Along the Niagara Parkway

The Niagara Parkway, on the Canadian side of the falls, is a lovely, scenic drive. Unlike the American side, it offers plenty of natural beauty, including vast tracks of parkland. You can drive along the 56km (35-mile) parkway all the way from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls, taking in attractions en route. All are managed by Niagara Parks.

Seeing Niagara Falls

You simply cannot come this far and not see the Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. When you arrive, step up to the low railing that runs along the road and take in the spectacular view over Horseshoe Falls. The Falls are equally dramatic in winter, when ice formations add a certain beauty to it all and the crowds of high summer are wonderfully absent.

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The attractions and restaurants along the Niagara River Corridor, which includes Niagara Falls, are run by Niagara Parks (tel. 877/642-7275), the park's official government agency. (A number of independent tour operators, including Hornblower Cruises, also run concessions near the Falls.) Admission to the park itself is free, but most parking is in paid lots, where daily parking passes cost $26.55, plus HST tax.

The hop-on, hop-off visitor transportation buses WEGO connect all Niagara Parks destinations with nearby hotels. It also runs lines to Niagara-on-the-Lake. WEGO 24-hour fares are $8 adults, $5 children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. 

Note that if you plan on visiting several attractions, Niagara Parks offers a Wonder Pass package, which includes one-time admission to both Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Fury, plus the Butterfly Conservatory and the Floral Showhouse, as well as 2 consecutive days of WEGO + Falls Incline access. Online prices are $25 adults and $17 children 6 to 12.

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Journey Behind the Falls—Of Niagara Parks' four Welcome Centers, Table Rock Centre is the site of the two of the most popular park attractions. Go down under the falls using the elevator at the Table Rock Centre, which drops you 38m (125 ft.) through solid rock to the tunnels and viewing portals of the Journey Behind the Falls, which offers stunning views of the falls below and behind. Admission to this year-round attraction is $14 adults, $9 children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under.

Niagara's furyAnother park attraction at Table Rock Centre is Niagara’s Fury. Visitors “experience” the creation of the falls in a chamber that swirls visual images over a 360-degree screen. It’s a sense-surround ride, complete with shaking ground underfoot, an enveloping blizzard, and a temperature drop in the room that begets shivers even in midsummer. Fares are $16 adults, $10.25 children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under (Mon–Fri 10:30am–5pm; Sat–Sun 10:30am–6pm).

Hornblower cruisesTake a cruise right into the basin on the Hornblower (5920 River Rd.; tel. 855/264-2427). This sturdy boat takes you through the turbulent waters, past Bridal Veil Falls, and to the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, where 34 million liters (9 million gallons) of water tumble over the 54m-high (177-ft.) cataract each minute. Yes, you will get wet, and your glasses will mist—but that just adds to the thrill. Boats leave from the dock on the parkway just down from the Rainbow Bridge. Trips operate daily from April through November. Fares are $26 adults, $16 children 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under.

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Jet-Boating Thrills—Don a rain suit, poncho, and life jacket, and climb aboard a Whirlpool Jet Boat (tel. 888/438-4444 or 905/468-4800). The boat takes you out onto the Niagara River for a trip along the stonewalled canyon to the whirlpool downriver. The ride starts slow but gets into turbulent water. Trips, which operate from May to October, last an hour and cost $67 for adults and $45 for children 12 and under; reservations are required. There are pickup options; when booking, choose either NOTL or Niagara Falls. 

A Family Adventure

Niagara Falls has plenty of family attractions. A popular choice is Marineland (7657 Portage Rd.; tel. 905/356-9565). Its multiple aquariums have a walrus mascot, dolphins, sea lions, and freshwater fish. Friendship Cove, a 17-million-L (4.5-million-gal.) breeding and observation tank, lets the little ones see killer whales up close.

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Marineland also has rides, including a Tivoli wheel (a fancy Ferris wheel), Dragon Boat rides, and Dragon Mountain, a roller coaster that loops, double-loops, and spirals through 305m (1,001 ft.) of tunnels. Admission is $49.95 adults and children 12 and over, $42.95 children 5 to 12, free for children 4 and under. It's open daily mid-May to June and September to mid-October 10am to 5pm, July and August 9am to 6pm; it's closed mid-October through mid-May.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.