Why You Should Visit Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is home to one of the world’s greatest waterfalls, and it is one of the most visited places in the world. People flock here to witness its majestic beauty by the millions – an estimated 22 million people visit Niagara Falls each year (including both the Canadian and American sides). As you can imagine, it can get very busy here, especially during the summer months. As Justin and I live about an hour’s drive from the Niagara region, we hardly consider visiting in the summertime. We’ve both been fortunate enough to visit the Falls on numerous occasions during the warm summer seasons with our families throughout the years. It doesn’t mean that I would ever grow tired of seeing Niagara Falls – of course not! However, we would have to contend with the droves of tourists, traffic jams, and over-inflated parking costs. And did I mention the massive crowds of people?

Thankfully, the off-seasons are a little less hectic, particularly during the winter. Is it cold? Yes, pack your parka. Is it worth braving the cold to visit? Hell yeah. Niagara Falls is a spectacular dazzler in the winter. Sections of the waterfall are frozen over. The chilling mist rises up above the Falls and at times, surrounds you. The rushing water down below is covered with layers of ice and snow, with small sections visible so you can still observe just how fast the water is flowing down the river. The protective fences and barriers are covered in dense layers of ice that are as hard as concrete. Trees and plants are completely frozen and cling to the rocky cliff edges. Seeing Niagara Falls in the winter is nothing like visiting in the spring, summer, or fall.

Niagara Falls in Winter

We arrived to the Canadian side of the Falls down from the Toronto area with our friend, Shannon and her boyfriend. Shannon decided that she wanted to make a trip to the Falls to celebrate her upcoming birthday. We reached Niagara Falls around mid-afternoon, which would typically be a prime time of day to visit in the summer. It was cold outside, but the sun was shining brilliantly. Regularly, it would take us a while to navigate through the crowds of people to find an expensive parking spot, if we could find one at all. In the winter, we quickly drove down the streets and found a spot in a parking garage by the Fallsview Casino for $5 – all day parking. You’d never find that in the summer!

As we walked down to the path that runs along the edge of the Falls, we saw only a few people here and there. It was always easy to view Niagara Falls from any location as we never had to wait for someone to move out of the way. I highly recommend that you dress warmer than you think you should. The mist from the Falls makes it even colder. Definitely pack a warm coat, scarf, hat, and mittens. Then, you’ll be treated with awesome views like these ones.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter
The Canadian “Horseshoe Falls”
Niagara Falls in Winter
The American Falls

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter
Gotta bundle up!
Niagara Falls in Winter
The two of us!
Niagara Falls in Winter
It was very misty at times.
Niagara Falls in Winter
Every so often, a rainbow would appear.
Niagara Falls in Winter
Everything covered in snow and ice.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter
At the end of our walk, a huge rainbow made an arch across the entire sky.

During your walk along the Falls, you can always take a break and hop inside one of the shopping areas. That’s what we did when we got a little too cold. There are opportunities to get Tim Hortons coffee should you desire a hot beverage. After you’re finished gazing at the stunning waterfall from several places along the path, you might want to get back indoors for a while.

FALLSVIEW CASINO

For Shannon’s birthday, she wanted to go to the Fallsview Casino to try her luck at the slots. While Justin and I aren’t frequent casino goers by any means (I think we go once every few years!), we thought it would be fun to try our luck as well. On a Sunday afternoon, the casino was quite busy. It still wasn’t difficult for us to find a few slot machines all in a row so we could sit together. In the end, I lost $60 and Justin wound up winning $120 – not too shabby!

In the lobby of the casino, there’s this funky looking fountain that lights up all different colors. Many people were taking their photos in front of it, and we followed suit.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter
Cool looking ceiling that glowed all different colors.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter

WASTING AWAY AGAIN IN MARGARITAVILLA

After you’re done spending your hard-earned dollars at the casino, why not pretend that you’re at a tropical destination? We walked across the street to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville for some drinks. I know that you might not want to think about drinking a frosty margarita on a cold day, but we were actually a bit thirsty after being indoors at the casino. Shannon and I both got the same drink, the “Tropical Hurricane”. Wow, this drink was much stronger than I expected! It was still very fruity and tasty. Funny enough, this was my first time ever frequenting a Margaritaville, despite visiting numerous Caribbean islands! While the bar wasn’t really busy, we still had a great time chatting amongst the four of us. Oh, and don’t worry, you’ll get to hear the Margaritaville song….several times. Searching for my lost shaker of salt…

