There is so much more to Niagara Falls than the thundering waters. If the world’s largest waterfall is on your bucket list, here are a few other activities and attractions to fill your trip to Niagara Falls.
Queen Victoria Park
Offering your first and best views of Canada’s Horseshoe Falls, Queen Victoria Park is a simple but stunning green space that serves as Niagara Falls’ prime event space. On one side, the park is bounded by the steep Niagara moraine, which leads to the churning Niagara River; on the other side, you can walk to your Niagara Falls hotel, Clifton Hill, and dozens of other exciting attractions around the city.
Maid of the Mist
Perhaps the most famous attraction in all of Niagara Falls — besides the falls themselves, of course — the Maid of the Mist is a boat tour that takes you up close to the base of Niagara Falls. Named after a legendary goddess living behind the falls, the Maid of the Mist tour is fascinating and fun for all ages, as long as you don’t mind getting a little wet. Adult tickets cost $18.25 and children 6-12 cost $10.65 while kids under 5 years are free. If you can’t get a coveted spot on Maid of the Mist, you can try one of the other boat tours in the area, such as Hornblower Cruises.
Journey Behind the Falls
If the Maid of the Mist didn’t get you close enough to Niagara Falls’ 84,760 cubic feet of water per second, perhaps Journey Behind the Falls will. This attraction, offered by Niagara Parks, takes you down 125 feet into 130-year-old bedrock tunnels, where you’ll see a jaw-dropping view of the backside of Horseshoe Falls. For this experience, tickets cost $17.30 for adults and $11.25 for kids 6-12.
Rising above all the hotels in Niagara Falls, Skylon Tower is a dominant feature in the city’s skyline. Once the tallest structure in the Niagara region, Skylon provides some of the best birds-eye views of the Falls and surrounding countryside. You can buy tickets to visit the observation deck ($15 for adults and $10 for kids) or get a free view while you dine in Skylon’s rotating restaurant.
Another attraction up high, the Niagara SkyWheel rivals even Skylon’s lofty views. In the comfort of a temperature-controlled, fully enclosed gondola, you can rise 175 feet for panoramic views of all three of Niagara’s waterfalls. The ride lasts an exhilarating 15 minutes and costs only $12 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under — plus it is conveniently located on the edge of Clifton Hill, where there are dozens more rides and games to enjoy.
White Water Walk
Niagara River offers more excitement and power than contained in its enormous falls. In truth, the river boasts Class 6 white-water rapids, which is the most difficult tier of rapids — promising almost certain death. Fortunately, you can see the rapids from the safety of the riverside boardwalk, which follows the 410-million-year-old Niagara Gorge. The White Water Walk is a brief but thrilling hike past another one of Niagara’s many wonders.
A string of man-made islands in the Niagara River charmingly linked by footpaths and bridges, Dufferin Islands is quiet, secluded, and serene. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls’ tourist areas, you can spend an hour or so exploring the tranquil groves, picnicking, birdwatching, and enjoying other simple, pleasurable activities. In the cold season, Dufferin is home to Niagara’s famous Winter Festival of Lights, but year-round, visiting the islands is absolutely free.
Niagara Botanical Gardens
Another marvel of the Niagara Parks Commission, the Botanical Gardens consist of 99 acres of immaculately maintained gardens. As with Dufferin Islands, you can stroll through the gardens at your own leisure and at no cost. Using the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens app, you can even learn a bit about the flora on display as well as the efforts of the Parks Commission and the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture to keep the gardens thriving.
Old Fort Niagara
Though modern Niagara might seem an international destination for peace and prosperity, in the past, the region was often a host to war. Old Fort Niagara, located just outside Niagara Falls proper, remains the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America, protecting the region for more than 300 years. Today, the fort is a museum and historic site commemorating the battles fought in the Niagara region.