A Barrel of Fun

Attractions, Rides, and Things to Do in Niagara Falls, Canada

The Niagara Skywheel at sunset. ©Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com.

Niagara Falls is like an enormous, un-gated theme park. Instead of fairy tales or cartoon characters, the theme is the falls. The lure of the falls is so powerful, it attracts visitors from all over the world. I don't think I've ever seen a more diverse crowd than the multi-culti throngs vacationing there. While there's plenty to do on the U.S. side of the border (the state park is especially beautiful), the Canadian Niagara Falls is more developed and offers a slew of diversions.

There is an impressive array of attractions designed to give visitors a view of the falls from every conceivable vantage point. While there is one actual theme park and three indoor water parks, Niagara Falls also offers many stand-alone attractions, particularly on Clifton Hill, the tourist haven across from the American Falls.

Three indoor water park resorts:

  • Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
    Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Part of the Falls Avenue entertainment complex, the unique water park (it sits on top of a parking garage for starters) is across from the American Falls, in the heart of the Niagara Falls action.
    • Fallsview Photo Gallery
  • Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls
    Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Although it is relatively secluded, the resort is conveniently located near the intersection of Niagara Parkway and Victoria Ave.
    • Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls Photo Gallery
  • Waves Indoor Water Park at Americana
    Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Smaller than the other two indoor water parks, Waves features a clear, retractable roof.
    • Waves Indoor Water Park Photo Gallery

    One theme park:

    • Marineland Canada
      Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. As its name implies, the focus at Marineland is on shows and attractions featuring dolphins, whales, and other sea creatures. The park also offers a decent assortment of rides.
      • Marineland Photo Gallery

    There are myriad ways to view and experience the majesty of the falls, including:

    • Niagara SkyWheel
      Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. One of the tallest Ferris wheels (or, perhaps more accurately, observation wheels) in North America, the Niagara SkyWheel is perched across from the American Falls.
      • Niagara SkyWheel Photo Gallery
    • Skylon Tower
      Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The 520-foot tower offers stunning views of the falls and the surrounding area. Getting to the top of the tower, in the outside-mounted, glass-enclosed elevators is half the fun. The complex includes a restaurant near the top of the tower, an arcade game room, a fast food court, and a 4-D theater (see below).
    • Niagara Helicopters
      Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. See the falls from the sky. The 12-minute tour follows the Niagara River and flies over the gorge, the Whirlpool area, and other sites. If the weather conditions are right, you'll marvel at the rainbows created by the falls' mist.
    • Maid of the Mist
      Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The world-famous attraction is a Niagara Falls must-see. The venerable boats sail past the American Falls and linger within a few feet of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. You WILL get spritzed--drenched is more like it. Even though you'll look goofy, wear the provided trash-bag ponchos.

      There are many attractions about the falls, including:

      • IMAX Theatre Niagara Falls
        Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. See the Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic film in the incredible large-screen IMAX format. Using both archival and re-created footage, it tells the true stories of the wackos who braved the falls in barrels or by walking across them on a tightrope. After the film, explore the Daredevil Gallery, an exhibit featuring the actual barrels and other Niagara artifacts. The theater is operated by National Geographic and includes a National Geographic store.
      • Legends of Niagara
        Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. At the base of the Skylon Tower. The 4-D presentation (3-D movie footage with sensory enhancements) tells the story of the falls through the eyes of a contemporary Native Canadian who traces her ancestral roots. Plenty of special effects and "gotchas."

        Next page: More Niagara Falls things to do.

        There are also many other attractions in the area, including:

        • Clifton Hill (SkyWheel Side)
          Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The lively street across from the American Falls is like a carnival midway (in fact, one of the facilities, offering arcade games and other attractions, is called The Great Canadian Midway). The side of the street that features the SkyWheel also offers the Movieland Wax Museum (enter the House of Horrors at your own peril), a motion simulator theater, the Ghost Blasters interactive dark ride, and two mini-golf courses.
        • Clifton Hill (Guinness World Records Side)
          Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The other side of the street is also jammed with attractions, including a Guinness World Records Museum, the LEGO-themed BrickCity, and a bunch of haunted houses.
        • Falls Avenue
          Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. At the bottom of Clifton Hill is a huge complex of hotels, restaurants, shops, the Casino Niagara, the Fallsview Water Park (see the previous page), and attractions including the WWE PileDriver drop tower ride, Marvel Adventure City (the interactive Spider-man dark ride, X-Men Bumper Cars, and arcade games), and a motion simulator theater.
        This is a small sampling of the attractions and sights in Niagara Falls. For more info, check out these resources:
        • Top 10 Niagara Falls Attractions
          About.com's Canada for Visitors Guide offers an overview of the region.
        • Tourism Niagara
          The official destination Web site of Canada's Niagara region offers tons of info about attractions, accommodations, restaurants, and other vacation-planning resources and tools.