Niagara Falls has been a sight to see for millennia. Its close proximity to Toronto and its cross-border location saw its rapid development over the last 100 years. The "mini Las Vegas" is all the glitz and glam of its southern cousin but a bit tamer and more family-friendly. There are lots to see and do in the area so make sure to devote a few days to check it out!
What to do
What many don't realize is that Niagara Falls is actually made up of 3 sets of falls- Horseshoe Falls (which is split by the border), and American and Bridal Veil Falls which pour over the American side of the river. Horseshoe Falls is the largest and most popular section of the falls and is best viewed from the Canadian side. If a view from the platforms around isn't enough for you, you have several options. For those wanting to get a rush of adrenaline, the new Zipline to the Falls has you covered. Enjoy a panoramic view over the gorge as you race towards the falls at up to 70km/h. If speed isn't your thing, try the Adventure Behind the Falls. Here you hop into an elevator just beside Horseshoe Falls and drop down a few hundred feet to the base. From here, tunnels have been carved that make their way behind the veil of the falls giving a unique once-in-a-lifetime view. Several outside viewpoints also allow you to feel the spray! Lastly, you can jump onto a cruise to the base of the falls on the Hornblower (Canadian side) or the Maid of the Mist (US side).
Clifton Hill has become the heart of the commercial entertainment district in town. Here you have everything from the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, to new 4D cinemas, arcades, and even an amusement park. It is the perfect spot to spend a few hours no matter what age you are!
Other than the waterfalls, the Skylon Tower is likely the most noticeable feature of the city's skyline. The 50-year-old tower has everything from inside and outside observation decks, a revolving restaurant, and even a hotel! Taking the "Yellow Bug" elevators - bright yellow glass-paneled elevators that cling to the outside of the tower - is quite the adventure! While many compare its design to the CN Tower, it is actually a decade older than its Torontonian relative!
Casinos are much more restricted in Canada than in the US, which is why the casinos in Niagara Falls are of particular note. Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara have almost 5000 slots and 150 gaming tables which is huge by Canadian standards. Both casinos are right in central Niagara Falls allowing for a quick stop-off or all-night fun. Fallsview Casino Resort also has lots of weekly entertainment, a waterpark, restaurants, spa, and is one of the nicest hotels in the city. If you are wanting to be able to wake up to a view of the Falls, then this is likely your best choice!
Covid Conscious Activities
With Covid-19 being such a huge factor in daily life, it is important to take steps towards a safer holiday like trying to limit your daily contact with others. Keep up to date with the latest local advisories and information.
While the gambling, partying, and " Las Vegas" stylings may not seem like the best way to wary of Covid-19, a visit to the Niagara Falls area can still be visited with relative ease. Hundreds of vineyards, most with the ability to make reservations, allow you to get outside and taste what the area is famous for, while hikes along the river can keep you at peace. The Falls themselves, are well worth the visit and if you are willing to skip out on the Behind the Falls or Hornblower tours, you can be quite conscious of Covid-19.
Where to Stay
With over 16,000 hotel rooms, there are more than enough places to lay your head down for the night. The two biggest factors for you to work through are your price point and how close to all of the action you want to be. The high-rise hotels that are close to the falls like the Embassy Suites, Fallsview Casino Resort, and the Skylon Tower are luxury resorts and have the price point to match. Many of the rooms at these resorts have amazing views of the waterfalls if you want to upgrade. A little further back you have smaller hotels like Comfort Inn Fallsview which cost less but may not have as stunning views. Finally, if you are more into a quiet town and country living, you can always choose Niagara-on-the-Lake and just day trip in to see the Waterfalls.
How to get there and around
Niagara Falls is one of the most southern access points to the US and one of the most direct routes to get to the Eastern Seaboard from Toronto. The city has numerous major highways taking you to Toronto in 3 hours, London in 2 1/2, and Windsor in 4. For those coming from the US, NYC is only 7 hours, Pittsburgh is 4, and Boston is 8. The closest major airport is in Buffalo, but if you add the border crossing and hassle that it can cause, it may be best to fly into Pearson Airport in Toronto.
Once you are in Niagara Falls, you can walk to many of the major sites in the city as they all focus around the falls themselves. We highly suggest taking a trip out to Niagara-on-the-Lake or the many vineyards which will require some mode of transportation. Renting a car is easy but means you will need to have a designated driver. Instead, you can always just rent bikes and have a nice ride along the river to the vineyards or join a tour like THIS one.
Canada may not be too world recognized for wine production but there are a few areas that can produce great wine. The fertile soils of the Niagara Region produce optimal growing for several varieties of white wine grapes. Peller Estates, Jackson Triggs, and Inniskilin are some of the most popular and have fantastic tasting rooms. Exploring on your own is easy if you have a car AND a designated driver, but you can also join a tour or even cycle between them. There are many wine routes around focusing on organic wine, quirky growing methods, and world-class wine.
About 30 minutes north, Niagara-on-the-Lake is an aptly named town that is arguably one of the prettiest towns in Canada. If you are looking for somewhere to stay that is still close to the waterfalls and vineyards but without all of the crazy commercialized areas of Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is for you! Queen Street is the centre of the Historic District and where much of the tourism is focused. 19th-century mansions are now home to many wine shops, restaurants, cafes, and even B&Bs. Even if you are not staying the night in the town, it is an absolute must day trip from Niagara Falls!
Cheaper shopping, a different Fallsview, NFL football, and cheap NHL hockey games all make Buffalo a fun day trip but make sure you have your passport. Even if going to Buffalo isn't of much interest, crossing Rainbow Bridge is an event in and of itself. The bridge is only 500m from the US side of the falls and is able to be walked offering amazing views of both the waterfalls and the two neighbouring countries.