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Niagara Falls Attractions: History and Insights

Hornblower Cruises Niagara Falls

For more than 400 years, people have come from around the world to visit and learn about the history of Niagara Falls attractions. So much of what you can do in Niagara Falls today has been entertaining tourists for decades or more. Here’s a look at nine notable Niagara Falls attractions, when they opened and a little bit about their history.

1. Chippawa Battlefield Park

The Chippawa Battlefield Park is the last remaining site from the War of 1812. In 1814, the Battle of Chippawa was waged between a British, Canadian and aboriginal force and an invading American army. Nearly 200 fighters died in the battle, and most are believed to be buried at the battle site.

In 1995, the Niagara Parks Commission acquired the site of the Battle of Chippawa. The commission has preserved 121 hectares (300 acres) of the battlefield. Visitors today can take a self-guided walking tour to retrace the battle events and see the memorial cairn.

2. Journey Behind the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls is one of the top tourist destinations in Niagara Falls today. The tour takes visitors through a series of tunnels that gets visitors up-close-and-personal with the Niagara Falls waterfalls.

The history of building stairs around Niagara Falls dates back to 1818, when the first enclosed stairs were built. In 1832, a spiral staircase was constructed, followed by a hydraulic powered elevator in 1887. Today, there’s an observation plaza where visitors can see the falls in all their glory.

3. Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel

You can see a part of the Underground Railroad history in Canada by visiting the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel. This National Heritage Landmark Site is part of the BME Church, which was built in 1836.

Today, you can take a tour here during the week, either a 60-minute group informational session, or a less formal individual tour. Contact the chapel for information.

4. Brock’s Monument

Tulip garden in front of Brock's MonumentBrock’s monument commemorates the Battle of Queenston Heights, which took place in 1812 during the War of 1812. The battle was led by Major-General Isaac Brock. Brock was the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Upper Canada.

He and his troops were based at Fort George in Newark, which is now known as Niagara-on-the-Lake. Brock perished leading his troops into battle, which resulted in a victory for the British. Brock’s monument was rebuilt in 1853.

5. Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge

The Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge connects Niagara Falls between Canada and the United States. It opened in 1941 and sits more than 200 feet above Niagara Falls, with 6 billion pounds of water crossing under it each minute.

Visitors can cross the bridge by car, bicycle or on foot. Tourists like to hang out on the bridge for night-time Niagara Falls fireworks shows.

6. Skylon Tower

Skylon Tower offers one of the best views of Niagara Falls, rising up 775 feet from the base of the falls. Skylon Tower opened in 1965 and cost $7 million to build.

When you visit the Skylon Tower, you can eat at two Niagara Falls restaurants – one is a family-friendly buffet, and the other is a revolving dining room that offers fine dining options. There’s also a shopping centre, arcade and movie theatre at the base of the tower.

7. Niagara Falls History Museum

The Niagara Falls History Museum captures the history of Niagara Falls. Visitors can try on a replica War of 1812 uniform and hold a musket, learn about Niagara Falls tightrope walkers and discover other interesting historical context to this world wonder.

The museum’s beginnings date back to 1971, when the Lundy’s Lane Historical Society created the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum in the old Stamford Town Hall building, which was built in 1874. In 2010, the museum transitioned to the Niagara Falls History Museum, under the direction of the City of Niagara Falls. It underwent a $12 million renovation before re-opening in 2012.

8. Bird Kingdom

If you love birds and wildlife, Bird Kingdom is one of the best Niagara Falls attractions to visit. Bird Kingdom opened in 2003 and is an aviary and home to owls, bats and nocturnal creatures. It’s the world’s largest free-flying indoor aviary, giving visitors the chance to get close to these beautiful creatures.

Bird Kingdom is open year-round and has special activities and shows each day. You can also check out a traditional Javanese House from the 1800s here, the only one of its kind in North America.

9. Niagara SkyWheel

One of Niagara Falls’ newer attractions is one that keeps delighting visitors year after year. The Niagara SkyWheel opened in 2006 and stands 53 metres (175 feet) tall. Visitors enter a climate-controlled gondola and can see amazing Niagara Falls views from every angle.

Head to the Niagara SkyWheel day and night for unique Niagara Falls views. You can check out the Niagara River, Niagara Parks, Clifton Hill and more as you ride.

Book a Trip to Visit These Niagara Falls Attractions

Everywhere you look in Niagara Falls is steeped in history. This global destination has been entertaining visitors for centuries, and it’s sure to keep doing so for many years to come. Book a stay at the Marriott on the Falls, one of the best Niagara Falls hotels, now.