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Best Things To Do in Niagara Falls

The waterfalls are the main attraction here, and there's a range of ways to see them: from their foot on the legendary Maid of the Mist boat tours; from behind in caves accessible by elevator; from the sky hovering in helicopters; or gazing from observation towers. But away from the falls, both the New York and Canadian sides offer various activities to keep visitors entertained. The area also hosts several family-friendly attractions, including Old Fort Niagara and the Niagara SkyWheel. If you don't have kids in tow, try your luck at the Niagara Fallsview Casino or sample some of the area's famous ice wine at the Inniskillin Winery.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Niagara Falls

The main reason to visit Niagara Falls is to see the falls and one of the most memorable ways to do just that is to sport a poncho and hop on a Maid of the Mist boat. These boats have been shuttling visitors to and from the base of the falls since the 1840s. Be prepared to get wet: the Maid of the Mist practically dunks you under the falls, but rain gear is provided and many say that this is one of the best ways to experience the splendor of Niagara Falls.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Maid of the Mist
The main reason to visit Niagara Falls is to see the falls and one of the most memorable ways to do just that is to sport a poncho and hop on a Maid of the Mist boat. These boats have been shuttling visitors to and from the base of the falls since the 1840s. Be prepared to get wet: the Maid of the Mist practically dunks you under the falls, but rain gear is provided and many say that this is one of the best ways to experience the splendor of Niagara Falls.
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#2

#2 in Niagara Falls

To escape the thunderous falls and tourist crowds, take an afternoon and lose yourself in the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. If you like nature, the gardens are a must-see. This 100-acre space is home to dozens of meticulously maintained gardens cared for by students at the on-site horticulture school featuring thousands of species of plants. During the summer, guided horse-and-carriage tours allow you to explore the gardens in style. The gardens are also home to the Butterfly Conservatory, where several thousand butterflies flit and flutter among brightly colored flowers. 
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Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens & Butterfly Conservatory
To escape the thunderous falls and tourist crowds, take an afternoon and lose yourself in the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. If you like nature, the gardens are a must-see. This 100-acre space is home to dozens of meticulously maintained gardens cared for by students at the on-site horticulture school featuring thousands of species of plants. During the summer, guided horse-and-carriage tours allow you to explore the gardens in style. The gardens are also home to the Butterfly Conservatory, where several thousand butterflies flit and flutter among brightly colored flowers. 
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#3

#3 in Niagara Falls

If you enjoy history, make sure to save time for a visit to Old Fort Niagara. Located on the U.S. side of the falls, this 17th-century fort has changed hands between French, British and American troops. This site has seen action during numerous wars, including the American Revolution and the French and Indian War, making it the longest operational fort in North America. Today, the fort occupies one of the most scenic areas in western New York, overlooking both Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. Inside, you can explore underground gunpowder rooms, old army barracks and ancient cannons. If you're looking for a more in-depth history, make sure to stop by the visitor center.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Old Fort Niagara
If you enjoy history, make sure to save time for a visit to Old Fort Niagara. Located on the U.S. side of the falls, this 17th-century fort has changed hands between French, British and American troops. This site has seen action during numerous wars, including the American Revolution and the French and Indian War, making it the longest operational fort in North America. Today, the fort occupies one of the most scenic areas in western New York, overlooking both Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. Inside, you can explore underground gunpowder rooms, old army barracks and ancient cannons. If you're looking for a more in-depth history, make sure to stop by the visitor center.
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#4

#4 in Niagara Falls

Free
If you need a break from the crowds near the falls, visitors recommend you enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. Situated off the Niagara Parkway on the Canadian side of the falls, this nature preserve overlooks the Niagara River and its natural whirlpool, offering more than 2 miles of trails through preserved Carolinian Forest.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Niagara Glen Nature Reserve
If you need a break from the crowds near the falls, visitors recommend you enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. Situated off the Niagara Parkway on the Canadian side of the falls, this nature preserve overlooks the Niagara River and its natural whirlpool, offering more than 2 miles of trails through preserved Carolinian Forest.
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#5

#5 in Niagara Falls

On the Journey Behind the Falls, you'll be able to stand directly behind the roaring sheet of water and get a literal behind-the-scenes peek at this magnificent natural attraction. The tour begins with an elevator ride to an observation deck where you can take in the view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the Niagara River. From there, follow the caverns and enjoy the roaring curtain of the falls from a different perspective. However, be prepared for crowds Journey Behind the Falls is one of the most popular ways to see the falls, so you may find that the tunnels are rather cramped.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Journey Behind the Falls
On the Journey Behind the Falls, you'll be able to stand directly behind the roaring sheet of water and get a literal behind-the-scenes peek at this magnificent natural attraction. The tour begins with an elevator ride to an observation deck where you can take in the view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the Niagara River. From there, follow the caverns and enjoy the roaring curtain of the falls from a different perspective. However, be prepared for crowds Journey Behind the Falls is one of the most popular ways to see the falls, so you may find that the tunnels are rather cramped.
... more

