The reason you made the trip Of course, an up-close and personal view of the Falls is the main reason for making this trip. And there are plenty of ways to tour those Thundering Waters, including a Journey Behind The Falls (c$12.75) that brings you to the base of the Horseshoe Falls, the Maid of the Mist boat ride (c$14.50/$13.50), and a Niagara Helicopters tour from above. Beyond the Falls, the Niagara Spanish Aero Car suspends you high above the Whirlpool Rapids in a cable car while the Great Gorge Adventure takes you on a walking tour along the narrowest point of the Niagara River.
Speaking of walking tours, before and after the Falls, the Niagara River is lined with a series of parks and walking trails ranging from Fort Erie to the south all the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake to the north. Taking the Niagara River Recreation Trail , on foot or on bike, you can make your way up what has been called the prettiest Sunday drive in the world—except no cars allowed!
Start with a visit to Dufferin Islands Park , with interlaced walking paths and bridges, and the Niagara Parks Greenhouse, featuring a gift shop and floral displays. Then move on the Table Rock area and Queen Victoria Park with its celebrated rock and rose gardens.
Definitely for the birds From there, it's around the Whirlpool Rapids and the edge of the Whirlpool Golf Course to the Niagara Glen Nature Areas . Here, you'll find the Feather in the Glen Country Store , a bird lover's toy shop, and guided nature walks in season.
A little further up and you're into what some consider the most spectacular areas of the Niagara Parks zone: the Butterfly Conservatory (c$11.50) with its ever-changing display of fluttering beauty, and the 100-acre Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens (free??) , featuring herb, floral, and rock gardens and even a School of Horticulture whose students tend the gardens.
On the other side of Ontario Hydro's generating stations, you'll find Queenston Heights Park , home of Brock's Monument , a tribute to the British general who lost his life trying to re-capture Queenston during the War of 1812, and the Floral Clock , featuring a design with upwards of 16,000 carpet bedding plants. Queenston also marks the starting point for the Steve Bauer Bike Tours , with trips down scenic back roads past wineries, orchards, and Victorian homes.
Get that fortified feeling Several historic forts are located in the Niagara Falls region, including Historic Fort Erie at the south end and Historic Fort George at the north. Fort Erie, an important military post during the War of 1812, features a guided tour including battle re-enactments. Fort George offers a tour with guides dressed in period clothing and also includes re-creations of key battles during the war. A special treat are Ghost Tours of Fort George , a candlelit journey to the other side during which guides tell of real life experiences with the spirits of people dating back to 1812. It's all in fun, of course, but don't be surprised if you find yourself sleeping with the light on that night!
Historically-minded tourists who've had their appetites whetted by the forts can complete their education with a tour of the numerous historical museums in the area, including the Niagara Historical Society and Museum, Willoughby Historical Museum , The Welland Historical Museum, and Fort Erie Historical Museum.
The Niagara Falls Heritage Week, held in February, celebrates 200 years and more of local history with exhibits and other festivities. Participants include Lundy's Lane Historical Museum , Laura Secord Homestead , and Mackenzie Heritage Printery Museum.
Museums with an edge If you find museum exhibits a touch boring, maybe you should try a whirlwind tour of Clifton Hill's special brand of bizarre museum madness. The Guinness World Of Records Museum stands as a 21st century version of a freak show with exhibits featuring the world's tallest man, shortest woman, longest fingernails, etc. Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum features wacky exhibits and interactive displays of work inspired by Robert Ripley.
Would you like to rub elbows with the stars? Movieland Museum of Stars includes the wax form of Cher, Jim Carrey and several other celebrity icons. Louis Tussaud's Waxworks lets you touch your favourite celebrity or hero—or at least their waxed identical twins. Railroad history fans can get a closer look at a historic locomotive at the Fort Erie Railroad Museum while sports buff get to see the entire history of lacrosse at the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum.
No sour grapes here Ontario produces 80% of wine in Canada with about 15 of those wineries and vineyards located in the countryside between Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara Wine Tours International takes visitors via bicycle or van, on guided or solo tours of various areas in the wine region. Many wineries offer tours of their vineyards and wine tastings, including Inniskillin Wines, Chateau des Charmes and Reif Estate Winery.
Hillebrand Estates Winery teaches the art of wine tasting with lessons on technique, in addition to a tour of the property. The pièce de resistance is the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, held each fall. Celebrate the harvest of the grape with a 10-day gala, including live concerts and fine cuisine. For the truly brave, come back in the dead of winter to take part in the numerous ice-wine tours and tastings!
If your feet are getting sore and the temperature is rising, inside and out, take advantage of one of Niagara Falls' many tour companies for an air-conditioned ride in a comfortable bus. Companies such as Niagara Falls Scenic Tours and Double Deck Tours Ltd will whisk you away to the major attractions both in the city and surrounding areas, accompanied by your own narrator or interpreter.
Whichever tour you choose, you can be sure there'll be plenty to see and admire, and plenty of memories to bring back home.