This is a guest post by Kim of Being An Adult Is Hard. Kim was born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada. When she’s not writing about the trials and tribulations of adult responsibilities on her blog, she loves to discover cool places to write about and show them off whenever she can.
Things to do in Niagara Falls with kids
In this post you can find:
- Why you should visit Niagara Falls with your family
- What to do in Niagara Falls with kids
- Places to eat in Niagara Falls with kids
- Best family friendly places to stay in Niagara Falls
- How to get around in Niagara Falls
- How to save money on your family trip to the Niagara Falls
- Printable checklist with all the Niagara Falls highlights mentioned in this post
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Why you should plan a family trip to the Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls may be known as ‘The Honeymoon Capital of the World’, but it offers plenty of kid-focused attractions to keep little ones entertained. Whether making a quick weekend trip or planning a longer stay, there is so much to see and do in Niagara Falls!
We have lots of long-distance family and friends who come to visit us. They usually fly into Toronto and our first stop when showing them around is Niagara Falls, as it is only 1 ½ hours away and has so much to offer.
Having visited countless times with many different children, we wanted to share the family friendly attractions that are a hit with all of our visitors!
The best family activities in Niagara Falls
- Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour
- Skylon Tower
- Niagara Skywheel
- Dinosaur Adventure Golf
- Zipline to the Falls
- Niagara Glen Nature Area
Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour
Located near the base of the Clifton Hill tourist area on the Niagara Parkway, this experience of a lifetime takes you as close as possible to see, hear and feel the incredible power of the Falls from below!
Take the elevators or board the Hornblower Niagara Funicular (inclined railway) to make your way down to the boarding dock at the bottom of the Niagara Gorge. Then climb aboard a 700+ passenger, 2 level catamaran for an awe-inspiring 20 minute tour of the Canadian and Amercian Falls from below.
Important note: be warned that you are very likely to get wet despite the protective rain ponchos provided.
The observation deck of Skylon Tower offers a different perspective of the incredible views of the American and Horseshoe Falls, the Niagara River and the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can even see the CN Tower all the way in Toronto!
Have a meal at the revolving restaurant or take the kids to the Family Fun Centre in the lower level of the tower for interactive games and rides. Go after sundown to see the illuminated falls and, in summer, you can watch one of the nightly fireworks displays.
The indoor observation deck is a must when the weather is too cold to spend much time outside.
The Niagara Skywheel is another fun way to take in incredible views of the Falls and surrounding areas. Located in the heart of Clifton Hill, this 175 foot ferris wheel takes you around a minimum of 3 times (depending on the lineup) in climate controlled gondolas, making it rideable year-round.
Children love to watch the dinosaurs and the erupting volcano at the Dinosaur mini-golf course below. It’s especially magical at night when the falls are illuminated and if the timing is right to see the fireworks.
Dinosaur Adventure Golf
After riding the Skywheel and seeing the dinosaurs, the kids always insist on a game of mini-golf. Dinosaur Adventure Golf offers 2 fun and challenging 18-hole courses (‘Raptor’ and ‘T-Rex’) and is a great way to keep the kids entertained in a unique setting!
Giant dinosaurs scattered around the courses, 3 ponds with moving rapids and and an ‘erupting’ volcano gave the feeling of a real-life Jurassic Park.
Insider travel advice: make sure you visit the Tim Horton’s outside the gate for a potty break prior to entering, as there are no washrooms inside the grounds.
Zipline to the Falls
If your family is adventurous and all over the age of 5, this may be the experience for you! Located just south of the Hornblower Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour, up to 4 people can ride in tandem on this safe, organized and professional zipline.
Feel the mist and take in the stunning views of the Falls at up to 70 miles per hour, landing at the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
Insider travel advice: I recommend you reserve your time before 10 a.m. to avoid the lengthy lineups and save the family $10 per rider.
Niagara Glen Nature Area
Located off the Niagara Parkway, this is hands-down my favorite thing to do in Niagara Falls with the family! Away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions of Clifton Hill, the Niagara Glen Nature Area offers 4 kms of hiking trails down the Niagara escarpment.
Stop at the information center to pick up your trail map and set off on your adventure. The well-marked trails begin at the staircase by the information center and end at the Niagara River’s edge.
One trail even leads you to an overlook of the famous whirlpool and offers a glimpse of the Whirlpool Aero Car, an antique cable car that’s suspended 200 feet above the Niagara River.
Take a picnic lunch with you, pack some water and spend an hour or several hours just hiking the trails, watching the wildlife and enjoying the scenery. I highly recommend this free excursion to anyone who enjoys the beauty of nature.
Where to eat in Niagara Falls with kids
There are so many dining options in Niagara Falls that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few favorite choices. I have chosen the two that are a big hit with the kids, as well as adults.
Flying Saucer Drive In
In business for over 40 years, the Flying Saucer Drive In is a family favorite and we eat there at least once every time we visit Niagara Falls. Kids love the novelty of eating in the ‘authentic’ spaceship and parents love the classic friendly diner ambiance, the variety of menu options, the large portions and the reasonable prices.
