Moon Niagara Falls
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- Flexible itineraries for both the American and Canadian sides, including Buffalo, a weekend at the Falls, and day trips to Niagara-on-the-Lake, wine country, and more
- Strategic advice for families, couples, travelers on a budget, and more
- The top sights and unique experiences: Take in views at Horseshoe Falls or glide on a thrilling zipline above the Niagara River. Visit the Underground Railroad Heritage Center and head out to see some its most important sites for yourself, or go north to experience military history come-to-life at Fort George and Old Fort Erie. Stroll through Buffalo to spot architectural gems, kayak the Buffalo waterfront, or catch some live music in a former grain silo. Sip your way through the Niagara Wine Trail or have a romantic evening at a picturesque Canadian winery
- Honest advice from Buffalo native and Niagara Falls tour guide Joel Dombrowski on when to go, what to pack, where to eat, and where to stay, from campsites and motels to luxurious inns
- Full-color photos and detailed maps throughout
- Essential information on getting there and getting around, crossing the US-Canada border, weather, wildlife, and safety
- Helpful tips for seniors and visitors with disabilities
Exploring more of Canada? Try Moon Montréal & Quebec City or Moon Atlantic Canada. Headed down the East Coast? Try Moon New England Road Trip or Moon Pennsylvania.
DISCOVER Niagara Falls
7 TOP EXPERIENCES
Planning Your Trip
The Two-Day Best of Niagara Falls
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
BEST PHOTO OPS
A boat draws you into the furious tumult at the base of the falls. The bright green water roils with energy. The roar is deafening. Amid the chaos, a moment of clarity emerges. This 17-story wall of water has no equal in the world. This is the power of nature.
This moment draws millions of people to Niagara Falls each year. But Niagara offers more than the falls. It’s a world-class destination where you can experience nature and adventure, as well as entertainment, culture, and cuisine. Stretching across both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border is a fertile wine country that produces remarkable vintages on everything from family farms to stunning, European-style estates. A 20-minute drive away is Buffalo, where a waterfront entertainment district has emerged from the ruins of the old Erie Canal. The city has embraced its blue-collar roots while preserving and redeveloping an amazing architectural legacy that includes masterpieces by renowned architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Yet, it all circles back to that wall of water. You have to experience the simple but visceral power of nature here for yourself.
7 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Experience the Power of the Falls: Niagara’s beauty leaves more than 10 million visitors awestruck each year. There’s no shortage of photo opportunities or ways to experience this wonder, including jetboats, cruises, and even a zipline.
2 Sample Buffalo Wings and Brews: Home to the original hot wings and more than 30 breweries and distilleries, this is a city that will satisfy your appetite.
3 Wander the Waterfront: Canalside is the vibrant, beating heart of Buffalo’s renaissance. Stroll the waterfront, visit Naval and Military Park, and explore the city’s history and heritage.
4 Revisit History at Old Fort Niagara: Costumed reenactors demonstrate how soldiers fought to protect this gateway to the New World.
5 Bike to World-Class Wineries: Drink in the spirit of Niagara by pedaling to its finest wineries on a guided tour.
6 Get Out on the Water: This region is perfect for kayaking, fishing, water biking, and boating.
7 See Stately Architecture: Buffalo is a living architectural museum showcasing the work of masters like Frank Lloyd Wright, H. H. Richardson, and the “father of the skyscraper” Louis Sullivan.
Planning Your Trip
Where to Go
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The beauty of this area extends beyond the three waterfalls known as Niagara Falls, but the heart of the Niagara experience is at the brink of the falls. Here, you’ll find the Table Rock Welcome Centre, home to several major attractions that allow you to see above, below, and behind the falls. Queen Victoria Park provides a lush open area adjacent to the falls, with gardens and excellent vistas of Niagara. High-rise hotels and a glittering casino are found in Fallsview, the highly developed zone that sits atop a bluff overlooking Niagara. Downstream, the Parkway North area includes the scenic whirlpool that reveals the power of Niagara’s white water.
