The Top Things to See and Do Near Niagara Falls, Ontario

Maid of the Mist is almost as iconic as the falls themselves – and an experience you wont soon forget
Maid of the Mist is almost as iconic as the falls themselves – and an experience you won't soon forget | © Dennis Cox / Alamy Stock Photo
Harriet Myers

Located on the US-Canada border, Niagara Falls is one of Ontario‘s most impressive sights, visited by millions across the world. Here, we uncover the most exciting and unusual ways to appreciate the beauty of this natural wonder, as well as the wealth of other things to do in the region.

1. Maid of the Mist

Natural Feature

If you love to be close to the action, a Maid of the Mist boat tour is the ultimate way to experience the falls. You’ll be amazed by the magnitude of this natural wonder as you soak up its powerful spray while admiring views of the falls from all angles. This popular attraction is one of Niagara’s most talked about and has been experienced by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and Robert Redford. Trips last approximately 30 minutes and waterproof ponchos are provided. Maid of the Mist is wheelchair accessible.

2. Clifton Hill

Architectural Landmark

Niagara Falls, Canada - June 15, 2018: View of Clifton Hill, known as the Street of Fun, one of the major tourist promenades in Niagara Falls.
© Gilberto Mesquita / Alamy Stock Photo
It may be slightly garish and over-the-top, but Clifton Hill – one of Niagara Falls’ most famous streets – is a must-visit. Ontario’s version of the Las Vegas strip is packed with tourists during peak season, but its many themed attractions make it worth battling the crowds. Kids will love the Fun House with its hall of mirrors, and there are plenty of gift shops for those who want to pick up some souvenirs. Other popular attractions include the Movieland Wax Museum, Niagara Speedway and the area’s ample restaurants and bars.

3. Fallsview Casino

Casino

One of Niagara Falls’ other great attractions is the magnificent Fallsview Casino, just meters away from the famous natural landmark. Located within the Hilton resort, Canada’s largest gaming facility contains over 3,000 slot machines and 130 gaming tables. Even if you’re not looking to place any bets, it’s worth a quick visit to marvel at the resort’s grandeur. The venue also offers over 20 dining options, led by some of North America’s most inspired and creative chefs. Popular choices include 21 Club Steak and Seafood, Ponte Vecchio and Golden Locus.

4. Niagara Wine Region Tour

Winery

The lakeside location of the Niagara Falls region makes the area the perfect spot for growing grapes, and consequently, there is no shortage of wineries to discover. A wide range of tours are available but our favorite, Winery Tours of Niagara, offers a comprehensive service including hotel pick-up and visits to specially selected wineries accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. Alternatively, you can go off-map and create your own tour route, paying a small fee at each winery for a tasting of the finest red and white varieties.

5. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Architectural Landmark

Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontatio, Canada - June 14, 2018: A famous restaurant, located in the Queen Street, is a fine wine bar and cafe, full of colors.
© Gilberto Mesquita / Alamy Stock Photo

Most tourists flock to the Niagara Falls resort area of the region, but just a few kilometers north is the quaint 19th-century town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is equally worth a visit. Situated on the edge of Lake Ontario, the town boasts lovely views of Toronto in a beautiful natural setting. Here, you will find a great range of restaurants, boutique stores and the famous Shaw Festival which celebrates the work of George Bernard Shaw through a series of plays performed from April to November.

6. Niagara Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden

About 10 minutes north of the Falls is another beautiful natural attraction – the Niagara Botanical Gardens. Established in 1936 and maintained by the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, the gardens stretch over 99 acres (40ha) and feature everything from perennials and azaleas to rhododendrons and hydrangeas. Among its most beautiful areas are a formal parterre garden, a butterfly conservatory and a world-famous rose garden featuring over 2,400 roses. Entry is free and the gardens are open to the public 365 days a year, with new blooms appearing in every season.

7. Skylon Tower

Architectural Landmark

NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA - OCTOBER 27, 2017: Hotels, casinos, and the Skylon Tower dominate the city skyline at sunset.
© ArchonCodex / Alamy Stock Photo
For another alternative view of the falls, it’s well worth a visit to Skylon Tower’s observation deck, which stands 775ft (236m) above the water. A glass elevator takes you to the top in under a minute, giving you access to unparalleled views of the falls and Niagara’s wineries, as well as Toronto and New York. The lower of the tower’s two restaurants is the Revolving Dining Room, which provides a constantly changing vista while you enjoy your meal.

8. Niagara Falls Light Show

Natural Feature

Every day at dusk, the drama of the falls is heightened by a mesmerizing colored light show. Hundreds of LED lights create a spectacular vision of color, with different shades gradually fading in and out through the full range of the rainbow. On special occasions, the colors used are themed to celebrate national holidays or to support particular charities or not-for-profit organizations.

9. Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour

Natural Feature

Combining adventure and spectacular views, a helicopter tour is without doubt the most exhilarating way to see the falls. There are plenty of photo opportunities along the way as you soak up the sights of the Niagara region, including Queen Victoria Park and the area’s magnificent wineries. Several tour operators offer flights from both the US and Canadian sides, with two of the most popular being Rainbow Air and Niagara Helicopters. Although it can be a pricey ride, it’s well-worth it for this unique experience. Flights depart daily and are weather dependent.

10. SkyWheel

Architectural Landmark

Located in the middle of Clifton Hill is the Niagara SkyWheel, a 175ft (53m) ferris wheel that offers its passengers a panoramic view of the falls, the Niagara River, Niagara Parks and other landmarks. You can choose to experience this attraction during the day or at night, with evening rides offering romantic views of the area’s sparkling skyline. Climate-controlled gondolas make this a comfortable, convenient and fun way to soak up an aerial view all year round. Rides last between 8 and 12 minutes.

11. Old Fort Niagara

Historical Landmark

North America, USA, New York, Youngstown. Old Fort Niagara
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

Located on the US side of the Falls, this 17th-century fort is a must-visit for history buffs. The oldest operational fort in North America, Old Fort Niagara has seen action during the likes of the American Revolution and the French and Indian Wars, as well as serving as a training station during the Civil War. You’ll have the chance to explore underground gunpowder rooms, old army barracks and ancient cannons. If you don’t have your own vehicle, Old Fort Niagara can be accessed via the free Discover Niagara Shuttle.

12. Niagara Glen Nature Reserve

Natural Feature

The Niagara River from the viewpoint over the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
© All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

Hike through more than two miles (3.2km) of preserved Carolinian Forest at the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, a peaceful escape from the region’s crowds of tourists. Situated just off the Niagara Parkway on the Canadian side of the Falls, this area is particularly beautiful during the autumn months as the trees begin to change color and shed their leaves. Visit the on-site nature center to learn more about the area, or join a daily guided hike, available between May and August. Niagara Glen Nature Reserve is free to access and open year-round.

Additional reporting by Emma Gibbins

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