Niagara Falls in the Winter Is a Treat for the Whole Family

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This past weekend was a long weekend in Ontario, with today being the Family Day holiday. With the theme being spending time with your family, we decided to do something different and took the kids out of school on Friday afternoon for a quick trip to Niagara Falls. I never feel guilty about them missing a bit of school for a trip like this—it’s not only fun, but educational. We’ve been there a number of times (it’s only three hours away), but never in the winter. I wanted to see first hand what the falls themselves were like after four months of freezing temperatures.

The American Falls in winter, still flowing.The American Falls in winter, still flowing.

The American Falls from our hotel room (Photo by Brad Moon).

The answer is: lots of ice at the bottom, but even this kind of climate can’t overcome the 150,000 gallons of water per second that flows over the American Falls and 600,000 gallons per second that shoots over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls (depending on how much water is diverted by various hydro electric plants).

Clifton Hill and the SkyWheel lit up at nightClifton Hill and the SkyWheel lit up at night

Clifton Hill at night (photo by Brad Moon)

We lucked out and Friday was a rare, brilliantly sunny day. Perfect for walking around without kids starting to complain about the cold and snow. We also snagged a really nice hotel room with a pretty spectacular falls view. I’m not one much for crowds, which is always my biggest complaint about Niagara Falls. This time of year, we found that not only are there many hotel deals to be had, but the lack of mobs of tourists makes walking around a pleasure. Other than the Maid of the Mist boats, pretty much everything we would normally expect to have access to was open. Clifton Hill was as garishly neon as always and the SkyWheel was spinning. There were no line-ups and the ticket booth at most attractions was manned by a bored looking person with a book, but other than that, it was business as usual. At this time of year, there are no fireworks at night, but the falls are still illuminated (the ice makes for a neat frosted glass effect), and there were remnants of the Festival of Lights displays.

the partially frozen American Falls are lit up at nightthe partially frozen American Falls are lit up at night

The American Falls lit up at night (Photo by Brad Moon)

On Saturday, winter returned with a vengeance, along with snow that made it virtually impossible to even make out the falls from a distance. Close up, it just looked frigid. We drove by a few times with the kids, but the wind was gusting, it was cold and they weren’t eager to get out and brave the freezing mist; we dropped my wife off and she popped out to get a few pictures before we beat a retreat back home. I think we’re going to make a point of coming back again around this time next year, though. Between the view, the lack of crowds and the deals available, it’s well worth the trip.

A snowy day at Niagara FallsA snowy day at Niagara Falls

The Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the snow (Photo by Jody Moon)

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