From appetizers and soups and salads to finger foods, seafood, specialty meals, sandwiches and burgers, this licensed restaurant offers something for everyone. It can get very busy, so breakfast might be a better option if you have timelines to meet.
With its jungle theme, animatronics, aquariums and periodic thunderstorms, the Rainforest Cafe was designed for children and they love it! We found the ambiance engaging yet calming for overtired kids.
We find the food quality is consistently acceptable, albeit it a little pricey, with a large selection of menu choices including appetizers, salads and various entrees. Of course, there’s also a kids menu. We mostly go here for the novelty for the kids.
Where to stay in Niagara Falls: family friendly accommodation
When traveling with children, it’s helpful to find accommodations that provide additional entertainment for them without having to leave the hotel. Fortunately, Niagara Falls offers two options with access to indoor water parks and other child-friendly amenities that I absolutely recommend.
The Skyline Hotel
The Skyline Hotel is conveniently located across from Casino Niagara, is a short walk to the action on Clifton Hill and provides access to the 3-acre Fallsview Indoor Waterpark through an indoor Skywalk for an additional charge.
The hotel offers basic, comfortable family and bunk bed suites, free WiFi, paid on-site parking and an on-site Perkins restaurant which is convenient but pricey. Most rooms are laid out around a central courtyard where kid’s activities are held daily. This is definitely a family hotel so don’t expect 5 star luxury or a quiet ambiance.
We prefer to stay in this hotel during the warmer months when we can walk around outside and enjoy the attractions and scenery without having to worry about the cold.
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is located on Victoria Ave, just off the Niagara Parkway, and offers a variety of clean, comfortable and spacious suites to suit various family sizes. We have stayed in both the bunk bed and loft suites and enjoyed having a microwave, small fridge, and coffee maker in our room. We loved the northwoods cabin decor, the animatronics in the lobby and themed rooms.
This resort offers everything kids love in one place, with a 100,000 sq ft water park, a bowling alley, a mini-golf course, a rock climbing wall, an arcade, the Cub Club, a spa and 5 in-house restaurants.
We love Great Wolf Lodge for a getaway on those long Canadian winter days when you want to escape the cold, feel some tropical warmth and splash and play in the water.
Americana Conference Resort Spa and Waterpark
There is another resort on Lundy’s Lane that offers a water park called the Americana Conference Resort Spa and Waterpark. We haven’t stayed there yet, but we’re hoping to one day soon. I just wanted to mention it as another option you may want to check out.
The easiest way to get around in Niagara Falls with kids
Niagara Falls has a bus service, WEGO, to get you around to all the attractions. WEGO features three different bus lines that all meet at Table Rock next to the Horseshoe Falls. This transportation system can get you to all of the attractions listed above and save you the hassle of finding parking.
Adults (13+) can buy a 24 hour pass for $9.00 CDN or a 48-hour pass for $13.50 CDN. Children’s (6-12) 24 hour passes are $6.00 CDN and the 24 hour passes are $10.00 CDN. Children 5 and under ride free.
For more information on routes and schedules, check the site.
How to save money on you Niagara Falls family trip
Let’s face it: Niagara Falls is a tourist trap and takes advantage of the flocks of tourists that visit every day. To save yourself a bit of money it’s wise to do a bit of advance planning.
There are many different attraction passes offered at a discount when purchased in advance for specific groups of attractions such as those listed below.
The Adventure Pass Classic is $65 CDN and includes:
- Hornblower Niagara Cruises
- Journey Behind the Falls
- Niagara’s Fury
- White Water Walk
- Two-day WEGO pass
The Adventure Pass Plus is $90 CDN and includes (in addition to the things mentioned under the Classic Pass):
- Whirlpool Aero Car
- The Butterfly Conservatory
- Floral Showhouse
- Two-day Falls Incline Railway pass
- Four Heritage Sites
The Wonder Pass is Niagara Parks’ winter version of the Adventure Pass and includes:
- Two consecutive day pass for both WEGO and the Falls Incline Railway
- Journey Behind the Falls
- Niagara’s Fury
- Butterfly Conservatory
- Floral Showhouse
The 2019-2020 Wonder Pass is not yet available.
Clifton Hill Fun Pass allows you to enjoy six attractions for $29.95 and includes one time admission to:
- Niagara SkyWheel
- Wild West Coaster
- Dinosaur Adventure Golf (Outdoors) or Wizards’ Golf (Indoors)
- Zombie Attack
- Movieland Wax Museum
- Ghost Blasters Dark Ride
More information on these and other passes available can be found here.
Niagara Falls: things to do with a family
Here is an easy checklist for your family visit to the Niagara Falls. You can download the list below.
Visiting Niagara Falls as a family: in conclusion
Our family loves visiting Niagara Falls and we return at least once a year if not once a season. The kids are getting a little older, so we will have to start looking into activities and attractions geared to older tweens and teens, such as the Whirlpool Adventure Course.
However, most of the attractions described above are timeless and enjoyable for all age groups (but most enjoyable for children;-). We hope your family enjoys Niagara Falls, Ontario as much as we do!
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