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.

Niagara Falls in Winter

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.

Niagara Falls in 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!

Niagara Falls in Winter

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
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.

WHERE TO STAY

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.

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

Why You Should Visit Niagara Falls in the Winter

PIN this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

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

51 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! πŸ˜‰

    • 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!! πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

  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? πŸ™‚ Hope you had a great time!

  5. Hannah
    | Reply

    Confession: never been to Niagara falls πŸ™ 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 πŸ˜‰
    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 πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

  10. Tim
    | Reply

    An impressive sight no matter what time of year but winter really kicks that into high gear πŸ™‚

  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! πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ˜‰ 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/

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