Rainy days can be a downer, especially on vacation when you want to explore. Unfortunately that’s what happened to me in Niagara Falls, when I woke up to a drizzly, grey sky instead of the sunshine-drenched days the Canadian city usually enjoys.
Fortunately, there are tons of activities around the famous falls operating in rain or shine, so visitors can make the most of their Niagara Falls trip regardless of the weather. Plus, when waterfalls are this powerful you’re bound to get a bit wet anyway!
Here are 10 unique things to do in Niagara Falls on a rainy day.
Explore Journey Behind the Falls
Chances are the whole point of your Niagara Falls visit is to see, well, the falls, so head to Journey Behind the Falls for one of the best views of Niagara Falls.
After taking a quick elevator ride that descends through 150 feet of bedrock, you’ll emerge into a dimly-lit tunnel which was carved out in the 1800s, and leads straight towards the rushing water.
There are a couple of turnouts along the pathway where you can peek out at the white sheet of water that pours down from Horseshoe Falls at an incredible 65 kilometres per hour.
However, the two observation decks at the end of the route boast the best lookout points, and visitors can stand within metres of the iconic falls feeling the mist that comes off of them and listening to the roar of the water.
Journey Behind the Falls is open year round, including winter when part of the falls frost over, creating a crystallized effect.
Admission includes a poncho—perfect for warding off the mist and rain.
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Ride the tides in the Whirlpool Jet Boat
For an adrenaline rush that will get you up close and personal with the waves, book a ride on the Whirlpool Jet Boat which is one of the most thrilling, fun things to do in Niagara Falls.
The 45-minute adventure goes into the heart of the Niagara River’s whirlpool area, where you’ll tackle churning Class V whitewater rapids head-on in a jet boat. Speeding over the white-capped waves is a wild ride, and you’re guaranteed to get absolutely soaked which makes this a good activity for a rainy day.
Not in the mood to get wet? Book a ride on the domed jet boat instead.
Get soaked onboard Niagara City Cruises
If it’s raining chances are you’re wet anyway, so you might as well hop on Niagara City Cruises and feel the spray of the falls as you sail right up to them.
The only major difference between Niagara City Cruises vs Maid of the Mist is that the latter boat departs from the American side instead of Canada, and both boats take guests right into the heart of the action.
The 20-minute excursion ventures right into the Niagara Great Gorge, offering close-up views of the Rainbow Bridge which links the USA and Canada, as well as American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Then, the iconic moment: drifting straight towards Horseshoe Falls, as churning waves swirl around the boat.
Stretching 670 metres wide and 87 metres tall, Horseshoe Falls are an awe-inspiring sight, no more so than when you’re bobbing near them, feeling the mist on your face and hearing the thundering rush of the water crashing down around you.
Another option is to book a seat on the fireworks cruise: the nightly show starts at 10 pm and guests get to enjoy the spectacle from the water and see the falls illuminated with lights.
Tips for the boat trip:
- Ponchos are included with admission price in spring and summer, and it’s a good idea to waterproof your phone or camera if you plan on using it onboard.
- Boats hold hundreds of people, and with so many of them jostling for the best view you’ll want to limit your movements so you don’t lose your spot.
- Purchase your ticket ahead of time so you don’t need to queue up before the ride. Despite the excursion only taking 20 minutes, it takes a while to get on and off the boat so budget at least an hour for the whole activity.
Enjoy the view from one of the Niagara Falls restaurants
When lunch or dinner time roll around, there are a few spots that will keep you out of the rain while still enjoying a fantastic Niagara Falls view. One of them is the Skylon Tower, which rises 775 feet high meaning you can see it from just about everywhere in Niagara Falls.
The experience starts with a ride on the ‘Yellow Bug’ elevator (stand close to the door if possible for the best views), which is on the outside of the tower so guests can soak up views of the water, gorge and city skylines during the 52 second trip up.
The outdoor observation deck has panoramic vistas of the falls, city skyline and Buffalo, NY across the river. Nosh on a multi-course meal in the Revolving Dining Room, and enjoy the 360-degree view as it rotates all the way around.
Another good pick is the Watermark Fallsview restaurant at the Hilton, which sits 33 storeys above the falls and has floor-to-ceiling windows for incredible views.
Down at Table Rock Centre, the Table Rock House Restaurant is just about as close to the water as you can get. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the surrounding area, and the beer and wine are from local craft breweries and vineyards.
The restaurant particularly impressive in the evening when diners can enjoy the ambiance of the illuminated falls, making this one of the most romantic things to do in Niagara Falls for couples.
Watch an IMAX movie
Niagara Falls sure has a storied history, and there’s no better place to learn about it than at the Niagara Adventure Theatre in Clifton Hill, which has viewings of Niagara: Miracles, Myths & Magic.
The film traces the history of the area which dates back more than 12-thousand years, including civil war battles, dramatic tightrope walks and the incredible story of seven-year-old Roger Woodward, who defied the odds and survived after going over the falls when the boat he was in capsized.
