A Couples’ Weekend Getaway to Niagara Falls

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The last time I was at Niagara Falls, I was about 13 and traveling with my 7th-grade class on a trip to Toronto. I don't remember anything about the waterfalls other than the yellow ponchos we wore to go behind the crashing water on the Canadian side.

So when my partner, Elliot, and I decided to plan a trip to Niagara this spring, I vowed that this time I would do things “right.” We decided to visit both sides of Niagara Falls and have a little romantic couples weekend away.

If you, too, think a weekend at the falls sounds like fun (and, believe me, it is!), here's a look at our itinerary.

(But first: a video!)

A romantic weekend itinerary for Niagara Falls

Friday

1 p.m. — Drive to Niagara USA

Living in northeastern Ohio, Niagara Falls is actually pretty close for us — it was only a 3.5-hour drive from where we live to the American side of Niagara.

4:30 p.m. — Hotel check-in

We stayed at the Giacomo, a historic boutique hotel full of character within walking distance of Niagara Falls State Park. The rooms here aren't huge, but they are comfortable and beautifully designed.

There's also a lounge/observation room on the 19th floor, which offers up a nice view of the state park. (And, the buffet breakfast is also quite good.)

The Giacomo Hotel
Our room at The Giacomo Hotel

5 p.m. — Dinner at Savor at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute

Staffed by students of the NF Culinary Institute, Savor offers slightly finer dining in Niagara Falls at a really affordable price. The food is good, and it's cool to support a program that is shaping future chefs and restauranteurs.

7 p.m. — A stroll through Niagara Falls State Park

Being so close to the park means that it makes for a perfect after-dinner stroll. We got up close to the American Falls as Prospect Point, and then took the pedestrian bridge over to Goat Island where Terrapin Point gets you close to Horseshoe Falls.

Did you know that this is the oldest state park in America?

Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls

10 p.m. — Fireworks

Every Friday and Sunday during the summer, Niagara Falls puts on a fireworks show at 10 p.m. On the American side, the best spot to watch the show is as Prospect Point.

Afterwards, you should be able to see the falls illuminated (though admittedly the view of this is much better from the Canadian side). Be warned, though: it gets crowded.

Niagara Falls Fireworks

Niagara Falls Illuminated
Niagara Falls Illuminated

Saturday

10 a.m. — Niagara Falls State Park

After a late rise and a leisurely breakfast, we headed back to the state park for a second look at the falls up close. It all looks completely different in the sun vs. under clouds!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls State Park

11 a.m. — Cave of the Winds

Even though the name is slightly deceiving (there's not really much of a “cave” involved), this U.S.-side attraction is definitely worth checking out. You get outfitted in sandals and a brightly-colored poncho, and then take an elevator down into the Niagara Gorge.

From here, a series of boardwalks lead to a “Hurricane Deck” basically right beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Yes, you WILL get wet, but it's pretty cool to get so close to a surging waterfall.

Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls

Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls
“Cave” of the Winds

12 p.m. — Lunch at Top of the Falls

Located on Goat Island, Top of the Falls is a family-friendly restaurant with views out towards Horseshoe Falls. The food isn't anything to write home about, but it's not every day you can eat lunch somewhere with this kind of view.

2 p.m. — Helicopter tour with Rainbow Air

After lunch, we headed back into town and made our way to Rainbow Air's headquarters on Main Street near the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge. This family-run business is the only one operating helicopter tours from the American side of the border — and also the most affordable.

Flights in their bright yellow chopper last 10-12 minutes and cost $105 per adult. It sounds like a lot of money, but I promise that this is an experience that is WELL worth it.

Rainbow Air Helicopter

Horseshoe Falls from a Helicopter
Flying above Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls from a Helicopter

3 p.m. — Maid of the Mist

No trip to Niagara Falls would be complete without a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist. You can take boat tours from both sides of the falls, but the original Maid of the Mist boats ONLY operate from the American side these days (in 2013, Hornblower Cruises took over the Canadian side operation).

The experience includes access to the observation tower, an elevator ride down to the river, and then a cruise that puts you right in the middle of the thundering action of Horseshoe Falls. You're given a poncho for the ride, but be warned that you probably WILL get wet — the word “mist” is used lightly.

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls
On the Maid of the Mist

American Falls, Niagara Falls

5 p.m. — Cross the Rainbow Bridge into Canada

We decided we wanted to experience both sides of Niagara Falls, and so crossed the border in the evening.

