The Best Things To Do In Niagara Falls Besides Seeing The Waterfalls, According To Visitors

Niagara Falls may not feature the tallest or broadest waterfall in the world, but its trio of cascades are among the most famous on the planet. Only about 12,000 years old, they rest along the border between the United States and Canada. While everyone has their favorite, the Horseshoe Falls (on the Canadian side) is the largest and undeniably the most dramatic. On the U.S. side, the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls sit within the Niagara Falls State Park. The oldest state park in the country, it received more than 9 million visitors in 2023. The comparable number of visitors to the Canadian side is about 12 million.


While the roaring falls are very much the marquee attraction, they aren't the sole stars of the area. Niagara Falls, which refers to the cascades and cities on both sides of the border, has plenty to offer visitors. You can base yourself in either New York State or Ontario and explore the surrounding areas. We've compiled a wide selection of attractions by consulting online forums, travel blogs, and tourism collateral. That way, your trip to Niagara Falls won't lack things to do beyond taking in the whooshing, watery wonders.

Enjoy green spaces

There are parks and gardens galore to explore around the falls. At the Niagara Glen Nature Centre, which sits on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, the visitor's information center points travelers to hiking trails, places to go bouldering, and special exhibitions. There are also hiking trails around the Niagara Falls State Park, including those suitable for newbies, perfect for your first solo hike. Visitors can embark on guided hikes during the warmer months. The daring might try the Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike, a three-hour trek that necessitates hikers jumping between boulders.


North of the falls, Devil's Hole State Park surveys the Devil's Hole Rapids, with a trail that winds its way down to the bottom of the gorge. For clipped greenery, Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, next to Niagara Glen, has about 100 acres of landscaped gardens and colorful blooms. There is also a rose garden, with over 2,000 roses, that one Yelper called "breathtaking." Also, on the Canadian side, Queen Victoria Park has fine floral arrangements, a pretty rock garden, and amazing views of all the falls.

Soar through the air

While this experience may seem like just a novel way to see Niagara Falls, the focal point is not the roaring cascades. Extreme as it might sound, a zipline over the river flies past the American Falls, down into the gorge, and then lands at the observation area for the Canadian Falls. It's a wild ride, not just because the thundering falls and river are so close by but also because it's more than 2,000 feet long. Kids as young as seven can join in the fun. Wait times can reach up to two hours, but it's an adventure for the memory bank. And it gets consistently good reviews on Tripadvisor.


The Whirlpool Aero Car, which passes above a swirling whirlpool section of the Niagara River, provides visitors with another opportunity to soar through the air. First opened in 1916, a Spanish engineer designed the contraption, and it looks like a giant red basket hanging in the sky. The whirlpool sits downstream from the falls, created by a combination of a narrowing of the river gorge and a turn in the flow of the water. It's certainly a powerful, churning spectacle. Peering down from the aerial car, which operates from April to November, visitors will get a sense of the immense torrents beneath them.

Wander along a wine route

A vast geographical feature, the Niagara Escarpment reveals itself as a series of cliffs reaching through New York State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and parts of southern Canada. The falls owe their existence to the escarpment, which is also home to a vast number of wineries. Like parts of California, this is an underrated wine region. One of the wineries, Bella Rose Vineyard, sits only about 20 minutes away by car from the falls. 


The wineries spread over a designated Niagara Wine Trail in New York State, set up in 2002 and extending 60 miles across three counties. The vineyards technically reside between the escarpment and Lake Ontario within a mild microclimate that allows for a long growing season. This is the realm of varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. Even ice wines are available, and travelers can enjoy vineyard visits and wine tastings throughout the growing window.

Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in the sky

While you can see the falls from the Skylon Tower, the experience is more than just the view. This tower has a shape that recalls the CN Tower in Toronto or Seattle's Space Needle. It has a long, slender torso topped by a bulbous disc of a head, the nerve center of the operation. Visitors will find an observation deck for viewing the falls and restaurants with equally stunning vistas on that circular layer. For some, it might even be a top-10 dining experience.


Skylon Tower has two dining floors more than 700 feet above the bottom of the gorge. If that weren't impressive enough, one revolves. It takes one hour for a full rotation, and views extend for about 80 miles on a clear day. One Tripadvisor commenter suggested an early evening dinner reservation for the best sights. The trip up to the top is exciting, too; it takes less than a minute to reach the summit. The elevator has glass panels that let passengers feel like they are flying through the air.

