Niagara Falls | Best Times to Visit

Niagara Falls | Best Times to Visit

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When Is the Best Time

When Is the Best Time

Going to Niagara Falls during certain months without knowing a few must-know tips can make or break your visit. We visited the falls multiple times and interviewed over 20 destination experts and locals. Finally, we compiled a full season guide for you with essential facts and tips for each month.

The best time to visit Niagara Falls is in the summer, from June to August. All attractions are open during the season, and temperatures are pleasant, with averages highs between 70°F and 80°F. The only downside is the tourist crowds in the summer peak season.

Niagara Falls

However, the falls are an excellent year-round destination and can be visited at any time as. Winter for will bring its own stunning views if you don't mind bundling up. In spring and fall, it's a little cooler but also less busy. Also, check our 3 Best Special Times to Visit below the boat tour tips for fewer crowds, the best weather, and the lowest hotel rates.
 

Boat Tours Opening Times
 


Niagara Falls boat tours usually open in early May and operate until November. The exact opening date in spring is weather dependant and varies between April and May.

The earliest boat tour opening date in the past 20 years was April 1. The latest was May 10. It depends on the weather conditions in the previous weeks.

Niagara Falls - Boat Tours Opening Times

The closing dates for Niagara boat rides are usually fixed. Maid of the Mist (US side) has a definite closing date of November 8. Hornblower (Canadian side) operates until the end of November. Hornblower can operate longer as their boats have protected indoor viewing areas, while the Maid of the Mist passenger is more exposed to the water.

Regardless of the month, it's important to book your boat trip in advance. Especially during 2021 (and beyond) due to limited boat capacity because of health restrictions.
 

1. Best Time to Avoid the Crowds 

Niagara Falls

The quietest time of year to visit Niagara Falls is during the winter season, between November and February. The crowds are minimal as key attractions like the Maid of the Mist are closed during this time. If you want to enjoy the full experience, October is a good month to visit, avoiding Canadian Thanksgiving.

Niagara Falls

Visiting in peak season? To avoid the crowds, try to visit Niagara Falls first thing in the morning. During high season, the Maid of the Mist and Hornblower Niagara Cruises start at 9 am, so join the line before this time. With the current COVID-19 situation (2021), the boats are not crowded once onboard, but the lines for the boats are long throughout the day.

Therefore, it’s even more important to join the day's first tour due to limited capacity. It’s recommended to enter the line by 8:15 am to have a chance of making the 9 am tour. Alternatively, the last hour or so before closing also sees a reduction in crowds.
 

2. Best Time for Pleasant Weather

Niagara Falls

If you visit Niagara Falls between June and August, you’ll enjoy the hottest and sunniest weather of the year. Temperatures at this time can reach a maximum of 81°F (27.2°C), making the boat trips a pleasant experience.

Temperatures drop to their lowest between November and March when the boat tours stop running for the year. However, if you do want to enjoy seeing the frozen falls, January and February are good months to visit.
 

3. Best Time for Low Hotel Rates

Niagara Falls

While rates are at their highest during the summer, the colder months of November, December, and January offer the most affordable hotel prices. During these months, expect prices to drop to an average of $100 per night for a hotel room. Of course, you’ll want to avoid Christmas and New Year, as prices do increase over this week.

If you are looking for the cheapest hotel rates, opt to stay on the USA side of the falls. Rates on the USA side are typically about $20 less expensive per night; however, they don’t offer the same views as the Canadian side. June, July, and August are the most expensive months to stay in Niagara Falls, where rates can reach up to $200 or more per night.
 

2021 Restrictions

Niagara Falls

Before visiting Niagara Falls, it’s important to consider the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. If Ontario is under a stay-at-home order, visits to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls will be limited.

Hotels on the Canadian side may be open, however, travel outside of your home region and from the USA is banned during these restrictions. The USA side is almost entirely open, but you should buy tickets in advance for attractions and book ahead for dining. Boat capacities are limited; that's why pre-booking is even more important.

