As a military brat with family ties both in the United States and Canada, a Niagara Falls family vacation was routine. It was the spot we’d stop at frequently, even if it was for only a few hours to stretch our legs, grab a meal, and walk down to the Falls to check out the gorgeous view of the rushing water. My parents knew that Niagar Falls with kids was always a good idea.
Fast forward to present day- I still love visiting Niagara Falls and look for any reason to make the road trip! The city is a mecca of family fun and filled with tourist activities and attractions, still making it one of my all-time favorite places to visit with my teen daughter.
The kitschy, carnival feel of Clifton Hill completely balances out the lush gardens and beautiful views of the waterfalls and Niagara River, making the city a family favorite.
Have never been to Niagara Falls or are looking for a new excuse to visit? Here are my tried and true, top reasons to visit Niagara Falls, Canada with kids.
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Niagara Falls with Kids- Your Guide to a Niagara Falls Family Vacation
Take a Journey Behind the Falls
If your family wants an up-close experience of the Horseshoe Falls, Journey Behind the Falls is my favorite way! The safe and secure outdoor observation deck is a fine place to stop for photos and just listen to the roar of 681,750 gallons per second of water flowing over the Canadian Falls.
If that isn’t awesome enough for your adventurous family, standing in the mist of the waterfall is a fun way to cool off on those hot, summer days.
Cave of the Winds
The Cave of the Winds is another popular attraction at Niagara Falls, located on the American side of the falls. It is an immersive experience that takes visitors on a journey into the heart of the Niagara Gorge, where they can feel the power and beauty of the falls up close.
The tour begins with a walk along a wooden walkway that takes visitors down into the Niagara Gorge. The highlight of the tour is the Hurricane Deck, which is a platform located at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
Visitors are provided with special ponchos and sandals to protect them from the water, and can then venture out onto the platform to experience the full force of the falls. The sound of the rushing water is thunderous, and the mist and spray create a rainbow of colors that is truly breathtaking.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises
Another fun way to experience Niagara Falls up close is by taking a boat ride on Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Donning protective rain ponchos and posing for photographs is only part of the fun at this tourist attraction.
This boat will get you close to the Canadian side of the falls. Want to really get soaked? Stand up on the top level and get ready for some heavy mist! After all, get drenched is a key part of any Niagara Falls family vacation.
Maid of the Mist
On the US side of the the falls, Maid of the Mist is the boat tour that gets you close to the falls. The tour has been operating since 1846 and is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America.
As the boat approaches the falls, visitors are treated to a breathtaking view of the massive wall of water cascading over the edge of the cliff. The roar of the water is deafening, and the mist and spray from the falls create a magical atmosphere.
The Maid of the Mist tour lasts about 30 minutes and provides visitors with an up-close and personal view of the falls that cannot be experienced from land.
Niagara Parks Floral Clock
The Niagara Parks Floral Clock is one of those childhood vacation memories that I’ll never forget. Since about1950, the floral pattern changes semi-annually and Niagara Parks’ horticulturists make use of seasonal and local plants and flowers to add to the beauty of the clock’s giant face.
Westminster chimes alert visitors to the clock four times an hour so it’s easy to keep track of time when you’re taking a walk through the well-maintained park.
Take your kids and family to the best view of Niagara Falls at Skylon Tower. A 360-degree aerial view from both an outdoor and indoor viewing area (a great option for chilly days) and it’s fun to take the “Yellow Bug” elevators to the decks as they have large glass panels so you can enjoy the view and the 52-second ride.
There is also a revolving restaurant at the top of the building if you are looking to splurge on a meal you won’t soon forget. The views from 775 feet above the bottom of the falls while you dine are definitely special. It takes one hour for the dining room to make a full 360-degree rotation so don’t worry about motion sickness.
Another great way to view the Falls is on the Skywheel. Claiming the title of Canada’s largest observation wheel, the 10-12 minute ride provides gorgeous views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls and the city proper.
The wheel is slow-moving and very smooth, and the climate-controlled gondolas are a fine choice for any weather condition you’ll encounter. Word of advice: the ride has a completely different feel during the daytime and at night when the Falls are all lit up, so don’t forget your camera!
Clifton Hill is a popular tourist destination on the Canada side of the falls. It is a bustling street filled with attractions, restaurants, and shops that offer entertainment and fun for visitors of all ages. The street has a carnival-like atmosphere and is a popular destination for families looking for fun and entertainment. There are lots of cheezy but fun things to do.
The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum features bizarre and unusual exhibits from around the world, including shrunken heads, a two-headed calf, and a spinning vortex tunnel.
Movieland Wax Museum features life-size wax figures of celebrities and movie characters, including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Darth Vader.
Niagara Speedway is go-kart track features high-speed karts that can reach speeds of up to 32 miles per hour.
Dinosaur Adventure Golf is a miniature golf course features 50 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, waterfalls, and a volcano.
The Wildplay Niagara Falls Zipline to the Falls is a high-speed zipline ride that takes visitors soaring over the Niagara River on the Ontario side of the falls.
