There is no place like Niagara Falls! I am not sure whether it is just me or everyone falls in love with the beautiful nature’s creation as fast as I did. So, if you haven’t been there yet but hoping to go, I would love to help you to plan your perfect first-time visit to Niagara Falls, ON.
This year all I wanted to do on my birthday was to visit Niagara Falls. I am 4th of July baby, so it was also a great way to celebrate by doing something different.
We had high expectations for this day trip but we were aware of the crowds, lack of parking, possibly bad food and extremely high prices. First of all, let me assure you that there were not as many people as we expected. Well, at least on the Canadian side. But the traffic on the Ambassador Bridge was really heavy during the day, so I was glad we stayed in Toronto.
Spoiler alert: everything we hoped to see was bigger, better, more powerful. And if I had to pick a day to visit Niagara Falls, ON, again, I would choose the 4th of July for the reasons mentioned below.
When I was planning the trip, I found out there were so many activities happening at Niagara Falls, ON: from famous boat cruises and Journey Behind the Falls to White Water Walk and Helicopter Tours. Everything sounded so good, and I was tempted to visit vineyards around Niagara Falls. However, once we arrived, we realized that all we wanted to do was stay and enjoy the view for as long as we could. I highly recommend avoiding planning too many activities when you visit Niagara Falls for the first time. A simple itinerary will do.
Driving to the park in Canada:
Niagara Falls is only 80 miles away from Toronto, ON and it took us about 2 hours to get there on the 4th of July. There was no much traffic, but the speed limit in Canada is 60kph (37mph), so you have to be aware of that when you plan your day.
Entrance to the park is free but you have to find parking.
Parking is not free, but very well organized, clean and secure. You may expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $25 per day. We parked just across Niagara Falls and paid $25. It was very reasonable for 14 hours we spent there, and the fact that we didn’t have to walk a lot to see the Falls.
What we did:
Hornblower Niagara Falls Cruise was the only “must-do” for us. All other activities were optional. It cost us almost USD 54 for two 20-minute ride tickets. It was so worth it that we want to do it again next time to go! I highly recommend making reservations in advance. Your ticket is valid one day from 8.30 AM to 8.30 PM and also includes access to the funicular.
Other than that we enjoyed walking around Queen Victoria Park making stops every 5 minutes to observe Niagara Falls.
Dinner at Skylon Tower:
We ended the day by having delicious dinner at the rotating restaurant with breathtaking views at Skylon Tower. Surprisingly enough not only the food was delicious and service excellent, but you also get access to the observation deck, and free entrance to the tower. My husband made a reservation in advance and requested a table next to the window.
Fireworks at Niagara Falls, ON:
Is there a better way to end a perfect day than watching fireworks both on Niagara Falls, ON, and the USA? The most spectacular 10 minutes and the pictures don’t do the judgment.
Where we ate:
Breakfast: we started the day with the best bagels at Schmaltz Appetizing in Toronto before.
Lunch: there are plenty of restaurants at Niagara Falls, as well as food court. We had a dinner reservation, so we decided to go with something simple for lunch. The meal at the food court was really good and reasonably priced.
Dinner: rotating restaurant in Skylon Tower.
What to take:
- if you’re visiting during warmer months, a really good sunscreen, umbrella, and water bottle is a must. It’s really hot and humid there.
- if you’re planning on taking the Hornblower tour, keep in mind that your shoes (and your hair) will get wet, so waterproof shoes or a pair of sandals is a great idea.
- if you’re staying the whole day, an extra t-shirt would be a plus. We took clothes and shoes to change for evening activities.
- if you’re arriving by car and need parking, you can pay with a credit card, CAD and even USD everywhere at Niagara Falls.