Another Summer has come and gone and the cold weather will soon be ascending upon Canada. Any Canadian will tell you that Canada becomes a Winter paradise during the months of November through to the end of March, and often into April. This is the perfect time of year to explore the Winter wonderland of Ontario.
Are you able to tolerate the freezing cold that winter brings? Do you revel in the magic of a winter paradise? If the answer to one or both questions is “yes”, then hop in your car and head to the Canadian border city of Niagara Falls. Whether you go for a quick getaway for the day, or spend the weekend, Niagara Falls has just as much, if not more, to offer in the Winter months than it does in the Summer months.
Benefits of Visiting Niagara Falls in the Winter
There are many benefits to visiting Niagara Falls in the winter. The primary benefit is that there aren’t near as many people. There is no standing in line waiting to get into a restaurant. People aren’t bumping into you at every turn. Did I mention there are no crowds? Parking is easy to find and bonus…..it’s cheaper than in the summer, at a mere $13.00 per day. It truly is a winter paradise!
If you are a true Canadian, you will hit the Tim Horton’s as soon as you park your car. It is conveniently located right at the entrance to Clifton Hill, which is where all the museums and tourist attractions are located.
There is no shortage of restaurants in Niagara Falls. From McDonald’s to Boston Pizza to the Keg, there is something for everyone, no matter what the time of day or night. If you are visiting with children, I recommend the Rain Forest Café, which is located at the bottom of Clifton Hill. Every 20 to 30, animated animals in the ‘jungle-like” atmosphere come alive. If you like thunder storms, then this is also the place to be. It is a little bit on the pricier side, but your children, both big and small, will be entertained throughout their meal.
I was super surprised to see that many of the attractions that are open in the summer are also open in the winter. The Farris wheel was still going ‘round and ‘round, despite the fact that it was -10 degrees Celsius (brrrrr). This is a must do if you want to get an aerial view of the Falls, and is even more spectacular once night falls.
Unfortunately, the amazing outdoor mini golf was closed for the season, but for the golf enthusiast, the laser golf was open and was being well used. During the Summer months, you will have a choice between the outdoor mini golf based on a dinosaur theme and the indoor laser golf.
You will have your choice of an unlimited number of museums, haunted houses, arcades, and children’s playgrounds to pop into if you find you are needing a break from the frigid outdoors. The majority of these museums can all be found on Clifton Hill, or very close by, and start at the low price of $9.95.
For those who wish to venture off of Clifton Hill, I recommend grabbing a coffee or hot chocolate from Starbuck’s, located around the corner at the bottom of Clifton Hill. Trust me when I say that you will need either a coffee or hot chocolate as you stroll along-side the Falls.
The Canadian and American Falls
Both the Canadian and the American Falls are spectacular no matter what time of the year, but they are magical in the shimmering light (ice) of the winter. There is just something about the frozen trees and water that makes you feel like you are immersed in a fairy tale.
After a leisure 10 minute walk along the Falls, you will come to a gift shop and another Tim Horton’s. The perfect place to make a quick pit-stop to warm up and refuel.
Journey Under the Falls
From here, you will have the option of taking a Journey Under the Falls or rocketing to the top of the Skylon Tower for a panoramic view of Niagara Falls. I chose to Journey Under the Falls, as this was my primary purpose of visiting in the winter. I had never journeyed behind the Falls in the Winter before, and it did not disappoint. Was it cold? Absolutely! But believe me when I tell you that it was well worth it!
Make sure you have layered up and are dressed warm. You will get cold….and wet! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rates were reduced in the winter (one of the benefits of visiting during the off-season). The cost of this adventure throughout the winter months from Mid-December to Mid April is $11.50 for adults and $7.50 for children, plus applicable taxes. That is quite a savings!
If you opt to skyrocket up the Skylon Tower, you will enjoy a panoramic view of Niagara Falls and the surrounding area, for up to 80 km. on a clear day. All for the price of $14.00, plus applicable taxes. You can also choose to stay longer and visit the revolving dining room while you are there. Reservations are recommended and can be made here.
No trip to Niagara Falls is complete without stopping into the Fudge Factory! If you have a sweet tooth, then this is the place you have to be! It is conveniently located on Clifton Hill and placed exactly where you have to walk by in order to get to the parking area.
Just a short drive out of Niagara Falls towards Niagara-on-the-Lake, you will find the Butterfly Conservatory. One of the most tranquil settings I have experienced, hosting more than 2,000 butterflies. This is the perfect place to spend an hour or two during you Winter visit to Niagara Falls.
So there you have it. If you are lucky enough to get an early start to your day, you will be able to experience all of the above. However, if this is your first time visiting Niagara Falls, or if you truly want to experience all that it has to offer at a more leisurely pace, then I recommend spending the night and taking two days to explore.
The Marriott Fallsview is by far my favorite hotel in Niagara Falls. It is away from Clifton Hill and the hustle and bustle of the tourist activities, but it is still close enough to be able to walk down to the Falls. In fact, you have the option of getting a room that looks directly onto the Falls, which I highly recommend. This hotel is also a short walking distance to the new casino, if you are a gambler.
Travelling with Children
If you are travelling with your children, Niagara Falls offers three hotels with water parks, which will continue to keep your children entertained until they can no longer keep their eyes open:
I have outlined just a few of the highlights and activities that Niagara Falls has to offer. Visit Niagara Falls Tourism to plan your full trip and to obtain packages for attractions and/or accommodations to this winter paradise.
If you are visiting with no children, take a short scenic 15 minute drive along the lake to Niagara-on-the-Lake and do a little wine tasting.
If you do nothing else when visiting Niagara, make sure to take a journey behind the falls. It really is a site to see!