A visit to Niagara Falls USA in winter is a perfect trip for families who want low crowds and amazing activities. These are our picks for the best things to do in winter in Niagara Falls USA.
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The winter season is a great time to visit Niagara Falls USA. You will have way less crowds and will see Niagara Falls in a unique way.
We have visited Niagara Falls, NY many times and have had the opportunity to experience it during all seasons. Winter is one of my favorites because Niagara Falls is magical in the winter.
If you get really lucky you will see it covered in ice making it a winter wonderland. Typically this will happen around the month of February when the temps drop. If it is not frozen it is still a great time to visit.
Obviously the falls is the main attraction, but there are family friendly attractions around the area of Niagara Falls that make a winter visit to Niagara Falls, New York a great winter weekend getaway.
Check out our New York State Family Travel page for more NY family fun!
Where is Niagara Falls USA
Most of the activities in Niagara Falls, NY are located at the Niagara Falls State Park or around it. The map below shows that there are two areas you can park. One spot is near the American Falls viewing area and the other is at Goat Island near the Cave of the Winds.
Depending on weather and who you are visiting with you can walk from one are to the other on bridges across the Niagara River.
14 Things to Do in Niagara Falls USA in Winter
There are 4 main gorge trails at Niagara Falls State Park ranging from easy/beginner to difficult/seasoned hiker. The trails are mapped out and it is very important for your safety to stay on the marked trails. Learn more here.
Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds takes guests on a elevator ride down the gorge to follow the paths around the falls. During the winter months two observation decks are open.
Cave of the Winds is currently open through the winter season. Guests need to purchase tickets upon arrival. On our recent visit we couldn’t get an appointment until 2 hours after arrival, and ended up not getting to do it. Plan to arrive early and schedule your day around your reservations.
I really hope to do this next time we visit!
The Niagara Scenic Trolley Tour is a great way to explore the area and not worry about driving. Guests are allowed to hop on and off for the day. Learn more here.
Three Sisters Island
Three Sisters Island is located at Niagara Falls State Park. It is past the visitors center and has a small parking lot. These three walking bridges located on Goat Island give you a close up view of the upper rapids.
On our most recent visit this was a highlight of our trip. It is a beautiful area that I am happy we included on our visit.
Old Fort Niagara
I haven’t visited Old Fort Niagara in years but am hoping to take the kids this year. Old Fort Niagara served as a battle ground through the 1700s and 1800s, and even house POW’s in the 1940s. It is open year round and hosts events throughout the year.
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center is not on the map above but a bit north of the Rainbow Bridge (the bridge that connects Canada and the USA). The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center offers hands-on exhibits, a 180 degree theater, and rock climbing wall.
It is located within walking distance to the Aquarium of Niagara and the Schoellkopf Power Station. Update: Currently Closed due to Covid.
Niagara Adventure Theater
Niagara Adventure Theater is located in the parking lot near the Maid of the Mist entrance. It is located inside the visitors center.
Niagara Falls USA Observation Tower
The observation tower is the only place that gives you a panoramic view of all the falls. Here you can view the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. The observation tower is located in parking lot 1, close to the Maid of the Mist on the map.
Illuminations and Fireworks
Niagara Falls lights up at night with illuminations and fireworks. Inspired by Nature is the regular nightly five minute lighting display. It plays 3 times on the half hour starting at 7:30 and ended at 11:30pm. There are also special events throughout the year.
The fireworks display has been paused due to Covid, but normally happens weekends and on special occasions during the year.
Aquarium of Niagara
The Aquarium of Niagara houses over 1500 marine life animals with the highlight being the penguins, sea lions, and seals. There are daily shows and is open year round. Learn more here.
Art Alley Niagara Falls
The Art Alley Niagara Falls is a public walkway with 19 art murals. It is located on 425 Third Street Niagara Falls, New York.
The Underground Railroad tells stories of freedom seekers and abolitionists. I really wish we had an opportunity to visit but I didn’t know about the center until after our visit. There is such history there and I look forward to visiting and learning more about its role in civil rights in American history.
Niagara Power Plant
I never thought a visit to a power plant would be something on our list to do with kids but we really enjoyed our visit. The Niagara Power Vista is currently closed due to Covid but add it to your list for when it opens.
The power plant offers hands-on exhibits and teaches how Niagara Falls powers the state of New York as well as how we discovered power sources and made them work for todays society.
Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park is where you can purchase tickets for the Cave of the Winds, walk the trails to see the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls, Check out Three Sisters Island, see the Nikola Tesla Monument and the Nik Wallenda tight rope wire.
The Tesla monument is near the American Falls overlook. The Nik Wallenda wire is near the Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point.
Check out this map of Niagara Falls State Park.
Winter in Niagara Falls: Tips for Your Visit
Dress for the weather. Niagara Falls in the winter is cold and the mist from the falls can make it seem colder. Prepare for the weather with layers and cold weather gear like hats, gloves, and warm coats.
A lot of people ask me about taking small children to Niagara Falls and if I was nervous. I have been visiting since I was a young child so I am comfortable taking the kids. With that being keeping your children close and explaining they need to stay on the trails and behind the fencing is important.
It is easy to get around Niagara Falls by car. There are parking locations throughout the state park and you can walk most of the stops if you would like.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls, NY
If you are looking to stay in Niagara Falls, NY for a night there are many options within walking distance to the falls. The Sheraton Niagara Falls is highly recommended for families. Check prices here.
Where to Eat in Niagara Falls, NY
If you are looking for familiar check out the Rainforest Café or Hard Rock Café. There is an Anchor Bar, which is home of the original Buffalo chicken wings as well. At Niagara Falls State Park you can check out Top of the Falls restaurant or Prospect Point Café.
Winter in Niagara Falls USA offers lots of ways for families to get outside and enjoy Niagara Falls. Most activities are open through the winter months and the low crowds make it a great choice for families.
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