Niagara Falls State Park
We loved our (LONG) day at Niagara Falls. After a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (on the American side), we headed over to the Niagara Falls State Park. Niagara Falls State Park is a beautiful place to bring the whole family.
It is free to enter the park and see Niagara Falls. There is a Discovery Pass (includes admission to several attractions for one price) available for purchase, depending on what activities your family is interested in.
We took the short walk toward the Observation Deck. It has a great view of the falls. It costs about $1.00 to enter the observation deck. It’s relatively inexpensive and a great experience. The observation deck is the perfect place to see both the American and Horseshoe Falls. There are elevators here to take you to the loading area for the Maid of the Mist.
Above: Observation Deck from Below
Above: Doing some “observing” on the Observation Deck
Above: Watching the HORNBLOWER. This boat takes you close to the falls from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and everyone wears red ponchos.
The Maid of the Mist (photo below) takes you close to the falls from the American Side, and everyone wears blue ponchos.
Whirlpool Jet and Niagara Scenic Trolley
After the Observation Deck, the hubs and the older girls went to ride the Whirlpool Jet, and I stayed with the little ones at the park. The kiddos enjoyed exploring the visitor center and the beautiful park itself. We stopped at a little snack area to cool off and have some ice cream.
Next, the little ones and I took the Niagara Scenic Trolley. It was a really hot day in July, and the kiddos were tired from running around the park, so we decided to take the Trolley. The trolley ride is like a scenic tour of the falls. It is a guided overview of the park that lasts for 3 miles or 30 minutes.
You can hop on and off the trolley’s (there are several that run all day) all throughout the park. If you want to visit one of the other attractions, just jump off and then get on another trolley later to finish the tour.
The kiddos thought it was neat to ride in a trolley and we all got to relax and cool off a bit (the kiddos actually fell asleep and took a short nap, which was great since I knew we would be up late for the fireworks show).
Maid of the Mist
We’ve done the Maid of the Mist a couple of times, and it is always an amazing experience. We get our blue ponchos and board the boat. The boat ride is exciting, but it isn’t scary, even for smaller kiddos. We all loved getting up so close to the falls. It is something the kids will never forget.
More Info on the Maid of the Mist HERE.
Canada puts on a beautiful fireworks show on Friday & Sunday Nights during the summer (usually starting in May and ending after Labor Day). The falls are illuminated with colorful spotlights, and the fireworks show is amazing.
We went on a Friday specifically so the kiddos could see the fireworks. It is a little crowded and the traffic getting out of Niagara Falls afterward can be tricky, but the show is spectacular and really worth it. My kiddos were small at the time, but they still talk about this whole experience at Niagara Falls.
The fireworks show gets started around 10:00 p.m. You can read more info about the event HERE.
This was a really long day for all of us, especially the kiddos. We took time to sit down and eat our meals and take breaks, so they didn’t get worn out too quickly. We also drank lots of water to keep us hydrated. I think the nap on the trolley did the kids a lot of good. We only had time to stay for the day, but there is enough to do at Niagara to fill an entire week.
There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls. In addition to the Maid of the Mist, there is also the Niagara Adventure Theater, Aquarium of Niagara, Cave of the Winds Trip (go under the falls on the American Side), and the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. They also have the new Discover Niagara Shuttle. You can pay for these individually or buy a pass for all of them. Niagara Falls USA offers FREE admission to ALL Park attractions to children 5 and under. More information HERE.
The Canadian Side
There are also tons of things to do on the Canadian Side. After visiting the American side, we walked to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (passport is required). We ate at the Rainforest Cafe (kiddo approved!) and got t-shirts at the Hard Rock Cafe. We tried chocolate at the Canadian Hershey Store (the Canadian chocolate recipe for Hershey Chocolate is actually different than the American Chocolate – And it is delicious!). The Canadian Side also has some spectacular views of Niagara Falls.
The Canadian side has jet boat rides, sightseeing tours, helicopter tours, wineries (maybe a short drive from Niagara – if you go, you gotta try ICE WINE), and tons of restaurants and attractions.
We visited the falls again on our way home from a trip to Toronto in January 2016. I honestly don’t recommend going to Niagara Falls in the winter time. It is SO cold, and there isn’t as much to do. The boats and other water activities aren’t available and it is just too cold to walk and enjoy the park. I think it is best to go when the weather is warmer and there are lots of activities for the family.
We did get to go up into the SKYLON TOWER when we went in the winter. It was an amazing view/experience, but we froze our butts off on the observatory deck!
Above: Our view from Sklyon Towers in the middle of winter…it was SO COLD! I think I lost a finger trying to get this picture!
Have you been to Niagara Falls? What was your family’s favorite part?
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