Home Canada 2 Days in Niagara Falls – The 12 Best Things To Do

2 Days in Niagara Falls – The 12 Best Things To Do

by Andy Vanr

Niagara Falls Canada is the perfect weekend getaway destination.  In this guide, discover how to visit all of the best sites in Niagara Falls in two fun-filled days.

2 Day Itinerary for Niagara Falls

For your 2-day visit to Niagara Falls, we recommend purchasing the Niagara Falls Wonder Pass Plus.  This handy pass covers several of the tourist sites that are administered by Niagara Parks.

Map of Niagara Falls Attractions

12 Best Things To Do in Niagara Falls Canada

  1. Horseshoe Falls
  2. Journey Behind the Falls
  3. Niagara Butterfly Conservatory
  4. Hornblower Cruise to the Falls
  5. ZipLine to the Falls
  6. Niagara Parks Power Station
  7. Clifton Hill District
  8. Niagara SkyWheel
  9. Casinos at Niagara Falls
  10. White Water Walk
  11. Whirlpool Aero Car
  12. Niagara Falls History
Water falling over Horseshoe Falls Niagara Falls
See Horseshoe Falls from the Table Rock Welcome Centre in Niagara Falls Canada

Horseshoe Falls

The best place to view Niagara Falls is just outside of the Table Rock Welcome Centre. 

At this viewpoint, you can peer right over the edge of these impressive falls.  At Horseshoe Falls, the water of the Niagara River drops 55 metres over the edge of the resistant dolostone bedrock. The force of the water has dug a 30- metre deep plunge pool at the base of the falls. Gradually the power of the water is breaking away these soft lower rocks and moving the falls southward as much as 1 metre a year.  This rate has now slowed to centimetres a year since large amounts of water are diverted for hydroelectric power generation. 

To admire both Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls, located across the river gorge, walk north from the Welcome Centre on the sidewalk beside the Niagara Parkway.

The 12-kilometre long Niagara Gorge traces the path of the falls over the last 12,000 years from Queenston to its current spot. The rocks of the sides of the gorge are 400 million years old.

Incline railway Table Rock Visitor centre Horseshoe Falls
Niagara Falls’ Incline Railway is a great shortcut between Fallsview Casino and Table Rock Welcome Centre.

Journey Behind the Falls

To see Niagara Falls up close, take the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ located at the Welcome Centre.

An elevator descends 38 metres to tunnels drilled into the bedrock.  Exiting the elevator, you are at the Lower Observation Deck, right beside the roaring falls.  You will get a little wet, but it is a lot of fun. (They supply rain ponchos too!)

Couple in rain ponchos under a rainbow Niagara Falls
Journey Behind the Falls for the closest view of Horseshoe Falls.

A network of tunnels, carved over 100 years ago, leads to two portals.  The Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal are located directly behind the falls.  Feel the power of the falls up close.

Niagara Butterfly Conservatory

This large, glass-walled building is home to over 2000 vibrantly-coloured butterflies.

It is an incredible sight as over 45 different species flutter all around you in this amazing warm, tropical environment.

Green butterfly on leaves Niagara Butterfly Conservatory
At the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, there are many butterfly species with wings of different sizes, shapes and colours.
Butterflies slices of oranges bananas
Feeding stations are set up throughout the Butterfly Conservatory.

There are over 180 metres of meandering pathways beside water features and beds of tropical vegetation.  Feeding tray stations are throughout the building, allowing you to get an up-close look at the butterflies.

Through an observation window, see the “nursery” where the young butterflies hang in their pupae stage, just before they hatch and take off for their first-ever flights.

After the Butterfly Conservatory, enjoy a visit to the surrounding Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

The gardens are 40 hectares of beautiful landscapes. There are several walking trails between the different areas including a tree arboretum, a herb garden, and finally, an amazing rose garden with over 2,400 roses.

Circular flower garden surrounded by walking path
Enjoy a walk in the beautiful gardens at Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

The Niagara Parks School of Horticulture is also located on the grounds. Students learn about the science of horticulture and contribute to the grounds-keeping of the Botanical Gardens.

