As you guys know I made the somewhat smart, somewhat foolish choice to visit Niagara Falls in the winter this last year. And while I definitely want to go in warm weather next time I visit, I do think it’s totally worth going in the snowiest, coldest season of the year, and here’s why!
Yep, I don’t even have a good reason for why I did this. I think I saw one photo of the “frozen” falls, and the next thing I knew, I was emailing the USA side about working together with the theme of a wintry weekend trip to Niagara Falls. I can only imagine the tourism board initially went, “Why?” before agreeing.
I mean, that’s what I would do if I saw a blogger or travel writer wanting to drive up to Niagara Falls in January when literally all the famous attractions are closed! I mean all the big hits — Maid of the Mist, zip lining, and anything that basically put you close to the water were rightfully closed for the season.
However, that’s what I did! Fran flew up to from North Carolina to meet me in Buffalo, and then we drove over to Niagara Falls to see what exactly we could get up to in the most off season of off seasons!
Turns out we had a blast eating ourselves into food comas, taking in the wintry views, sampling wine, and staying cozy in our giant resort.
5 Reasons to Visit Niagara Falls in Winter
1. It’s basically empty.
Yep, when we went to Niagara Falls in January it was basically us and the locals. Which means when we went over to Goat Island, we had the place to ourselves! I think that’s the closest I’ve been to peaceful winter wonderland in a long, long time.
Seriously, the places that are flooded with crowds of tourists in the summer, were completely empty for us! Heck, some of the areas closest to the falls were flat out chained off, so we really had unobstructed views!
2. The falls really are straight out of Frozen
Oh my word. I know it’s a photo of frozen Niagara Falls that inspired this plan in the first place, but I was really quite blown away by how incredible they are in person. While they’re not technically frozen in place, they look like it, especially with all the snow and ice in the water!
See the falls from all angles to really appreciate them — Goat Island, the Observatory on the American side, a quick stop over to the Canada side, at night… I promise you won’t be able to get enough of them!
3. Get a chance to sample some ice wine
Did you know Niagara has its own wine trail? Yep — there are 22 wineries all along it! We visited two — A Gust of Sun and Niagara Landing Wine Cellars. It was at the latter that I learned of one of the coolest wines I’ve ever heard of — ice wine!
It’s pretty rare, but you basically have to harvest the grapes when they’ve been frozen still on the wine. People apparently go crazy for it, and an “affordable” version is $30 for a very thin bottle.
If you plan you trip well, you can time it to coincide with the ice wine festival on the Canada side. However, if you’re not bringing your passport or miss the dates, you can still get a bottle and sampling at Niagara Landing. Try it, especially if you like sweeter wines!
4. There are plenty of ways to get nice n’ cozy
I mean, northern New York is not a stranger to winter, ice, or snow. In fact, when Buffalo was dumped with a bunch of snow a few days before I was supposed to drive up, the news was in a panic but Buffalo locals on Twitter were having a ball and going, “This is normal, what’s the fuss?”
Because it’s used to the cold, that means it knows how to create a cozy setting! Whether you stay somewhere lovely like Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, which has a jacuzzi right in the room and its own spa or go to a coffee shop like Orange Cat Coffee Co in nearby Lewiston, there are so many lovely spots to stay warm!
5. Niagara does, in fact, know how to handle icy conditions
Have you ever heard of how people in Atlanta go into an absolute panic when there’s a hint of snow? Okay, opposite of that. Like I said above, Niagara and northern New York are not strangers to heavy snow. That means it’s actually relatively safe to drive around here and visit even after a giant storm blows through!
My car, which is not a 4WD and is probably very, very bad to drive in wintry weather, actually did quite fine during our trip! I drove it up to Niagara, dying of fear. Once we were in the actual town and Fran took over, we realized the roads were actually pretty good! If my old car did fine there, then you’ll be absolutely safe if you rent a 4WD car for your trip.
As you can see, Niagara Falls is a very fun winter trip even if all the famous attractions are closed. Make sure to pack a hefty, warm jacket and proper snow shoes, and enjoy having the whole place to yourself!