 

Visiting in Spring

Niagara Falls

Open:

  • Walk: Cave of the Winds (US Side)
  • Walk: Journey Behind the Falls (Canadian Side)

Opening in April or May:

  • Boat Tour: Maid of the Mist (US Side)
  • Boat Tour: Hornblower (Canadian Side)

Spring offers varied touring conditions for Niagara Falls, with cool temperatures in March and early April and more pleasant weather in late April and May.

Early spring still has cold and icy weather conditions, but the weather begins to brighten later in the season. Most visitors wait until May to return to Niagara Falls, as the boat tours resume, and you can enjoy a full visitor experience again.

Clothing: In the spring, pack cold-weather clothing for a visit to Niagara Falls. Add a light jacket, heavier jacket, and warm under layers to avoid getting cold at night-time. By the end of spring, you’ll also want to add in your swimwear so that you can enjoy the area’s waterparks.

Crowds: You’ll experience medium crowd levels, with an increase around Easter weekend and Spring Break.

Rates: Hotel prices stay at around $100-120 per night for a 3-star hotel but will double for the week of Easter.

Photography Tip: The water flow can be very high during this time of year, so it’s an incredible sight to see.

Attractions: On the USA side, the Cave of the Winds walk is still operating throughout the year. By May, all of the attractions will reopen, giving you the full visitor experience. On the Canadian side, the Journey Behind the Falls is open throughout the spring months.

Boat Tours: The exact dates for Maid of the Mist and Hornblower Niagara Cruises will be announced on their websites.
 

March

Niagara Falls

The average temperatures for March are a high of 43°F (6.1°C) and low of 24°F (-4.4°C). Crowds are low throughout the month, apart from Spring Break and if Easter falls at the end of March. With minimal crowds, hotel prices remain low.

Attractions: The two boat tours won’t be operating in March. Other attraction opening hours are the same as the winter months in March. The Journey Behind the Falls is open throughout the month, and the Caves of the Wind are open every day from 10 am to 3 pm. March can sometimes experience ice and snow, so you may still get to witness the frozen falls.

Crowds: Some years, Easter falls during the end of the month, so expect crowds to increase during this time. Spring break is also a popular time of year for the US side of the falls.

April

Niagara Falls

Temperatures increase slightly in April with an average high of 56°F (13.3°C) and low of 35°F (1.7°C). The snow should have melted, and you’ll be able to enjoy touring the falls in more pleasant temperatures.

Attractions: April is the final month of the year when boat tours are not fully operating. The reopening dates for the Maid of the Mist and the Hornblower Niagara Cruises vary each year but usually do not reopen until late April or early May. Otherwise, all other attractions will be running by this time of year for you to enjoy.

Crowds and Rates: Tourist crowds will increase for Easter this month; otherwise, they are moderate throughout April. Hotel prices will double for Easter week, averaging about $250 a night during this time.

May

Niagara Falls

The temperature increases in May with an average high of 68°F (20°C) and low of 45°F (7.2°C). This is the first month where you’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures that don’t make walking around at night too horrible.

Attractions: If they didn't open in late April already, you see the return of the two boat tours, the Maid of the Mist on the US side and the Hornblower Niagara Cruises on the Canadian side. The exact dates for their re-openings are announced on their websites.

By the middle of the month, all attractions are fully operational. Therefore, this is a great time to visit for the full Niagara Falls experience before schools get out for summer. However, avoid Memorial Day weekend, as this attracts high crowd levels and top hotel prices.

Crowds and Rates: Crowds are moderate around this month, thanks to the return of the boat trips on either side. Hotel prices slowly increase around this time of year, averaging at least $150 a night for a 3-star hotel.

