any given time. There are also Brazilian dance shows during the night to entertain you as well.
Check out some craft beer by the Skywheel and taste some of Canada’s best beer that their is to offer. You can also get some finger food and pub food while you are here.
Not a restaurant, but the perfect Canadian snack to go along with dessert. It is a deep fried piece of dough shaped like a beaver’s tail with your choice of plain cinnamon sugar or toppings that range from chocolate spread, peanut butter, cookies and cream, and so much more.
If the Beaver Tails do not do it for you, the Hershey’s Store is likely going to satisfy your sweet tooth with everything Hershey’s that they have to offer from their large packaged Hershey’s favorites to other sweets that they bake and sell, as well as hot chocolate.
There are several various famous franchise locations that you may be more familiar with in Niagara Falls that you would prefer to visit. Just know that the prices for these meals are likely much more expensive than you may be used to anywhere else.
Best Area to Stay in Niagara Falls, Canada
The best areas to stay in Niagara Falls is as close to Clifton Hill to the Table Rock Visitor Center near the Horseshoe Falls as possible. Staying close to these areas ensures that you will not need to drive closer into Niagara Falls to get to where you want to go as you will be able to walk to almost any of these attractions on our list above if you stay close to these areas.
Getting to Niagara Falls, Canada
Most people visiting Niagara Falls are coming from Toronto or surrounding areas, unless you are from the States. However, for those traveling from Toronto to Niagara Falls or surrounding areas, the best way to get there are:
- Train and/or Bus
Whether you need to rent a car or you have your own car, this beats any other type of travel to Niagara Falls. Especially in the winter, as long as the road conditions are good, there are going to be less people visiting which means you will have an easier time finding parking and have much more flexibility when considering when you want to leave. Alternatively, if you are staying in a hotel then you will already have parking right at the hotel at an additional cost. For us, nothing beats driving ourselves if we can whenever we are traveling. Driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls takes usually about 1.5 hours with varying degrees of traffic along your route. It is best to leave before 8 a.m. during the weekend and before 7 a.m. during the weekdays to take advantage of the minimal traffic.
There is a GO Train that departs from Toronto to Niagara Falls starting at $30 that includes a hop-on hop-off WEGO bus ticket for two days in Niagara Falls. This train starts at Union Station and makes stops at Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catherines, and finally at Niagara Falls. This is the best bang for your buck if you are wanting to not drive there yourself. There are also chartered buses available of varying companies and prices that you can search for online if you use the keywords “Toronto to Niagara Falls Bus”.
Parking in Niagara Falls, Canada
If you are staying in a hotel overnight in Niagara Falls, make sure to double check with your hotel that there is parking available. Most places will charge an extra $10 to $20 for overnight parking.
If you are not staying at a hotel, parking in Niagara Falls is a little bit tricky especially when it is extremely busy. Luckily, unless there is a major event planned like fireworks, finding parking in the winter months is a little bit easier. Another reason why visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is the best time to visit.
There are various parking lots throughout the city with some street parking, though it is difficult to find. Most lots will charge anywhere from $5 for an hour to $20 for half or full day passes. See the attached map for places where you can find the best parking if you are just visiting for a full day or part of a day.
One Day in Niagara Falls, Canada Itinerary
If you are only going to be spending one day in Niagara Falls and you want to make the most of your time, here is what you should do, assuming that you arrive in the city by 9 a.m.
- 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
- 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- 8:00 p.m. – Late
Park your vehicle and head straight to the Table Rock Visitor Center near Horseshoe Falls. This is the best viewing platform of the Falls and the best place to start your tour of the area. Once you have seen as much of this viewing platform as you can, it is time to get up close and personal with the Falls. Head into the visitor center and get your tickets for Journey Behind the Falls and move on down to get in behind the crashing water.
Depending on if you ate before you left or not, this may be the perfect time to get some lunch. If having dinner with a view of the Falls is something you are looking for, then you are in the perfect place at the Table Rock Visitor Center with a restaurant right inside with the perfect view. If you have already had enough of this area of Niagara Falls, then walk about ten minutes towards Clifton Hill to the Skylon Tower. It is not hard to miss, just follow the biggest tower in the sky. Pay for your admission and head on to the top where you can also grab a meal with an even better view of the Falls.
If neither of these options for a meal interest you, then move on right into Clifton Hill for your meal at any of the restaurants that we listed above. Perhaps you may want to visit the Skylon Tower before moving into Clifton Hill so that you do not miss it.
While your food is digesting and you want to burn some calories, it is the best time to get some walking done. Clifton Hill has many different attractions to fill your time from shopping to visiting some family-friendly fun. Take your pick or just wander the area to get to be more familiar with it and add things to your list that you want to visit later in the day.
If getting a view of the Falls at night time from the Skywheel is important to you, just know that you will likely be waiting up to 30 minutes to get onto the Skywheel after sunset. This may be your best time to get on before the lines get busy. However, if you prefer to have the night view then you should grab a bite to eat before the night time activities.
The Festival of Lights is likely in full swing at this point in the night. Take a walk once again along the Falls and in the surrounding parks to see all of the different Christmas light attractions that are decorated. At this point the Falls are also likely lit up and it is a perfect time to get some of those incredible Niagara Falls shots as they light up.
Check the firework schedule and see if today is the day that you can stay a little bit later to see the fireworks. Or you can visit Clifton Hill once more to cross anything else off of your list that you made earlier. By this time, it has already been a long day so maybe you want to call it and head back home. Or, visit Fallsview Casino on your way out to see if you can get lucky before leaving the city.
This is a jam packed day that will leave you tired and feeling that you have accomplished Niagara Falls in the winter. Perhaps this would be better spreading over 2 days in Niagara Falls, but if you are up for the challenge then this is the perfect one day itinerary in Niagara Falls to allow you to leave the city feeling you have accomplished something and seen most of what the city has to offer.
We love this place and we visit at least once a year, specifically in the winter time. It is our favorite time to visit the area and it is much more peaceful which is what we are looking for. It has become tradition for us to visit each year as we are currently located in Toronto which makes for an easy drive to Niagara Falls.
Have you visited Niagara Falls in the winter months? What was your experience like? What did you do while you were there? We would love to hear more about your experience or answer any questions that you may have. Leave a comment below!