Planning a Family trip to Niagara Falls
Now more than ever, people are looking forward to returning to social activities. That includes booking vacations with their loved ones. One of the best locations you can take your family to is Niagara Falls. This iconic location is full of natural wonder and history. There are several must-see stops and must-do activities on any family vacation to Niagara Falls. Let’s take a look at the top ways you can easily plan a trip to Niagara Falls with your family so it is fun-filled and goes as smoothly as possible.
Where is Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is a group of three falls that span the border of Ontario, Canada and New York in the United States. The falls can be seen for free from both sides of the border, and there are also many paid activities including the under-the falls tour you can take from either side.
The Horseshoe Falls are located in Canada and can be seen from the Welcome Centre, and Sklyon Tower from that side. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are located on the USA side and can be accessed through Niagara Falls State Park.
Disclosure: Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here
Niagara Falls USA versus Niagara Falls, Canada – Which One to Visit?
Visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for their amazing panoramic views and proximity to restaurants, souvenirs and the beautiful floral display in the gardens. The Canadian side is generally considered the better side to visit for the fall views and amenities. However, as Niagara Falls, USA is in a state park, it is a great place to visit if you would like a quieter experience, surrounded by nature, and want a close up view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls.
We highly recommend seeing the falls from both the USA & Canada sides if you have the time.
I’ve had a chance to visit the falls and take the Maid of the Mist a few years ago, and it was an amazing experience.
Best Time To Visit Niagara Falls
The best weather typically happens between June and August, averaging in the high 70s (25C). Niagara Falls in summer is busier, and peak season, so while attractions are all open, they also tend to be more expensive. Spring and Fall have fewer crowds, as the temperature drops. Visit in fall to have the best of both worlds, fall foliage & stunning waterfall views, or in winter to enjoy the frozen wonderland of the falls covered in icicles and ice formations.
Niagara Falls State Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it is a fun family friendly destination year round.
How Many Days Do You Need To See Niagara Falls?
While you can see Niagara Falls in only one day, it is best to plan at least 2-3 nights. You’ll need a little extra time to really see all Niagara Falls has to offer. From stunning views at different times of day, to local attractions, hiking trails and nearby parks there’s a lot to see and do. We also recommend seeing Niagara Falls from both the US and Canada sides so that will take extra time.
Book Your Lodging
Of course, the first thing on any family vacation itinerary is the arrival at the hotel. The Niagara Falls area features a few hotels designed specifically for fantastic views of the falls, so you don’t have to leave your room for breathtaking vistas of the grand waterfall.
As far as hotels go, we recommend the Niagara Falls Embassy Suites (Canada). At 387’ tall, this hotel off the side of the Falls offers incredible views of the falls and surrounding land and water, too. Here are some of the other reasons that this hotel is great for family trips:
- Breakfast is complimentary
- Every room is a two-room suite, the perfect family size
- Kids will love the pools
- Family Fun packages – accommodations, breakfast, dining vouchers, attraction passes
- Falls view dining onsite at the Keg Steakhouse + Bar
- Onsite Fridays restaurant & Starbuck’s
- Free restaurant shuttle for nearby dining
On the New York side, we recommend the Sheraton Niagara Falls, USA , rated one of the most family friendly hotels, plus it is only an 8 minute walk to the falls. Here are some other reasons why your family will love staying here:
- Complimentary breakfast
- Suites are available
- Reef Beach Club – kids will enjoy Niagara’s largest pool & adults can relax in the hot tubs
- Falls Arcade – featuring 37 arcade games
- Close to the 200 store Outlets Of Niagara Centre
- Onsite dining at the Rainforest Cafe, or pick up to go at the Corner Deli & Starbucks
PLANNING A TRIP TO NIAGARA FALLS
Visit the Falls for Expansive Vistas
The first activity you’ll want to do upon arrival at Niagara Falls is, you guessed it, visit Niagara Falls! Let’s talk about the best ways to get there.
Niagara Falls State Park, NY USA
Niagara Falls was the first state park in America and draws a crowd of over 12 million annual visitors thanks to its history and beautiful views.
