How can you enjoy a scenic region at its prettiest? Go in autumn. Fall is prime time for active outdoor adventures in the Niagara region– and the spectacular changing foliage is a major draw card. The summer crowds are gone and the weather is more temperate, but the scenery is even more mesmerizing, making autumn one of the best times to see the area and all its natural splendors. While summer is the better choice for water activities like rafting and boat tours, autumn provides all of the classic Niagara atmosphere with lower prices, smaller crowds and crisper air–for superior sightseeing and relaxation. Here are some fantastic places to see fall foliage in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Take in the magnificent colors of the autumn leaves and breathe in the invigorating air at these 5 breathtaking spots.
1. Walk the Trails of the Dufferin Islands
Only half a mile south of the Falls, the Dufferin Islands are a group of serene islands populated by scenic nature trails, parkland and not much else. This is the perfect place for a quiet autumn day of hiking– so pack a picnic and explore the trails connected to each other by picturesque bridges. Recently, efforts have been made to revitalize the local avian population, with bird feeding stations installed across the islands. As a result, avid birdwatchers may take particular interest in this tranquil local area. If you’re lucky, you might spot species such as belted kingfishers, Canada geese, bluejays, red-breasted nuthatches and black-crowned night herons in the area.
2. Bike the Niagara River Recreational Trail
If you’d prefer an outdoor excursion on two wheels, the beautiful Niagara River Recreational Trail might be just the ticket. This is an impressive network of 53 kilometres of bike trails that meander their way through the region, parallel to the Niagara River from Fort George south to Fort Erie. The trails offer cyclists stunning views of the river, Niagara Gorge and the surrounding woodland, and in autumn these views provide an incredible display of autumn colour.
Read related: The Top 10 Things to See & Do in Niagara Falls, Canada
If you’d rather not take on the entire trail from fort to fort, riders can choose one of four sections that Niagara Falls Tourism suggests for a leisurely ride that won’t take more than a few hours. Choose to cycle from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston, Queenston to the Whirlpool Aero Car, Chippawa to Black Creek, or Black Creek to Fort Erie for a lovely afternoon ride that’s perfect for getting active– all the while taking in some stunning fall foliage.
3. Explore the Niagara River Parkway
There are few activities more suited to a chilly weekend afternoon than a relaxing drive, and this route is particularly special. The Niagara River Parkway consistently makes its way onto lists of the most scenic drives in Canada, and if you go during autumn, you’ll quickly see why. Running from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake, this drive is ideal for a daylong road trip. Start in Fort Erie and follow the Niagara River through stunning fall foliage. It’s easy to make stops along the way at Niagara Glen for a short hike, at the Falls for photo ops of the dramatic surrounding views, or for a round of golf at one of the several courses a short detour away. The river areas are home to hundreds of species of wild birds, from egrets to herons and an incredible 19 varieties of gulls.
Finish your day in charming Niagara-on-the-Lake with a local wine tasting and dinner at one of the region’s boutique wineries. With impressive trees alongside the road painting each view with autumn colours and the thundering Niagara River tumbling in the background, this drive really is just as much about the journey as the destination.
4. Get a Bird’s Eye View by Cable Car
Built in 1916, the Whirlpool Aero Car is one of the most unique ways to see not only the Falls, but the surrounding natural landscapes as well. Take a relaxing ride above the roaring Niagara River in a cable car, traversing the space above the Falls for incredible 360-degree views.
While we’ve recommended the Aero cable car elsewhere on this site, this ride becomes especially magnificent in the fall when the trees turn an array of yellows and reds, surrounding the Falls and transforming into a completely different landscape. You’ll want to bring your camera along for this one!
5. Stroll Along the White Water Walk
While the changing seasons in Niagara mean that it might be a bit chilly for a pleasant boat ride along the Niagara River, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid the river entirely! The White Water Walk provides spectacular views of the thundering class-6 rapids on the Niagara River. The quarter-mile-long boardwalk snakes along the river with intermittent viewing platforms, offering an idyllic spot for a morning walk in the brisk air amidst the vibrant autumn leaves.
Read related: Should you Purchase the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass?
The incredible views span all across the river as far as the eye can see, offering an ideal scene for nature lovers. And you’d never guess that the buzz of the Clifton Hill amusement complex is less than a three-kilometer walk away.
Looking For More Fall Inspiration?
Over at The Loftus Guides, we have an eye-opening, inspiring feature on the world’s most beautiful places for autumn colours and leaf-peeping. Also make sure to check out our guide to Niagara in October for plenty of ways to enjoy the region to the fullest this season.
About the Author
Jaclyn Gruenberger is a Canadian writer and travel enthusiast. She loves hiking, photography, the ocean and a good road trip, which is why she moved to British Columbia and then Australia before returning to her home city of Toronto, where she lives now. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.