Planning a one day trip to see the glorious, spectacular Niagara Falls? This article will give you few good ideas to help you plan a one day trip to Niagara Falls, Canada and experience the wonder of the Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls in all its mighty, thunderous power is best enjoyed from the Canadian side. You can also use this for planning one day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto.
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What is Niagara Falls: Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls together forms the Falls. American Falls & the Bridal Veil Falls lie in US side of the border and Horseshoe falls is mostly in Canadian side of the border. All the three falls can be appreciated to the fullest from the Canadian side.
Who this itinerary is for: This itinerary is intended for first-time visitors to Niagara Falls who have only one day (10 – 12 hours) to spend in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. This is a FULL DAY – late Spring to Early Fall itinerary. For a winter trip, see Winter in Niagara Falls.
Places (that may be) included in this itinerary –
1. Niagara Falls: See the mighty Falls from the promenade at the brink of the Falls.
2. Hornblower Cruises: Go on the famous Niagara Boat Cruise and experience all the three falls that make up the mighty Niagara Falls, up close and personal.
3. Journey Behind the Falls: Go down the elevator and through a narrow tunnel and see Horseshoe Falls from as near as possible.
4. Niagara’s Fury: A great way to get educated about how the Falls was formed. Do this if you have kids with you: an educational & entertaining geography lesson.
5. White water walk: Walk along class VI rapids, made by Niagara river, and the great gorge. A calming, relaxing walking experience by the side of whirling, rapids.
6. Whirlpool Aero Car: Travel on a cable suspended Aero Car across Niagara river and see the whirlpool down below.
7. Butterfly conservatory: See over 60 species of butterflies from around the world.
8. Niagara Glen Nature Preserve: Hike the many trails and see the power of Niagara river and sheer enormity of the gorge carved over millions of years, biodiversity of Niagara Escarpment; in short Niagara’s nature at its finest.
9. Niagara Skywheel: Travel in the temperature controlled gondola and enjoy the panoramic view of the falls during the day & illuminated falls at night.
10. Niagara Falls Wild Play: This is a new attraction in Niagara Falls, where you can zipline along the Niagara Falls Parkway, enjoying the view of the Falls from above: launching at Grand View Marketplace and running to the riverside of the Ontario Power Generating Station Building. We have not included that in the itinerary given below. If you want to do this, do this as first part of the itinerary. Cost:$49.99
Getting Around: Paid Parking is available near all attractions, but for hassle-free sightseeing: park the car at Falls view parking lot (~$15 – $25.00) across the main visitors centre called Table Rock Welcome Centre and use WEGO (green route/line), public transit to get around. You can also buy all day access parking pass (~25.00), and park at the attractions.
Cheaper, yet Cheerful Travel: The best part of Niagara Falls trip is that other than the cost of travel to Niagara Falls, Ontario, there is absolutely no cost to see the spectacular Falls and Niagara’s scenery.
To enhance the visit and to experience Niagara Falls, you may add Hornblower Niagara Cruise and other above-mentioned attractions to your itinerary.
To see all the above-mentioned places/activities get Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Classic pass which includes tickets for Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, White water walk for ~55.00 (+tax) for an adult. With coupons provided in the booklet you get when you buy the classic pass, the cost of seeing all the attractions brings the total cost to approximately $110.00 for an adult &$80.00(taxes included) for a child. The pass also includes free WEGO bus pass for two days to get around Niagara Falls.
See the table below for individual attraction prices (taxes extra). Rest of the attractions mentioned in this article are free.
|Journey Behind the Falls||$16.75||$10.95|
|White water walk||$11.95||$7.80|
|Whirlpool Aero Car||$14.25||$9.25|
If you are spending money on only one thing: Do Hornblower Niagara Cruises.
1. If you have time till nightfall at Niagara Falls, and if you are planning to go on the boat cruise (highly recommended), decide on the type of cruise you want to take. Hornblower Niagara Cruises that lets you to see the thunderous Horseshoe Falls, has three types of Cruises: one during the daylight hours($19.95 for adult), another one during the night to see the Falls illumination/Niagara fireworks (more expensive: $35.00 for adult and not included in the pass).
If you are choosing the day cruise, it is better to go on the cruise as first part of the itinerary, since the boats will be less crowded in the morning (~ 09:00 AM).
2. If you are visiting during the busy summer season, the ‘touristy’ attractions will be quite crowded and expect long lines. If you are buying the adventure pass, the tickets for Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury will be timed. During the height of the tourist season, you will be allowed in at the attraction, only during that time. If you are not able to make it during your ticketed time, visit welcome centre and you can reschedule the visit.
3. Buy tickets for the attractions you want to visit online or at visitor centres/at the door.
4. Where to eat: Fast food restaurants and full-service restaurant are available at Table Rock Welcome Centre. There are many options for dining a short walk from the visitors centre. If you are planning on picnicking, Queen Victoria park situated right across the Horseshoe Falls and Niagara’s glen are great places to enjoy your picnic. Fast food cafes are also available near most attractions.
