Niagara Falls: the best way to see the spray in one day

Photo by Barbara Ramsay Orr

Don't waste a precious minute in Niagara

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Niagara Falls requires, and deserves, more than a day for all its charms, but with only one day to spare, it’s still possible to start to appreciate this natural wonder and get some great ideas for a return visit.

Whether or not you follow the One Perfect Day itinerary below, be sure to include the following five experiences in any 24-hour visit to Niagara.

1. View the Falls from the promenade. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the power of the water. Arrive at dawn if you can. Sunset is a good second choice.

2.  Take a cruise. The Hornblower Niagara Cruise is an iconic adventure that gets you closer to the Falls than any other experience.

3. Learn Falls’ history at Niagara’s Fury or at the Table Rock Welcome Centre.

4. Dine beside the Falls. Try Elements on the Falls, or a hotel dining room with a view, such as Windows by Jamie Kennedy.

5. Ride the SkyWheel, Canada’s largest big wheel.

Morning at Niagara Falls

To see as much as possible, and pack in all the adventures you can, start early. During high season (June to September) get ahead of the crowds by arriving at the Falls early, ideally well before 9am. That way, you will be able to maneuver the streets without too much traffic, find a parking spot, (if you promise not to tell, here’s a parking secret!) and not have your views of the Falls impeded by too many other people. If really keen, get to the Falls before sunrise, and be lucky enough to see the spray of the Falls turned into colored jewels. Walk along the promenade up to the Table Rock Welcome Centre for the best and closest view of the Falls.

At Table Rock, you can buy your Niagara Adventure Pass, which gives you discounted admission to a collection of the best attractions as well as access to the WEGO transportation system. It’s a bargain. There are several places where you can purchase this pass around the Falls but the best way is to buy your pass online ahead of time. You can also download audio guides.

After that do the Hornblower Niagara Cruise which sails up to the very foot of the Falls – it’s the iconic Niagara adventure, and for good reason. It’s a real thrill. You should try to take the cruise as early as possible, to avoid the midday crowds – or leave it until late in the day. There are some lovely evening cruises, if you can stay until later, where there is music and drinks, and there are fireworks on weekends and holidays and nightly at ten pm during high season. Click here to see an up to date schedule for the fireworks.

After the cruise head back to Table Rock which is central to many activities. Since your time is limited, I would chose to do Niagara’s Fury, for the fun and facts about the evolution of the Falls, and the Journey Behind the Falls , which offers the chance to get as close to the Falls as possible.

Skip Clifton Hill – you don’t have time to do many of the attractions, and you won’t have enough time to get the most out of the Clifton Hill Fun Pass. Instead put Clifton Hill on the list for your next visit.


Grab lunch at the casual and kid-friendly Rainforest Cafe.


The morning activities are all easily within walking distance, but now you need to hop on board the WEGO and head out down along the Niagara River Parkway. Get off at the Whirlpool Aero Car, where you can skim across, high above the swirling water, and get a clear view of the cliffs and the waves. This is a good time to try out the Aero Car – it celebrated one hundred years of operation in 2016.

Then head further down the parkway on the WEGO to the Butterfly Conservatory – for a peaceful and beautiful interlude in your busy day; its nice little cafe serves good snacks.

Time to head back on the WEGO; stop if you have time at the White Water Walk experience. You will be dropped back close to where you parked, and will have filled your day with adventure.


If you can stay until the evening, plan for a memorable meal at Massimo Capra’s Rainbow Room and finish off with cocktails at R5 in the Niagara Fallsview Casino. There may be fireworks. Or, for an extra thrill, try the dinner theater at Greg Frewin Magic Theatre for the wild animals, performances and magic tricks. There’s an afternoon matinee that’s great for kids, especially on rainy days.

That’s it – a timetable for hitting the highs of Niagara in one day! But come back for more when you have time. There is much to see and do in and around the Falls. (And in the car, on the way home, share these trivia details about Niagara Falls in the spotlight!)

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