#6

#6 in Niagara Falls

Many recent visitors called the Cave of the Winds a "must-do." After taking an elevator 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge, you'll be able to roam a series of wooden walkways that put you within feet of the Bridal Veil Falls. It's called the "Hurricane Deck," thanks to the tropical storm-like conditions. Even with the souvenir poncho and shoes, you'll likely get wet.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Cave of the Winds
Many recent visitors called the Cave of the Winds a "must-do." After taking an elevator 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge, you'll be able to roam a series of wooden walkways that put you within feet of the Bridal Veil Falls. It's called the "Hurricane Deck," thanks to the tropical storm-like conditions. Even with the souvenir poncho and shoes, you'll likely get wet.
... more

#7

#7 in Niagara Falls

If you're looking to view the falls from a more natural setting than the Maid of the Mist or the Journey Behind the Falls, spend an hour or two stretching your legs on the White Water Walk. After taking an elevator 230 feet to the base of the gorge, you'll be able to walk along a quarter-mile boardwalk that overlooks the Great Gorge Rapids from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Along the walk are several observation areas where you can get a great view of the falls and the turbulent whirlpool below.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
White Water Walk
If you're looking to view the falls from a more natural setting than the Maid of the Mist or the Journey Behind the Falls, spend an hour or two stretching your legs on the White Water Walk. After taking an elevator 230 feet to the base of the gorge, you'll be able to walk along a quarter-mile boardwalk that overlooks the Great Gorge Rapids from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Along the walk are several observation areas where you can get a great view of the falls and the turbulent whirlpool below.
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#8

#8 in Niagara Falls

Free
Aside from the falls themselves, the Niagara Falls region is known for one other thing: wine. If you have the time, take a drive north along Ontario's scenic Niagara Parkway to Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This winery is known for its icewine, which is made from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine over the winter. Once temperatures drop to -8 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit), the grapes are then collected and allowed to thaw, a process that helps intensify their flavor.
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Wineries/Breweries Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Inniskillin Winery
Aside from the falls themselves, the Niagara Falls region is known for one other thing: wine. If you have the time, take a drive north along Ontario's scenic Niagara Parkway to Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This winery is known for its icewine, which is made from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine over the winter. Once temperatures drop to -8 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit), the grapes are then collected and allowed to thaw, a process that helps intensify their flavor.
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#9

#9 in Niagara Falls

For yet another view of the falls, head to Clifton Hill, a tourist district on the Ontario, Canada, side of the falls filled with family-friendly attractions. This is where you'll find the Niagara SkyWheel. Billed as Canada's largest observation wheel, the Niagara SkyWheel offers climate-controlled gondolas that rotate 175 feet above the falls. From the SkyWheel, you'll be afforded views of the Horseshoe and American Falls, the Niagara River and other local landmarks. Rides last between 8 and 12 minutes.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Niagara SkyWheel
For yet another view of the falls, head to Clifton Hill, a tourist district on the Ontario, Canada, side of the falls filled with family-friendly attractions. This is where you'll find the Niagara SkyWheel. Billed as Canada's largest observation wheel, the Niagara SkyWheel offers climate-controlled gondolas that rotate 175 feet above the falls. From the SkyWheel, you'll be afforded views of the Horseshoe and American Falls, the Niagara River and other local landmarks. Rides last between 8 and 12 minutes.
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#10

#10 in Niagara Falls

Free
When the sun goes down, get your game on at the Niagara Fallsview Casino, where 150 table games and several thousand slot machines await your duel with Lady Luck. If you're not much a gambler, the casino's 225,000 feet of shopping space and the Avalon Theatre which hosts numerous concerts and other performances throughout the year are sure to keep you entertained. There is also a spa and a golf course, plus more than a dozen different dining facilities that are sure to keep you full to bursting.
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Casinos Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Niagara Fallsview Casino
When the sun goes down, get your game on at the Niagara Fallsview Casino, where 150 table games and several thousand slot machines await your duel with Lady Luck. If you're not much a gambler, the casino's 225,000 feet of shopping space and the Avalon Theatre which hosts numerous concerts and other performances throughout the year are sure to keep you entertained. There is also a spa and a golf course, plus more than a dozen different dining facilities that are sure to keep you full to bursting.
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#11

#11 in Niagara Falls

Once you've seen the falls from below and behind, consider seeing them from above at the Skylon Tower. Dominating the Ontario skyline, this 775-foot high tower offers particularly breathtaking views of the Horseshoe Falls. You can enjoy the view from either the indoor or the outdoor observation deck and if you don't mind shelling out a small fortune you can also revel in the landscape from the tower's revolving restaurant. To reach the top, you'll board a glass-enclosed elevator that takes just 52 seconds to reach the top of the tower. Many recent visitors recommend going at night to catch a bird's-eye glimpse when they're illuminated.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Skylon Tower
Once you've seen the falls from below and behind, consider seeing them from above at the Skylon Tower. Dominating the Ontario skyline, this 775-foot high tower offers particularly breathtaking views of the Horseshoe Falls. You can enjoy the view from either the indoor or the outdoor observation deck and if you don't mind shelling out a small fortune you can also revel in the landscape from the tower's revolving restaurant. To reach the top, you'll board a glass-enclosed elevator that takes just 52 seconds to reach the top of the tower. Many recent visitors recommend going at night to catch a bird's-eye glimpse when they're illuminated.
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