Niagara Falls, New York
The U.S. side of Niagara offers a different perspective on the falls. Visitors spend most of their time in Niagara Falls State Park, which affords intimate opportunities to experience the falls. Here, you can enjoy the spectrum of Niagara’s many moods, from sublime to raging. Surrounding the park is downtown Niagara Falls, with many hotels within walking distance of the falls. Little Italy offers a nostalgic and authentic taste of the city’s Italian heritage. North of the falls are hiking trails, Whirlpool State Park, and the beautiful, historic town of Lewiston. Where the river pours into Lake Ontario is Youngstown, an area that has witnessed more than three centuries of conflict over the control of the Niagara River.
Buffalo is New York State’s second-largest city. At Canalside, the city’s waterfront district, you can kayak, sail, and explore the nation’s first superhighway—the Erie Canal. Buildings designed by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, H. H. Richardson, and Louis Sullivan are a stunning reminder of the city’s affluent past, while the neighborhoods of Elmwood Village and Allentown are centers of the arts and culture. Southeast of the city, East Aurora is a walkable Arts and Crafts village that exudes small-town charm. To the north and northeast of the city, North Tonawanda, Lockport, and Niagara County offer museums, wine-tasting, and hiking in the countryside.
Niagara-on-the-Lake and Wine Country
Perched on the southern shoreline of Lake Ontario is a beautiful Victorian village called Niagara-on-the-Lake. The area expanding outward from NOTL is a fertile peninsula, home to more than 30 wineries and vineyards. To the west, the Welland Canal draws recreational boaters and oceangoing freighters alike, and visitors can watch massive ships traverse the canal’s locks. The small towns that line the canal are charming and historic, from the garden city of St. Catharines to Fort Erie, home to historic Old Fort Erie.
When to Go
Most people visit Niagara Falls in the summer, mid-June through early September. The weather is pleasant, with high temperatures averaging 81°F (27°C). During this time, you may experience longer lines at attractions, especially on the Canadian side of the border and on holidays such as Memorial Day, July 1 (Canada Day), July 4, and Labor Day. Avoid traveling to the falls on summer holidays, due to the crowds and lengthy waits at border crossings. Hotel rates peak during the summer.
Nature puts on an amazing show during autumn, September through October. This region explodes with color as leaves make their annual transformation from green to yellow, red, brown, and orange. The weather moderates, with the high temperature averaging 60°F (15°C) in October. Mornings and evenings can be crisp, but the days are mostly bright and sunny. Many locals favor visiting the falls at this time because the attractions are still open, but there is seldom a line. If you are a leaf peeper, visit this region in mid-October and hike to your heart’s content while the fall colors are at their peak. Wineries have an extra romantic ambience at this time of year.
Winter is the slowest tourism season for Niagara, and with good reason. The months of December-February are snowy, with bitter wind chills and below-freezing temperatures. Seasonal attractions are closed and the tourist areas somewhat empty. However, the freezing weather also creates an austere landscape, and frozen mist from the falls envelops everything in a crystalline, icy coating. The best time for a brief visit is during the Festival of Lights, around the holidays in December. Walk around or drive your car along the Canadian side of the border and experience thousands of lights illuminating dozens of holiday displays.
In spring, March until the beginning of June, you’ll find off-season rates on accommodations. As in winter, some attractions have limited hours or are not operating. The Maid of the Mist and Hornblower Niagara Cruises cannot safely ply the waters of the lower Niagara until the river is free of ice, so they don’t typically start running until May. Spring arrives a little later here than in other parts of the Northeast due to the ice on Lake Erie. By May, the weather is more pleasant.
The Two-Day Best of Niagara Falls
For this itinerary, base yourself on the Canadian side of the border. The Fallsview Casino Resort and Marriott Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel & Spa both offer excellent views and are close to all the major attractions.
Purchase a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass at one of the Ontario Niagara Parks welcome centres. The clerk will ask if you’d like to reserve ticket times for Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, and the White Water Walk. Add two hours to the current time to come up with your reservation time for Journey Behind the Falls. Reserve Niagara’s Fury for one hour after that. Do not reserve a time for the White Water Walk.
