38 Uniquely Fun Things to Do in Niagara Falls (NY & Canada Attractions)

People riding ziplines over Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders, attracting millions of visitors every year. Spanning the border between the United States and Canada, this breathtaking waterfall and its natural area offer a wealth of activities and attractions on both sides. From scenic boat tours to thrilling helicopter rides, there’s something for everyone in this unforgettable destination. In this list of the top things to do in Niagara Falls, we’ve indicated the town/country in the bullet points.

For a list divided by both sides, read our article: Choosing Between American vs. Canadian Side of Niagara Falls.

Understanding the Niagara Falls Region

When we talk about Niagara Falls, it’s important to understand that it sits between two countries and flows through different towns. New York’s side features two major waterfalls: the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The largest and most impressive waterfall, the Horseshoe Falls (named after its shape), is shared by the U.S. and Canada. So when we use the name Niagara Falls it can be referencing three different things: the actual falls, the city of Niagara Falls in New York, the city of Niagara Falls in Canada, or the general region.

Both sides of the falls have lovely state parks that allow you to walk right up to the edge of the falls and basque in its glory, each with its own unique appeal. It begs the biggest question, which is better: the Canadian vs. American side of Niagara Falls? We think each side has a plethora of fun outdoor activities, guided experiences, and tours to make your visit special all along the lovely wonder that connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. So pack your passport to see both sides!

Fun fact: Niagara Falls used to be located at Lake Ontario, 12,000 years ago. It actually moves back up the river about 1 foot per year. That’s why we have a long gorge along the Niagara River between the falls themselves and Lake Ontario.

37 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Niagara Falls

1. Old Fort Niagara

Hop on one of the free shuttle buses and head out to Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown for one of the amazing day trips from Niagara Falls. This 18th-century French fort sits right on the junction of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. I’ve spent a great deal of time here over the summer as part of their living history programs. It’s definitely worth an add to your Niagara Falls itinerary if you’re an avid history buff. Learn about New York’s frontier during the 18th century and see how they lived at a Fort that operated from the late 17th century through the 1960s.

2. Helicopter Ride

To add another aerial view option to the list, there’s always a helicopter ride. The options are endless in this case and available on either side of the falls. Passengers each get a headset so the pilot can explain exactly what they’re seeing and why it’s so special. Unlike in an airplane, you can get an up close and personal view like never before. 

3. Niagara Gorge & Queen Victoria Park

Get amazing views of the American and Horseshoe Falls from a lovely green space in Canada at Queen Victoria Park. This beautifully maintained park sits along the falls as part of 56 kilometers of parklands that sit along the Niagara Gorge on the Canadian side. Explore the gorge in one of the many other parks and see the famous floral clock or visit the amazing butterfly conservatory and learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly while they land on your shoulder. For some extra excitement, take the White Water Walk to get up close and personal with the class 6 rapids along the gorge. 

Bonus: The Niagara Glen Nature Centre overlooks the Niagara Gorge and the whirlpool. With programs on the Carolinian Life Zone of Canada and the Ethical Trading system where visitors can trade rocks, shells, and fossils found during their hikes for points. They offer guided hiking where experts will teach you about what you find on the trail and how it was made. If you’re a rock climber, the center sells climbing permits for the carved rock formations in the area. 

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Cost: $17.50 (CAN)
  • Tour: White Water Walk Buy Tickets Here

4. Scenic Airplane Tour

Get a glimpse of one of the wonders of the world from above. Why not see it all and have someone personally tell you exactly what you’re looking at? Most tours last around 30 minutes and give you a bird’s eye view of all the best sights in the Niagara Falls area. Some even offer chocolate and champagne, what more could you ask for?

5. Namaste Niagara: Yoga Under the Waterfall

Relax and stretch in the Oaks Garden Theatre for some yoga with a breathtaking view. The storied, outdoor amphitheater frames views of the falls perfectly while you take care of yourself and your mindfulness. Namaste Niagara focuses on health and wellness on two fronts, mindfulness, and cuisine. After your meditative yoga session at the falls, you make a short trip down the Parkway to a brunch specially prepared with locally sourced foods over the Horseshoe Falls. 