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter

There are several other activities that you can do in the wintertime at the Falls. Many of the attractions along Clifton Hill are open, including the Niagara SkyWheel, without the line-ups. The Skylon Tower is open for business if you’d like to get an aerial view of Niagara Falls. A couple of years back, Justin and I dined at the Skylon Tower where they have a special vegan menu if you ask for it! It isn’t cheap dining up there, and you’d know it as there aren’t any prices listed on the menu. Eating there for lunch, along with a glass of wine, set us back about $90. However, it’s a revolving restaurant with non-stop gorgeous views out the window. And, you get admission to the observation deck included with your meal, as well as the fun glass elevator ride. Also, I’m sure that it is much cheaper during the winter to stay overnight at any hotels by the Falls! I highly recommend choosing a hotel with a view, especially considering that the waterfall is lit up at night. There are also fireworks every Friday night by the Falls.

Here’s a short video that I took of Niagara Falls in Winter:

Why You Should Visit Niagara Falls in the Winter

 Have you ever visited Niagara Falls in the winter? Do you enjoy traveling during the off-season?

Lauren
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Lauren is one half of "Justin Plus Lauren". She loves to travel, take photos, and write all about it! Lauren eats a plant-based diet and seeks out yummy vegan food on her travels. She loves nature, animals, outdoor adventures, coffee, and her cats, Chickpea and Peanut.

35 Responses

  1. Toccara
    | Reply

    I’ve never been to Niagara! Always seemed a little too touristy for me, but you’ve now presented it in a new light! Love the snow everywhere, and how lucky that you even got to see a few rainbows in the mist! Avoiding the crowds and still a stunning view… ok, maybe I’ll check it out! 😉
    Toccara recently posted…Rain Forests in the US? They Do Exist!My Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It can be very touristy, though not so much in the winter. Even if you visit during the prime tourist season, you can avoid the touristy things by sticking to the path along the waterfall and going to some of the parks. You should check it out!
      Lauren recently posted…A Romantic Dinner at Rise Above Vegan RestaurantMy Profile

  2. Jenna
    | Reply

    Gorgeous photos! We always love traveling during the off season–you can see an area in such a different way! We went to Niagara Falls in the fall, but I would love to visit during the winter, too!
    Jenna recently posted…Help Save #JustOneRhino and Enter to Win Prizes!My Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It’s so true, traveling during the off season can give you a whole new perspective, especially when it is a whole different type of weather! It would be really nice in the Fall, too – not too busy!
      Lauren recently posted…A Romantic Dinner at Rise Above Vegan RestaurantMy Profile

  3. Sammi Wanderlustin'
    | Reply

    Ooooh it looks so beautiful!! 🙂 I definitely would enjoy it more in the winter than in the summer.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted…Traveller Tuesday with Syd from Nomadically InclinedMy Profile

  4. Emma
    | Reply

    You’ve definitely convinced me to go now. Fingers crossed it’ll be nice and sunny this weekend!

  5. Hannah
    | Reply

    Confession: never been to Niagara falls 🙁 I need to go though, it’s so pretty! And I love it all icy in your pictures…worth battling the cold for! Nothing that a yummy drink at Margaritaville couldn’t fix I’m sure 😉
    PS I also love your scarf, so cute!
    Hannah recently posted…Best Places to Travel Solo: IrelandMy Profile

  6. Alli
    | Reply

    Fabulous shots, Lauren!!! I haven’t been to Niagara in the winter, just the summer months, but I was just thinking the other day that it would be so neat and beautiful to see it in the winter! And like you said, with only a few people around . . . that would be amazing.
    Alli recently posted…7 Top Things I’ve Learned From TravelMy Profile

  7. Chris Boothman
    | Reply

    Stunning! That’s the best way to describe Niagara Falls. We visited here in August 2013 and it was amazing but this just brings a whole new perspective in the heart of winter. I have seen pictures before of Niagara frozen over but these take those to the next level. Great job guys!
    Chris Boothman recently posted…Why Travel around Europe with a Eurail Pass?My Profile

  8. Meg Jerrard
    | Reply

    WOW this looks UNBELIEVABLE! You’ve convinced me that if I get to Niagara I want to go in winter – so beautiful!! I’m going to share one of your photos if that’s ok! I’ve heard the Canadian side is the best side too lol so we’ll also be heading to Canada if we go 🙂
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…4 Ways to Travel on the CheapMy Profile

