How to enjoy 1-2 days in Niagara Falls with Kids and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The namesake “Niagara Falls” gets most of the glory, but Horseshoe Falls actually deserve the hype! The Horseshoe Falls are far larger and more awe-striking than the actual Niagara Falls.
Both waterfalls are best viewed from the Canadian side of the river and the thunderous plunge of the water is an experience you won’t forget. Make sure you have your passport if you’re coming from the US.
Admiring a waterfall from a distance is one thing, but standing atop it watching 680,000 gallons of water plunge per second is mind blowing. You feel it through your whole body.
Our kids were mesmerized standing at the top of Horseshoe Falls which you can do for free just next to the Welcome Center.
Traveling to Niagara Falls with Kids
If you want to visit Niagara Falls, it is easiest to reach with a rental car and is a worthwhile add-on if you are traveling to Toronto, Rochester, Buffalo, or New York’s Finger Lakes Region. There are tour busses that operate from these areas as well, but that is much less comfortable with kids than having your own vehicle and schedule.
Parking at Niagara Falls with Kids
Park at the Skylon Tower. It costs $10 (cash) to park all day and it was a easy to moderate 7 minute walk downhill to the boardwalk and waterfalls. This is also central to both the Falls and the Clifton Hill Amusement Park. Parking on the street that runs along the river will run you $20-$30+.
How Much Time To Spend at Niagara Falls with Kids
The busiest time of day at the falls is the afternoon on weekends. Pick a morning and, better yet, a weekday morning foe the least crowds.
Give yourselves at least one hour to marvel at the two waterfalls. Add a bit more time if you want to take a tour, browse the gift shop, or dine at one of the eateries inside the Welcome Center. There are clean bathrooms inside the Welcome Center. There’s a tour called Journey Behind the Falls that starts inside the Welcome Center.
Add another hour if you wish to do Maid of the Mist or Tours Niagara Falls boat tours. These boat tours run every 30 minutes or so and you should prepare to get soaked. I’ve done it before kids and recall how strong the mist from Horseshoe Falls feels in the wind. I knew this would freak out my 2 year old so we enjoyed the falls from above on our most recent visit.
What to Pack for Niagara Falls with Kids
If you are visiting from the US, bring your passport so you can cross over to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Make sure you have cash for parking.
You should also bring sunglasses and a poncho or rain coat if you plan to get up close. Ponchos are provided on the tours. You might be grateful to have an extra layer of clothes as it feels like the temperature drops about 10°F as you approach the falls.
Leave your drone at home. The application process is pricy and lengthy to get approval to fly a drone over the Niagara River.
What else is there to do in Niagara Falls with Kids?
Alright, you’ve had your fill of the Falls, what’s next? I mentioned earlier that parking at Skylon Tower gives you easy access to Clifton Hill Amusement Park. There is no entry fee to the park, so it is fun to meander whether or not you want to splurge on the attractions.
Dinosaur Adventure Golf has a volcano that erupts every 10 minutes or so. Across the street from mini golf is the Niagara Speedway, a multi level, spiraling Go-Kart track.
It’s fully stocked with typical tourist “traps” that are admittedly major kid pleasers like Ripley’s, a Wax Museum, Haunted House, Hard Rock, and more.
Whirlpool Aero Car
Soar 3,500 feet above the teal blue waters of the Niagara River whirlpool, downriver from the falls. Give yourself about 45 minutes for this $17.50 tour. Kids 3-12 are $11.50 and 2 and under is free.
This is one of Niagara Falls’ top rated family destinations. Walk amongst 2,000 fluttering butterflies in a simulated rainforest ecosystem. If you’re planning to do the Journey Behind the Falls or Niagara’s Fury as well, it may be more cost effective to buy the Wonder Pass. This pass includes public transportation in Niagara Falls as well.
If you’re planning a trip to Niagara Falls and want a laid back afternoon, head to Niagara-on-the-Lake and give yourself a half day there. It’s a quaint, charming town just 35 minutes from Niagara Falls and it is blooming (literally) with color.
Start off at the Visitor Center to pick up a map, use a public restroom, and talk to a local for recommendations based on your interests.
While in Niagara-on-the-Lake, shop the main street’s specialty stores, pick up a sweet treat from an Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe or the famous COWS Ice Cream, take a carriage ride, enjoy the gardens and playground at Simcoe Park, and stroll the Riverwalk. There are a number of excellent restaurants too. We enjoyed our Fish Fry from Corks Wine Bar & Eatery.
We have a baseball obsessed kid as well, so we burned off some energy running bases at Veterans Memorial Park which is an easy walk from the main drag and where we parked our car.
While it was a family friendly spot, I would have loved more time to shop and dine in Niagara-On-the-Lake. I would love to return with friends for a Girls’ Trip one day.
Niagara Escarpment Wineries
Along your drive to or from Niagara-on-the-Lake, hit up one of the many Wineries that thrive in the region. This area is great for growing grape vines because it is situated between two ancient lakes that packed the soil with fertile nutrients. Lake Ontario sends cool winds over the Niagara Escarpment which helps to ensure the grapes do not ripen too quickly; giving them full-bodied, complex flavors.
We enjoyed our time at Palatine Hills Estate Winery. They offer tasting flights, food to pair, and incredibly knowledgeable staff. It’s kid friendly too with a large patio and cornhole boards to occupy the little ones.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
If you want to center your trip around the kids, there’s no better place than Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Resort. If you want a more quiet place to relax, I recommend one of the hotel’s in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
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