Niagara Falls in Winter: Beautiful and Frozen Niagara Falls Skip to Content

Niagara Falls in Winter: Beautiful and Frozen Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in winter is one of the best times to visit because you’ll be able to see a partially frozen Niagara Falls. It’s quite the sight to behold, surrounded by snow and ice! There’s really nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

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Niagara Falls Winter

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is home to one of the world’s greatest waterfalls. 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

Niagara Falls in Winter Time - Viewing Niagara Falls covered in snow and ice

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.

When to Visit Niagara Falls in Winter

Frozen Niagara Falls - The American Falls / US Falls in the 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!

Niagara Falls in February

Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls

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.

Niagara Falls Winter - Canadian Falls in February January March
The Horseshoe Falls in the Winter, Niagara Falls, Canada
Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Frozen Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls Winter - Surrounding buildings covered in ice and icicles
Snow and ice covering trees and buildings at Niagara Falls in February

Niagara Falls in January

We’ve also visited Niagara Falls in January. One year in particular, we ventured down to see a winter Niagara Falls to witness the magic. We reached Niagara Falls in the afternoon, which is typically the busiest point of the 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!).

Niagara Falls in January
Niagara Falls in January
Niagara Falls in January
Niagara Falls Ontario January

As we walked down to the path that runs along the edge of Niagara 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 some photos of Niagara Falls in January.

What to Wear in the Winter

Wear layers and warm clothing to Niagara Falls during the winter, especially January and February, the coldest months

Dress for the season, and that means dress warmly. And even more warmly than you think. 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.

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 in winter.

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 in Niagara Falls Canada

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. 

Journey Behind the Falls in Niagara Falls Canada

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 your ticket to Journey Behind the Falls or purchase the Niagara Falls Wonder Pass to save money and gain access to several attractions and transportation for one low price (we recommend doing this!).

Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory

Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory in the winter

A trip to the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day. It’s a tropical climate inside, and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful, colorful butterflies fluttering all around.

Take a wander around this gorgeous indoor garden full of lush greenery everywhere you look. Take photos of various species of butterflies as they land on plants or maybe even on you if you’re lucky (it’s good luck to have a butterfly land on you!).

Fallsview Casino

Fallsview Casino

Another fun indoor activity in Niagara Falls in winter is Fallsview Casino. Why not try your luck at the slots of the tables? While Justin and I aren’t frequent casino goers, we will go maybe once or twice a year for a couple of hours (until we lose our money!).

While the slot machines are always tempting, Justin and I really like the electronic roulette machines that are situated around an actual roulette wheel.

Fountain at Fallsview Casino
Ceiling at Fallsview Casino
Justin and Lauren at Fallsview Casino

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.

Margaritaville Niagara Falls

Jimmy Buffett's 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.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

We went with our friend, Shannon, and we 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…

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.

Go Hiking in the Niagara Falls Area

Hiking the Bruce Trail

Why not escape the city and go for a winter hike in Niagara Falls? Just bring some winter hiking boots, bundle up, and hit the trails. You can go winter hiking at Niagara Glen, which is a super scenic spot near Niagara Falls.

I also recommend exploring the Bruce Trail, which runs for 900km between Niagara and Tobermory, Ontario. You can start at Queenston Heights Park at the Southern Terminus Cairn. It’s the stone monument that signifies the very start of the Bruce Trail, and it’s right there in Niagara Falls.

Snowshoeing in Niagara Falls

If you’re looking for what to do in Niagara Falls in winter, you should try snowshoeing in the city. There are many self-guided snowshoe trails for all skill levels in Niagara Falls. Check out the snowshoe trails at the Whirlpool Golf Course all winter long. Snowshoe rentals are available on site, or you can bring your own snowshoes and hit the trails with a low cost trail pass.

Winter Festivals in Niagara Falls

Thinking about visiting Niagara Falls in winter? Why not time your trip for one of its winter festivals? There are lots of ways to celebrate winter in Niagara Falls, whether you’re viewing millions of twinkling lights or sipping a glass of Niagara’s famous ice wine.

Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls

The Niagara Winter Festival of Lights is an annual tradition with over 3 million lights on the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and Niagara Falls. There are one of a kind light displays that are interactive works of art.

There are also Christmas lights for the season, light displays in Canadian themes, and even the Falls themselves are illuminated. The Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse is bright and all lit up for the season, too.

