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Your guide to Niagara Falls
Welcome to Niagara Falls
Count them among North America’s top wonders: Niagara Falls’ trio of thundering cascades show off the sheer force of nature with dramatic flourish and, of course, plenty of rainbows. Unsurprisingly, it’s this misty spectacle that draws the vast majority of sightseers to this busy little city — also known as Niagara Falls — on the western banks of the Niagara River. Here you’ll find three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, the largest and most famous, on the Canadian side of the border, and the smaller but equally spectacular American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the United States side.
Put on a waterproof poncho for a close-up cruise, climb through a tunnel behind the falls, or see them tumble as you gaze from the deck of the observation tower. Beyond the falls, the city’s oddball museums and kitschy attractions bring out crowds, especially in the Clifton Hill area. But it only takes veering off into one of the historic neighborhoods or heading out for a scenic drive into Niagara Gorge to get a truer sense of the region’s local character.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Niagara Falls?
Summer is Niagara Falls’ peak season, with July and August bringing the warmest, sunniest weather as well as the most visitors to river cruises and observation sites. All the major attractions typically remain open into early fall, making September and October ideal times to explore with cooler temperatures and a more laid-back vibe at the region’s hot spots. Fall has two big perks: You’ll see bright colors arrive in the forests. It’s also harvest season at the Niagara Peninsula’s wineries — perfect for a tasting tour.
Many destinations and local businesses close or operate limited hours in winter, when the area often gets icy with below-freezing temperatures. Even so, the holidays in December and January show an equally romantic side to the falls, when the white mist of the rapids seems to fade into the surrounding snowy landscapes.
What are the top things to do in Niagara Falls?
Take a spin along a designated scenic highway that traces the banks of the Niagara River. Along this 34-mile (55-kilometer) route, day-trippers get views of the churning rapids, Horseshoe Falls, and popular attractions such as a butterfly conservatory and botanical gardens. The road slices through the city’s central tourist district, passing manicured parks filled with flowers in the spring and summer, with plenty of grassy spots to pause for a waterside picnic.
Niagara Peninsula wineries
Wine may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ontario, but the Niagara Peninsula claims the largest and most diverse grape-growing region in Canada. Around 100 wineries dot the landscape, where vintners specialize in cool-climate varietals including Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. Map out a tasting tour to sip and swirl through this relatively young vino destination, where small-lot and boutique producers increasingly earn international recognition.
Set out on a day trip to explore this network of hiking trails carved into the rocky walls of Niagara Gorge. The popular River Trail gives you views of the fierce rapids and the swirling waters of the Niagara Whirlpool. Make sure you follow the signs warning you not to venture off the trails, as the rushing waters pose grave danger to even the strongest swimmers. This natural reserve also ranks as a top spot in the region for bouldering.