What to do in Niagara Falls, Canada for Adventurers!
Your Niagara Falls adventure starts right here, my friends.
I’ve been going to Niagara Falls since I was a kid, so when I got the opportunity to go back just recently, I decided that I wanted to hone in on the joyful, adventurous spirit that I had when exploring the city during my childhood. Now, at that time, I was more about the fun houses, flashing neon lights, mirrored mazes, and candy, but after a little planning, I came to realize that there’s plenty of adventure in Niagara Falls for adults as well.
Bri and I focused in on a number of things when we were thinking about what to do in Niagara Falls, Canada to enact this aforementioned dream.
Firstly, we focused on including some classic adventure style experiences which involved things like zip-lining, jet boating, hopping in a helicopter and a whole lot more.
We then decided that this adventurous ethos should follow into the realm of cuisine, so we visited restaurants that had either a unique offering of cuisine, an unparalleled view or some other defining feature that we could tie back to concept of adventure.
Finally, we conceived of adventure in a sort of “grownups away from their kids on the weekend ” sort of way. In light of that, we visited some breweries and wineries of note just to appropriately round out the weekend of adventure in Niagara Falls.
What Adventurous Activities Should You Include in Your Niagara Falls, Canada Vacation?
Thankfully, adventure in Niagara Falls isn’t that hard to come by, but if you’ve only got 2 days in Niagara Falls, or maybe 3 days in Niagara Falls, then you want to make sure you’re squeezing the most out of your time here, and that’s where this article comes in. Niagara Falls is fun, but you do need to know where to look to find that fun.
Start strong. Get a Unique View of the Falls from a Helicopter!
I mean, I did say this was going to be all about adventure, right?
Believe it or not, that ride with Niagara Helicopters was the very first helicopter ride that Bri and I had ever taken. I was in love what how agile and responsive the helicopter was in the sky, especially compared to the large, lumbering planes I’m quite well acquainted with. Naturally, the views of Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s foremost natural wonders, didn’t hurt either. When I talked in the introduction about rediscovering what adventure looks like for me now in Niagara Falls, this would be a prime example.
If you’re interested, Niagara Helicopters is open 7 days a week from 9am until sunset.
Fly Like A Bird, and Zipline to the Falls
When I first heard about WildPlay’s Mistrider Zipline to the Falls, I was skeptical that it might be a money grab. That was only predicated on the fact that, in theory, I felt something like this would be in high demand no matter what the quality was, and they could charge pretty much whatever they wanted. Well, count me in the wrong category on that one.
Bri and I felt like this was a major highlight in our “adventure in Niagara Falls” trip.
The whole operation is run smoothly and professionally, and I felt there was a lot of value in taking part in this. It’s currently about 50 bucks plus tax, and it’s an unforgettable Niagara Falls experience. Next time I’m back in Niagara Falls, I’m also keen to try the night-time zipline to the Falls, largely because (rather obviously) I want to see the Falls lit up at night while I’m firing across the zipline! They run different hours depending on the time of year, so be sure to see what hours they’ll hold when you’re visiting. Do plan ahead though - thinking about what to do in Niagara Falls, Canada from an adventure perspective, it’s quite necessary to have this on the docket, and you’ll want to get your tickets in advance.
Sadly, Bri and I weren’t able to squeeze this into our Niagara Falls visit this time around, but I’ve also heard really positive things about Wildplay’s Whirlpool Adventure Course.
Take a Journey Behind the Falls
To me, the “Journey Behind the Falls” is the only place that you can really truly understand just how powerful Niagara Falls is. I do firmly believe it’s difficult to conceptualize its power unless you’re right up close, and that’s what this experience is all about. Basically, you’ll take an elevator down 125 feet, and then you’ll have the chance to walk the 130 year old tunnels which are rumbling from the Falls.
