Niagara Falls in the Winter

Disclosure notice

Niagara Falls in the winter was not something we had thought of until we saw a Facebook Ad about a Niagara Festival of Lights Tour! The Festival of Lights is a free activity from mid-November to mid-February.

Winter season in Niagara Falls is far less crowded and enjoyable if you dress correctly for the cold temperatures. A weekend trip to Niagara Falls is the perfect amount of time for a winter adventure!

If you enjoy winter travel, you might also enjoy exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula during the snowy months, where you can explore ice caves and partially frozen waterfalls.

A view of Niagara Falls in the Winter.

Niagara Falls Wonder Pass

Niagara Parks offers a wintertime Niagara Falls Wonder Pass, which provides a discount rate for visiting multiple attractions. The pass includes one-time admission to: Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, Butterfly Conservatory, and Floral Showhouse.

The pass also includes 48 hours of unlimited access to the Falls Incline Railway and the WEGO buses. Pass activation begins on the first bus/incline scan.

Falls Incline Plaza with the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights in the background.

We used the incline a few times and didn’t use the bus system. We attempted to use the pass for the bus, but the bus was running late, so we just walked to our destination instead.

A handful of coupons also come with the pass – $5 parking, free glass with meal purchase, % off gift store purchase, discount to the Sky Wheel, etc.

Butterfly Conservatory

The Conservatory is located a few miles north of downtown, but no worries, the WEGO bus stops here. Parking is $5 at this location, one of the cheaper places to park.

Since this was our first stop, we redeemed our online purchase document for the pass.

Plan to spend 45 minutes to an hour checking out the 400+ types of butterflies on-premises (over 2,000 tropical butterflies).  There are winding pathways that meander through a rainforest setting, complete with a pond and waterfall.

A black and green butterfly at the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls.

The most interesting part, in my opinion, is the Emergence window, where the butterflies were emerging from the cocoon.

Tip: Plan to hang your coat up on the free coat check – it is warm inside the conservatory!

Journey Behind the Falls

This journey takes you underground to get an up-close view of the waterfalls crashing down a couple of feet away. Along the way, there are signs with history and stories. Rain ponchos are provided.

Lots of mist from the Journey Behind the Falls.

Niagara’s Fury

Niagara’s Fury takes guests along with a cute little beaver as he re-discovers the history of the falls. 

Once you learn how the falls were created, you venture into a moving platform to experience dropping temperatures, water spray, and snowfall.

This activity takes about 30 minutes, but get in line about 20 minutes before your scheduled time. If traveling with kids, this will surely be a favorite activity!

Tip: Rain ponchos are provided.

Floral Showhouse

The Floral Showhouse is located about a half-mile from the Table Rock Centre. It has a large collection of orchids, succulents, and other tropical plant species.

For the holidays, there was a large amount of holiday-type plans, such as Poinsettia.  There were also some outdoor displays – treehouses, Victorian-era houses, and a train. 

A sleigh surrounded by colorful Poinsettia is just one of the many holiday views at the Floral Showhouse. This special holiday scene is only available when visiting Niagara Falls in the Winter.

Evening hours and daylight hours are available. Visiting during the day was pretty, but the holiday lights would also be so beautiful in the evening!

Festival of Lights

There is a drive-thru display at Dufferin Island, sponsored by Ontario Power Generation. When exiting the park, it is recommended that you make a $5/car donation.

There is ample space to pull over and walk around to check out the displays throughout the park. The light display at Dufferin Island pulls over one million visitors each season!

A lighted Buffalo sculpture at the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights.

Leaving the Dufferin Island area, head to other areas around Niagara Falls to check out the lights. The Lundays Landing portion was a huge disappointment (during our visit), as there were very few holiday displays/lights.

Once we had completed the driving tour, we went back to the hotel and took the Incline Railway down to the falls. 

Trees light up as part of the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights.

There are many light displays on the Niagara Parkway. Some of our favorite things were the interactive displays! 

The “Impulse” was a series of seesaws in which motion affects the lights and sounds. The “Passage” exhibit is composed of illuminated circles that change color and sound when you walk through them.

A Festival of Lights interactive display where you walk through a row of looped lights that change as you walk through.

There is a fireworks display over the falls—check the schedule—but it typically occurs on Friday nights. Note that the display only lasted about 5 minutes the day we visited.

Firework bursting over Niagara Falls from the Canadian side of the falls.

Other activities to consider

Beyond exploring the Niagara FallsWonder Pass options, consider a few other options in the area!

