About 8km north of the falls is this exceptional reserve, where you can get a sense of what the area was like pre-Europeans. There are 4km of walking trails winding down into a gorge, past huge boulders, cold caves, wildflowers and woods. The Niagara Parks Commission offers guided nature walks daily during the summer season for a nominal fee.
The most engaging thing around here is the Daredevil Gallery attached to IMAX Niagara (which screens blockbusters and films about the falls; combo tickets are available). Scratch your head in amazement at the battered collection of barrels and padded bubbles in which people have ridden over the falls (not all of them successfully).
In Queenston village, a snoozy historic throwback north of the falls near the Lewiston Bridge to the US, is Queenston Heights Park, a national historic site. Here, the commanding Brock Monument honors Major General Sir Isaac Brock, 'Savior of Upper Canada.
Misty sprays and the majestic scale of this roaring cascade make it a marvellous spectacle. Split between New York and Canada, the Canadian side of the Falls has the more stunning views (as well as a strip of Vegas-like attractions including a towering casino), while the New York side has a handful of low-key, natural-park offerings.
Around 1km south of Horseshoe Falls, the showhouse offers year-round floral displays and some warm respite on a chilly day. Opposite, lodged on rocks in the rapids, the Old Scow is a rusty steel barge that's been waiting to be washed over the falls since 1918 – a teetering symbol of Western imperialism, perhaps?
Entry to the 40 hectares of Botanical Gardens is free, but you'll need tp pay to enter the Butterfly Conservatory , with its more than 50 species of butterflies (some as big as birds) flitting around 130 species of flowers and plants. This is also a breeding facility where you can see young butterflies released.
The demure Laura Secord Homestead celebrates a Canadian heroine who lived here during the War of 1812. She's famous for booting it nearly 30km to warn the British soldiers of impending attack by the USA – even though she was a US citizen. The rose garden out front was planted by Laura herself.
If the tourist bustle is messing with your yang, find some tranquility at this out-of-context Buddhist temple. The modern building of Western construction is ultra-tacky. Visitors are welcome to wander the complex and view the various sculptures, bells and artworks.
Leering over the falls, the Minolta Tower is a bodacious vantage point, with indoor and outdoor observation galleries. On a clear day the view extends from Toronto to Buffalo, New York. There's a restaurant and hotel here, too.
The jungly Bird Kingdom claims to be the world's largest indoor aviary, with 400 species of free-flying tropical birds from around the globe. You can also buddy-up with a boa constrictor in the Reptile Encounter Zone.
The Skylon Tower is an ugly 158m spire with yellow elevators crawling like bugs up the exterior. The views from the indoor and outdoor observation decks are eye-poppers. There's also a revolving restaurant.