En español | Be sure to stay on top of the latest pandemic-related restrictions in Canada. The country opened its borders on Aug. 9, though U.S. visitors coming by land or air will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, uploaded using the ArriveCAN app or web portal, to avoid a two-week quarantine upon arrival. All travelers will still require a pre-entry negative COVID-19 molecular test result. In order to return to the U.S. by air, you’ll be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before boarding your flight. Ontario currently has capacity restrictions on restaurants, boat tours and other tourist attractions.
As you observe the sheer volume of frothing white water cascading over Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, it’s stunning to think that some have forgone the viewing platform to experience the thundering wonder from inside a barrel plummeting over the brink.
The falls’ famous history as a magnet for daredevils — including successful barrel rider Annie Taylor, who crashed and bobbed her way to fame in 1901 — has drawn tourists and honeymooners to the edge for more than 150 years. Niagara Falls is also indescribably beautiful, with three waterfalls joining to create a constant mist. It often reflects a rainbow, arching like an ethereal bridge between the United States and Canada.
The Niagara River separates the two countries, with towns named Niagara Falls on each shore. The falls lie in between; the Canadian side is home to Horseshoe Falls, and the U.S. claims American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Ontario’s Niagara Falls, which is just over an hour’s drive from Toronto and 30 minutes from Buffalo, New York, arguably offers better views than the New York side. It’s almost entirely accessible, too, with so many attractions, hotels and restaurants able to accommodate guests with mobility challenges. What’s more, popping over to the Canadian side will give you an automatic 25 percent discount on everything, from admissions to wine tastings, thanks to a favorable exchange rate.
And for those who see a waterfall and go, “Meh,” fear not — there’s a lot more to do than simply watch 681,000 gallons of water plunge 170 feet every second. Here are a few ideas for spending two or three days on the Niagara Peninsula.
What to do
Learn the history. A good place to start is the Niagara Falls History Museum, where exhibits explain how the falls and their river were carved out during the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago, as well as the region’s role in the War of 1812 (the downtown museum is located near the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield, site of one of the war’s bloodiest battles).
Get your fill of the falls. To fully (and literally) immerse in the waterfall experience, don a plastic poncho and ride an elevator down into the Niagara escarpment during Journey Behind the Falls ($12.40 U.S.). You’ll emerge into tunnels cut through the bedrock at the base of Horseshoe Falls to feel the thundering vibration and hear the ceaseless roar caused by water coursing over the brink. Venture out onto the accessible upper observation deck and get kissed (or, rather, drenched) by spray as the waterfalls behind you.