 

Visiting in Summer

Niagara Falls

Open:

  • Walk: Cave of the Winds (US Side)
  • Walk: Journey Behind the Falls (Canadian Side)
  • Boat Tour: Maid of the Mist (US Side)
  • Boat Tour: Hornblower (Canadian Side)

Summer offers the best touring conditions for visiting Niagara Falls, with higher temperatures and all of the attractions open. In early summer, the temperatures will have returned to a pleasant touring temperature, so you’ll be happy to get drenched during a boat tour.

Clothing: During the summer, you can wear shorts and t-shirts during the day at Niagara Falls. It’s a good idea to add a light rain jacket to wear while standing closer to the water. With the improved weather, add hiking boots to your suitcase to enjoy the area’s popular walking trails. If you are planning to explore in the evening, pack a light sweater or jacket.

Crowds: Crowd levels will be the highest in the summer months due to school holidays, good touring conditions, and full offerings available to visitors.

Rates: Hotel prices will rise to the top price categories during this time, averaging at about $160-$180 a night.

Attractions: Throughout the summer, you can experience the spectacular Maid of the Mist tour on the USA side. All other attractions are fully operational, and expect all shops and restaurants to be open.

On the Canadian side, the Hornblower Niagara Cruises will also be operational throughout the summer. Make sure you book in advance during the summer for any Niagara Falls attractions to avoid the crowds and lines.
 

June

Niagara Falls

June sees the start of the higher summer temperatures, with a high of 77°F (25°C) and low of 56°F (13.3°C). You’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures, which can be hot enough for exploring in a t-shirt and shorts.

Attractions: On the US side, you can experience the incredible Maid of the Mist tour. Expect to join longer lines if you don’t buy your tickets in advance. The attraction runs from 9 am to 6 pm for the first half of the month, extending to 8 pm mid-month.

Expect similar hours for the Canadian Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which will also be running at full capacity. For all attractions, try to book tickets ahead of time, to avoid the summer queues.

Crowds and Rates: As schools finish for the year, expect high crowd levels on both the USA and Canadian sides. Hotel prices will increase in June, averaging at least $160 a night for a 3-star hotel.

July

Niagara Falls

The highest temperatures at Niagara Falls are recorded in July, with an average high of 81°F (27.2°C) and low of 61°F (16.1°C). This time of year is very humid, resulting in pop-up thunderstorms. This may affect your experience at some attractions, which may have to close temporarily.

Attractions: All attractions will be operating, with the Maid of the Mist running until 8 pm each night. Expect to wait in queues at this time, so book ahead or visit attractions first thing in the morning for the best experience.

Crowds and Rates: Expect the highest crowd levels of the year, with many international visitors during this time. Hotel prices will remain high, at an average of $170-200 a night.

July 4th is one of the most crowded times of the year to visit the falls. You will witness incredible fireworks at 10 pm from either side, but expect to battle large crowds. Hotel prices will reach their peak at this point.

August

Niagara Falls

August at Niagara Falls offers similar temperatures to July, with a high of 79°F (26.1°C) and low of 59°F (15°C). It is very warm and humid

Attractions: August continues to attract high crowds and long opening hours at the attractions. Everything will be in operation throughout the month, with the Maid of the Mist running until 8 pm or 7:30 pm each night. Thunderstorms are still likely throughout August and may result in attraction closures.

On the Canadian side, you’ll be able to enjoy the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which will offer good operating hours. The Caves of the Wind remain open from 10 am to 3 pm daily.

Crowds and Rates: It remains jam-packed until kids return to school towards the end of the month. Hotel prices will stay high until the last week of the month, where they will begin to reduce.

 

Visiting in Fall

Niagara Falls

Open:

  • Walk: Cave of the Winds (US Side)
  • Walk: Journey Behind the Falls (Canadian Side)

Open until November 7:

  • Boat Tour: Maid of the Mist (US Side)

Open until late November:

  • Boat Tour: Hornblower (Canadian Side)

The weather in fall will be cool and crisp, especially heading into November. Almost everything remains open in September and October, but by November, top attractions like Maid of the Mist close for the season.

