There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls. Of course, there’s the world-famous falls (which are actually three separate waterfalls, by the way). But there are also museums, family-friendly parks, historical sites, fine dining establishments and more. There’s something for every kind of traveler. Whether your are trekking up with the family in tow or out on a second honeymoon, ready to see the Falls and the lovely wine country just outside the city, it is a place that has something for everyone.
We’ve split this list of things to do in Niagara Falls between the American side and the Canadian side. Both have their charms – did you know each side has a monument to Nikola Tesla, who helped build the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls? A trip can easily include both countries: It’s more than enough for the estimated 30 million people who visit Niagara Falls every year.
Things to Do in Niagara Falls, New York
The oldest state park in America has 400 acres of natural beauty and attractions. Get close to the base of the American falls on the Cave of the Winds Tour, dine with panoramic views at the Top of the Falls restaurant, walk over the footbridge to the trails on Goat Island, and enjoy the fireworks show, which runs three times a week from May through October.
The Niagara region grows some of the best grapes in all of New York. Tour the 22 vineyards and wineries along the trail for a savory taste of the region. If you’re not a wine fan, the trail also features cider, beer and mead.
Journey to the heart of Niagara Falls and feel the spray of the mist on this legendary boat tour, an attraction that belongs on any list of things to do in Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mist has been around since 1846, making it an iconic part of the falls experience.
Play the slots and deal in some table games at this AAA Four Diamond Rated hotel. You can also relax at the spa and salon or shop for designer accessories and handcrafted Seneca goods.
Meet a wide variety of fish and sea creatures at this family-friendly aquarium. Be sure to watch the shark feeding and a sea lion show, or interact with a rescue seal.
This historic burial ground is the final resting place of many Niagara Falls notables, including Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and survive, and Capt. Joel Robinson, who navigated the Maid of the Mist through dangerous rapids.
First opened in 1921 as a luxury movie house, you can catch a show at this current-day Niagara concert venue. Musicians aren’t the only visitors though, as ghosts supposedly haunt this theatre. Track them down in a ghost hunt.
This celebrated cooking school isn’t just for students. Here you can dine on meals from future chefs and restaurateurs at three on-campus restaurants and a wine store. Niagara Culinary Institute also offers public and private classes for all ages.
Learn about the Lewiston power plant that produces energy using the power of the Niagara River. The visitors’ center recently reopened after an $8.2 million addition, adding several kid-friendly interactive exhibits on engineering and hydroelectric power.
Discover the natural history of Niagara Falls with interactive exhibits and a towering rock climbing wall complete with fossils and geological formations. The Discovery Center is also an excellent starting point for the many hiking trails alongside the Niagara Gorge, with routes threading through Whirlpool State Park, scenic Devil’s Hole State Park, Artpark State Park and many more beautiful places.
Things to do in Niagara Falls, Canada
Travel straight into the heart of Horseshoe Falls with an elevator trip 150 feet down through bedrock. Then get soaked standing under the falls on the observation decks, or hang back at the portals behind the waterfall. Open year-round.
Journey above the Niagara Gorge on this open-air cable car ride. The cable cars, designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo, have been in operation since 1916. The trip passes over the spectacular sights of the whirlpool and the bend in the Niagara River. The cars are held up by six sturdy cables hoisted between two points on the Canadian shore.
More than 2,000 beautiful butterflies live in this gorgeous indoor space on the grounds of the Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens. Immerse yourself in a tropical paradise while walking through more than 500 feet of pathways. Watch butterflies come out of their cocoons and fly. Open year-round.
Take this tower on a journey 775 feet in the air for the highest and most stunning views of Niagara Falls at the observation deck. Even Toronto and Buffalo are visible in the distance. When you get hungry, enjoy a one-of-a-kind meal at the award-winning Revolving Dining Room for a 360-degree view of the Falls, or stop by the Summit Suite Buffet for a casual meal with spectacular sights. Not to mention the shopping, 3-D movie theater or glass blowing studio. Open year-round.
From April to early November, performers show off the plays of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries – as well as more modern productions and musicals. With 10 productions at four venues, there’s always something to see at this epic theater festival.
When it’s too cold or rainy to go out but you and your kids want to burn off energy and get wet, come to this 3-acre indoor waterpark. It’s packed with 16 waterslides, a full-size wave pool, a splash park and so much more.
You can journey out on a boat right to the base of the falls, or take an enchanting evening cruise to see the lights and fireworks with this new cruise company. Either way, get ready to get wet. Sturdy raincoats are recommended.
Take a seat at this log cabin restaurant and laugh along at this musical dinner show tribute to Canadian culture and traditions. Dine on a five-course meal served by singing Mounties, lumberjacks, hockey players and more.
Explore the world of exotic birds and tropical reptiles at this free-flying indoor aviary. More than 80 species live in this former corset factory. Don’t miss the lorikeet feeding or the chance to hold friendly animals at the Explorer’s Base Camp. Open year-round.
What’s more romantic than a horse-drawn carriage ride through a gorgeous garden? This guided tour winds through Queen Victoria Park, the crown jewel of the Canadian Niagara Parks. Available year-round, weather depending. Carriage rides at the nearby Botanical Gardens are also available.
This building houses a unique collection of Canadian art in what used to be the country home of London lawyer Samuel E. Weir. Notable parts of the museum’s permanent collection include sculptures by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, and a significant number of paintings by English artist Augustus John. And of course, there are many works inspired by the beauty of the nearby Niagara Falls.
The fun never ends on this street full of attractions, games and rides for the whole family. Play mini-golf in the shadow of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure Golf, meet the stars at the Movieland Wax Museum, see the sights from above on the Niagara Sky Wheel and so much more.
See more than 900 strange and unusual exhibits at this museum, from shrunken heads to rare skeletons to two-headed animals and other oddities. The museum also has a moving 4-D theater for even more thrills. Open every day.
More things to do in Niagara Falls
Rainbow Bridge – This arch bridge connects the United States and Canada over the Niagara River. Take in the scenic views as you walk from country to country. It’s an official border crossing, so bring your passport. Pedestrians pay 50 cents to cross, cars pay $3.50.
Helicopter tours – Soar far above the falls on a helicopter tour with priceless views. Tours are offered by various companies on both the American and Canadian sides, including Niagara Helicopters, Rainbow Air and National Helicopters. Some companies even offer wedding packages for daredevil couples.
What are your favorite things to do in Niagara Falls? Did we miss any must-see attractions? Let us know in the comments, and let AAA help you with your next Niagara Falls getaway at AAA.com/Travel.