Why You Must Visit Niagara Falls in Winter: Visiting Frozen Niagara Falls

Why You Must Visit Niagara Falls in Winter: Visiting Frozen Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in winter is a magical experience!

UPDATED: February 2019

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. To escape the crowds and view Niagara Falls in a whole new light, why not consider visiting Niagara Falls in winter?

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. While it’s spectacular in the summer, Niagara Falls is brilliant in all seasons. Thankfully, the off seasons are a little less hectic, especially during the winter. Is it cold? Yes, pack your parka. Is it worth braving the cold to visit? Of course! Niagara Falls is a spectacular dazzler in the winter.

Niagara Falls Winter: Seeing Niagara Falls Frozen

One of the main reasons to visit Niagara Falls in winter? You want to see Niagara Falls frozen! Frozen waterfalls are absolutely stunning and offer entirely different scenery in comparison to what they look like during the other seasons. Sections of the waterfall become frozen over. The chilling mist rises up above the Falls and surrounds you at times.

Layers of ice and snow bury the rushing water down below. Only small sections of the Niagara River are visible; you can still observe just how fast the water is flowing. Dense clumps of snow and ice cover the protective fences and barriers, feeling as hard as the concrete beneath them. Trees and plants are completely frozen and cling to the rocky cliff edges. Seeing Niagara Falls in winter is nothing like visiting in the spring, summer, or fall.

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

When to Visit Niagara Falls in Winter

When is the best time to visit Niagara Falls in winter? If you want to see Niagara Falls frozen or partially frozen, make your way there after it’s been freezing cold for a while. After many days of frigid and freezing weather, Niagara Falls will begin to grow more frozen and icy. I’ve heard that when it gets really cold that you’ll see huge chunks of ice floating over the waterfall itself. That is beyond cool! See what I did there!

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in February

I’ve updated this article as we went to see Niagara Falls in February after experiencing a lot of freezing weather. As always, it was absolutely gorgeous. Niagara never disappoints. The American Falls were mostly frozen over, and the Horseshoe Falls was frozen down below. Clumps of snow and ice were everywhere and covering every surface: barriers, trees, plants, you name it. The water is powerful, as always, no matter the season.

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in January

Back in 2015 when I first wrote this article, Justin and I arrived to Niagara Falls from Toronto with our friend, Shannon and her boyfriend. We traveled to Niagara Falls in January to see exactly how magical the waterfall appeared. We reached Niagara Falls in the afternoon, which would typically be the busiest point of hte day in the summer. However, there weren’t any crowds of people to battle for a prime viewing spot. Visiting Niagara Falls in winter is way less crowded, cheaper if you’re going to spend the night, and it’s far easier to find a parking spot (and also cheaper!).

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 in winter from any location as we never had to wait for someone to move out of the way. Here are a few photos from back when we visited Niagara Falls in January 2015.

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Niagara Falls in January

What to Wear

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 winter coat, scarf, hat, and mittens/gloves. Layers are your friend.

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.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls in Winter

What to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter

Other than seeing the Falls themselves, you might be wondering what else you can do. Thankfully, Niagara Falls is always exciting and alive. There are always plenty of things to do in Niagara Falls. While some of the main Niagara Falls attractions close down in winter (Hornblower Cruises, White Water Walk, and the Whirlpool Aero Car are all closed), there are so many attractions that remain open in all seasons.

Journey Behind the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls, a Niagara Parks attraction, remains open all year long. You’ll have an alternate perspective of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls on this adventure. Take a self-guided walking tour through 130 year old tunnels to experience the power of Niagara. 

There are multiple cave entrances where you can see Niagara Falls plummeting down right before your eyes. The best part of Journey Behind the Falls is the observation deck at the end of the tunnel system. Standing right beside Niagara Falls is an experience like no other. While I’ve only visited this attraction in the summer and fall before, I am certain that standing beside Niagara Falls in the winter would be absolutely incredible. Check out the Niagara Parks website for hours and information.

