NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - Pack a parka, camera, sense of humour and an adventurous spirit when you head to Canada’s thunderous national treasure in winter.
But the abundance of patience to battle crowds and traffic, and the big cash layout for accommodation needed in fairer weather are not required.
Off-season in Niagara Falls has plenty to recommend it as my family discovered on a weekend getaway last month.
Hotels hungry for business offer great-rate weekend packages, many including meal deals, attraction discounts and spa treatments, especially tempting to offset the ravages of a Canadian winter.
The lack of lineups at the Bird Kingdom, Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks was wonderful.
It afforded us the time to buddy up with all our favourite wax celebrities for the family photo album, leisurely look at and listen to tropical birds as well as marvel at the fascinating feats and oddities assembled by Robert Ripley.
The spectacular view from the revolving dining room of the Skylon Tower is an all-season highlight made even better in winter — November through January — when the CAA Winter Festival of Lights joins the illumination of the falls, fireworks and city night lights.
The festival, even more dazzling at street level, features an outdoor skating rink at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls plus miles of stunning illuminations in a range of themes from Disney to World Religions to Canadian Wildlife.
Of course the wonder-of-the-world waterfalls are still the sweetest eye candy. Frosted tree branches and massive clouds of steam are ample reward for braving the cold and icy walkways.
For those with a higher calling, a helicopter ride over the falls provides an exhilarating power trip and arguably the best view of the falls. It’s one often chosen by couples to become engaged, and even married. No surprise for the Honeymoon Capital of the World.