The zipline experience starts with a scenic elevator ride down into the Niagara Gorge, where riders are fitted with a harness and helmet. From there, riders take off from a launch platform and fly across the river at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, reaching heights of up to 220 feet.
The Wildplay Niagara Falls Zipline to the Falls offers two different experiences. The Grand View Zipline takes riders on a 2,200-foot ride across the Niagara River, providing panoramic views of both the American and Canadian falls. The Hornblower Zipline to the Falls is a 2,500-foot ride that ends at the Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat dock, where visitors can then embark on a boat tour of the falls.
Riders must be at least seven years old and meet certain weight and height requirements to participate.
Whirlpool Adventure Course
The Whirlpool Adventure Course is an aerial adventure course that consists of suspended obstacles. The course includes three different levels of obstacles, with varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Some of the obstacles visitors can expect to encounter include rope bridges, cargo nets, swinging logs, and suspended rings.
The course is open from spring to fall and advanced reservations are recommended.
Bird Kingdom Niagara Falls
A 45,000 square feet, three-story avian sanctuary, Bird Kingdom showcases 80 species of birds, a 40-foot tall waterfall, and an Oriental Tea House. Several individual themed areas allow kids to learn about the birds in a fun, interactive way. Feeding the Lorikeets is always popular. It is free on weekdays but there is an added charge on busy weekends and holidays.
Younger kids will adore the “Dig Site” where they can pretend to be archaeologists and parents can take a short rest while they’re playing. The Night Jungle is another cool experience where you will encounter bats, owls, and flying squirrels.
Aquarium of Niagara
The Aquarium of Niagara is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and conservation of aquatic life located on the New York side of the falls.
The aquarium is home to over 1,500 aquatic animals, representing over 120 species. Some of the animals you can see at the aquarium include sea lions, seals, penguins, sharks, and a variety of fish and invertebrates. The exhibits are designed to showcase the diverse marine life found in the Great Lakes, as well as in other parts of the world.
Whirlpool Aero Car
Looking for a fun way to see the Great Gorge in Niagara? The Whirlpool Aero Car is the way to go! For over 100 years, the historic and safe antique cable car takes passengers 3/5 of a mile across the Great Gorge.
Those who aren’t afraid to look down can spy thrill seekers in power boats making their way across the Niagara River and its Class VI rapids. You will also have great views of the swirling Niagara whirlpool.
Hike in Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park is a beautiful and historic park located in Niagara Falls, New York. It is the oldest state park in the United States and covers over 400 acres of land along the Niagara River, including the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Niagara Falls State Park offers a variety of hiking trails including Niagara Gorge Trail which follows the Niagara River Gorge and offers breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape. The trail is about 2.5 miles long.
Another fun option is the Great Gorge Railway Trail whichfollows the route of an old railway that used to run through the gorge. The trail is about four miles long and offers great views of the river and the falls.
Niagara Parks Falls Incline Railway
Niagara Parks Falls Incline Railway is the way to go for a shortcut between the Canadian Falls and the newer hotel area of Niagara. Under a minute in length, once the ride begins, there’s plenty of benches to take a seat at and the pretty views of Niagara Falls make the ride even more fun.
If you’re staying near the Niagara Fallsview Casino or even if the kiddos simply love the ride, all day passes can be purchased to save a ton of walking.
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
How about 100 acres for moseying, strolling, and napping? The peaceful location of Niagara Parks Botanical Garden is perfect for a bit of downtime and relaxation, and the Rose Garden not only looks beautiful, but smells heavenly! The gardens themselves are free to view, but if you really want to see all of them, there’s a pay-per-ride wagon that will carry you around.
Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory
This one’s a must-see Niagara Falls attraction! The exterior of Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is an architectural delight, but once you’re inside…get ready for some fun!
At any given time, there’s more than 2,000 butterflies fluttering overhead and, if you’re lucky, one may just land on your kiddo making for the perfect photo op. The Emergence Window is a fun, educational spot to show the family the place where baby butterflies make their debut.
Niagara Parks Floral Showcase
If you know where Table Rock is, that’s the spot to head to for a fun mosey through Niagara Parks Floral Showcase.
During warmer months, the Showhouse is surrounded by pretty, themed gardens and walking paths. Make sure to check out the Display Gallery with its eight changing shows per year.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls with Kids
Whether you’re looking for luxury or family-friendly economy, there’s plenty of choices for lodging when it comes to visiting Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Double Tree Fallsview Resort & Spa By Hilton Niagara Falls offers great location and service, and it’s far enough away from the main strip to provide quiet when you need to get the kids to sleep.
Oakes Hotel Overlooking the Falls gives families the choice to book a corner suite to watch the weekend fireworks displays; it also has amazing customer service and spotless, clean rooms.
Looking for a waterpark to hang out during your visit? There’s a Great Wolf Lodge where families love to spend hours playing in the giant indoor park. If you choose to stay in this amazing resort don’t go without first reading our article filled with Great Wolf Lodge tips.
Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview is centrally located and a fabulous choice for families compliments of its connecting walkway to the Fallsview Casino.