Niagara Falls is a huge attraction for many tourists as it’s one of our planets many natural wonders, and with the ever increasing influx of travellers, Niagara Parks protects and preserves the beauty that is Niagara Falls and its surrounding area. Established as an agency of the Government of Ontario in 1885, Niagara Parks is responsible for 1,325 hectares (3,274 acres) of parkland along the Niagara River, as well as the 56km that composes the Niagara Parkway. Within these areas are many attractions, some of which are available all year round… and perfect for the days when Mother Nature refuses to co-operate (like the dreary scene below) while you’re on vacation! Not convinced? Keep reading!
No 1 :: Journey Behind The Falls
This attraction lets you get up close and personal with Horseshoe Falls as you take an elevator down 38m to explore part of the 198m of tunnels. These tunnels have witnessed quite a lot of historical moments as they’re over 125 years old! During the winter only the smaller platform is open for visitor safety, but you can still get a great view of the Horseshoe Falls from below. Unfortunately for us it was a foggy day which meant visibility wasn’t the greatest, but it doesn’t stop you from feeling the sheer power of the falls! Niagara Falls carries 20% of the world’s fresh water which flows in from four of the Great Lakes at 65km/h. The absolute power of the falls can be seen in the migration of its brink as it has slowly moved south 11km from its original position near the village of Queenston. Last century, engineers intervened to divert the water in order to slow this erosion from 3m every year to only 30cm every 10 years!
No 2 :: Niagara Parks’ Floral Showhouse
A delightful oasis for over 60 years, the Floral Showhouse is only a short walk from the Falls. Inside are beautiful tropical plants, a seasonal exhibition, and lots of critters scurrying around! Walking in, you feel as if you’ve become Snow White as chipmunks scamper by, birds tweet away and if you’re lucky, Violet the soft shell turtle will even come say hello! You’ll often see her hanging out with her flowery turtle counterpart. Currently the Spring Show is on which started in January, with their Easter display beginning this Saturday, March 19th. Rumour has it there just might be some bunnies and chicks wandering about, so I’d say head on over and check it out! It’s only on for 3 weeks before the summer show takes over! Another highlight is that the Floral Showhouse is home to not one but several Titan Arums, also known as the giant corpse flower. This flower doesn’t bloom every year, and there’s really no way of knowing when exactly it will bloom. However, staff believe there’s a possibility of it blooming this year, so you might get lucky and witness it depending on when you visit!
No. 3 :: Niagara Parks’ Butterfly Conservatory
What is probably my favourite indoor attraction under the umbrella of Niagara Parks, the Butterfly Conservatory is not to be missed! Despite living the majority of my life in the area, I had never been before this visit and was ecstatic for the opportunity to finally visit! The Butterfly Conservatory was established 20 years ago and is located in the heart of the 80 year old Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. It is currently home to over 2,000 butterflies – most of which are found in the tropics! A current bonus is the complimentary We Are The Insects exhibit that’s on loan from Montréal’s Insectarium until March 28th. You’ll get some insight into how many insects and beetles have evolved to suit their habitats, and say hello to a few live critters as well! Both We Are The Insects as well as the Butterfly Conservatory are very educational for all ages, one of the reasons it’s such a great attraction. For example, a butterfly’s colour comes from tiny overlapping scales that are very easily disrupted or destroyed, which is why you should NEVER touch a butterfly! You can tell a butterfly is older if there are some scales missing since they’re missing from flying around the block once or twice! One thing to note is NEVER eat or drink within the conservatory itself. This will attract ants which will eat butterfly eggs and larvae. For the sake of future generations, be courteous and consume anything outside the butterfly exhibit! Want to see more brilliant butterfly photos? Check out my previous post!
These three attractions are a perfect way to explore Niagara Falls when the weather is less than ideal. Whether it’s snow or rain that’s falling outside, Journey Behind the Falls, the Floral Showhouse and the Butterfly Conservatory will all welcome you with open arms and warmth! One thing to note as well is any children 5 and under have free entrance to ALL Niagara Parks attractions, making them a great place for young families to visit! Journey Behind the Falls and the Butterfly Conservatory are included in the Niagara Falls Wonder Pass, which will save you $10 in admission fees and includes access to the WeGo bus system which will take you between the attractions. Rain or shine, these three Niagara Parks attractions will make your visit an unforgettable one. So don’t be sad if the forecast calls for rain, Niagara Parks will help you turn that frown upside down!
Niagara Parks approached me for this collaboration, and I was ecstatic for the opportunity! All the opinions expressed here are my own, and a huge thanks to Niagara Parks for allowing me to experience these three attractions. It made what could have been a very dreary day one full of colour and life!