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, we thought it would be fun to try our luck as well. While the slot machines are always tempting, Justin and I really like the electronic roulette machines that are situated around an actual roulette wheel.

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.

Why You Must Visit Niagara Falls in Winter: Fallsview Casino

Why You Must Visit Niagara Falls in Winter: Fallsview Casino

Why You Must Visit Niagara Falls in Winter: Fallsview Casino

Margaritaville Niagara Falls

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 Niagara Falls 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 among 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: Margaritaville

Niagara Falls in Winter: Margaritaville

Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower is open for business if you’d like to get an aerial view of Niagara Falls. It’s a revolving restaurant with non-stop gorgeous views out the window. It isn’t cheap dining up there, but it’s all about the experience. You get admission to the observation deck included with your meal, as well as the fun glass elevator ride.

Clifton Hill

A trip to Niagara Falls isn’t complete without walking up and down Clifton Hill. There are so many amusements and attractions along Clifton Hill, like wax museums, arcades, and indoor mini golf. While some of the attractions are a little cheesy or tacky, it’s oddly charming. The Niagara SkyWheel is open all year long and you won’t have to wait in any huge lineups. I recommend riding the Niagara SkyWheel at night when the Falls are all lit up.

For craft beer fans, check out Niagara Brewing Company on Clifton Hill. They have award winning beers, as well as local specialties, such as the ice wine beer. Open to the public since 2015, they’re serving up quality brews right in the heart of Niagara Falls, so be sure to stop by for a tasting or a pint.

Seeing More Frozen Waterfalls

Niagara Falls also happens to be near the city of Hamilton, the waterfall capital of the world. If you’re still looking for more waterfalls to view in the winter, check out these five epic Hamilton waterfalls (though none are quite as massive as Niagara).

Where To Stay

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.

Getting There From Toronto

If you have access to a car, driving there on your own is the easiest way to reach Niagara Falls from Toronto. If not, you can book a tour to Niagara Falls from Toronto that includes transportation, lunch, and some attraction tickets. Here’s another discounted tour option that includes transportation from Toronto.

Here’s a short video that I took of Niagara Falls in the winter (January 2015).

PIN any of the above images to Pinterest for future reference. Click the top left corner.

Have you ever visited Niagara Falls in winter? Have you seen a frozen waterfall?

55 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! ;)

    • 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!

  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!

    • 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!

  3. Sammi Wanderlustin'
    | Reply

    Ooooh it looks so beautiful!! :) I definitely would enjoy it more in the winter than in the summer.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It was so pretty to see in person, I hope you can visit someday in the winter :)

  4. Emma
    | Reply

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

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Did you end up going? How was it? :) Hope you had a great time!

  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!

  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.

  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!

  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 :)

  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 :)

  10. Tim
    | Reply

    An impressive sight no matter what time of year but winter really kicks that into high gear :)

  11. Raphael Alexander Zoren
    | Reply

    Great photos, the falls with the snow sure look breath taking!!!!

  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!!

  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 :)

  15. Alessandra
    | Reply

    How beautiful!! Never thought to come in winter!! It’s fab!!

  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.

  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.

  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

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It’s beautiful in a whole different way!

  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!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      You’re welcome! It won’t be too cold in December. Enjoy!

  22. Daniel
    | Reply

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

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Daniel, no problem! I’m a “local” around here so I have no problem sharing these secrets ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Yehuda
    | Reply

    is it frozen in early December ?late December?

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Nope, not yet. It won’t be frozen until at least January and it really depends on what kind of a winter we’re having. Waiting until February would be a safe bet.

  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
      | 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.

  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???

  27. Tasha
    | Reply

    I’ve just come across your photos and write as I have the option of 3 nights layover in Toronto. .and toying with the idea…looks so awesome…is it easy to get to from Toronto airport? Anywhere else you recommend as I’m very much into the outdoors ..thanks so much..Tasha

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Tasha, I believe there is a shuttle bus that goes between Toronto and Niagara Falls, though you might have to take the UP Express from Toronto Pearson Airport to Union Station first. My advice, if possible, rent a car from the airport and go on your own. You’ll have more freedom this way! Also, are you traveling to Niagara in the winter or summer? There are SO many awesome outdoor things to do in the region!