The Winter Festival of Lights runs from the middle of November until the first week of January, so be sure to plan accordingly. There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls in winter, so make sure that you check out the Winter Festival of Lights.

Niagara Holiday Handmade Market

Looking for holiday gifts for that special someone? Check out the annual Niagara Holiday Handmade Market to browse beautiful handmade gifts that you won’t find anywhere else. There are over 200 vendors, food trucks, wine, coffee, live music, and an art alley. The event runs every year at the end of November, and it’s not to be missed.

Niagara Falls for Christmas or New Year’s Eve

Niagara Falls is such a magical place to visit over the Christmas holiday or New Year’s Eve. The annual Santa Claus Parade is a lively event through the city streets in the middle of November. Then, there’s always an amazing New Year’s Eve concert event in Niagara Falls at Queen Victoria Park.

There are also fireworks and parties in the streets, and most of the attractions on Clifton Hill are open for business. If you’re going to visit Niagara Falls in December, I recommend checking out the New Year’s Eve celebrations if you love music and a great party. However, it will be very busy and crowded on NYE!

Niagara Icewine Festival

Throughout January, you’ll have the chance to attend the Niagara Icewine Festival to sample delicious sweet wine from the local wineries in Niagara on the Lake. Visit the Ice Wine Village (downtown Niagara on the Lake) to sample ice wine, view ice sculptures, go shopping, enjoy music, and taste culinary creations.

With an Insider’s Pass, you can try five ice wine samples and keep your souvenir glass. There are also several gala and dinner events surrounding the Niagara Icewine Festival throughout January and February.

Seeing More Frozen Waterfalls

Tiffany Falls Frozen

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 in Niagara Falls

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 so many amazing Niagara Falls hotels and Airbnb accommodations in the city. Here are all of the hotels and Airbnb stays on one convenient map. You can browse and compare prices of every accommodation in one place.

Getting to Niagara Falls From Toronto

If you have access to a car, driving there on your own is the easiest way to reach Niagara Falls from Toronto. Need to rent a car? I recommend comparing car rental prices here to find the best rate.

If not, you can book a tour to Niagara Falls from Toronto that includes transportation, lunch, and some attraction tickets. It’s also possible to take the GO Train from Toronto to Niagara Falls on the weekends, even during the winter time now. However, you’ll have to be mindful of the train times as they only run during certain hours on the weekends.

Traveling from out of town, internationally, or overseas? There are lots of cheap flights to Niagara Falls, New York, and then you can quickly drive across the border to Canada. Feel free to check out Niagara Falls on the US side and the Canadian side.

Alternatively, it might be easier to find flights to Toronto and then make your way down to Niagara Falls with the ways I suggested above. No matter where you’re coming from, don’t forget to get travel insurance before your trip. It might be a simple fall on the ice that can ruin your holiday, especially without the proper travel insurance.

If you’re looking for what to do in Niagara Falls in winter, hopefully this Niagara Falls travel guide has given you lots of ideas! We highly suggest that you make the trip to see the Falls in the wintertime because it’s so beautiful, there are fewer crowds, it’s cheaper, and there are still lots of things to do in Niagara Falls.

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

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Paul Rought

Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Hi Lauren

Great post on visiting Niagara Falls in the winter.

We were lucky enough to visit Toronto for our 5th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago. This is in March so inevitable the Falls were frozen for our visit but we were so glad they were. The sun was the sky and the blue of the frozen water was so stunning. There was also no-one else around to get in the way of our photos!! Can't imagine visiting in the summer now.

The nearby town of Niagara on the Lake is also a stunning place to visit!

Paul

Lauren

Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Thank you, Paul! I'm glad you got to experience the Falls in the winter when they were frozen. While it does look really pretty in the summer, there are lots of crowds - in the winter, you get it more to yourself! Niagara on the Lake is lovely, too. It also gets pretty busy in the summer, so it's good to enjoy that in the off season as well!

Ali Haider

Wednesday 22nd of January 2020

Gorgeous photos! I know the idea of visiting Niagara Falls in the winter may not sound that appealing on the surface but there’s so much to do and all visitors will get tremendous respect from locals.

Lauren

Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Thanks, Ali! And yes, it might be a little bit on the chilly side, but it's worth bundling up to visit!

Andrea Peacock

Saturday 26th of January 2019

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

Monday 28th of January 2019

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!

J

Saturday 8th of December 2018

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

Lauren

Saturday 8th of December 2018

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!

Peanut

Tuesday 24th of July 2018

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

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

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/

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