Walk one block to Hornblower Niagara Cruises and hop on a boat for an up-close (and saturated) look at the falls. Afterward, walk south along the rim of the gorge, enjoying the excellent vista of the U.S. side of the border. In the front atrium of Table Rock Welcome Centre, you’ll find the entrance for Journey Behind the Falls. Explore the falls from a tunnel dug through the gorge, emerging in time to catch Niagara’s Fury, a 4-D movie on the 2nd floor of the Welcome Centre.
Relax and enjoy the view from the brink of Horseshoe Falls, located at the rear of the Welcome Centre. For lunch, treat yourself to a meal at Elements on the Falls for casual fine dining with an incomparable view.
Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring Queen Victoria Park, across from the Welcome Centre. Within walking distance are the Dufferin Islands, the Floral Showhouse, and many beautiful gardens.
Hop on a green-line WEGO bus (included in your pass) headed north along the gorge. Get off at the White Water Walk, where you can spend an hour strolling close to the river’s rapids. Get on another green-line bus and head farther north, stopping at the Whirlpool Aero Car. From the adjacent viewing area, you’ll have a chance to observe the dangerous and breathtaking Whirlpool.
After returning to your hotel for a rest, it’s time for dinner. Try the Grand Buffet at the Fallsview Casino Resort for exceptional value and a great view of the falls. After dinner, try your luck at the casino tables, or head to Queen Victoria Park for the nightly illumination of the falls. Enjoy the beauty of the lights projected on the falls and fireworks over the falls at 10pm each summer evening.
Start early! Explore the U.S. side of Niagara with a trip aboard the Niagara Jet Adventures in Youngstown. Afterward, head south along the gorge and stop by the Niagara Power Vista. Take the brief drive from the bottom of the Power Vista to the fishing platform and see anglers catching huge trout and salmon. Next, continue south along the gorge to Whirlpool State Park, a perfect 30-minute stop for a brief walk to an excellent view of the swirling waters of the Niagara River whirlpool.
Enter Niagara Falls State Park and head to Goat Island. Here you will find many opportunities to experience the majesty of Niagara up close. Start at the Cave of the Winds, which takes you beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Next, head to Luna Island, an off-the-beaten-path spot to appreciate Bridal Veil Falls from above. On the far shore of Goat Island, Terrapin Point is your next stop. This is the best spot in the park for a view of the brink of Horseshoe Falls. Finally, walk along the south shore to Three Sisters Islands, which jut into the upper rapids of the Niagara River.
If you’re looking for a quick lunch, try the Misty Dog Grill, or if you have time, take the 10-minute drive to Little Italy and go to the Como Restaurant for an authentic Italian lunch. Return to Canada via the Rainbow Bridge and relax before dinner.
On the Canadian side of the border, head north to St. Davids for dinner at the Ravine Winery Restaurant. After dinner, go to the Skylon Tower and watch the sunset from the observation deck, 52 stories above the falls. Take a walk down Clifton Hill for some kitschy entertainment. Conclude your evening with a gentle but magnificent ride on the Niagara SkyWheel.
Wine Country and Niagara-on-the-Lake
There are several ways to enjoy a tour of wine country: You can drive yourself, let someone else drive for you, or take a bike tour.
Many transportation companies like Grape and Wine Tours and Grape Escape Wine Tours offer bus or van tours of wineries, which usually include visits to 3-5 wineries and a meal. Escorted bicycle tours are another popular way to tour the area. As you cycle through the countryside, visiting wineries along the way, tour guides provide narration about the region. Niagara Getaway Wine Tours, Grape Escape Wine Tours, and Niagara Wine Tours International provide bike tours of the winery region as well as bike rentals.
From your hotel in Niagara Falls, make the 20-minute drive to Fort George and be transported back to the War of 1812 with costumed docents, period music, and musket demonstrations. Plan to spend 2-4 hours here. Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake for an early lunch of authentic British pub grub at the (allegedly) haunted Olde Angel Inn.