Clothing: For a fall trip to Niagara Falls, pack plenty of layers to prepare for the changing climate. A rain jacket and boots can come in handy with the increased rainfall. At night-time, you’ll want to wear a jacket or thick sweater when exploring outside at Niagara Falls.

Crowds: After Labor Day, the crowd levels on both sides of Niagara Falls are reduced.

Rates: Hotel prices are dependent on your travel dates, and a 3-star hotel will average between $70-$100 USD a night. Prices will increase around Labor Day, Canadian Thanksgiving in October, and American Thanksgiving in November.

Attractions: On the USA side, the Cave of the Winds walk operates throughout the fall as usual. On this side, you’ll enjoy an almost identical experience to the summer months, albeit with cooler weather. However, the popular Maid of the Mist tour’s last day of operation for the year is November 7th.

On the Canadian side, the Journey Behind the Falls is open throughout the fall. The Hornblower Niagara Cruises run until the end of November.
 

September

Niagara Falls

Average temperatures at Niagara Falls in September offer a high of 72°F (22°C) and a low of 51°F (10°C). September has an average of 88mm of precipitation, so pack rainwear to be safe.

Attractions: On both sides, all attractions remain open throughout September. Cave of the Winds is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm on the US side. The Maid of the Mist boat tours run from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays, with this time extending to 6 pm on weekends.

If you are visiting the US side on Labor Day, expect a weekend street festival and fireworks. On the Canadian side, the Hornblower Niagara Cruises will run throughout the month.

Crowds and Rates: After Labor Day, crowd levels drop significantly, making September an excellent month to visit. Average hotel rates are around $80 a night for a 3-star hotel.

October

Niagara Falls

Temperatures at Niagara Falls continue to drop in October to an average high of 60°F (15°C) and low of 40°F (4°C). It's a great time as visitors escape the summer heat, and winter has not completely arrived.

Enjoy witnessing the fall foliage from the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side or from Goat Island on the US side.

Attractions: Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday in October, but most attractions such as the Hornblower Niagara Cruises and Journey Behind the Falls remain open around this time. On the third weekend of October, enjoy Niagara Falls Oktoberfest on the Canadian side, with entertainment and great food and drinks.

On the US side, expect low crowds throughout the month at the attractions. The Maid of the Mist usually operates from 9 am to 5 pm throughout the month.

Crowds: The crowd levels are low throughout the month, and visitors get to witness the changing autumn leaves. Hotel prices remain the same as September, except for an increase on the Canadian side for their Thanksgiving. During this time, prices may double to an average of $200 per night for a 3-star hotel.

November

Niagara Falls

Temperatures at Niagara Falls drop significantly in November to a high of 48°F (4°C) and low of 31°F (-0.6°C). It will be cold, and visitors may feel even colder with the spray of the mist at the falls. Usually, November is snow-free.

Attractions: On the Canadian side, the Hornblower Niagara Cruises will cease operation at the end of November. However, you can still enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls and other indoor attractions in the area, such as the Skylon Tower and Niagara Falls History Museum. In mid-November, the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights begins, attracting locals and visitors in the evenings.

On the US side, you can still enjoy the Cave of the Winds; however, the Maid of the Mist tours end on November 7th.

Crowds and Rates: The Crowd levels drop dramatically due to the low temperatures, and y. Expect low hotel prices and good deals during this time, apart from the week of US Thanksgiving.

 

Visiting in Winter

Niagara Falls

Open:

  • Walk: Cave of the Winds (US Side)
  • Walk: Journey Behind the Falls (Canadian Side)

Closed:

  • Boat Tour: Maid of the Mist (US Side)
  • Boat Tour: Hornblower (Canadian Side)

Winter in Niagara Falls is incredibly cold, with temperatures dropping as low as -10°F. However, the falls can be stunning in the winter, and you’ll have incredible photo opportunities after the snow has settled.

Snowfall in the area can come as early as mid-October. January is a good time to see the falls frozen.