Hornblower Cruise to the Falls

This is a must-do signature attraction.

The 20-minute boat tour takes you right up to the natural wonder, Niagara Falls.  See both the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls on this unforgettable journey. Be prepared to hear the roar and get soaked.

Maid of the Mist ship in the mist
Get up close to the Niagara Falls on a Cruise to the Falls with either Hornblower Cruises from the Canadian side or Maid of the Mist from the American side.
Man rain poncho Niagara Falls backdrop
Have fun and experience the power of Niagara Falls.

The Hornblower Cruise to the Falls is located at the base Clifton Hill.

Note: The original “The Maid of the Mist” tour company only operates from the American side of the border now. It does not operate from the Canada anymore.

ZipLine to the Falls

This is the attraction for the thrill seekers. Get ready to be strapped in and soar.  At the WildPlay ZipLine, four parallel ziplines take you for a 670-meter ride along the Niagara River gorge toward Niagara Falls. Hit speeds of up to 70 km/h before the ride ends at the Falls observation landing platform.

Niagara Falls Zipline launching building
Ride the ZipLine to the Falls
2 people riding zipline Horseshoe Falls backdrop
Reach speeds of up to 70 km/h

Niagara Parks Power Station

The Niagara Parks Power Station is an impressive museum.  This station was in operation for 100 years before being decommissioned in 2006.

Today, its displays show how electricity was generated using the power of the Niagara River.

Person reading information panel Niagara Parks Power Station
The displays at the Niagara Parks Power Station explain the process of using water to generate electricity and other interesting facts about the station.

We were amazed to learn that 50-75% of the Niagara River’s water gets diverted and passes through various hydroelectric plants, before returning to the river downstream.

Most of the original equipment is still in place, including the huge generator units with a capacity of 10,000 horsepower each.

The ‘Currents’ Night Show

When evening arrives, the Niagara Parks Power Station is home to an impressive performance.  The station comes alive with an amazing light and sound show.  This interactive experience presents an historic story. It takes you from the Ice Age all the way through to the present, where the power plant’s machinery comes alive to transform water to power.  It’s an exhilarating sensory experience that you won’t soon forget.

2 couples Currents Night Show at Niagara Parks Power Station
The Currents Night Show at Niagara Parks Power Station is an impressive light and sound show. It takes you from the Ice Age to the present and shows the process to generate power from water.

Clifton Hill

For more fun things to do, check out the attractions around the Clifton Hill district.  The street has the usual touristy trappings including wax museums, haunted houses, arcades, candy stores and souvenir shops.

The street has improved a lot from its ‘kitschy’ roots in evidence just a few years ago.  There are now several great restaurant options along both Clifton Hill and Victoria Avenue.

Couple in front of Clifton Hill neon lights
It’s fun to experience Clifton Hill at night.

The kids will love Dinosaur Adventure Park, a mini-golf course, as they play their way through any amazing collection of enormous dinosaurs.

Next door is Niagara Speedway, a stupendous go-cart track. Race up to speeds of 32 km/h.  But, be ready to slow down as you get to the four-story helical spiral and climb upward 40 feet.  The course is impressive covering four acres.

Aerial night view Niagara Speedway and Skywheel
Clifton Hill’s attractions include SkyWheel, Dinosaur Adventure Golf and Niagara Speedway.

Don’t miss Locomoland.  This is an amazing miniature remote-controlled railway system.  Watch the trains as they travel through different scenes and landscapes.

The easiest way locate Clifton Hill is to look for the big SkyWheel.

Niagara SkyWheel

The Niagara SkyWheel is Canada’s largest observation wheel. During this fun, 8 to 12-minute ride, sit in comfortable gondolas as you climb 175 feet above Niagara Falls. You’ll see both the American and Horseshoe Falls. You can also ride the wheel at night, to view the Niagara skyline and the flashing lights of Clifton Hill’s attractions below.

