The region is home to dozens of wineries, the popular Shawfest theater festival and opportunities for outdoor adventures in the network of parks that line the river. At night, fireworks light up the sky over the falls. You don't have to bring your passport to have a great time, but you might be drawn across the border for even more of what the region has to offer, so come prepared.

First things first, you'll want to see the falls!

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  • Niagara Cruises leave every 15 minutes, all day long, and take visitors right to the base of the falls. There are also night tours that don't get as close but take you out under the fireworks.
  • Niagara Helicopters takes you over the falls for an aerial view. The six-passenger helicopters have big windows so everyone gets a great view. Flights run year round, weather permitting. Photographers love the experience – and if the skies are very clear, you may see all the way to Toronto.
  • If a flight or a cruise isn't adrenaline-fueled enough, consider a Whirlpool Jet Boat tour. Leaving from either the U.S. or Canada (no border crossing necessary), Whirlpool has open and fully enclosed jet boats that race up the Niagara River. Bring a change of clothes if you take the open boat. You will get wet, but you won't find a more exciting way to experience the river.

Niagara Wineries

While wine has been made in the region for over 200 years, the Niagara wine scene really has its roots in the 1970s, when the first high-quality wines were produced here. The region is now known partly for its ice wines, and there's an Icewine Festival every January.

  • In 2014, Peller Estates was named Best Canadian Winery of the Year at London's International Wine & Spirit Competition. Daily tours include four sample tastings and small plates – book your tour online, in advance.
  • Also an award winner, Trius Winery snagged best winery in the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada in 2015. It offers guided tours, tastings, dinners, classes—a full menu of experiences. Make reservations.
  • Strewn Winery occupies a former 1940s cannery. It's now surrounded by vineyards and peach orchards. There's a cooking school and a tapas bar on site, and the tasting room is open year round.
  • Caroline Cellars opened in 2002 on a family estate. Visit the winery at lunchtime to take advantage of the Farmhouse Café, a popular stop for cyclists since it's right on a popular bike trail. In addition to their respected ice wines, Caroline Cellars also produces blackberry, blueberry and cranberry wines.
  • Two Sisters Vineyards, a relative newcomer to the Niagara wine scene, has already produced award-winning wines, proving their focus on small batch, high quality production is working.

There are many more wineries in the region. If you'd rather leave your planning to the experts, consider booking a tour with Niagara World Wine Tours. They offer a variety of options: half day, full day, and full day with dinner tours – and you don't have to drive. There are bicycle tours as well or, you can rent a bike and plan your own itinerary. Be sure to ask your innkeepers for recommendations; as residents, they're your best resource for up to date information about the wineries.

Fun places to take the kids

Niagara isn't just for honeymooners. The area has plenty of family-friendly attractions that are perfect for kids;these attractions offer discounts if you buy your tickets online, in advance.

  • Marineland amusement park features roller coasters and other rides for the excitement seekers, and Beluga and Orca whale exhibits for those curious about marine life. There are bison, elk, and reindeer, a dolphin show, and, of course, lots of amenities – food kiosks, picnic areas, souvenir stands, and more.
  • Skylon Tower stands 775 feet above Niagara Falls, providing spectacular views from the observation deck and rotating dining room. It's less than a minute to the top in a glass elevator. Take as long as you like to enjoy the breathtaking view.
  • A tropical garden populated with exotic critters and the world's largest indoor aviary, Bird Kingdom gives visitors a chance to interact with parrots and other unusual animals. There's a 40-foot waterfall, a hand-carved Javanese house and an excellent view of the Niagara River Gorge.
  • Safari Niagara hopes visitors will learn about their animals and leave with a new respect and curiosity about wildlife. The award-winning park holds over 750 different species of animals. There's also a ropes course, a splash pool, paddle boats, go-karts and a family farm where you can interact with the animals.

History and culture

  • Learn about the history of Ontario and Canada at the Niagara Historical Society Museum. Permanent exhibits educate visitors about 9,000 years of Canadian history, starting with the First Nations people and ending with the tourism boom of the 1970s.
  • Print your own headlines at the Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum. This hands-on collection displays 500 years of printing technology – great for newspaper and typesetting nerds.
  • Lawyer Samuel Weir built a home on Niagara River that, according to his wishes, was converted to a museum after his death. The collection at Riverbrink focuses on Canadian art and includes fine examples of works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts.
  • Take a walk through the spooky history of Niagara on the Lake, said to be Canada's most haunted town, with Ghost Walks. Tours are about 90 minutes long, and run rain or shine.

Festivals and festivities

  • Catch a play at the popular Shaw Festival, which offers a full season of theater devoted to the works of George Bernard Shaw and those who share the playwright's wit, style and fearlessness in poking fun at the status quo.
  • Every September, the Niagara Wine Festival features a parade, live entertainment and, of course, wine tastings. Music in Montebello Park is free; buy tokens or a pass for tastings.
  • The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Festival focuses on – you guessed it – Chardonnay wines only. Extensive tastings, dinners, and presentations take place throughout the July event.
  • Classical, jazz, country, big band and more are on offer through Music Niagara. Concerts take place in a number of different venues including a beautiful 1800s stone church and a refurbished red barn that's now a brewery.
  • Live entertainment, 20 dining options, and gaming – poker, slots, blackjack, you name it. Falls View Casino overlooks Horseshoe Falls. You can't miss it; look for the 13-story LED video sign.