The movie does a great job of highlighting some of the key events that make Niagara Falls what it is today, and it’s interesting to see what it looked like just a few decades ago when there was less development. Click here to book
Next door to the theatre is the Niagara Daredevil Exhibit, which has the actual barrels that some thrill-seekers have gone over the falls in—some more successfully than others. Nicknamed “chambers of death,” the barrels provide a glimpse into the unbelievable pastime, and are accompanied by exhibits and videos.
A visit here is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Niagara Falls, since you’ll be inside the whole time.
Explore the Niagara Parks Power Station, Tunnel and Currents show
One of the newest Niagara Falls attractions is the Niagara Parks Power Station, which dates back to 1905 and was the first major power plant on the Canadian side of the river.
It’s now an interactive museum with artifacts and exhibits highlighting the history of the building and power generation, and everything is indoors which makes this the perfect rainy day activity.
A glass-elevator heads 180 feet down to the half-mile long Tunnel, leading to an outdoor observation deck with a sweeping, unobstructed view of the falls and the boats sailing by.
Be sure to come back in the evening for the Currents: Niagara’s Power Transformed, an interactive sound and light show. It takes place in the heart of the power station and feels like the machinery is reawakening to the backdrop of a musical score.
Not only is one of the top Niagara Falls family activities, but there are also tours like this one which combine the show with a tour and three-course dinner overlooking the falls.
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Stroll along the White Water Walk
Even on a rainy day, a stroll along the White Water Walk is absolutely beautiful, and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the touristy area adjacent to the falls.
After descending 70 metres down an elevator in just 30 seconds, visitors emerge to find a wooden walkway that winds along the rushing Class 6 rapids of the Niagara River, separating the USA from Canada.
With lookout points galore, a canopy of towering trees and rock formations that are more than 400 million years old, a jaunt along the White Water Walk is spectacular no matter what the weather is like outside.
Wander around Clifton Hill
Clifton Hill bills itself as a “Street of Fun,” and it’s easy to see why during a quick walk through the district just one block from the falls. Karaoke bars, a craft brewery, souvenir stores, a haunted house and a Guinness World Record museum are just some of the attractions in Clifton Hill, along with the Niagara Skywheel which towers 175 feet high.
The district is essentially a year-round midway with both indoor and outdoor attractions, making a visit here one of the best Niagara Falls activities while waiting for the rain to pass.
Globe Guide tip: Save money by picking up this Clifton Hill pass with admission to six experiences.
Head to pretty Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is considered one of Canada’s prettiest towns, and it’s conveniently only a 20 minute drive from the falls.
From the colourful Heritage District with its quaint boutiques and cafes to the horse-drawn carriages and perfectly-kept, stately homes, Niagara-on-the-Lake is charming in every sense of the word.
Stay dry by ducking into one of the many independently-owned stores along Queen Street, book a spa treatment at the luxe Oban Inn, or get a taste of the area’s famed foodie scene with a culinary tour.
Standout spots include local favourite Il Gelato di Carlotta which makes its sorbets and gelato in-house from fresh, real ingredients, and Exchange Brewery which offers samples of its many ales in a contemporary tasting room.
Visiting a vineyard is fun no matter what the weather is like outside, so hightail it to this renowned wine region which is home to over two dozen vineyards.
Tailored tours are offered year-round, and one fun option is to head to iconic Peller Estates, where the grand winery is surrounded by row upon row of vines bursting with grapes.
Inside you’ll find a tasting room, fantastic restaurant, and the so-called “coolest” place in Niagara: the 10Below Icewine Lounge.
Bundle up in one of the parkas hanging outside, then head into the igloo-like bar where over 30-thousand pounds of ice were expertly shaped into a chill lounge. Relax on a fur-covered ice bench while sipping on the estate’s ice wine, then snap a selfie in all of your subzero glory.
Fun fact: 10Below was built by the same company that makes Quebec City’s Hotel de Glace every year.
Shop ’til you drop at Outlet Collection at Niagara
If all else fails, there’s one tried-and-true way to make the most of a rainy day: hit the mall.
Just a 10 minute drive from Niagara Falls, you’ll find the Outlet Collection at Niagara which houses a behemoth selection of stores including Kate Spade, Lululemon, Adidas, Coach, Columbia and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. It’s no wonder people drive all the way from Toronto to shop here, and everything can be purchased at outlet prices.
Where to stay at Niagara Falls, Ontario
- Sterling Inn & Spa: This boutique property is a top pick for travellers craving a couple’s getaway, thanks to the full service spa, fine dining and comfortable rooms. Click to book
- Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa: The rooms here have such a great view of the water that you can’t get much closer to the falls without getting wet! This luxury hotel also boasts a fitness centre, pool and bar. Click to book
- Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel: This grand hotel is spread out over a few towers, and walking distance to the falls and attractions like the Skylon Tower. Onsite amenities include a gym, infinity pool, fantastic restaurants and a Starbucks, and many rooms have views of the water. Click to book
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