Clothing:

  • Pack plenty of warm clothing for a winter visit to Niagara Falls.
  • During the day and night, wear a thick jacket and plenty of layers.
  • Put on thermal innerwear underneath your regular clothes, and then add a thick sweater and jacket on top.
  • Avoid cotton material, and instead opt for silk, merino wool, or other cold-weather materials.
  • Add in warm accessories, such as hats and gloves, and pack water-resistant hiking boots to avoid slipping.

Rates: Winter is a slow season on both sides of the falls, and boat trips aren’t available during that period. This does result in some great hotel deals, with average prices for a 3-star hotel staying around $70-80 a night.

Crowds: Winter is a slow season at Niagara Falls and the least busy time. However, Christmas and New Year see a slight increase in crowds, especially with local visitors to the Canadian Festival of Lights throughout December.

Attractions: On the US side, the Cave of the Winds walk operates throughout the winter and is open from 10 am to 3 pm each day. The popular Maid of the Mist boat tour won’t run at all between December and February.

On the Canadian side, the Journey Behind the Falls is open all year round, but you won’t be able to experience the Hornblower Niagara Cruises.

However, there’s plenty to keep you entertained indoors, including viewing the frozen falls from the Skylon Tower (Canadian side) or enjoying the museums and smaller attractions.
 

December

Niagara Falls

Expect low temperatures in December, with a high of 37°F (2.8°C) and low of 22°F (-5.6°C). Visitors need to wrap up warm in December, and snowfall is to be expected during the month.

Crowds and Rates: Crowd levels are low all month, apart from an increase during Christmas and New Year. Hotel prices are generally very low for the first three weeks of the month but naturally will increase before Christmas and New Year.

Attractions: On both sides, the boat tours will no longer be running due to the freezing temperatures. However, all indoor attractions remain open.

You can also enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls on the Canadian side and Cave of the Winds on the US side. On the Canadian side, you can experience the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights throughout the month, which attracts crowds of locals, especially at weekends.

January

Niagara Falls

In January, temperatures at Niagara Falls drop to a high of 32°F (0°C) and low of 16°F (-8.9°C). The second half of January is often the coldest time of the year. The snow and ice transform the waterfalls into a winter wonderland, and you might witness the frozen falls.

Attractions: Opening times of attractions remain similar to December, with boat tours not operating throughout the month. The Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights continues until the middle of the month on the Canadian side. You’ll still be able to enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls on the Canadian side, which is the main falls-related attraction open all year round. Beware that the Lower Observation Deck may be closed in cold and icy conditions.

Crowds: After New Year, crowds drop to a very low level on both sides for the month.

February

Niagara Falls

February temperatures remain about the same as January, with a high of 34°F (1.1°C) and low of 17°F (-8.3°C). There will be snow, and you can enjoy viewing the frozen falls this month.

Attractions: Openings are the same as the previous months, with boat tours still not operating throughout February. Both the Journey Behind the Falls and the Caves of the Wind are year-round attractions. They’ll be your best opportunity to get up close and personal with the falls this month.

Attraction hours will be shorter in February due to the low crowd levels, with Caves of the Wind operating from 10 am to 3 pm each day. The only slight increase to crowd levels will be on the US side around the middle of the month for Presidents’ Day.

Crowds and Rates: Crowds are low throughout the month. With limited special events in February, hotel prices remain very low for visitors.

 

3 Ways to Experience Niagara Falls in the U.S.

Niagara Falls

  1. Self-Guided Walking Tour: A self-guided walking tour on the USA side allows you to witness Niagara Falls from many different angles. Enjoy walking between the various viewpoints and taking in this incredible attraction from above.
  2. Maid of the Mist Boat Tour: These double-deck boats take guests up close to Niagara Falls. As one of the most iconic attractions at Niagara Falls, you’ll enjoy feeling the spray of the water in your face. The Maid of the Mist boat tour allows you to get as close as possible to the falls, which can’t be experienced just by walking.
  3. Cave of the Winds Tour: There are no caves involved in this experience, and instead, you walk along wooden stairs and platforms. You’ll explore Niagara Gorge, which is located at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls. On the Hurricane Deck, you’ll feel the dramatic force of the falls.
     
