Ah, good old Niagara Falls – that Wonder of the Natural World in our own backyard, great for summer days spent riding the Maid of the Mist, smelling the roses at the big botanical garden, and ziplining across the Horseshoe Falls (or simply staring at it from the Skylon Tower’s observation deck). If you’ve visited this attraction and fought heavy crowds for a chance to get spattered by a bit of the 4 million cubic feet of water that tumbles over the edge every minute, you didn’t come in the Fall – and we highly recommend that you do!
Niagara Falls: Less crowded in the off-season…and a lot less expensive, too
It’s estimated that about 30 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. That’s almost the population of our entire country! Of course, the majority of them arrive during high season, which runs from May to September. Only 83,000 people call the city and its environs home, and with tourist numbers dropping off dramatically in the low season, you’ll find you have a lot of the attractions virtually to yourself. Hotels offer incredible deals to entice tourists to visit when the handrails separating you from all that falling water are slippery with snow and ice; the City itself hosts fun events, from fireworks to a Santa Claus parade, to encourage winter tourism.
There is, however, a happy medium: Autumn. We recently took a trip to the Falls and stayed at the Wyndham Garden, part of a huge U.S. hotel chain that has gained a foothold in Canada with a single Fallsview location (which, incidentally, offers upsized rooms with plenty of space to store your lightweight rolling tote bag or whatever form of cute weekender luggage you’ve brought). Because our check-in fell in October, the Wyndham was running a special reduced room rate along with a package of vouchers for tons of local attractions, from winery tours to children’s arcades and restaurants.
Such deals can be found year-round on group deal sites like Groupon, or at the hotel websites of big chains like Hilton, Sheraton and Ramada, but in the off-season, rates go down and value goes up: eschewing holidays, rates are as low as $65CAD per night in winter and $95CAD in Fall, with vouchers in the hundreds of dollars for such destinations as Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. At those prices, even the 10 percent ‘tourism improvement fee’ tacked on to many purchases seems reasonable, especially for those lucky enough to be paying with greenbacks. Needless to say, you’ll have a much better room selection – and staff are far more laid back about things like late checkout, too.
The weather is fine and the attractions are open in Niagara Falls this Fall
Many people believe that the Falls mostly shuts down once the summer is officially over, but with Southern Ontario’s weird weather now increasing the influx of tourists in shoulder season, that is no longer the case. While the nights haven’t been cold enough for the trees to produce spectacular fall colours yet, this is more than compensated for by being able to wear a T-shirt in October as you stroll the promenades or relax on the beautiful grassy hills overlooking the Falls. Of course visitors, especially kids and teens, never tire of the garish Clifton Hill strip – once considered far too seedy for kids – which still has such lurid attractions as wax museums, zombie attacks, and haunted houses, but also offers wholesome family entertainment options like the Skywheel, a massive enclosed Ferris wheel that offers stunning views of the Falls.
Even when a chill fog descends, there’s plenty that’s bright and light and warm. Whether you choose to spend the day at a fabulous indoor water park, gambling at the Fallsview Casino, visiting a tropically heated attraction like Bird Kingdom, or shopping in the irresistible designer outlet malls, you will fall for the Falls. Check it out on a warm Fall weekend!