Niagara Falls

5:45 p.m. — Hotel check-in

Since this was meant to be somewhat of a romantic getaway, we decided to splurge on a fallsview room at the Radisson Hotel & Suites Fallsview on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The incredible room had a panoramic window looking out towards Horseshoe Falls, a king-sized bed, and a 2-person hot tub.

We were reluctant to leave (especially since there was free wifi and our phones were freaking out not being able to tell which country we were in), but a rainbow stretching across Horseshoe Falls changed our minds.

Radisson Niagara Falls

View from the Radisson Niagara Falls
The view from our room.

6:30 — Incline railway down to Horseshoe Falls

We took the incline down the hill so that we could reach Horseshoe Falls in time to appreciate that rainbow we'd spotted from our room. Getting so close to the most powerful waterfall in North America was truly incredible — I didn't want to leave!

Horseshoe Falls with Rainbow

Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls with Rainbow

Horseshoe Falls with a Rainbow

Horseshoe Falls with Rainbow

7:30 p.m. — Dinner and relaxing

After ogling the waterfall for quite some time, we took the incline back up to hotel row and grabbed a bite to eat in a sports bar (where we could also watch the World Cup, of course!). Then we headed back to the Radisson to chill out and upload some photos.

9:45 p.m. — Falls illumination

Even though our hot tub was calling, we decided to venture out once more to see the Falls illuminated. While you can't truly appreciate this effect from the American side, the view from Canada is stunning.

Both the Horseshoe and American falls are illuminated by giant colored spotlights starting around dusk each night. This year-round feature was begun in 1925 and is definitely worth seeing, no matter how tired your feet are. THEN it was time for hot tubbing.

American Falls Illuminated
American Falls Illuminated

American Falls Illuminated

Sunday

11 a.m. — Drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake

After having breakfast at the hotel, we decided to head north to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This meant skipping the behind-the-falls experience at Horseshoe Falls, but I think it was definitely worth it.

(Or you could wake up early and fit in going behind the falls, too!)

11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Niagara-on-the-Lake

Situated on Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a historic small town known for its beautiful architecture and immaculate streets and homes. We spent a few hours walking the main street, popping into cute boutiques and shops, and admiring the beautiful homes that we will probably never be able to afford.

We grabbed lunch and a bottle of local wine in town (this region is known for its wineries) before it was time for us to call it a day.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake

2:30 p.m. — Drive home

All too soon, it was time for us to once again hit the highway and head back to Ohio.

A lot of people complain that Niagara Falls has become too commercialized; that the casinos and bars take away from the beauty of the waterfalls. But I have to say that I was pretty darn impressed.

We didn't set foot in a casino, but we nevertheless found PLENTY to do at Niagara Falls, regardless of which side of the border we found ourselves on.

I would definitely recommend a trip like this for anyone!

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

Here's a look at the prices of some of the things included in this itinerary:

  • Dinner at Savor: $40-$50 USD for two people
  • Discovery Pass on the US side (which includes tickets for the Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, the Aquarium of Niagara, the Niagara Falls Trolley, and more): $36 for adults
  • Helicopter ride with Rainbow Air: $105 USD per person
  • Toll to cross the Rainbow Bridge: $3.50 USD per car
  • Fallsview room at the Radisson with breakfast, hot tub, and parking: $375 USD
  • Incline railway: $5 CAD for a roundtrip ticket

 

*Note: Big thanks to Niagara USA for setting up the U.S portion of our trip, the Giacomo for hosting us, and Rainbow Air for hooking us up with an incredible helicopter ride. As always, all opinions are completely my own, and this itinerary reflects 100% my ideal trip to Niagara Falls.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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40 Comments on “A Couples’ Weekend Getaway to Niagara Falls

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  1. If you could see the falls from the hot tub, I think I’d be set, haha 😉

    Sounds like you guys had a lovely weekend X

      Yes, it was a great weekend!

    Wow! you certainly are doing it right! I will have to take some tips from this on my trip

      Please do! We had a really good time, and got to see/do a lot – none of which involved a casino!