One Day Niagara Falls Itinerary
Park the car at the Table Rock Visitor’s centre parking lot (Falls parking lot), walk across and buy tickets (if not bought online) or exchange your online tickets/pass for laminated card passes. Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara’s Fury are located here.
Doing the Cruise during the Day: If you are driving from Toronto, the drive takes ~ 90 minute
If you are planning on going for Journey Behind the Falls / Niagara’s Fury, make sure your tickets are timed for later part of the afternoon / evening.
Horseshoe falls are located behind the welcome centre. Enjoy the sight and sound of the mightiest falls in North America. If you are doing Hornblower Niagara Cruise as first part of the trip, walk along the pathway (~ a km – 20 minutes walk) to the Hornblower Niagara Cruise location. Appreciate the power of Niagara falls that has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. If you are short on time (you should reach 30 minutes before cruise start time), hop on WEGO bus from the bus stop in front of the visitors centre and get down at Hornblower Plaza.
Wait time between Green WEGO buses: 12 minutes (Late June – Early September) to 20 minutes (May Mid -Late June & Early September – Mid October).
Feel the mighty power of Horseshoe falls, enjoy the Niagara falls ‘shower’ as you encounter the falls. The boat ride is approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Allocate 1.30 hrs for the whole experience.
Hop on the bus from the bus stop beside the Cruise Plaza (Hornblower) and get down at White Water Walk. Go down 70 metres (elevator – during height of the tourist season, expect a line at the elevator), then walk along a 73 metre tunnel to the boardwalk. Get up close to the power of the category 6 rapids as you walk the ~300 m long boardwalk. Depending on interest & wait time: 1 hour to 1.30 hrs. Free parking at the site.
Next Stop: Niagara’s Glen:
Get on the bus (Green North) and get down at Niagara Glen. You will be passing Whirlpool Aero Car & White Water Walk (included in the latter part of the itinerary). Enjoy nature at its finest at this nature preserve. A pristine nature experience that is totally free! Allocate 2 to 2.5 hours depending on interest. If you have young children with you, they might get tired with all the walking around. Keep in mind that you have rest of the day in front of you. So do not over exert yourself. Remember to wear appropriate shoes. Picnic pavilion on site & limited free parking on site. Skip this if you do not want to exert yourselves (add this to your itinerary if you are staying an extra day at Niagara Falls). Also carry bottled water with you.
Butterfly Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Get down at the Butterfly Conservatory. The conservatory is located on the Botanical Gardens grounds. See varieties of butterflies fluttering about. A must stop if you are a nature lover or travelling with kids. There is a cafe/ fast food restaurant on the grounds. If interested in gardens, after the conservatory tour, visit the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are totally free. Parking here is $5.00. Time required: depending on interest 1 hour to 2 hours.
Return Trip: Get on the Green bus South
Next stop: Whirlpool Aero Car:
Get down here (even if you are not doing the ride across the gorge) and enjoy the scenery. Paid parking available at the location (free to those who ride the car). Ride the cable car across the Niagara River. If you decide to do the ride after seeing the cable car trip from the viewing platform, you can buy the tickets here. Allocate: 45 minutes.
In case you are planning to go on the Skywheel and not doing Niagara’s Fury & Journey Behind the Falls (Table Rock Visitor Centre attractions), get down at Clifton Hill and enjoy the ride in the gondola and see the panoramic view of the falls and Niagara Falls town.
If you are planning on doing Visitor Centre attractions, get down at Table Rock Visitor’s centre. Expect a line at Journey Behind the Falls elevator during the busy season. Total time taken for both including wait time: ~ 2 hours.
If you are doing Niagara’s Fury, Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara’s Skywheel, do the skywheel after Table rock attractions. The Sky wheel is open late until Midnight. You can do this at your leisure if you have a whole day at your disposal.
After doing all the attractions (time permitting), go back to the Falls. Stroll along the path way bordering the falls, enjoy Queen Victoria Gardens and see the illuminated Falls and the fireworks.
Sun Set time: ~ 7:00 – 08:30 PM : April, May, September; ~08:30 PM – 09:00 PM – June – August
If going for the illumination Cruise:
Park the car at Table rock parking lot. Hop on the bus and start with Niagara’s Glen Hike and continue with rest of tour and end your day with Niagara Cruise.
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Totally Free One Day Trip Itinerary
Free trip – excluding travel/parking/food.
Parking – Park at Falls parking lot and take the WEGO Green Route bus for ease of travel or get all access parking and park at the attractions.
Free attractions for this itinerary:
Queen Victoria Gardens.
Niagara Botanical Parks.
Floral Clock -Located on Niagara Parkway. See the intricate floral designs created by Niagara Parks horticulture staff on the face of the clock. Parking is free here.
& Dufferin Islands – Enjoy the scenic trails through the man-made islands of Niagara Falls. Do this if you have time to spare.
You can do the itinerary in any order.
Verify attraction opening/closing hours and rates from Niagara Parks.