Winter is prime time for exploring the best of Niagara County, with plenty of adventure and no crowds. Plan an action-packed, fun-filled winter getaway, taking in the magical icy vistas of the Falls and Niagara Falls State Park, and warm up with hot chocolate and a dip in an (indoor) heated pool. You’ll leave with memories and stories of one epic family vacation.
See Panoramic Views of the Falls
The Maid of the Mist might be safely tucked away in her winter home (don’t worry, the legendary attraction will be back in business come spring), but there are plenty of other ways to take in the Falls throughout the winter months. Visit the Observation Tower (weather permitting so be sure to check ahead) at Niagara Falls State Park (which offers free admission during the winter season), and marvel at a view that looks like it’s straight out of Disney’s Frozen. Sub-zero temps transform the water into magical sculptures of snow and ice at every turn. Don’t miss the sight in the evening, when the nightly illumination makes it even more breathtaking
Build a Snowman in Niagara Falls State Park
The park doesn’t get a ton of snow, but when it does come down, you have to build a snowman and make a few snow angels to boot. The classic winter endeavor becomes even more iconic with a backdrop of one of nature’s most staggeringly impressive vistas — and the roar of the Falls makes a great soundtrack, too. An outdoor ice-skating rink will be available in both Niagara Falls and Lewiston during the winter, or for those who don’t wish to brave the weather, head inside to the Cornerstone Ice Arena in Lockport for indoor ice skating.
Drink Hot Chocolate at Platter's Chocolate Factory
Get a first-hand look at how they make their famous sponge candy at Platter's Chocolate Factory located in the Wurlitzer Building in North Tonawanda. Be sure to look through the glass windows to witness the chocolate-making process, and don’t leave without ordering a signature, steaming-hot drink. Try the sponge candy latte, or go old-school with a classic hot chocolate before heading back out into the cold.
Take a Speedy Spin Down the Niagara River
The Niagara River is home to two jet boat companies that take passengers on an adrenaline-pumping jaunt down the river and through Class V rapids. However, Niagara Jet Adventures operates throughout the winter months (as long as there isn’t ice on the river, that is). Take a seat in the climate-controlled indoor section of the boat. With wrap-around windows, riders can still get the same up-close, middle-of-the-action views, but stay warm and dry while doing it.
See the Colorful Illumination
As if the natural beauty here isn’t enough especially during the winter months, take in a colorful illuminations display nightly as the Falls are illuminated a rainbow of colors. Juxtaposed with the icy vista, it’s a scene you’ll never forget.
Lunch in a Rainforest
While temps are hovering around freezing outside, take refuge in the middle of a balmy rainforest. The vibrant Rainforest Cafe offers kid-friendly fare and entertainment in the form of an 80-foot volcano, animatronic animals (the massive elephants are particularly impressive), and indoor thunderstorms. Don’t forget the dessert — the volcanic brownie dessert isn’t just for kids. (If the kids are a little older, try Hard Rock Cafe Niagara Falls USA, with its themed menu and extensive collection of music memorabilia.)
Stay, Swim and Splash
Book a room in the middle of all the action. The Sheraton Niagara Falls offers family suites, roomy enough for your whole crew. More importantly though (at least to the kids and kids-at-heart among you) is the Reef Beach Club & Pool — the resort’s onsite, indoor pool. Relax at the colorful pool deck while the kids splash around and check out the shark and coral reef viewing tanks to check out sea life swimming nearby.