Things to Do in Niagara Falls & Around
Falls is either via the Maid of the Mist boat, which takes you right up to Falls, through the turbulent waters of the American Falls. Another way is to take the Journey Behind the Falls, in which you’ll walk through tunnels onto an observation deck to get a wet but up-close view of the Horseshoe Falls or go to the Cave of the Winds for an up-close view of the American Falls.
On land, you can see Niagara Falls from the Skyline Tower on the Canadian side.
For numerous Niagara Falls-inspired attractions all in one place, the Skylon Tower is an excellent choice. Boasting front row views of the natural wonder along with ambient dining, a observation platform, 4D movies, shopping and family-fun, you could spend all day being entertained in one place.
Start your Skylon Tower experience by riding in their glass-enclosed elevators to the Indoor/Outdoor Observation Deck, where you can take in views of Niagara Falls, the Great Gorge, Niagara’s wine country, and Buffalo and Toronto skylines from 775 feet (236 meters) high.
For a unique dining experience in an upscale setting, Skylon Tower’s Revolving Dining Room Restaurant sits at 775 feet (236 meters) high and turns 360 degrees every hour so your view is always changing. The menu is continental, and you can order anything from lobster tails to Filet Mignon to Mediterranean chicken.
Horseshoe Falls is an awesome site from the shore and from a boat, but the best way to truly experience its absolute power is to take the Journey Behind the Falls. On this journey, you’ll don a plastic poncho and traverse tunnels bored into the rock behind the great sheet water for a thunderous up-close view.
Journey Behind the Falls consists of an observation platform and series of tunnels near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian shore. The tunnels and platform can be reached by elevators from the street level entrance. You walk through two tunnels, which extend approximately 150 feet/46 meters behind the waterfall. When you reach the end of the tunnel, you can see water cascading in front of the open cave entrances. The best part is stepping out on the observation deck for the full experience. You will get very wet, but it’s worth it for the site of the roaring water.
Next to Niagara Falls, one of the most photographed attractions in the surrounding area is the Floral Clock. Built in 1950, it is one of the largest in the world at a massive 40 feet in diameter. Each year, the clock is planted with over 15,000 carpet plants and annuals. The hands are made from stainless steel tubing and weigh a combined 1,250 pounds, while a 24-foot stone tower with speakers broadcasts the Westminster chime every 15 minutes.
The floral design is changed twice per year, using violas in the spring and four cultivars of Alternanthera along with green and gray Santolina Sage during summer and fall. Next to the Floral Clock visitors will find the Centennial Lilac Garden, which is in full bloom around late May and includes more than 250 varieties of plants and over 1,200 individual shrubs.
Although the original Table Rock -- a jutting out of rock from the Falls used as a viewing platform in the 19th century -- was destroyed in 1935 after a series of dangerous rock falls, today it is a retail and entertainment complex. Considered a must-visit when at Niagara Falls, Table Rock’s viewing area is home to terraced platforms perfect for picture taking, especially as rainbows are a common sighting. It’s located right at the Falls in the heart of Niagara Parks, so you’re guaranteed to enjoy beautiful scenery near all the attractions.
Begin your Table Rock experience at the Welcome Centre, where you can purchase tickets, packages and passes depending on what you want to do. Here you’ll also be able to get some background information on the area. One attraction at Table Rock is Niagara’s Fury, a 4D experience that will make you feel like you’re really witnessing the creation of the falls through advanced technology.
Niagara Falls main parkland, the Queen Victoria Park is in the center of the Niagara Parks and features a mix of green and water views as well as the chance to learn about nature. While exploring Queen Victoria Park you’ll be able to take in front row views of Niagara Falls, as the park is located along the Niagara Gorge and River. For this reason, it’s one of the best places for taking excellent photographs of the natural attraction, especially as it provides a peaceful setting. Visitors can also access top Niagara Falls experiences from the park like the Maid of the Mist, Clifton Hill and Journey Behind the Falls.
Dangling above the Niagara River, just north of Horseshoe Falls, is the Whirlpool Aero Car. The gondola travels 1,800 feet/550 meters between two points above the Niagara Gorge, providing unforgettable views of the raging waters below. It’s a thrilling 10 minutes!
To reach the Whirlpool Aero Car, you climb a winding stairwell. Those afraid of heights might be better off on the ground. Then, you’ll board the antique cable car and be transported on six sturdy cables high above the racing Niagara River. Far below, the torrent of water abruptly changes direction and creates one of the world’s most mesmerizing natural phenomenons - the Niagara Whirlpool, which is formed at the end of the rapids where the gorge turns abruptly counterclockwise and the river escapes through the narrowest channel in the gorge.
The center of entertainment in Niagara Falls, Clifton Hill is a bustling mecca of an exciting array of attractions, resort hotels, themed restaurants, shops, and nightclubs. Along this eye-popping promenade, you’ll find a giant ferris wheel, mini golf, interactive games, a haunted house, and a wax museum.
