Niagara Falls Canadian Side 2016

We made a visit to Niagara Falls over a weekend during a recent business trip in November to Toronto (see our trip report here: )

We knew that even off season, we could expect a crowd at the Canadian side of the falls. (we posted our tips for avoiding the crowds here)  We knew an early start was necessary, and that we would need to choose what activities we wanted do, and would not have time for all of it!  We decided to spend a morning enjoying the views from the Canadian Visitor Center and then travel about 20 minutes away to Niagara On The Lake,  an attractive historic town in the heart of Ontario's wine country.  We also wanted to leave time in the afternoon to visit the  Fort George National Historic Site where a well preserved fort on the shore of Lake Ontario tells the story of the War of 1812. 

Niagara Falls

We were treated to beautiful fall foliage color in early November, I'm sure the view from the Skylon Tower was spectacular, although we opted not to travel up the tower. 

With apologies to the bard..."Niagara many way do we love thee?" It's impossible to count the number of opportunities to "experience" the falls!! 

First stop, after about an hour long trip south from Toronto was the Visitor Center on the Canadian side of the falls. There are no end to the amount and kinds of activities you can choose to experience Niagara is a partial list of a few viewing opportunities we saw:

  • ascend the Skylon Tower
  • ride a funicular up to the town from the parking lot
  • zipline over the falls
  • descend tunnels behind the falls
  • take a boat up to the falls
  • stand on a rock on top of the cataract
  • walk behind the falls
  • see an Imax film about the falls
  • ride an adventure boat trip into the rapids
  • cross a bridge from the Canadian to American sides (bring your passport)
  • sit on the top floor of a casino bar

We discovered that as long as there is a buck (or Toonie) to be made, someone will offer some new way to enjoy the falls!  We did it this way, which with the exception of a parking fee was FREE!!

Yours truly opted for the 3-D realistic, spectacle of Niagara Falls and fall foliage from a comfortable FREE bench along the walkway in Niagara Park! Realistic spray from the falls included!

While there are many private diversions and developments along the shores of Niagara Falls, Niagara Parks has created a very nice green park strip anchored by a pair of visitor centers to accommodate visitors. 

At the Canadian Side, we were misted by the Horseshoe Falls and had a view to the American Falls across the way. 

The power of the Horseshoe Falls can be felt in the spray coming up in the faces of the tourists standing against the railings on the Canadian side. Sometimes the direction of the spray can create a fog that obscures the view!

There are a variety of ways to experience Niagara Falls, including the Hornblower boat trip (from the Canadian side) and Maid of the Mist (departs from the American side)

One of the tour boats approaches the Horseshoe Falls.

One piece of advice for visiting Niagara Falls is, no matter how you experience it, you might want to prepare to get wet and pack rain gear or a plastic poncho.

Niagara On The Lake

Our next stop was about 20 minutes from the falls in the historic town of Niagara on the Lake. Along the way, we passed through wine country, saw several small wineries and fields of grape vines. Then we arrived at a well preserved village filled with historic buildings, cafes and shops.  

Fort George

Our last stop was Fort George on the shore of Lake Ontario.  This fort stood within shouting distance across Lake Ontario from the American Fort Niagara,  during the early conflicts between the Americans and English!  The history is brought to life with well preserved buildings, and costumed historical interpreters. A full day of programming includes demonstrations, talks, and while we were there, a community group that performs fife and drum music all summer was rehearsing. The fort brings alive the history and asks the question "Who Won the War of 1812". Spoiler alert: they conclude that like most wars, the answer is pretty much that everyone loses too. 

A costumed actor performed a musket demonstration. 

After a late afternoon touring the fort, where we also saw the resident wild fox make an appearance on the greens, we made the easy trip back to Toronto.  I would recommend Niagara On the Lake as nice day trip from Toronto.