Explore the city of Buffalo

Buffalo, the closest major metropolis to the falls, can be reached in about 30 minutes by car from the American side. It's a fun place to explore, with great art, lots of entertainment, and interesting neighborhoods that make it a rewarding day trip. It's also a good spot for an extended stay. Buffalo is a great, unexpected destination for food lovers — it's where Buffalo wings were created. While frying chicken wings had long been practiced in the South, adding hot sauce to the mix was the invention of the staff at Buffalo's Anchor Bar in 1964. 


Visitors to Buffalo can find a selection of places to try the spicy, chewy, calorific delicacy on a Buffalo Wing Trail. Locations include the Anchor Bar, where license plates from all over the country adorn the walls. Elsewhere, tourists can enjoy the sights and sounds of a revamped waterfront and sample a range of drinks at local bars. Architecture buffs can marvel at several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, while night owls can watch live music shows at venues small or grand.

Walk across a bridge to another country

A couple of bridges close to the falls allow travelers to shuttle between Canada and the United States. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, some distance north of the cascades, is an impressive span, and though you can't see the falls from it, it's a popular route for border crossings. In fact, it is one of the busiest crossings between the two countries anywhere along the border, with long wait times de rigueur. Sadly, it can't be experienced on foot, which would be fun, mainly for its novelty. Wouldn't it be cool to say, "Hey, I walked to another country"? 


The Rainbow Bridge, which allows pedestrians (cyclists and cars) to cross, is much closer to the falls. The views from this span are superb, taking in the two main cascades and the river below. The bridge was built in the early 1940s, taking about 18 months to complete, and sits approximately 200 feet above the river. It's a quick walk across, less than 10 minutes without stopping. A reviewer on Tripadvisor called the excursion something that "everyone should experience." Just be sure to bring your passport.

Get up close and personal with wildlife

The kinetic motion of the falls is a breathtaking sight, but it's not the only live-action experience in the area. Bird Kingdom, which sits by the Rainbow Bridge on the Canadian side, has a substantial indoor aviary where birds perch, fly, hop around, and relax in a generous space. Visitors can interact with many species, like playful parrots or lively lorikeets, sometimes through special animal encounter programs.


By Niagara Glen, the Butterfly Conservatory is like a dream come to life, with thousands of butterflies fluttering, resting, and roaming in a vast space. There are more than 2,000 winged wonders of varying sizes and hues, and the landscaping, with deep greenery and sections of waterfalls, is equally attractive. According to a Tripadvisor commenter, visiting is "beautiful and calming."

The seasonal Safari Niagara presents a wide range of animals (more than 1,000 from all over the planet) for travelers to see and feed. Among them are the long-necked wonders of the African savanna, giraffes, which can eat from the palm of your hand during the giraffe experience program. Kids can get involved by enrolling to be a zookeeper for a day. How fun is that?


Learn about the area's past

This part of the country might have a long history of tourism, but it's also steeped in passages of conflict. The War of 1812 was a bitter battle between American forces and the British, and its memory endures in places like the Niagara Falls History Museum. Visitors can relive moments from the past, like handling a musket from that era or even putting on a replica soldier's uniform. Many pieces, mementos, and items from the war offer a fascinating window into the event. The museum looks at other facets of life in the region, including exhibits on the area's geology and stories of people who tried to walk across the falls on a tightrope.


Nearby, in Buffalo, the Buffalo History Museum examines tales of the people who make up the community. It's a well-stocked institution with over 25,000 books and 200,000 photographs. Visitors will get a feel for the city's evolution by looking through old business documents and faded photos from decades past. They can also learn how immigration and industrialization created the Buffalo of today.

See how a power station works

Once you see the falls at Niagara, you'll never forget their sheer power. The bellowing, thundering roar of the water as it crashes down to the bottom of the gorge is incredible. That water has been harnessed to create energy, and travelers can learn how this is accomplished with a trip to the Niagara Parks Power Station. Sitting on the Canadian side, it shows the processes required to generate electricity at a hydroelectric plant.


Guests will see items large and small, from mammoth turbines to compact panels that detail the system's inner workings and interactive displays that bring the entire hydropower concept to life. There are also fun features, like an elevator with glass sides that descends to the plant. Wander along a 2,000-foot dank, slightly spooky tunnel that places you at an observation platform by the river, with a view of the Canadian falls. The plant has operated successfully for a century and is an incredible achievement in an inspiring setting. It also gets a score of 4.8 on Yelp.

Catch some evening entertainment

For anyone who has spent much time at a casino, their mantra might be, "You win some, you lose a lot more." But you don't have to gamble to go to the casinos at Niagara. Despite the bright, noisy lure of the machines and tables, there is something else more appealing to do. That would be the shows each night at the two main casinos in the area: Fallsview Casino Resort and Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, one on either side of the border.