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Cost: $60 per person
  • Attraction: Buy Tickets Here

6. Niagara Falls History Museum

For a taste of the history of the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, take a tour of the Niagara Falls History Museum with galleries dedicated to the War of 1812, engaging stories, hands-on exhibits that explore even the geological history of the area. 

7. Winery Tour & Tasting

There’s no lack of wineries available for your tasting pleasure on either side of the Falls. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to over 50 wineries. Much like the land on the opposite side of the Lake, the temperatures and climate are far more moderate and support grape growing really well. These wineries are some of the oldest vineyards in Canada. 

  • Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
  • Cost: $105
  • Tour: Book Here

The Niagara Wine Trail in New York has 11 participating wineries and is growing. Stretching over 60 miles through three counties, the Niagara Wine Trail enjoys a similar growing season to their cousins across the lake and some incredible soils for your typical European vinifera wines like Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

  • Location: Niagara County, New York
  • Cost: $109
  • Tour: Book Here

8. Illumination & Fireworks

If you want a truly breathtaking view then you need to be near the falls in the evening. At dusk, using lights placed strategically near the falls and along the gorge, the falls are lit in a multicolored masterpiece. Occasionally the lightshow will display specific colors for special events or in support of a charity. Whether you walk to the falls yourself for one of the free things to do in Niagara Falls or finish off a day of touring with the lightshow, it’s something you don’t want to miss.

9. Goats, Yoga & Wine

Who doesn’t love goats with their adorable faces and the way they bounce around? Ok, I know some people don’t like goats, but if you do, why not try out some Goat Yoga? Now, combine yoga, goats, and some wine tasting and that sounds like an epic afternoon. Experience a 30-minute session of gentle yoga while the goats explore around you, snuggle, and even take a nap at your side. Cuddle some more after your yoga session and then head over for your wine tasting. Sounds like an amazing afternoon.

  • Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
  • Cost: $46 per person
  • Attraction: Book here

10. Skylon Tower Observation Deck

If you’re exploring Canada for some Niagara Falls sightseeing and can only visit one place outside of the park, then that needs to be the Skylon Tower Observation Deck. Get spectacular views of the falls and the city on the indoor and outdoor observation decks at 775 feet up in the air! Getting to the top of the tower is all part of the attraction with their glass, exterior elevators. From this vantage point, you can see almost 80 miles in every direction, including the Buffalo skyline, might be a great place to consider ending your day and watching the illumination and fireworks.

11. Whirlpool Aero Car

With all the attractions available for viewing the falls, river, and gorge from up high, you’d think it’s a hint that you need to view this area from above. The funny thing is, the Whirlpool Aero Car ride is the only way to cross the international border without a passport. Due to the way the river turns under the cables that support the cars, you will actually cross the border 4 times. Cross the gorge and witness the incredible Class 6 rapids on the river and the giant whirlpool on these historic cable cars. 

11. Niagara Scenic Trolley

There’s a lot of history steeped in the American side of the falls too. Take an iconic trolley tour that tells you about the park and all that’s happened there over the years, including how the falls came to be. They’ll even give you a quick overview of some of the best attractions. Whether you want something warm over the winter or air-conditioned over the summer, these trolleys are just the thing, and environmentally friendly too! Combine your experience with a ride on the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds. 

12. Hike to a Waterfall Hidden Gem

Courtesy of Airbnb Experiences

More waterfalls, waterway hiking, and wine all in one trip. It sounds refreshingly wonderful, right? Walk along a river through the forest to one of the most majestic and little-known waterfalls and then finish at Stone Ridge Winery of Niagara. The guides keep the tour easygoing with laughter and light conversation. There’s plenty to see along the trail and then relax with a flight at the end. 

13. Bella Vista Ristorante

With amazing views, this NY restaurant offers a riverfront patio for those coming by boat or walking in. On colder nights, cozy up by the fire and enjoy Italian dishes that will make you feel right at home. Their burgers, chopped salad, and porterhouse steak are all popular. Stop by Bella Vista Ristorante for a meal to remember after a day out on the town. Reservations can be made via DoorDash.

14. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

Another summer adventure for those who love a little adrenaline is the Whirlpool Jet Boat. With two options whether you want to get soaked or stay dry, you can whip along the Class 6 rapids to the giant whirlpool with an excellent narration about what you’re seeing while they soak you along the white water rapids. You can get a jet boat tour from either side of the river.

15. Butterfly Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

I can’t even tell you how many times I went to the Butterfly Conservatory as a child, it’s such a wonderful experience. The look on my brother’s face when a butterfly chose to land on the brim of his baseball cap continues to be priceless to this day. This conservatory is one of the largest butterfly conservatories in North America and houses over 2,000 butterflies. If you’re lucky you can even watch some butterflies hatch. Stroll through the beautiful indoor gardens with the butterflies and then go enjoy the nearby botanical gardens with 99 acres of award-winning landscapes.

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Canada
  • Cost: Butterfly Conservatory – $17.50 for adults Botanical Gardens – Free
  • Attraction: Buy Your Tickets Here

16. Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

This is a boat ride that you don’t want to miss, even if, like me, you’re not fond of boats. These boat rides have been operating since 1846 (not the same boats, just the tour) taking thousands of visitors up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls. Originally designed as a passage across the river for people, mail, stagecoaches, and horses, it’s now a tour for everyone to enjoy on either side of the river. They even give you a complimentary plastic poncho because you’re going to get wet. Check their website for more info. 

17. Devil’s Hole Rapids

Grant Taylor

Devil’s Hole State Park is a great picnic spot with overlooks to view the Devil’s Hole Rapids along with some hiking trails that will take you right down into the gorge. It’s called Devil’s Hole because of the dangerous terrain that caught a British Convoy of wagons completely off guard in 1763. While the British were completely unprepared for this terrain, the almost 400 Seneca that waited to attack were very familiar with it and left few survivors. 

18. Hiking in Niagara Falls State Park

The really unique attribute on the NY side of the falls is the state park that encompasses everything. Unlike the more built-up tourist attraction in Canada, the NY side keeps you immersed in nature while you view. Explore Goat Island and the Three Sisters Islands, they’re worthwhile Niagara Falls attractions. We used to beg my Dad to take us there as kids because there’s just something about those islands that’s simply magical. From Goat Island, you can take a short 2.3-mile scenic walk and check out the Cave of the Winds, where you walk on boardwalks along the base of the Bridal Veil and American Falls.

The Niagara Falls State Park is even more beautiful with warm colors. You won’t regret visiting this stunning attraction in Upstate New York in the fall!

19. Eat at Table Rock House Restaurant

Located right at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, Table Rock House is the place to dine if you want to eat as close to the falls as possible. With an international menu that uses locally sourced foods like rainbow trout, salmon, and Ontario chicken, there’s something for everyone’s palate. While lunch is an excellent choice, with these views of the falls, why not time it to view the illumination while enjoying excellent food?

20. Zipline over the Niagara River Gorge

If you’re up for a little high-adrenaline adventure try a zipline that takes you 2,200 feet across the gorge from the American Falls all the way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. From 220 feet in the air, take in 360-degree panoramic views along the edge of the river gorge. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but a unique way to experience one of the 7 wonders of the world, a great way to see some of the waterfalls in Western NY. 

21. Grab a drink at Queen Victoria Palace

Spend a summer evening under the colorful lights of the falls and the fireworks, sipping away at an extensive list of Niagara VQA wines at the Queen Victoria Palace. Whether you prefer dining indoors or would enjoy their large covered terrace, they sport incredible views of the American and Horseshoe Falls. The Original building was built in 1904 and can be recognized by the copper roof that has the now distinctive green hue of years of oxidation. The walls are even constructed of boulders quarried from the riverbed south of the Horseshoe Falls. 

22. Laura Secord Homestead

Take a trip just off the Niagara Parkway and discover the Laura Secord Homestead. Laura Secord is a Canadian hero from the War of 1812 who endured a 20-mile journey from her home to warn the British that the Americans were attacking. Her home was ransacked by the invaders, but has been restored to its original glory, and now tells her story via living history interpreters. 

