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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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