  9. Nina Travels
    | Reply

    Looks amazing, but COLD!! For someone who is all about summer, this would be a big challenge, but I guess it is well worth it. Love the video at the end 🙂
    Nina Travels recently posted…Best 24 Munich tourist attractions, which should not stay overlookedMy Profile

  10. Tim
    | Reply

    An impressive sight no matter what time of year but winter really kicks that into high gear 🙂
    Tim recently posted…No Butcher or Candlestick MakerMy Profile

  11. Raphael Alexander Zoren
    | Reply

    Great photos, the falls with the snow sure look breath taking!!!!
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted…The Medieval Winter Fairytale of TallinnMy Profile

  12. Sofia
    | Reply

    I could feel the coldness of mist from the water falling just by staring your every shots.. they’re so amusing! I don’t know though if I could visit Niagara Falls during that extreme coldnesssssss, but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it! I love yours shots! 🙂

  13. kami
    | Reply

    oh wow, it looks spectacular! I was in Niagara Falls in May and it was amazing but your pictures are so beautiful that it’s hard to believe this place is real!!
    kami recently posted…Best cafes in PragueMy Profile

  14. Valerie
    | Reply

    I can’t believe how beautiful Niagra Falls is in winter!! I honestly have never thought about what it looked like this time of year, I never see pictures of it like that. I think I kinda prefer it half frozen 🙂
    Valerie recently posted…5 Inexpensive Things to do in Puerto RicoMy Profile

  15. Alessandra
    | Reply

    How beautiful!! Never thought to come in winter!! It’s fab!!
    Alessandra recently posted…City tour a Milano: a caccia di luoghi insoliti con WAAMMy Profile

  16. Jolanta
    | Reply

    I saw Niagara in June 2001, but your photos are so amazing I’m thinking it would be awesome to see it in the wintertime. The problem is, it’s quite a drive for us, so it would be hard to plan, since you never know with the weather around here.
    Jolanta recently posted…Period Clothing at the Victoria & Albert Museum in LondonMy Profile

  17. laura
    | Reply

    I went to Niagara in February 2003, and it was completely frozen, It was so magical, and I would love to go back.
    laura recently posted…2015 Travel: The Germany Edit (Baden Baden)My Profile

  18. May Leong
    | Reply

    Beautiful shots. I went there Spring this year. It was less crowded. I had a wanderful time. Lucky to witness the firework (right in front of my eyes). Spectacular ! I saw tulips as well, on my walking path to the Fall. Managed to savour good food as well. Overall, it was a wonderful trip !

  19. Mary
    | Reply

    Very good to know! My fiance and I are planning to go in Jan. 2016. We are staying at the Marriott on the Falls! We can’t wait! Thanks so much for your “local” advise!

  20. BonBon
    | Reply

    OMG!!!! brrrr…. looks so cold!!! hahaha BUT definitely it’s a new world out there:) Been there summer time and it’s gorgeous… But this is one is different and gorgeous as well!!! Great shots… xoxo
    BonBon recently posted…My Kids favorite European City – BRUSSELSMy Profile

  21. Effa NY
    | Reply

    Thanks for beautiful short documentary winter at Niagara Falls! We want to go there in December but hesitate about cold weather. This give us a head up what we have to prepare and what we will see at winter time. Thanks again!

  22. Daniel
    | Reply

    Thanks for your posting. I would be much more hesitant to visit NF during wintertimes without yours.

  23. Yehuda
    | Reply

    is it frozen in early December ?late December?

  24. Al Baki
    | Reply

    Hi. Me and the family is thinking about going to Niagara falls for this winter vacation. We have three kids in our family, would it be suitable to go with kids ? Would it be too cold for them to brave it out? We want to spend sometime at the falls and sometime around the various attractions. Thanks

    • Lauren
      Lauren
      | Reply

      Al – As long as you make sure to bundle up, you should be totally fine! There is a cold mist that comes off the falls that makes it a little chillier than usual. Bring your hats, scarves, warm coats, and you should be good to go.
      Lauren recently posted…VIDEO: Autumn in Ontario – Hiking the Dundas ValleyMy Profile

  25. Bri
    | Reply

    is there a tour company that you would recommend to pick us up from Toronto?

  26. Simon
    | Reply

    Really great review
    We are visiting Niagra in February and can’t wait to see the falls
    Do you think it’s best to hire a car from airport if we also want to go to Toronto while we are there or get taxis? Is it safe driving in February?
    Any tips???

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