Niagara Falls for a weekend

48 Hours In Niagara Falls: How To Spend Your Time

This post was most recently updated on August 26th, 2020

Niagara Falls is a spectacular year round destination. Being one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, you’ll never run out of things to do with only 48 hours in Niagara Falls.  I was around 4 years old the first time I went, and can still remember my reaction the first time I saw the Falls.

The city has changed a lot since I was a kid, and has become a top tourist destination with over 30 million people visiting each year. There is a lot more touristy and tacky stuff to see nowadays. But the natural beauty of the Falls has remained.

We made it a family tradition when our kids were growing up to take them to Niagara Falls every year for a couple of nights. We only lived 3 hours away, so it was an easy weekend getaway.

looking out over the water at the Rainbow Bridge

How Far Is Niagara Falls From Toronto?

If you are driving by car it will take you almost 2 hours to get to Niagara Falls from Toronto. It’s an easy drive along the QEW highway, not particularly scenic, and can get extremely busy during rush hour traffic. Leaving early in the morning so you aren’t stuck in traffic for hours will help.

If it’s your first time in Niagara Falls, I’d recommend driving in on the street called Lundy’s Lane. This is one of the main streets in town and will give you an idea where everything is. You’ll be able to see the Skywheel and all the tall hotels that have a perfect view of the water in the distance.

Toronto To Niagara Falls Bus

Another option  to get to Niagara Falls is to take the Megabus from Toronto. The cost is around $18.00 for a one way ticket.

Or you could also use the Go Transit to get there. A commuter train takes you half way, and then you get on a bus for the rest of the way. Once you get into Niagara Falls, the WEGO bus will take you wherever you need to go.

double decker bus in Niagara Falls

A fun tour to take is the hop on hop off double decker bus tour.  Your ticket is valid for 24 hours to get on and off as many times as you like. And the live commentary will give you some background information about the city.

Niagara Falls Tours From Toronto

You can also take a tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Most of these  won’t give you 48 hours in the city and are just a day trip. If this is all the time you have though, one option is a day trip from Viator. The tour is 9 hours long and includes a stop in the beautiful town of Niagara on the Lake on the way home.

view of the American Falls in Niagara Falls

When Is The Best Time To Spend 48 Hours In Niagara Falls?

Winter in Niagara Falls

If you go in the off season( Nov-March), you can get some great rates on hotels. The city will be a lot less crowded. And you might even get to see the Falls while their frozen over. Although not all the attraction will be open.

the American Falls frozen over

Every New Years Eve, Queen Victoria Park adjacent to the Falls puts on a free outdoor concert to ring in the New Year. Followed by an amazing show of fireworks.

fish in the festival of lights Niagara Falls

Winter is also the only time you’ll be able to witness the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. From the middle of November to the middle of January the park puts on a bright, and colourful display with over 50 trees sparkling after dark.

Summer In Niagara Falls

Summer in the Falls is the time to get down in the water for a boat tour like the Hornblower Niagara Cruises. It’s about the closest you can get to the falls. Be warned though, you will get wet!

boat ride near Niagara Falls

If boating isn’t your thing, you could do the Journey Behind The Falls. They give you a rain poncho before you walk through the tunnels out onto the observation deck.

Niagara Falls Scenery

A Niagara Falls Honeymoon

Niagara Falls has long been known as a honeymoon destination. Jerry and I even spent a few days here before we went home on our honeymoon. A lot of the hotels have a honeymoon suite that you can book. Some even come with a heart shaped jacuzzi tub.

The Niagara area is well known for their wines. And one of the most popular activities is to take a wine tour. Some also have the option to include lunch or dinner. One of the must do wine tours is the niagara vintage wine tours. 

Other options for the adults are two casinos, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, the Dragonfly Night Club, zip-lining over the Falls, helicopter rides, or a romantic dinner out at one of the upscale restaurants.

a couple zip lining over Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls For Kids

Besides being a top honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is also known as the perfect spot for a family vacation. The are tons of activities that children will love in Niagara Falls.

The city has 3 waterparks to choose from. My favourite is the Fallsview Indoor WaterPark . It’s directly connected to 3 hotels, so the location can’t be beat. Right in the middle of the action and easily walkable to most of the attractions.

Niagara Skywheel

Clifton Hill area is where you’ll find all the souvenir shops, fast food, and activities like mini putt putt, bowling, Niagara Skywheel, arcade games, Guinness World Records,  and the scariest haunted houses. Yes I screamed the whole way through!

Lundys Lane

Money Saving Tip

One way to save some money is by purchasing a Niagara Falls Pass. It will get you access to the Butterfly Conservatory, Journey Behind The Falls, transportation around the city, as well as some other attractions.

Niagara Falls coupons are usually available at most of the attractions too.

If it’s your first time here, I’d definitely recommend a trip to the Imax Theatre. You’ll learn about the history of the Falls. And hear stories about all the crazy daredevils who have attempted to survive a trip over the Falls in a barrel.

Close by is the Skylon Tower. A ride to the top will only take 52 seconds in what is known as the yellow bug in a glass enclosed elevator. You’ll see great views of the Falls from the observation deck. And if your staying for dinner at the top, the ride is free.

Best Hotel In Niagara Falls

Our favourite place to stay is the Embassy Suites by Hilton. Complete with a buffet breakfast and happy hour drink tickets with snacks every day. Parking at the hotel is expensive though. So I’d recommend parking just down the road at the Casino. The price is $5-$10 upon exiting Monday to Friday, and $25 if you leave on the weekend.

weekend getaway to Niagara Falls Casino

Niagara Restaurants

There are so many great options for places to eat in Niagara Falls. Although most are not cheap. A chain restaurant here will cost more than the same one at home. But if you look around, you’ll be able to find something more affordable.

Flying Saucer Restaurant sign Niagara Falls

One unique place to grab something to eat is the Flying Saucer Restaurant. The decor is a sci fi theme, and the shape of the restaurant is a flying saucer. This is one of the most popular places for breakfast, and they’re dinner menu is pretty reasonable too.

Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse Niagara Falls

The Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse is located in the Hilton Niagara Falls hotel. It is a very popular buffet restaurant serving many different kinds of barbecued meats, along with over 70 hot and cold items on the buffet.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Niagara Falls

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is the perfect place to get a tropical drink, a beer, or wine. Friday and Saturday night they have Karaoke. The lunch and dinner menu includes things like fish and chicken dishes, tacos, salads, burgers and nachos.

roast beef dinner at the Queen Charlotte Tea Room Niagara Falls

The Queen Charlotte Tea Room in Niagara Falls is one place you need to try out. It is a British, family run restaurant with the best food and friendliest staff. They serve things like steak or chicken pie, shepherds pie, fish and chips, paninis, and different kinds of sandwiches. Along with high tea, they have the best scones, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

My Cousin Vinny's restaurant Niagara Falls

My Cousin Vinny’s is one of the best places to go for Italian food. They make the best pizza, but you can also get things like burgers, wraps, steak, ribs, fish and chips, plus of course pasta.

After your finished visiting Niagara Falls, take a drive along the water to the pretty village of Niagara On The Lake.

Or if you didn’t come to Niagara Falls from Toronto, you could spend a couple days there. Click here to read all about our 2 days spent in Toronto.

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