After lunch, head south out of town to Peller Estates, a stunning French château that is large but homey. Couches surround a fireplace, making for a cozy wine-tasting experience. Continuing south along the gorge, stop at Inniskillin Winery, which boasts some of the region’s best ice wines. Return north to visit Stratus Vineyards and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery. Each provides an excellent introduction to the diverse wines produced in the Niagara region, including ice wine, chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, and gewürztraminer.
Make your way back to Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner at Zees Grill. Sit out on the patio if the weather is nice. Zees’ wine menu features selections from Inniskillin, Peller Estates, and Jackson-Triggs. Test out your new skills in wine pairings by choosing one of these local wines to complement your meal.
After dinner, walk along Queen Street to browse some of the shops. If you love sweets, stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, where chocolate lovers will be overwhelmed by the number of tempting goodies.
Buffalo: History, Heritage, and Architecture
Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City, called Buffalo the “best-designed city in America.” When touring the streets of Buffalo, it is easy to see why.
Start your day with a tour of the Darwin Martin House Complex, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. A brief drive gets you to the Museum District and Delaware Park for a glimpse into Buffalo’s golden era, after the Erie Canal flooded the city with prosperity. The Buffalo History Museum and the Richardson Olmsted Campus are within walking distance of each other and well worth a visit.
Head downtown for lunch at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. Sample some of the 16 craft beers they have on tap.
After lunch, walk two blocks north on Pearl Street to find Louis Sullivan’s prototype skyscraper, the Guaranty Building. Directly across the street is St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, built by Richard Upjohn. The architect considered St. Paul’s his best work.
Walk or drive to the waterfront Canalside complex. Start at the Commercial Slip, the unearthed and restored terminus of the Erie Canal. Here, you can explore the actual ruins of the canal, including the towpath and foundations of buildings that lined the waterway. Interpretive signs allow you to explore at your own pace. Hop aboard the Buffalo Double Decker Bus for an entertaining historical tour of the waterfront, including the grain elevators, and hear some hidden stories of Buffalo.
The bus drops you off at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, which features three decommissioned naval vessels, including a WWII submarine, a destroyer, and a guided missile cruiser. Artifacts and displays honor all branches of the military, but the real stars are the retired veterans who act as docents.
Dinner is just five minutes away at the Hotel Lafayette, a beautifully restored 1904 luxury hotel. Enjoy dining at Lafayette Brewing Company, just off the main lobby. Before or after dinner, stroll through the ground floor of the hotel for a reminder of Buffalo’s Gilded Age.
Niagara Falls calls itself the Honeymoon Capital of the World. This itinerary will help you appreciate the romantic mystique of the falls during a quick weekend getaway.
Base yourself on the Canadian side of the falls. Book a stay at the Sheraton on the Falls and make reservations at their Christienne Fallsview Spa, making certain to use the infinity hydrotherapy tub. It’s worth the splurge to stay in one of the Sheraton’s corner suites, which have a balcony, fireplace, and soaking tub.
Check into your hotel and use the afternoon to acquaint yourself with the falls area. Take a boat ride to the base of the falls with Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and then go for a different perspective with Journey Behind the Falls. Head 3 miles (5 km) downstream from the falls for a peek at the Whirlpool, Niagara’s most dangerous stretch of water.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride around town as dusk approaches. You can find the carriages on Niagara Parkway, close to Murray Hill. Enjoy an intimate dinner at one of Niagara’s most exclusive restaurants, AG. Be sure to order an ice wine martini as an aperitif. Make your reservation for 7:30pm to give yourself enough time to enjoy the nightly illumination of the falls from the rim of the gorge.
After dinner, head to the Skylon Tower. Grab a coffee or other warm beverage at the coffee shop in the base of the tower to keep you warm once you’re out on the Observation Deck. This is the perfect spot to watch the fireworks display. Your perch 520 feet (160 m) above the ground gives you the opportunity to look down on the pyrotechnics.
If you still have some energy left, go to Clifton Hill for a ride on the Niagara SkyWheel, some arcade games, or a kitschy trip through one of the numerous haunted houses.
- On Sale
- Dec 15, 2020
- Page Count
- 200 pages
- Moon Travel