Enter the falls through Niagara Falls State Park, USA. Once you are there, you’ll get the closest and best views of the falls from anywhere in the area. You can see both the two main falls and the Bridal Falls from platforms and stairways throughout the park.
For an unobstructed view of all three, as well as a prime spot to do a little bird watching, visit the Niagara State Park Observation Tower. Keep your eyes out for peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and a variety of gulls.
Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
The Maid of the Mist iconic boat tour of Niagara Falls has been operating since 1846. This tour can only be accessed on US side from the Observation Tower. Journey through the mist, hearing the thunderous roar of water as it falls around you and your family. Don’t forget to wear your rain ponchos.
Where In Canada Can You See Niagara Falls?
View the Falls for free at the Table Rock Welcome Centre, day or night. For a close up view, head to Journey Behind the Falls. Descend 125 feet by elevator to take in the awesome power of 2,800 cubic meters of water / second falling overhead.
Canada’s answer to the Maid of the Mist is their Hornblower Niagra Cruises. These boat tours offer amazing views of all three falls, and the Niagara Gorge. For a unique experience, take a cruise after sunset to see the mist and falls all lit up. Or grab a jet boat tour of exciting rapids and beautiful scenery along Niagara River.
For epic photos during the day, and Niagara Falls vistas at night visit the Skylon Tower Observation Deck. You’ll travel 775 feet (236 meters) above the falls in a glass-enclosed elevator—‘Ride to the Top’. Enjoy a meal and take those instagram worthy photos of Horseshoe and American Falls, the Great Gorge, and Niagara River.
Or ride the family friendly Niagara SkyWheel. This ferris wheel will take you 175 feet (53 meters) in the air, on Canada’s largest observation wheel.
PLANNING A TRIP TO NIAGARA FALLS, NY USA – Niagra Falls Kids Activities
Take a Tour Of Niagara Falls, NY
Short on time and energy to plan? Grab a small group Niagara tour that will let you skip the line to ride the elevator into Niagara Gorge at the Cave of the Winds, then climb aboard the famous Maid of the Mist.
Hike Great Gorge Trail For An Easy Path to Beautiful Views
Hikes are the perfect family activity on any vacation. And what better place to do it than amongst the natural beauty of Niagara Falls? Start at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center for all the Gorge hiking trails.
The Great Gorge Scenic Overlook hike is well-traversed by people of all ages, making it a family-friendly level that still provides both fun and views. At one hour long, it’s also the perfect brief outing for families with young children.
You’ll start at the Niagara Falls Gorge Trailhead Building and follow the well marked path from there.
Even though there aren’t many inclines, be sure to prepare with sturdy hiking shoes like these Keen men’s hiking shoes and these Colombia women’s hiking shoes or these kids hiking shoes on Amazon to avoid slipping on the rocks.
Hike the Town of Lockport Nature Trail
If you’re visiting the falls with very young children and are worried about having options available to you, worry no more.
The Town of Lockport Nature Trail is the perfect solution for families with young children that are still looking to get out during this vacation. It is a short drive from Niagara Falls State Park.
This trail features huge trees (one with an eight-foot diameter) and small local waterfall views on paved and gravel walkways. Along with these, here are some other features you can expect to find at the Town of Lockport Nature Trail:
- Benches for families that need to take frequent stops
- Plenty of shade
- Trails that are simple to navigate
In the town of Lockport, there are also some other fun activities for younger children, including the walking trails / boardwalk at Lytle Nature Preserve, and the Day Road Park & Playground. Be sure not to miss the Eerie Canal Discovery Centre to learn all about this famous canal You can even take a canal cruise or visist an underground Cave by boat. Find out all about the town of Lockeport, NY activities here.
The nature trail, and the ones we mentioned earlier, are great outdoor family excursions. But if your family is more interested in indoor fun, there are options for you as well.