There are viewing portals cut into the rock for you to see the Falls in action, but I personally don’t think of this as a photo op as much as a learning opportunity. It’s an opportunity to feel and see what one fifth of the world’s fresh water crashing down feels like - in a very practical sense.
Get Out on the Water and See Niagara Falls via Boat
I’ve written previously about things to do for couples in Niagara Falls, and I included this as well, but I wanted to note it again because of an experience they’re offering that I think is worthwhile that I didn’t note in my previous comments. I’m referring to the “Falls Fireworks Cruise” where you can get out on the water just in time to see the skies lit up with fireworks.
They still run the more conventional “Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour,” but this is a little something different. They’re also aiming to launch a “VIP Brews & Cruise Event” sometime this season, but, last I checked, they’re still finalizing a few things before they roll that out, and tickets are not currently available. Anyway, it’s something to keep in mind for the future when you’re thinking about what to do in Niagara Falls, Canada for adventurers. You can check if that is up and running by checking the Hornblower Niagara Cruises website.
Head to Niagara Falls Restaurants That Do Things a Little Differently
There are plenty of Niagara Falls restaurants which I’m sure deserve to be on the list here, but I’m trying to keep this list straightforward and simple, so I’ll recommend one place for lunch in Niagara Falls, and one place for dinner.
Grab Lunch at Doc Magilligan’s Restaurant and Irish Pub
When this was first recommended to me, I was a bit hesitant. A search on Google images had me initially thinking it little more than the a restaurant associated with the Best Western next door, and I’m not one for chains, no offence to Best Western. It’s also a little outside the downtown core of Niagara Falls, but I quickly found out that it’s worth the detour. Ireland happens to be one of my favourite nations on the planet, and I’ve been something like five times, so Irish cuisine done right gets me excited.
I don’t think I’ve had better "boxty” (a traditional Irish pancake/crepe) outside of Ireland, ever. I got the “Chicken Curry Boxty” and it was scrumptious. Bri and I also had a nice cold Guinness which was poured to perfection. If you’re looking for an appetizer, I’d also recommend the “Boxty Fries,” which come with a Guinness cheese sauce. If you haven’t tried “boxty” before, be adventurous and give it a whirl.
The interior was pure Ireland as well, and you’d scarcely believe you weren’t in Dublin itself.
Grab Dinner at the Newly Renovated Table Rock House Restaurant
What makes the Table Rock House Restaurant special, and constitutes a more adventurous spin on dining in Niagara Falls, is the view. We reserved a table right by the window that had a jaw-dropping view of Niagara Falls that I don’t feel you can get anywhere else.
At first glance, the menu can seem a touch pricey, but I’d strongly recommend the fixed price menu, where you can get a 3 course meal for $39 or 4 course for $49. The portions are sizeable though, so even with the 3 course meal, there’s no reason you couldn’t leave with leftovers. Quietly, I think this is an enormous steal when you’re looking at Niagara Falls restaurants at large. Don’t pass up the chance to dig into the “Unionville Farms Wild Mushroom Dip” while you’re there. I also had the prime rib, which was done to perfection, and Bri and I shared the “Quinta Quinoa & Seven Grain Salad,” which rounded out the meal rather perfectly.
We couldn’t really have asked for a better evening there. The service, in particular, was impeccable.
Take a Spin on a Jet Boat
When I was inquiring as to what the ultimate Niagara Falls adventure trip might look like, I knew that no itinerary would be complete without a spin on a Whirlpool Jet Boat. You can choose to have an open jet boat, or a closed jet boat, and both are pretty darn exciting. The location is about twenty minutes from downtown Niagara Falls, which gets you at a nice starting position on the Niagara River.
Your guide will take you on a tour of the Niagara River the likes of which you’ve never seen before. You’ll be doing acrobatic maneuvers you didn’t even think boats were capable of, but you can also see that safety is a serious priority for Whirlpool, and they make sure you get back to land in one piece. If adventure is indeed your focus, then this is a must for your itinerary, and should be near the top of the list of what to do in Niagara Falls, Canada for adventurers.