  28. sharon
    | Reply

    Hi I have just seen your amazing pics, we are travelling from Wales UK to Toronto 02/01/2018 and this is the one place I have always wanted to go especially in winter as it looks so magical. We are staying in downtown Toronto and I am a little worried how to get to Niagara Falls. Also can you recommend anything else for us whilst there. We won’t have a car as I am petrified of driving on the other side of the road and have been told Toronto traffic is really busy so will be relying on buses/trains/excursion companies.
    Many thanks Sharon

    • Leslie W-H
      | Reply

      There is a bus service called GO Transit which has several trips each day from downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls. The trip takes about 2 hours. The schedules and prices are available online at GoTransit.com.

  29. […] Why You Should Visit Niagara Falls in the Winter […]

  30. […] visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is an entirely different experience, there are so many things to do and see in the spring, summer, […]

  31. Tessa
    | Reply

    Great blog! BEAUTIFUL pictures! Good info too on the vegan menu at the Skylon Tower. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Janae Junior
    | Reply

    Hi Laura,

    We’re planning a Toronto trip for New Years, do you think Niagara Falls will be too frozen Jan. 2/3? Thank you!

    • Janae Junior
      | Reply

      I’m currently looking into overnight accommodations, is it worth it?

      • Lauren
        | Reply

        Hi Janae,

        I am not sure that Niagara Falls will be frozen from January 2-3rd. It might be too early in the season depending on how cold the weather gets in January. It will most certainly be cold down by the water, and the mist will be cold!

        You might be able to find a great deal on overnight accommodations as it will be off-season at the Falls. I’d look around and see what you can find. Depending on what you’re looking to do in the area, it might be worth an overnight stay! Especially if you’re thinking about combining Niagara Falls with Niagara-on-the-Lake. But if you’re thinking about staying mostly in Toronto and you have a rental car, you can easily see the Falls in a day without staying the night!

        Hope that helps!

      • Janae Junior
        | Reply

        Thank you for your help!

  33. Janae Junior
    | Reply

    *Lauren. Sorry about that.

  34. Jim Sauntry
    | Reply

    Do the Falls ever freeze over ? I’d like to take my wife there for a surprise trip in February.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It really depends on the weather and how cold it gets. They don’t ever completely freeze over, but sections of it will be frozen. With the recent weather, they might already be partially frozen! February is your best bet for this. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. They’ll look beautiful in February and what a lovely surprise trip! Just dress super warmly!

  35. Peanut
    | Reply

    Hi Lauren!

    I ran into your blog on Niagara during winter. I’m booked for the last week of December and we are staying at Marriott Fallsview. I’ve also RSVP’d on the Skytower for dinner. We’ll be flying to Buffalo and also reserved a taxi (buffalotaxi airport $75 one way) to Fallsview then, we’ll stay one night in the Buffalo side prior to heading home. Any recommendations on the Buffalo side as a must-see or do aside from see the Buffalo side of the falls?

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Ooh, I wrote a whole blog post about Buffalo! So many awesome places to explore. Check out my blog post on it to see if you find any ideas that you’re interested in! They might have the ice biking open and while we haven’t done it yet, that sounded pretty neat! https://justinpluslauren.com/travel-to-buffalo-new-york/

  36. J
    | Reply

    How exactly do I find that same path from which you took the pictures. (This is kind of an urgent question.)
    Thank you.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      There’s nothing crazy or secretive about the path we took – It’s just the main one on the Canadian side right along the edge of the waterfall! It’s the most obvious place to walk – just walk the length of it until you get right up beside the waterfall. Enjoy!

  37. Andrea Peacock
    | Reply

    OH MY GOSH Niagara Falls in the winter looks gorgeous! I’ve only been once in late spring/early summer, and I was so blown away by how beautiful it is. I would love to experience it like this though. Incredible photos!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? We’ve had such a cold snap here lately that it has frozen over in parts again. Now is a great time to visit!

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