Visit Old Fort Niagara, USA
An underrated stop for families on a Niagara Falls trip is a visit to Fort Niagara. This option is a great choice for history buffs and offers a mix of history and drama to make this educational experience engaging and fun for visitors of all ages
The fort is over 300 years old and originally served the interests of New France in the mid-late 1600s. There are exhibits with authentic artifacts from the time and reenactors to help make it a fun, family-friendly experience. Fort Niagara is about a half hour drive from Niagara Falls.
Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for children 6 -12, and free for 5 and under. Check out their website for more information.
You may also like 4 Day Family Friendly Itinerary in Acadia National Park, Maine or this one Fun things to do in Stowe, Vermont.
Bring Your Kids to the Aquarium of Niagara
The Aquarium of Niagara is in the Niagara Falls area of New York and offers much more than just views of marine animals (although they certainly have a lot of that, too!)
The Aquarium of Niagara has lots of penguins, rescued seals, sharks, and rays for people to enjoy. They have interactive activities like a touch-pool for rays and sharks, and even ‘Jr. Vet’ demonstrations like a shark dissection class for 8-12-year-olds.
Tickets start at $20 for adults, and prices are lower for children and seniors.
Kid Friendly Restaurants – Niagara Falls, NY
If your family is looking for an experience The Rainforest Cafe inside Sheraton At The Falls, USA, offers part jungle adventure, part restaurant. This jungle themed restaurant offers diverse menu options for all family members. Or try Donatello’s for fabulous pizza.
PLANNING A TRIP TO NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA – KIDS ACTIVITIES
Visit the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark – Canada
Every family needs something to get the kids nice and tired by the end of the day. For that, there’s no better option in the Niagara Falls area than the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.
This waterpark is on the Canadian side of the falls. It features three acres of 16 waterslides and a huge wave pool for the kids. It’s surely one of the largest waterparks they’ll ever get to visit. Not only that, but there are some more fast-paced extreme water slides for parents, as well.
This is the perfect choice for families that want to provide their children with a unique experience. Tickets are available on their website.
Take a Helicopter Ride Over the Falls – Canada
If you’re looking to splurge for the experience of a lifetime, there’s no better choice than taking a scenic a helicopter ride over the falls. The ultimate Niagara excursion.
Take a 12-minute helicopter ride that starts at theVictoria Avenue Heliport and travels over the Rainbow Bridge to fly over Queen Victoria Park before following the curvature of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls before the final descent. You’ll see Queen Victoria Park, Skylon Tower, the American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls from above.
Zipline To the Falls
If you are the more adventurous family and have older kids, then ziplining to the falls is something to add to your Niagara Falls bucket list. Soar 67-meters high above the Niagara River Gorge, glide past the American Falls to the base of the awe inspiring Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Get the most unique views of the fall and an adrenaline rush.
Visit Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory
For a gentler activity, and one the younger kids especially will love is a visit to the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory. Enter their tropical paradise full of lush vegetation, flowing waterfalls, and thousands of radiant colored butterflies.
Dine with a View of the Falls – Canada
Have you ever imagined dining next to a window with the best views of Niagara Falls in the area? That dream can be a reality!
Massimo’s Italian Restaurant is located at the Sheraton On the Falls, Fallsview level. It offers the most spectacular vistas of the falls in the area paired with authentic Italian cuisine and contemporary aesthetics for a fancy meal that’s sure to excite both you and the kids.
Make a reservation online ahead of time here on Massimo’s Italian Restaurant’s website.
There are a number of great activities available to families vacationing in Niagara Falls. Whether you’re interested in a hike to Great Gorge, a helicopter ride over the Horseshoe Falls, or an educational trip to the Aquarium of Niagara, this list has got you covered. Use this as your guide for your family trip to Niagara Falls. Bon voyage!
Related family friendly destinations and travel tips:
- Frugal Family Road Trips – Easy ways to save money
- Find out if a family vacation is an excused absence from school
- West Coast Canada: travel to gorgeous Victoria, BC and the lovely seaside town of Parksville
- All the best things to do in Yellowknife, Canada
Planning a Trip to Niagara Falls With Family
Featured image: “kris1138 via canva.com”
Packed for Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.ca.