The entertainment showcases various genres, from musical theater and live music to stand-up comedy, with globally renowned acts often found on the bill. In 2024, scheduled performers included the talented ventriloquist Terry Fator, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, musical icon Diana Ross, rock legend Styx, and celebrated comedian Jay Pharoah. Travelers can also book a room at either resort or check out their spas for a relaxing treatment.

Visit a water park

Visitors will find more water attractions in Niagara Falls than just the roaring cascades. Several water parks dot the area close to the falls, often attached to a resort. The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is linked to the Falls Avenue Resort, a massive complex with three hotels. As the name suggests, the water area spans 3 acres and is a quick walk from the falls. Among the highlights that will keep the whole family entertained are 16 water slides, hot springs, and a vast wave pool. According to a Tripadvisor review, the water park has "something for everyone."


The Americana Conference Resort & Spa water park has body and tube slides, a pool for young kids with more sedate slides, a wave pool, and a massive soaking bucket that drenches everyone underneath when it tips over. Great Wolf Lodge has carved out a name for itself as a destination for water fun, and the resort in Niagara Falls is no exception. The 10,000-square-foot water park is kept at 84 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and has plenty of aquatic fun. At Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World, open seasonally, the water attractions are limited but great for cooling off on a searing day. While Marineland isn't a water park, the theme park does have some water-related offerings, like a carousel ride on boats and a swinging adventure on a Viking ship.


Take a brewery tour

Craft breweries have sprung up on both sides of the border, and visitors who want to sample a small-batch brew are in luck. You can visit the breweries independently or join a tour, with excursions during the day or evening. Based on the Canadian side, Niagara Craft Brewery Tours weaves in other beverages alongside its standard trips. Visitors can join a tour of a winery, a stop at a brewery where lunch is also served, and a distillery that produces gin and whiskey. There is even a chance to taste cider produced by college students. 


Another option combines a hike through the forests of the Niagara Escarpment, where maples and oaks provide shade. The guide's commentary details how the geology and climate create a perfect growing environment for hops, barley, and more. After the hike, participants can recharge with tipples at a brewery. Trips start with a pick-up at your accommodation and drop-off at the end.

Solve puzzles at an escape room

While the falls look great in any weather, they aren't quite as appealing when it rains. That's when Niagara Escapement can step in and save the day. An escape room with a name that seems like a sly play on the Niagara Escarpment, it's a perfect option for the family when less-than-ideal conditions stymie a trip to the falls. There are several room choices, ranging from easy to challenging. And the facility scores a 5.0 on Tripadvisor.


The usual premise governs all — customers have 60 minutes to scour through clues and break out of the room in the allotted time. In End of the World, you have one hour to find the bunker of a wealthy man and get into it before the planet meets its sorry end. Alternatively, you can take on the mission of stealing an item for a local crime lord in the Honeymoon Suite room aimed at adults and older children. The facility also has a space for fans of Dungeons & Dragons, themed like a tavern and suitable as much for beginners as seasoned pros.

Hit the links

Golfers rejoice because the one thing you'll have when you visit Niagara Falls is choice. Hyde Park Golf Course, on the U.S. side, has two courses. The 18-hole course is for those who like to work on their long game, with a tricky layout and sections that require planning. The 9-hole White course is a more forgiving option. The club also features a practice green, an area where golfers can work on their short game. Fees start at $22 for the 18-hole course.


On the Canadian side, Thundering Waters Golf Club has a course designed by legend John Daly that will sate players of all levels. Fees begin at Canadian $55 (or about USD 40). Whirlpool Golf Course, also in Canada, is a public course that opened in 1951. It's a gorgeous piece of real estate, with views of the gorge and river and the hiking network of Niagara Glen close by. All of these courses are seasonal, but Links Golf & Tap is where to go for players who want to swing year-round. Part bar hangout with food and part golfing nirvana, it features beer, a small menu with pizzas and cocktails, and four golfing simulators that don't require clear skies to be playable.

How we made our selections

By looking over online forums like Quora, travel blogs, review sites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor, tourism collateral, and carefully studying maps of the area in and around Niagara Falls, we have come up with a wide selection of activities to keep you busy, whatever your interest. We curated our choices to cover a wide range of tastes. Additionally, we were mindful of presenting a diverse selection of options that would appeal to different groups, from all adults to families with younger kids. Incorporating alternatives that would work if the weather turned bad during your visit was also important.