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The top 10 attractions in Niagara

Niagara Falls Hornblower cruise

The top 10 attractions in Niagara

Mighty Niagara FallsExternal Link Title is a natural wonder, no doubt about it. The towering cascade straddling the U.S.-Canada border between New York and Ontario is North America's most powerful waterfall -- and an easy day trip from Toronto. You'll want to take it in up-close, whether from a helicopter, trailside, or jet boating by the blasting spray of mist at the base of the falls.


After you get to know this landmark, don't miss the many things to do and see nearbyExternal Link Title: Theatre, wine tasting, food tours, historical sites, cocktails with a view, and fine dining. Here are the top 10.

Hornblower’s Voyage to the Falls

Wearing ponchos at Niagara Falls
If you visit Niagara Falls, prepare to get wet!

Visitors have been touring the falls by boat since 1846 for a reason: It’s absolutely thrilling. And Hornblower Niagara Cruises is the pro. Hornblower’s catamaran takes you right up to the base of the falls where you can feel the thundering of one-fifth of the world’s fresh water pounding from 13 storeys above down onto the Niagara River. The 20-minute Voyage to the Falls gets you a look at the whole spectrum: Horseshoe, Bridal Veil, and American Falls, plus the Great Gorge. There’s a nighttime version that’s especially impressive where the falls are illuminated in a rainbow of colors.

Wine tasting and touring

Pillitteri Estates Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Pillitteri Estates Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake

The fertile Niagara Peninsula is one of Canada's top three wine-growing regions, renowned as the world leader in Icewine. Cycle the green, gently rolling countryside on your own or join a guided tasting tourExternal Link Title stopping in at some of the nearly 100 wineriesExternal Link Title, meeting the vintners, and tasting their best.

Journey Behind the Falls tour

Journey Behind the Falls
Niagara Parks Commission's Journey Behind the Falls

Niagara Parks CommissionExternal Link Title hosts the self-guided Journey Behind the FallsExternal Link Title, a tour that takes you to the other side of Canada's Horseshoe Falls. Starting at the Table Rock Centre, you can view the falls from the upper and lower observation decks, then take an elevator 47 metres down to two bedrock portals leading to open caves right behind the roaring cascades. You'll need that plastic rain poncho!

Prince Edward County foodie trail

Huff Estates Inn and Winery
Huff Estates Inn and Winery and From the Farm Cooking School - credit: Huff Estates Inn and Winery

Harvest raspberries and peaches, visit produce and lavender farms, and eat, eat, eat in Prince Edward County. This locavore paradise on Lake Ontario's shore is a short jaunt from the falls, but it'll be hard to keep your visit to just a day trip. There are 40 wineries, plus breweries and cideries, cheese makers, artisan producers, charming farmer's markets, and outstanding restaurantsExternal Link Title, most farm-to-table-focused. Follow the Taste TrailExternal Link Title -- or Arts TrailExternal Link Title -- for top stops.

Helicopter tour

Niagara Helicopters
Take a Niagara Helicopters' View to a Thrill ride - credit: Niagara Helicopters

You can really get a sense of the falls' grandeur from the air. That's what a Niagara Helicopters'External Link Title 12-minute classic flightseeing adventureExternal Link Title is about. The chopper hovers right above the falls and its elusive rainbows, the Niagara River, and Rainbow Bridge, all with views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Erie. You'll learn about the area and history via commentary on headsets. Or, combine the best of both in a falls-plus-wineries tourExternal Link Title.

Dinner with a legendary view

Martinis at Niagara Falls
Add martinis to your dinner with a view of Niagara Falls.

Another bird's eye option is the Skylon TowerExternal Link Title, an indoor-outdoor viewing area and platform 236 metres up with vistas of the American and Horseshoe Falls, plus a 3D/4D movie theater External Link Titlescreening "Legends of Niagara Falls." Even the glassed-in elevator ride up is fun. For a special occasion, book a table at one of two dining roomsExternal Link Title, The Summit Suite BuffetExternal Link Title or table service Revolving Dining RoomExternal Link Title. The later of which makes a 360-degree rotation every hour for a date with a fabled view.

See a play

Shaw Festival Theatre
Shaw Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake - credit: Cosmo Condina Photography

Many fans go to Niagara solely for the Shaw FestivalExternal Link Title, an internationally acclaimed series of productions -- from avant-garde to popular crowd-pleasers -- each year from April to November. You can get tickets to just one or several theater performances by famed playwright George Bernard ShawExternal Link Title and his late 1800s-era contemporaries. Resident and visiting leading directors External Link Titlefrom around the world make this a must-do for any aficionados of the stage.

Tour Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake orchard
Pretty Niagara-on-the-Lake is surrounded by fruit orchards.

Niagara-on-the-LakeExternal Link Title is a leafy fruit and wine-growing area worth exploring by car or bike, or from your base at a serene vineyard-surrounded inn. The town itself is celebrated as a romantic getaway destination due to it being a 19thExternal Link Title century villageExternal Link Title of handsome heritage buildings and Victorians, dating back to 1781. Take a horse-drawn carriage rideExternal Link Title, stroll, shop, and browse some of the charming small-town restaurants serving big city-worthy fare.

Learn about the history

Fort George National Historic Site
Niagara-on-the-Lake's Fort George National Historic Site

Military post Fort George National Historic SiteExternal Link Title in Niagara-on-the-LakeExternal Link Title played prominently as a battle site in Canada's War of 1812. The British fought here defending Upper Canada against American attacks, and lost, and you can watch reenactments of red-coated soldiers firing muskets to Fife and Drums Corps music, plus sample 19th century vittles cooked over an open fire.

Get wet

Whirlpool Jet Boats tour
Whirlpool Jet Boats tour

If you want to get into the falls, literally, you'll love the one-hour, high-speed up-river ride with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. This invigorating approach takes you through the Niagara Gorge to Devil's Hole class 5 whitewater rapidsExternal Link Title on a 45-minute out-and-back. You also get to peek over the edge of the giant Whirlpool. Hop on on the U.S. or Canadian sideExternal Link Title to start, and either take the dry JET DOMEExternal Link Title version or bring a change of clothes and prepare to get soaked.

Plan your itinerary at the Visit Niagara Canada website.