23. McFarland House

This iconic Niagara-on-the-Lake home served as a military hospital during the War of 1812. It’s the oldest property now owned by Niagara Parks and offered regular tours by costumed interpreters. Immerse yourself in history with information about its first owner Scotsman John McFarland and its time serving both British and American injured during the war. Settle down after a tour with some refreshments in their tea room, with a period appropriate meal. Make sure to check out the gardens of the estate before you leave. They are impeccably maintained by the Garden Club of Niagara to look as they would have in the past. 

24. Old Fort Erie

Let live actors help you explore some Canadian history. While it’s a bit of a drive and might be more appropriate as one of the best things to do in Buffalo, Old Fort Erie is somewhat of a secret gem. Check out their webpage for their living history events. Seeing exactly how people lived during that time is a great way to get a feel for history and make it memorable. 

25. Mackenzie Printer Museum

Housed in the former home of William Lyon Mackenzie is a museum dedicated to the independent newspaper he founded in 1824, called the Colonial Advocate. Mackenzie was known as a political upstart who frequently encouraged fights against a corrupt political system. You can tour the property and learn about this important paper over the summer. Check out the start of newspapers and how they’ve evolved over their 500 years of history! Experience how printing was done yourself by printing your name. 

26. Niagara SkyWheel

Like many other ways to view the falls, the SkyWheel places you 175 feet above the falls for an epic view. The gondolas are climate controlled for all times of year and weather. This is one of Canada’s largest Ferris wheels that gives you remarkable views of both the Horseshoe and American Falls. See for miles over a 12-minute ride and find out why this area is considered so spectacular. 

27. Niagara Hornblower Funicular

On the Hornblower Niagara Boat ride you’ll get an adventure similar to that of the Maid of the Mist, but on a catamaran. The dual-level boat takes you on a ride to the base of the Horseshoe Falls with stunning views of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls as you pass along the river. They even offer late night cruises to enjoy the lights and fireworks. A must-see on the Canadian side.

28. Cave of the Winds

Purchase tickets for this insane tour on Goat Island. The tours are timed so they advise that you stop at the pavilion on Goat Island to get your tickets first thing in the morning to make your reservation. While there’s no longer a cave, the boardwalks take you incredibly close to the American Falls. Prepare to get soaked, but it’s one of the best ways to view the most amazing falls in North America. When the attraction first started in the 19th century, there was a rock overhang that you could pass under and be completely under the falls. That overhang collapsed in the early 20th century, but they kept the name. Believe it or not, this wet tour is open year-round!

29. Iceskating at Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery

Located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery transforms into a winter wonderland complete with a spacious ice rink surrounded by picturesque views of vineyards and the Niagara escarpment. Skaters can enjoy a leisurely glide on the ice while sipping on hot cocoa or indulging in seasonal treats from the on-site café. After a few laps, visitors can warm up by the fire pit, take a tour of the winery, and sample some of the finest wines produced in Canada.

  • Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Cost: $10

30. Winter Festival of Lights

The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is Canada’s largest FREE outdoor light festival. Running from November to January, this festival features over three million sparkling lights that illuminate the Niagara Parks, Dufferin Islands, and along the Niagara Parkway. Visitors can take a stroll along the illuminated pathways, admire the dazzling light displays, and enjoy a variety of activities, including ice skating, live entertainment, and holiday shopping. One of the highlights of the festival is the nightly illumination of the Horseshoe Falls, in a rainbow of colors.

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Cost: FREE

31. Kayaking at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park

Niagara Tourism

Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is a hidden gem in the heart of Western New York. Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and Twelvemile Creek, this park features a sandy beach, picnic areas, hiking trails, and a fishing pier. Visitors can take in the stunning views of the lake and the surrounding countryside, go bird watching, or simply bask in the sun. With calm waters and a stunning shoreline, kayaking can be a fun way to enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

32. Lockport Underground Boat Ride & Cave

Niagara Tourism

The Lockport Underground Boat Ride takes visitors on a journey through the historic Erie Canal and into the depths of the underground lock system. Along the way, visitors will see the original hand-cut limestone caves and learn about the engineering marvels of the Erie Canal. The tour provides a fascinating glimpse into the industrial history of Lockport and the important role that the canal played in the growth of New York State.