The prominent attractions on Clifton Hill include Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, the Guinness World Records Museum, and The Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. Tussaud's has long been a staple of the area, and you can see dozens of wax celebrities. If you like haunted houses, check out the Haunted House, the House of Frankestein, or Nightmares. Haunted House is probably the best for kids; the other two are better suited for older kids and adults.
More Things to Do in Niagara Falls & Around
At Niagara SkyWheel, you’ll get a bird’s-eye-view of Niagara Falls as you soar 53 meters (175 feet) high in the air in the largest observation wheel in Canada. It’s most popular to ride the Niagara Skywheel around dusk, when Niagara Falls gets lit up in the colors of the rainbow for the famous Falls Illumination show. At night, you’ll also see Clifton Hills and the city skyline lights.
On the 12- to 15-minute ride, you’ll get four or more rotations in the Ferris wheel, and groups and families get to ride in their own gondola. A popular destination for taking photos of Niagara Falls from a new angle, you can see for miles in every direction, and you’ll be able to capture both Horseshoe and American Falls in one shot. Time your trip for 10 p.m., and you may also get to see the iconic fireworks over the falls from your carriage. Opened in 2006, the SkyWheel is in the heart of Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls' main entertainment district for vacationing families.</;p>
The Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre offers a number of Niagara Falls-related experiences all in one place. First of all, there is their “Niagara: Miracles, Myths & Magic” IMAX movie which tells the true stories of the world-renowned Niagara Falls, beginning with the native peoples and how their culture relates to the Falls to the daredevils who tightroped their way across to the adrenaline junkies who took a plunge over the falls in a barrel. You’ll not only leave the 3D film with a better understanding of Niagara Falls, you’ll feel like you took part in its history.
“Elysium: The IMAX Experience” is another IMAX film option. Opened in this location in September 2013, the futuristic movie takes place in 2154. It tells the story of the two classes of people that exist -- the wealthy who live on the beautiful Elysium space station, and the rest who live in poverty -- and the one man willing to do anything to bring equality.
One of the most delightful non-Falls attractions, Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory features over 2,000 colorful tropical butterflies, made up from more than 50 different species. The butterflies float freely among lush, exotic blossoms and greenery, even occasionally landing on the peaceful procession of visitors passing through.
An abundance of natural light illuminates the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, which is carefully climate controlled. Multi-leveled paths wind through the rainforest setting, past a pond and a waterfall. The butterflies, amazingly, sit still most of the time, inviting plenty of photo opportunities as you wander. There is also a butterfly nursery, where you can watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons; the window is opened several times daily to release the young butterflies.
The Niagara Butterfly Conservatory also doubles as a greenhouse for the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.
At Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Niagara Falls, you’ll see oddities from around the world, from genuine Amazonian shrunken heads and the world’s rarest egg to a two-headed pig and decorated Tibetan skulls. Established in Clifton Hill in 1964, Ripley’s has 13 themed galleries that are home to over 800 exhibits, curiosities and illusions. In Ripley’s Wacky Explorative Room, there are videos and interactive displays, and if you download Ripley’s phone app you can scan posters around the museum for more information and special surprises. You can take photos throughout the museum, and the world’s tallest man’s Chippendale chair practically begs you to climb in for a picture. The museum is also home to the Niagara Theater, where you’ll get to see and hear tales of the daredevils who have faced the wrath of Niagara Falls throughout history. But the most popular curiosity of all at Ripley’s is the disorienting Kaleidoscope Tunnel.
Niagara Falls’ Louis Tussaud's Waxworks brings you up-close to over 100 life-sized figures of the rich, the famous, the royal and the notorious. On a trip around its 16 themed galleries, you can jump on Oprah’s couch, go into bed with Yoko Ono and John Lennon or get your picture taken with Prince William and Kate. Kids will get to see characters like Harry Potter, Batman, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and the cast of Twilight. The brave can also head to the Hall of Horrors and have their photo taken with Frankenstein.
Louis Tussaud was the great-grandson of the famous Madame, and in this mock Tudor building on Niagara Falls’ Victoria Avenue there’s no rush or time limit as you make your way around the wax works. For an extra surprise, try asking the lady at the front desk for directions to the bathroom.
Often touted as one of Ontario’s most beautiful towns, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a great destination for anyone wanting a slow-paced, scenic and agriculturally-rich Canadian experience. Wine touring is a popular activity, as Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to over 25 wineries, most of which are open for tours and tastings. Visit everything from small boutique wineries to large estates, with each facility having its own distinct personality -- although all benefit from the area’s proximity to Lake Ontario and the Niagara River.
There are also a number of performance spaces, great for getting to know local culture, including the Shaw Festival Theatre, Court House Theatre and Royal George Theatre. There are also a number of art galleries, like the Angie Strauss Gallery, which showcases beautiful impressionist paintings, and the Romance Collection Gallery, where you can see works by local artists Trisha Romance and Tanya Jean Peterson.
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