Night lights SkyWheel at Clifton Hill
Clifton Hill and the SkyWheel are bright with lights at Night

Casinos at Niagara Falls

There are two Casinos in Niagara Falls for you to try your luck at:

  • Fallsview Casino Resort
  • Casino Niagara

Fallsview Casino is a world-class gaming resort. They boast a gaming action area of approximately three football fields with over 3,000 slot machines and another 130 gaming tables. The resort has several restaurants and a shopping mall.  For entertainment, two large theatres (with seating for 5000 and 1500 patrons) host many lives shows during the year.

Water fountains Fallsview Casino Resort
Niagara Falls – Fallsview Casino Resort is one of the largest casinos in Canada.

Overlooking the Horseshoe Falls, Fallsview Resort also has a luxury hotel with a fitness centre, spa and convention space.

Casino Niagara was the first casino in Niagara Falls.  It has 1,300 slot machines and 40 gaming tables. Although only about half the size of Fallsview, patrons enjoy the many card games, promotions, and its three restaurants.

White Water Walk

On the White Water Walk, get up close to see the roaring, whitewater rapids of the Niagara River.

White Niagara River water from shore bridge background
On the White Water Walk at Niagara Falls, walk right beside the Niagara River.

The elevator descends 70 meters to the shore of the Niagara River. Leaving the exit tunnel, walk the quarter-mile boardwalk along the river’s edge.

With several viewing platforms, there are great views and photo opportunities of the 400-million-year-old Niagara Gorge and the rushing river. The waters of these dangerous Class 6 rapids flow by at an impressive speed of 48 km/h.

Whirlpool Aero Car

Another great way to see the Niagara River is from above on the Whirlpool Aero Car.

This Aero Car is an historic tourist attraction that has been in operation since 1916.  For the last 100 years, the Aero Car has carried visitors across the gorge with the swirling Niagara Whirlpool below.

The area around the whirlpool has been a tourist attraction for a long time.  Even in the late 1800s, there was an inclined railway here that took tourists from the top of the gorge to the rapids below.

Whirlpool Aero Car over Niagara River cliffs background
Ride the Whirlpool Aero Car over the whirlpool rapids of the Niagara River.

The suspended Aero Car crosses the gorge between Thompson Point and Sinclair Point, at a height of 70 meters over the rapids below.

The whirlpool below is formed, as the rushing waters from the rapids make a sharp turn at the gorge wall, causing the rapids to turn in a counterclockwise direction.

Due to the nature of the winding river below, the cable car actually crosses the Canada-USA border a total of four times. Luckily no one needs to show a passport.

One more interesting fact? It is believed that Niagara Falls was at this spot about 4,000 years ago.

Niagara Falls History

Visit the Niagara Falls History Museum to learn more about the area’s history.  It played a significant role during the War of 1812.  At the museum, there are several displays describing the war.  You can even try on a replica soldier’s uniform and hold a heavy musket.

Costumed man holding War 1812 musket
At the Niagara Falls History Museum, try on period clothing from the War of 1812. Imagine carrying that musket up the Niagara Escarpment.
Sign Drummond Hill Cemetery with grave markers
The Drummond Hill Cemetery was the site of the War of 1812 Battle of Lundy’s Lane.

The museum has historical photos of Niagara Falls’ development into the tourist destination that we know today.

For a Walking tour of the area, you can pick up a Walking Tour brochure as you exit the museum (or use the online Lundy’s Lane Walking Tour pdf).

This 1.7-kilometre walking tour covers several sites including the nearby Drummond Hill Cemetery.  The cemetery is the location the “Battle of Lundy’s Lane”.  Historians consider it to be one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812.  The brochure and nearby plaques provide further details about the battle.

Is there anything to do at Niagara Falls in the Winter?

Yes.  The Falls themselves are beautiful in the Winter.  All of the indoor attractions remain open all year.  Plus, with fewer crowds, it is much more enjoyable.

For outdoor activities, the Winter Festival of Lights turns Niagara Falls into a winter wonderland.  During the holiday season, see beautiful illuminated displays all along the Niagara Parkway.

Man under large lit display of moose
See many larger than life displays with millions of lights at the Winter Festival of Lights.

Additionally, the Winter Festival of Lights Fireworks is Canada’s longest running fireworks series.

Couple Whirlpool Aero Car
Enjoy your 2 days in Niagara Falls.

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