Option 1: Niagara Falls Area

The Tunnel at the Niagara Power Station

The Tunnel at the Niagara Power Station is a historic tunnel that opened for tours in 2022. It was constructed to carry water from the Niagara River to the power plant's turbines, generating electricity for the surrounding areas.

Today, the tunnel is no longer used for generating electricity, but it is open for public tours year-round. The tour explains the history of hydroelectricity and takes guests 180 feet below the Niagara Parks Power Station to the 2200-foot-long tunnel, where there is a viewing platform.

Option 2: Day Trip to Buffalo, NY

Where to eat in Buffalo

Fat Bob’s Smokehouse proves to be a solid BBQ joint with an array of BBQ goodness. It was super yummy.

Pork Mac and Cheese from Fat Bob's Smokehouse.

Anchor Bar, the home of Chicken Wings, is also a highly-rated place to grab a meal.

Martin House Complex by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Martin House Complex, built between 1903 and 1905, is Prairie School style. There are two tour options: one 1 hour and two hours.

Exterior view of the Martin House Complex in Buffalo, New York.
Martin House Complex

There is a second Frank Lloyd Wright house located at 57 Tillinghast Place and the Walter V. Davidson House, and a third Wright house located at 76 Soldiers Place, the William R. Heath House.  

These homes are privately owned residences – no tours – sorry!

Skylon Tower

Skylon Tower is one of the top attractions in Niagara Falls. From its 520′ in the sky, you can enjoy a view of the area.

The ride to the top takes less than a minute via a glass-enclosed elevator; once at the top, views include the Niagara River, Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Great Gorge.

The top of the tower has a viewing platform and a revolving restaurant. The base is the largest indoor amusement area in the Niagara Region.

➡️Book tour tickets for the Skylon Tower Observation Deck here! ⬅️

Where to stay in Niagara Falls

There are many hotels and restaurants available that are within walking distance of the falls. Most hotels will charge a daily parking fee.

During our visit, we stayed at the Comfort Inn Fallsview. The hotel charged a daily parking rate, but you could easily come and go as you pleased.

The room was basic but clean and comfortable. The TV channel selection was not very good, but hey, you aren’t on vacation to watch TV! 

Breakfast was included in the rate and was standard breakfast fare – waffles, cereal, eggs, sausage, etc.

The breakfast area was large, but the hotel layout was a bit awkward—we had to exit the hotel and enter another area to get to the breakfast area.

The pool area connects the buildings, but you aren’t supposed to wear shoes in the pool area.

➡️ Book your stay at Comfort Inn Fallsview by clicking here! ⬅️

Places to eat in Niagara Falls

Just a short walk from the Comfort Inn, we found Turtle Jack's Niagara Falls; we made it in time for the turtle time happy hour, which runs from 4 to 6. The décor deserved an A+, as did the food!

The service was fair, but it took longer than expected to get the food, especially since the place was nearly empty. As we were leaving, the tables were filling up.

The restaurant is located in the Radisson Hotel and Suites Fallsview.

The interior of the Turtle Jack's Restaurant in Niagara Falls.

Our schedule

Day 1 Activities

Arrived mid-day

Butterfly Conservatory – Allow 45 minutes

Festival of Lights – Dufferin Island

Fireworks over the falls

Day 2 Morning Activities

Table Rock Centre is an area with a few activities, restaurants and gift shops. (The Incline Railway transports you near this area.)

Journey Behind the Falls – allow 30-45 minutes

Niagara’s Fury – allow 45 minutes

Floral Showhouse – allow 30-45 minutes

Day 2 Afternoon Activities

Option 1: Niagara Falls area

The Tunnel at the Niagara Power Station – allow 2 hours

Shopping at the many Niagara Falls shops

Day Trip Option: Day trip to Buffalo, New York

Frank Lloyd Wright Martian House Complex – Buffalo, New York

Day 2 Evening Activities

Skylon Tower – allow 1 – 2 hours

Final Thoughts: Niagara Falls in the Winter

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Niagara Falls (without having to visit Buffalo). Even if the falls aren't partially frozen, it is still nice to see them in winter since they are much less crowded and cheaper!

Pin this for later:

Choose the image(s) that resonate with you to pin to your travel board on Pinterest!

What to expect at Niagara Falls in the Winter - night time view of the waterfall light up with the city lights in the background.
Guide to the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights & Wonder Pass. 3 images: Sleigh with colorful flowers around it, lit up tunnel of light rings with person walking through, lit up trees of different colors and sizes
Weekend Guide to Niagara Falls in the Winter - image of the top of Falls Incline Plaza - sign with bench below it and lit up trees behind the black railing.

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