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On the cusp of the US border, Niagara Falls is one of Ontario’s most impressive sights. 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.
Maid of the Mist
If you love to be close to the action, a Maid of the Mist boat tour is the ultimate way to experience the Falls. Trips last approximately 30 minutes and give you a great view of both the American and Canadian falls, taking you right into the drama of the spray. From this perspective it’s difficult not to be awestruck by the immense power of the water, just as long as you don’t mind getting a little wet.
151 Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY, USA, +17162848897
It may be slightly garish and over-the-top, but Clifton Hill, one of Niagara Falls’ most famous streets, definitely has to be seen to be believed. 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.
Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada, +19053583676
One of Niagara Falls’ other great attractions is the magnificent Fallsview Casino, located just meters away from the famous natural landmark. Located within the Hilton resort, Canada’s largest gaming facility contains over 3000 slot machines and 130 gaming tables – definitely enough to keep even the most enthusiastic gambler entertained. Even if you’re not looking to place any bets, it’s worth a quick visit to marvel at the resort’s grandeur.
Niagara Wine Region Tour
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 the 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.
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 and 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 produced from April to November.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada, +19056846354
Niagara Botanical Gardens
Ten minutes north of the Falls is another beautiful natural attraction – the Niagara Botanical Gardens. Maintained by the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, the gardens stretch over 99 acres, including a formal parterre garden and a rose garden containing over 2,400 different varieties of roses, as well as a Butterfly Conservatory. Entry is free and the Gardens are open to the public 365 days a year, with something impressive to see in every season.
For another alternative view of the Falls, why not consider Skylon Tower’s observation deck, which stands 775 feet above the water. Inside the tower, a glass-enclosed elevator can deliver you to the top in under a minute, giving you access to unparalleled views of the Falls and beyond to the Niagara wineries, Toronto and New York. The lower of the tower’s two restaurants also features a Revolving Dining Room, which provides you with a constantly changing vista while you enjoy your meal.
Niagara Falls Light Show
Every evening after dusk, the drama of the Falls is heightened by a mesmerizing multi-colored light show. The different shades gradually fade 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 organisations. If you choose to spend the evening in Niagara Falls, this spectacular vision of color and light is a completely different photo opportunity and well worth seeing.
Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour
A helicopter tour is the most exhilarating way to see the Falls. Several tour operators offer flights from both the US and Canadian sides, with two of the most popular being Rainbow Air and Niagara Helicopters. Flights can be costly but for a truly unique experience, this is an extra special way to see the beauty of the falls from above.
Located in the middle of Clifton Hill is the Niagara SkyWheel; a 175-foot Ferris wheel that offers its passengers a view of the Falls and Niagara River. Rides last between just eight and twelve minutes, but the climate-controlled cars make this a comfortable, convenient and fun way to see an aerial view all year round.
Skywheel, 4950 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada, +19053584793