    Niagara-on-the-Lake is the loveliest part of the region. Incredible wine, especially ice wines, beautiful gardens and delicious food. If anyone is planning a trip to the area, I highly recommend a tour that takes you to some of the smaller wineries (unless you have a DD who’s willing to drive you around), there are some real gems. I would research Niagara wine first though, there are many amazing wines but your usual favourite type may not taste the same as from elsewhere. You also have the Shaw Festival where you can check out some amazing performances, usually including a bigger musical. It really requires at least an overnight visit, probably two, in one of the many lovely B&Bs. I would personally do the opposite, stay in NOL and make a day/evening trip up to the Falls (and don’t take the highway, take the road along the river).

      I unfortunately don’t drink, so that’s why we skipped the wine tours and such. But I definitely would suggest them to others! Thanks for the tips.

    This looks luxuuuurious. My most recent weekend “getaway” involved a stinky hitchhiker and navigating a gravel Colorado mountain pass backwards in a 35-foot sprinter van at 10 o’clock at night. (Because the road suddenly became too narrow and dropped off about 100 feet on one side.) Anyway, I guess my point is that I’m sort of jealous.

    I went to Niagara a couple times as a kid (convenient Ohio vacation) and was never super impressed but maybe I should go back. Also, if you get a chance to pick up a copy of “Sam Patch the Famous Jumper” you should do it. Funny little biography of a crazy dude who jumped off Niagara falls.

      We don’t get to travel much together, so we figured why not go all out for one weekend?

    Oh I love Niagara-on-the-lake! Such a beautiful little town. We hired bikes to explore the magnificent Niagara Parkway and some wineries. I have only been to the Canadian side of the falls and I loved it.

      NOTL is definitely a must if you’re going to the Falls! It’s such a beautiful little town. (My boyfriend also loved spotting all the expensive sports cars… haha.)

    Love this post. I didn’t realize there was an incline railway down to horseshoe falls. I was in Niagara Falls last year, and yes it’s really commercialized (especially on the Canada-side, which as a Canadian I found odd), but there’s also plenty of commercialized things as well. I personally loved going to Niagara Falls State Park on the US side, and it’s great you got a chance to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake as well.

      Yeah, a lot of people just assume it’s a straight-up tourist trap. But it doesn’t HAVE to be, depending on where you go!

    I love Niagara Falls. I haven’t taken a helicopter ride across, but now think maybe I should!

      It was sooooo cool! I would definitely do it if you can afford the splurge!

    Amazing photos and love the video too! Looks like you had the perfect weekend away. Sometimes I think I love a little luxury weekend getaway more than a big trip. That view from the Radisson on the Canadian side just looks stunning. Definitely a hotel I’ll be keeping in mind when I get there one day, even if its just for the view!

      It was a great weekend; would totally do it again! I could never afford to splash out this much on a longer trip, but it was perfect for a long weekend.

    The rainbow is amazing!

      It was so awesome! At one point it stretched all the way over Horseshoe Falls.

    The helicopter tour looks like a blast, awesome view 🙂

      Yes it was awesome! I’ll probably do a post on it sometimes soon, because I took lots of sweet photos!

    I’m so intrigued by Niagara on the Lake! I love small towns like this that have so much history. I’ve been to Niagara Falls 2x and while I could always return there, this is a place I’d definitely like to see as well!

      It was definitely worth it! So pretty and well worth walking around for a few hours.

    I’m planning a trip to Niagara Falls, and this is a good jumping off point for my own To-Do list, thanks! I didn’t realize the helicopter rides were reasonably priced. I might need to splurge, because that view looks amazing.

      It was SO worth it! I would highly suggest it! And the guys at Rainbow Air are really great.

    Wow! You really did do things right this time around! I don’t think you’ll “forget” the Niagara falls now 🙂 I find that when you’re visiting over commercialised places it helps to go VIP to enjoy it more. Seems like you did just that.

    Love this post and especially your video, Amanda! Glad to see some blue ponchos in the mix 😉 Also, what a perfect day for a helicopter ride!

    Happy travels 🙂

      It was chilly, but overall we really lucked out with the weather, especially for the helicopter ride!

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I think this would be a great weekend getaway for us.

      It sure was for us! And, since we were able to drive, it wasn’t ridiculously expensive, either.

    […] a helicopter once before (years ago in New Zealand), but when my boyfriend and I decided to head to Niagara Falls for a weekend (and considering he’d never been up in a chopper before), we decided to splurge and book a […]

    I love the video you put together! I visited Niagara Falls for the first time this year and I love it!

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