The Niagara dining scene

At least once, you should splurge and eat dinner in a restaurant with a view of the famous falls. But once your appetite for scenery has been filled, consider eating in town instead. As one might expect in any wine region, there's a lively farm-to-table scene, and a wide array of international cuisine that showcases the region's diversity.

  • Casa Mia Ristorante: A classic Italian restaurant with housemade pasta and a wine bar.
  • Old Winery: There's live music on Friday and Saturday nights and Tuscan-style Mediterranean food from the wood-fired pizza over.
  • Treadwell: The seasonal menu uses ingredients sourced in the Niagara region and the chefs are well known for their take on in Niagara Cuisine
  • The Copa: With a huge patio, signature cocktails, Samba shows on the weekends and Brazilian-style BBQ, the Copa's party like atmosphere makes for a fun night out.
  • The Epicurean: Enjoy the flower-decked garden patio, popular on summer evenings, and a causal but stylish dining room. Seasonal menus are paired with local wines.
  • Backhouse: Embracing the idea of cool-climate cuisine, the menu focuses on ingredients that thrive in the Niagara region.
  • The Angel Inn: An English style pub rebuilt in 1815. Enjoy live music and a late night menu if you're looking for a bite after painting the town.
  • Grill on King: This establishment offers Mediterranean-style dining with certified Angus steaks, an excellent wine list, and an expansive patio.
  • The Irish Harp Pub: The interior of this authentic Irish bar was shipped from Ireland and reassembled here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The place offers beer, whiskey and great pub food.

Travel tips from our innkeepers

Acacia Bed and Breakfast

Gordon Schmidt is your host at the Acacia Bed and Breakfast, a four-bedroom inn that's very close to the falls. He suggests you try to avoid making the border crossings on Friday nights and on summer weekends. He also says that if you're taking a helicopter ride, do so at dusk when you'll get a combination of sunset and city lights.

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Victorian Charm Bed & Breakfast

Victorian Charm Bed & Breakfast is a five-room inn in an 1889 Victorian home. All the rooms have private baths, and some have double Jacuzzi tubs. The inn is proud of its green cleaning practices and the organic ingredients that make up the breakfasts. Innkeeper Anne Marie Dubois recommends that cyclists hit the Welland Canal Parkway trail for 43 kilometers (27 miles) of scenic cycling.

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Post House Inn

Once the post office for Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Post House Inn has nine rooms with antique furnishings and luxury amenities. There's also a pool and an outdoor hot tub. Innkeeper Barbara Ganim is known for her signature stuffed French toast. For a bit of romance, book a horse and buggy ride – they're available for guided tours through Old Town.

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Graystone B&B Main Floor Suites

Look out the windows at the local apple orchards while enjoying coffee in the great room at Graystone B&B Main Floor Suites. Innkeepers Nicky and Ben Sadoon serve a gourmet hot breakfast featuring seasonal fruit and homemade baked goods in the dining room. There's great shopping in Niagara; Nicky and Ben suggest you head for the Outlet Collection at Niagara where you'll find… everything, including a food truck rally that runs in from mid-summer through fall.

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DownHome Bed and Breakfast

DownHome Bed and Breakfast is in historical Old Town, just a few blocks from shopping, restaurants, galleries and more. There are only three rooms, each with views onto the landscaped gardens. Breakfast is followed by coffee on the deck overlooking One Mile Creek. Innkeepers Sandy and James Down recommend you play a round of golf on the oldest course in North America at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club.

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GlobeTrotters B&B

GlobeTrotters B&B has three suites decorated with bright colors and works by local artists. There are big windows in the breakfast room and home-baked croissants on menu. Innkeepers Fernando and Donna have years of experience in hospitality and are experts on the region – ask them where to eat or what to see.

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Things to do in Niagara Falls & Niagara-on-the-Lake

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Niagara Falls Accommodations

Niagara-on-the-Lake Accommodations

Food

  • Backhouse Restaurant
  • Casa Mia Ristorante
  • Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse
  • Grill On King
  • The Epicurean
  • The Irish Harp Pub
  • The Old Winery Restaurant
  • The Olde Angle Inn
  • Treadwell Farm to Table

History

  • Niagara Historical Society & Museum
  • Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Musem
  • RiberBring Art Museum

Tours

  • Ghost Walks of Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Hornblower Niagara Cruises
  • Niagara Helicopters Limited
  • Niagara Wine Tours International
  • Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

Wine

  • Caroline Cellars
  • Peller Estates Winery
  • Strewn Winery
  • Trius Winery at Hillebrand
  • Two Sisters Vineyard

Other Attractions

  • Bird Kingdom
  • Marineland
  • Safari Niagara
  • Skylon Tower