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The NYC Traveler in Canada: Niagara Falls in Winter

Updated: Mar 12

Niagara, the Falls and Me (in winter): Part 2

1. Be ready for the cold. As one might expect, January in Niagara Falls in winter (either side) is (very) cold and there seems to be precipitation every day. But the view was breathtaking and worth the trip. I saw cars with Canadian license plates stopping to get out and take pictures like they were tourists. Apparently, I wasn't the only one impressed.

Niagara Falls
Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

2. Be ready to cross the border. Start from New York, if you are coming from the USA and take the Rainbow Bridge. There will be a cash toll and you will show official ID. Everyone will need a passport (or passport card) or enhanced driver's license. You will also need to use the ArriveCan app. Have that completed before you reach the border and download what you may need to show the agent.

Once across the border, just follow the signs towards the Falls. If you walked, that's pretty easy. However, if you drove, there will be plenty of parking garages. Toward the end of the Horseshoe Falls, there is a parking lot and you can stroll along the sidewalk of the Falls. At the opposite end, near Clifton Hill, there are parking lots and garages near the casinos and other attractions. Savvy Travel Tip for Your Trip: Be careful about parking on the street!!!

Niagara Falls
Ontario, Canada

3. Be prepared for limited attractions. In winter, the boat tours of the waterfalls are closed. In fact, there are signs everywhere near the Falls themselves that even the sidewalks are not maintained during winter and you are on your own. The water spray carried by the wind and consistent rain and snow make walking treacherous, so dress accordingly.

Near Queen Victoria Park is the Skylon Tower, an observation tower to see Niagara Falls in winter from on high. Along with the ferris wheel on Clifton Hill, and a few other buildings, this makes up the skyline of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Niagara falls
Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

4. Why people think this is the nice side: Clifton Hill is full of inexpensive family places to eat, lodgings that escalate in price during warmer weather and every wax museum known to man. There are arcades, souvenir shops, the Guinness Book of World Records and all sorts of interesting variations on theme parks such as MGM Studios Plaza and an upside down house museum (seriously). After seeing the Falls and the Whirlpool, you may need something else to do. All of these attractions take money and if you plan to stay a week (which I would not recommend), you need activities and a good amount of cash. The so-called "nice" area is very small and it is clear that all tourist attractions there exist simply because of the Falls. The main attraction though, will be the Niagara Falls in winter, which is an attraction in itself.

Niagara Falls
Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

For those who brave the winter elements to see Niagara Falls in winter, but you still want to enjoy a pool, you can enjoy the indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge, a drive straight up Victoria Avenue (Clifton intersects with Victoria). Other than that, look for hotels with indoor pools. Don't forget the fireworks schedule and even if it is winter, go see the Falls lit up at night.

Niagara Falls
Horseshoe Falls on a winter night, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

5. What do you do in nicer weather? In tourist season, the Maid of the Mist boat takes you through the gorge and right up to Horseshoe is worth the money. You can take it from the USA or Canada side. Other Falls attractions can be found on the Niagara Parks website, such as Journey Behind the Falls (open in winter), Niagara's Fury (closed for part of January) and, something new to compete with the Maid of the Mist, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, where you sail aboard a catamaran.

Another interesting nature-based attraction is the Whirlpool Aero Car, also part of the Niagara Parks attractions. Located along River Road/Niagara Parkway, not too far off Victoria Avenue, it's about a 10 minute drive from the Falls. The Aero Car will take you over the Whirlpool during tourist season. If you are driving, check in advance about parking permit tickets that are available there or part of a package sold by Niagara Parks.

Niagara Falls
Whirlpool Aero Car, Ontario, Canada

So there you have it, what to do in Niagara Falls in winter! Enjoy.

Happy Travels!

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All photos and videos created and copyrighted by Marcia Crayton, unless otherwise noted.


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