How to Plan the Perfect Family Trip to Niagara Falls

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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. 

Niagara Falls- Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls is nature at its mightiest. More than just a look at a waterfall, a visit is a full vacation surrounded by the natural beauty of the area and the luxury that has drawn tourists from around the world.

A great introduction to the Niagara Falls is from the water with tour from Niagara CruisesVoyage to the Falls boat tour visits Great Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the most famous, Horseshoe Falls. Whether you decide to see the Falls in the daylight, illuminated at night, or both, there is no better way than floating up close to the massive wall of moving water. You will almost certainly get wet if you are on the open/outdoor areas of the boat, make sure you wear your (free with purchase of ticket) parka they hand out. If you don’t take the night cruise, make sure you take the time to see the falls lit up at night- it’s a beautiful sight, and one you will be glad you took the time for. Before or after your ride, take advantage of “access to the Lower Landing and Falls viewing area” for a whole different viewpoint of Niagara Falls.

There are plenty of options to get close to the water on foot with the White Water Walk. Viewing platforms and a wooden boardwalk offer an up close look at the trillions of gallons of water that make the “Niagara River’s Class 6 white water rapids”. Rising above you are the walls of the Niagara Gorge, cut down by the power of the river to reveal “410-million-year-old rock layers”. The views you will get on your walk next to the raging waters are breathtaking and like none you will see anywhere else. It’s also a lovely stroll, one that anyone at any age can take.

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If you are looking for a different angle to view the river, try the Whirlpool Aero Car. Over a century old (just celebrating it’s centennial in 2016) the trip takes you over “3,500 feet across the Canadian side of the Niagara River”. You will cross the international boarder between the USA and Canada during your trip. From the antique cable car, you look down over the Niagara Whirlpool, like seeing the eye of a storm from above.

Why Niagara Falls is Not Only For Romance

 niagara falls with kids

When you think of Niagara Falls, chances are you immediately think of weddings, marriage proposals and romance—no surprise given the fact that America’s oldest state park has been a hotspot for young lovers for over a hundred years now. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Niagara Falls is a fabulous destination for families too. So for those of you who’ve already got wedding rings on your fingers and safety seats in the back of the car, here are five great reasons to whisk your family away from home to Niagara Falls.

It’s Spectacular for All Ages
It doesn’t matter if you’re aged 7 or 77, the three breathtaking waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls are sights of natural beauty, wonder and incredible power. Children and adults witnessing the Falls for the first time are usually equally in awe of what they’re seeing—when nature is this majestic, all ages can appreciate it. Plus, this is something that every American and every Canadian should see at least once in their lifetime. What’s the harm in starting early?

The Maid of the Mist
If you only step foot on a boat once in your life, try and make The Maid of the Mist the one! Traversing the river underneath the waterfalls and getting so close to the falls, it’s impossible for passengers to not get soaked (don’t worry—The Maid provides waterproof ponchos to all guests), this is one boat trip that will thrill and enthrall the entire family. All passengers must be aged 5 or older.

Aquarium of Niagara (Niagara Falls, USA)

Niagara Falls is known for many things, most of which involves the powerful falls of course.  But what drives those falls, the water and the creatures with in it are the emphasis of the Aquarium of Niagara.

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The aquarium is an interactive aquarium full of sharks, and fish of various colors and sizes, even an octopus who is notorious for escaping!  The exhibits contained within include how nocturnal fish can see at night, and how krill and algae factor into the well being of large animals like whales.  The main piece of the aquarium has to be the sea lion show.  It is full of tricks, fun, and lots of smiles all this at a new 100,000 gallon central tank.  We were able to time our visit in such a way that we were able to see the sea lion feeding as well as the show, both of which brought the experience full circle.  My son had such a good time visiting and seeing all the sea animals and marine life.

Why Visit Niagara Falls

In North America, there are several sites that every human should witness before they die. The Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the giant sequoia trees of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Monument Valley in Utah, and—of course—Niagara Falls. You don’t have to throw yourself over the Falls in a barrel—as daredevil teacher Annie Edson Taylor did in 1901—but Niagara Falls should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list.
Here are five reasons why.
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1. It’s a Natural Wonder of the World
There are few places that bring home the awesome power of Mother Nature quite like the breathtaking Niagara Falls. To give you some idea of the sheer power involved here, take into account that, every minute, 189,600 tons (tons!) of water flows over the Falls. That’s 750,000 gallons per second—which is why it has been a major energy source for both America and Canada for over half a century. In fact, Niagara Falls produces more electricity in New York State than any other source. Best of all, it’s clean hydroelectricity and kind to the environment.

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2. It’s an American Institution
The 400-acre Niagara Falls site is the United States’ oldest state park and has viewing platforms in both Canada and the U.S.A. And while 140 acres of the Park are under water, the other 260 benefited from the landscape design of Frederick Law Olmsted—otherwise known as the visionary who designed Manhattan’s also-world-famous Central Park. The Niagara State Park was planned with the idea of immersing visitors in nature as much as possible and therefore has a multitude of footpaths and trails—one of which grants access to the Niagara Gorge.


Top Attractions in Niagara Falls

Millions of tourists visit the Niagara Falls every year, and that’s no surprise considering the myriad attractions and activities that await the visitor. If you have never been there or this is your first trip in a long time, here are some ideas for your itinerary:

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The Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist Boat Tour

The Maid of the Mist tour will take you to the majestic American Falls, and from there your boat will take you to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. You may have seen the Falls in pictures and on TV, but it’s another thing to see and hear the roaring waters up close.


Visit the Fallsview Casino and Resort

The Fallsview Casino Resort is a huge complex with a 1,500 seat theater, shopping centers, a health spa and tons of space for conferences and meetings. And that is just for starters as the resort also has numerous first class restaurants, a five star hotel with more than 360 rooms, 150 gaming tables and more than a thousand slot machines. Best of all, the complex offers you a view of the Niagara Falls.


Native American Dancers at Niagara Falls

native american dancersThese beautiful dancers preformed songs, played instruments, and sang songs native to their tribes as we sat enraptured.  The Nations we had the joy to watch explored their love and connection with nature via music and movement.  I have posted several videos on Vine and Instagram, I hope you follow along to see the performances for yourself, they are a rare treat.