4 Ways to Experience Niagara Falls in Canada

Niagara Falls

  1. Self-Guided Walking Tour: Enjoy walking around the rim of Niagara Falls from above. Take a self-guided walking tour, where you’ll capture fantastic photos of Niagara Falls from the various viewpoints and bridges in the area. You can spend two hours or so exploring the area in its entirety.
  2. Hornblower Boat Tour: This boat tour sails into the base of the falls, spraying you with mist on your journey. There’s no better way to get close to the falls and witness the immense scale of this attraction. While it’s challenging to take photos due to the spray, it’s the best option for seeing Niagara Falls up close.
  3. Skylon Tower: This observation tower looks over both the Canadian and American sides of Niagara Falls. Standing at 160 meters tall, you’ll experience incredible views of the falls from up above.
  4. Journey Behind the Falls Tour: Visit the base of the Niagara Falls by heading into the underground tunnels at Journey Behind the Falls. Enjoy spectacular views from this attraction, which you’ll access by elevator.

 

Helicopter Tour | Both Sides
 


Helicopter Tour: To witness the sheer scale of Niagara Falls, opt for a helicopter tour. You’ll enjoy the best views of Niagara Falls and a unique view that can’t be experienced on land. You’ll enjoy witnessing both the Canadian and United States sides in one trip, making it the quickest and easiest option for exploring Niagara Falls.

 

Niagara Falls Hotel Deals US Side

Booking.com

 

Niagara Falls Hotel Deals Canadian Side

Booking.com

 

Where and Tips

Niagara Falls, NY
United States

 

Personal Review bei User Melissa:

Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between the province of Ontario (Canada) and the state of New York (United States), that form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge. From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island.

Niagara Falls

Still wildly popular today, the falls first became a tourist destination during the 18th Century, by Mid-Century, it was the area's main industry. Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Jérôme, visited with his bride in the early 19th Century. There are countless interesting and detailed stories of unusual occurrences, daredevils wild adventures plunging into the falls, heart-stopping tales of near-death experiences, and heroic rescues of people being pulled right from the water's edge moments before tragedy. While the 20th Century story of the falls was largely about efforts to harness the water's potential source of power, today, roughly eight million visitors a year (those numbers are just the US side) create revenue from the spectacle of the falls that warrant a commitment by the Canadian and American governments to maintain ongoing preservation efforts.

The most popular thing to do there is undoubtedly taking one of the boat rides on Maid of the Mist. Generations of visitors have been donning blue ponchos and getting drenched as you are taken into the heart of the falls. If you don't believe you could get any more wet, visit Cave of the Winds for an up-close view of the falls rushing waters - so close it is actually hard to keep your eyes open for more than a moment. There you will truly experience what being soaked to the bone feels like. If you are visiting when the boats are running, expect a long wait in line, but you can plan on feeling that you chose wisely after your falls experience.

If you are planning a trip to the falls, also make sure to look for the Niagara Whirlpool on this website. It's not far from the falls and will give you a more intimate look at the powerful water and with virtually no tourists, incorporating a hearty hike down to the river.

Keep in mind you can visit the falls from either the American or the Canadian side. The link below is for American side tourist information. Niagara USA

Comments

Hiker1

Thanks Melissa for this 'classic' place :) Are there less tourists in winter?

Melissa Sallee

Hit there - From all that I've learned, it becomes consistently quiet during the winter months. It's a bit of a tough call to say when the ideal season is, many people will insist on those key summer months to witness the waters at full-power. Personally, I love winter hiking and think the site would be powerful to see uninterrupted by crowds but I believe only people who truly don't mind the cold would be able to enjoy a winter trip there. Have you been to Niagara, Hiker1?

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