Find a Different Pace of Adventure at the Butterfly Conservatory
Before you shake your head at me and wonder how in the world a butterfly conservatory could make it onto a “adventure in Niagara Falls” list, let me explain myself.
A lot of these activities are fun for adults or couples, but may not be ideal when we’re considering what an Niagara Falls adventure for a family might look like.
When Bri and I arrived at the Butterfly Conservatory, there were families everywhere having a different kind of adventure. In many cases, little children were experiencing the magic of butterflies for the first time, and if that’s not an adorable adventure, I don’t know what is. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this isn’t your spot, but if you’ve got a young family, this could be your first place to look for a touch of adventure that all parties can enjoy.
Wet Your Whistle and Nearby Wineries and Breweries
Our old friends Gill and Dave met up with us to do a little tasting and make it all a bit more fun. We decided on three locations, two of which are wineries, and one of which is a brewery. None are too far from each other, and none are two far from Niagara Falls, so it was all very manageable.
Niagara Oast House Brewers
This spot, to me, is what a great Ontario brewery looks like. The moment you walked in, you got a sense for the clarity of their brand and image, and, thankfully, they had the beer to back all that up. Their well known for “The Barn Raiser,” a country ale, but they’ve got some seasonal stuff that is seriously on-point.
The “Sea Salt and Watermelon Gose,” is perfect for the warmer weather, so if you’re there in the warmer months keep an eye out for that. That being said, they have seasonals coming out all the time, so whenever you’re there, you’re going to be able try something unique and usually quite well thought out. I’m already imagining some pumpkin infused beers for the fall, and some darker, nuttier beers for the winter.
Try to get to Niagara Oast House Brewers around lunch so you can eat there. What they’re cooking on that brushfire smoke BBQ is unbelievable, and the back patio is just ideal for the warmer months. I stand behind this recommendation big time - trust me on this one.
Two Sisters Vineyards
The head winemaker, Adam Pearce, is devoted to making sure Niagara’s unique soil composition comes through in their wines. Two Sisters has the varieties that grow best on their estate to a science, and they recognize what thrives in soil that is bordered by the Niagara River to the east and Lake Ontario to the North.
The price point is a touch higher, and thus a tasting will cost you accordingly, but they make some bold reds here that certainly tickled my fancy. I was particularly drawn to their Cabernet Franc. It’s a nice winery to pop into in Niagara to be sure.
Peller has quickly become one of the best known wineries in Ontario, and Canada for that matter. A stop by their winery seemed more or less obligatory while in the Niagara region, and Gill, Dave, Bri and I opted to head to “The Estate Room” at Peller Estates to try some of the more exclusive wines that we may not have tried in the past. From talking to Jill and Sal, our connoisseurs behind the bar in “The Estate Room,” we were able to try a variety of vintage library wines that suited our respective pallets (and they even had non-alcoholic tasters for Gill!). Many of these wines were only available at the winery, so it was all quite exciting as a wine lover.
The four of us ended up having a lovely time there, and it’s an experience I’d certainly take part in again with wine loving pals.
Here’s to Your Niagara Falls Adventure
Alright, friends, there you go. If you’ve got that sense of adventure in you, you’ve now got a course to follow, and I’m confident it won’t let you down.
As I hope I’ve shown throughout, adventure in Niagara Falls comes in many forms, and you can find what suits your level of adventure. If you want helicopter rides and jet boats, you’re golden, but if you just want to try a few new dishes and wines, well that’s alright as well.
If, like me, you’re based in Toronto, there’s never been a better time to have a little fun in Niagara Falls. I always laugh because nowadays it can take you a few hours just battle through Toronto traffic after work, so why not consider a road-trip on Saturday morning or what have you, and use that same amount of time to go to a place like Niagara Falls?
Whatever the season, whatever the reason, your adventure awaits.