How to Plan the Perfect Family Trip to Niagara Falls

Disclosure: In any review for a product or service, products or compensation may have been provided to me to help facilitate my review. All opinions are my own and honest. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Guidelines. Please see “Disclose” and "Terms of Use" tabs for more information.

niagara falls trip

Although Niagara Falls was associated with honeymooners for generations, it’s actually become a popular destination for families as well. Although the impressive waterfalls remain the main attraction, with everything from indoor waterparks, aquariums, museums, and more, it’s the perfect spot for families with kids of all ages.

But where do you begin planning your Niagara Falls vacation? Here are some tips to help make the planning process a bit easier, and help you have a stress-free, memorable family getaway. 

Question #1: When to Go

Most people think of Niagara Falls as a summer destination, and with good reason. Not only are the falls themselves running at full volume during the warmer months, all of the local attractions are accessible, and the temperatures are much more comfortable. On the downside, the crowds are much bigger in the summer, and you may have to wait in longer lines than you expect.

That being said, don’t rule out a winter visit to the Niagara Falls area entirely. It’s true that some of the biggest attractions, like the Maid of the Mist/Hornblower Cruises (the name depends on which side of the border you’re on) do not run during the winter, your kids may enjoy seeing the impressive ice formations that the cold temperatures create near the Falls. Not to mention, many of the things to do in Niagara Falls with kids take place indoors, so you can still enjoy your trip without venturing out into the cold. 

Question #2: Where to Stay

The big question for many families planning a trip to Niagara Falls is which side of the border to stay on, the New York or Canadian side. While the choice really comes down to personal preference (and your passport status, since every member of your family must have a valid passport to enter Canada), there are pros and cons to either option. Many families opt to stay on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because there are more entertainment options, and because the views of the waterfalls are arguably more impressive from that side of the gorge. For example, you’ll find Clifton Hill on the Canadian side, which features a range of amusements that will keep your kids happy for hours, including the Skywheel. This giant Ferris wheel offers incredible views of the Falls and the surrounding area, and most kids love the experience. 

On the other hand, if you are looking for a quieter, more laid-back experience and activities that involve learning more about the natural elements of the falls, and getting outdoors, then the New York side may be a better option. Niagara Falls State Park encompasses the area around the river and waterfalls, and has plenty of hiking trails, scenic areas, and museums to satisfy even the most curious adventurer. There are still restaurants, hotels, and a few attractions on the New York side, but far fewer than in Canada. 

Again, though, if you plan to cross the border at all, whether you are staying in Canada to just want to check out the sights from the north, you must bring your passport. Otherwise, you’ll be turned away at the border. 

Question #3: What Can We Do in Niagara Falls?

There’s no doubt Niagara Falls is an impressive sight, and it’s easy to become mesmerized by the thundering water and astounding views. But your kids will probably only want to look at the waterfalls for so long, and you’ll need to have some other activities planned. Thankfully, you have plenty of options. Some of the must-dos include:

  • A Maid of the Mist (NY) or Hornblower (Canada) cruise to the base of the falls. It’s likely to be one of the most exciting, and wet, boat rides your family ever takes.
  • Cave of the Winds or Journey Behind the Falls tours to check out the falls from behind the water.
  • Aquarium of Niagara, a small aquarium with an array of aquatic life from the Great Lakes Region – and penguins. 
  • Skylon Tower, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and more in Clifton Hill. 
  • Fort Niagara, a 300-year old fort featuring military reenactments from the War of 1812. 

With so much to do, you could easily spend several days in Niagara Falls without hearing a single “I’m bored.” 

So, whether you go in the summer or winter, stay in NY or Canada, and stick to the city or nature, Niagara Falls has plenty of options for a perfect family vacation.

Speak Your Mind