The Lockport Cave is a historic limestone cave located in Lockport, New York. It was hand-cut in the 19th century to accommodate the Erie Canal’s lock system and is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can take a guided boat tour through the cave to learn about the engineering marvels of the Erie Canal and to see the hand-cut limestone caves up close.

Easy Day Trips from the Niagara Falls Region

33. Rochester, New York

One of my favorite things to do in Rochester is to visit the Strong Museum of Play. The regular exhibits are so much fun and the visiting ones are even better. Rochester is so full of history and green space there’s plenty for the whole family. Whether you want to visit the George Eastman House and learn about photography or take a tour and learn about Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad or Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Rights Movement, there’s always something to learn. Throw in some amazing craft breweries and you can make a whole day of it. All this within an hour and a half of the Falls. 

34. Buffalo, New York

It’s up in the air whether people come to Buffalo for the food or the outdoor adventures. Maybe it’s both. Much like Rochester, the city of Buffalo is full of plenty of things to fill a day, or even a weekend. From craft breweries to amazing restaurants there’s plenty to eat. You can even take a tour of the birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing and experience what has become one of the country’s favorite sports foods and how the city and its history shaped it. If you’re looking for things to do near Niagara Falls, Buffalo is only a 25-minute drive away.

35. Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua has a lot to draw you away from the Falls. Home of the Chautauqua Institution, the birthplace of the Chautauqua movement that crossed the country in the 19th century, you can explore your interests and free thinking with others on the same path. If excellent wine is the theme of your trip, take a tour of Chautauqua Wine Country and sample what the wines along Lake Erie can offer you. Despite being an hour and forty minutes away, this area is still a Niagara Falls attraction you’d be sad to miss.

36. Toronto, Canada

On the other side of the river, you might want to take a day and see what Ontario’s capital can offer you. An hour-and-a-half drive will take you into the home of museums like Ripley’s Aquarium, The Royal Ontario Museum, amazing shopping, and mouth-watering cuisine from all over the world. See the lake, city, and surrounding islands from up high in the CN Tower, one of the tallest towers in the world until 2010. Inside there’s even a revolving restaurant. Toronto also has over 1600 parks and an award-winning zoo. 

37. East Aurora, New York

KC Kratt

Take a leisurely drive out to East Aurora, one of the many charming small towns of Western NY that gained quite the following recently after appearing in several films. East Aurora is known for its quaint, historical Main Street which appeals to so many people. Despite its small town status it offers a variety of unique culinary experiences and is the home to one of the last remaining craft guilds from the 19th century. Visit the historical Roycroft Campus and the restored buildings from that period and then enjoy a dinner at the Roycroft Inn and learn more about the people who started it all. There are even a few breweries you could lunch at or relax after an evening exploring the town. 

38. Letchworth State Park

If you enjoy hiking then it’s worth taking the hour-and-a-half drive to Letchworth State Park, one of the best parks in NYS and maybe even the United States. With three waterfalls and wonderful views, there’s plenty of hiking and adventures to take. Explore 66 miles of hiking trails following the Genesee River through the gorge and over the falls any time of year on foot, horseback, bikes, and even snowmobiles. They’ve even developed a trail specifically for those with Autism. Why not take a day to hike in USA Today’s 2015 winner for Best State Park in the US?

Where to Stay in Niagara Falls

  • The Butler House is a charming Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of Niagara Falls. The State Park is only a short 10-minute walk away after a nice hot breakfast. (Niagara Falls, NY + $$)
  • Another delightful Bed & Breakfast, the South Bridge B&B offers some quiet accommodations on the Niagara River on Grand Island, 19 minutes from Niagara Falls State Park. It’s a lovely place to stay and has its own private beach. (Grand Island, NY + $$)
  • The architecture of the Sterling Inn & Spa will certainly grab your attention and the inside is no less stunning. This lovely hotel is located within one mile of many of the main attractions for the falls such as the Maid of the Mist. (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada + $$)

About the Author: Heather Menz

Heather Menz has called the Buffalo area home for over 35 years. With a degree in archaeology and a keen interest in history, she has explored sites that are both easy to find and those hidden deep in Buffalo and Rochester’s history. As part of an active and outdoors-oriented family, she has traveled and hiked much and learned more about all that the Western New York area has to offer.

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