If you are considering a trip to Niagara Falls with kids, you will want to read this post. We visited the American side and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for a long weekend.
Our Trip to Niagara Falls with Kids
Our kids had a day off from school so it was a perfect excuse to go on a little road trip. Fortunately, Niagara Falls is only 3 1/2 hours away, so it was a very manageable drive! It is the perfect destination for a weekend trip and you could most certainly make it shorter or longer depending on what you want to do. But I think about a day and half (two nights) is a perfect amount of time for a family trip to Niagara Falls. I’ll share some of our favorites and what to do with kids in Niagara Falls!
Niagara Falls Trip Day One: American Side
We had planned to leave for the trip just after lunch on Friday. But our scheduled family pictures got cancelled, so we ended up leaving just before lunch. We packed some lunch food so we didn’t make ANY stops along the way. That is most certainly a family record for us:) We decided we wanted to stop on the American side of Niagara Falls first. We like checking off states on our family maps (we have this one and this one), and New York was a state we had yet to visit as a family.
So, we followed the directions to the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. I am SO GLAD we stopped on this side. My husband and I had never been to this side of the falls either. So it was a new experience for all of us. It was nice starting on this side and then building up to the spectacular view on the Canadian side!
The weather was rainy and chilly (as compared to the hot temperatures earlier in the week), so it took us a little bit to get adjusted to actual FALL weather!
You could easily spend a lot of time on this side of the Falls. There are some hiking trails and tours you can take. Because of the wind and rain, we kept our visit fairly short. We opted for paying the $2 fee (free for children 5 and under) to see the Falls from the observation deck. It was an awesome view and the kids enjoyed getting their first glimpses of the falls. It really is a spectacular site to see!!
The kids were anxious to get to Canada (their first trip out of the country), so after the observation deck, we got back in the car to drive across the border.
We headed to our hotel and got settled in. We stayed at the Embassy Suites. It was a perfect location and we had a great view of the Falls. I will say that we did have to walk about a mile to the Falls and the main street, Clifton Hill, with all of the attractions. But, we didn’t mind being a little bit away from the main strip.
That night we went to dinner at Shoeless Joe’s. It was inside a Casino/mall and was a casual sports bar. We were trying our best to avoid all the chain restaurants, as there were many of the usual ones. But, it was hard to find more local food options. Some of us wanted a little after dinner treat, so we got some gelato from a little place right by the restaurant.
After dinner we enjoyed our view from our hotel room and called it a night! We paid a little extra to have a “falls view” at our hotel. While it was just a corner view of the falls, my husband and I agreed it was worth the money…beautiful views at night!
Day Two in Niagara Falls: Tours, Walking and Museums
We were up bright and early! Even on vacation, our kids do not sleep in! We started our day taking an incline down to the Journey Behind the Falls tour. The incline was just outside of our hotel and then the tour was right at the bottom of the incline.
We purchased the all day incline pass which was the equivalent of a ride up and down.
The Journey Behind the Falls experience was awesome! You take an elevator down 125 feet and end up in tunnels behind the falls. There were a lot of information about the history of the falls along the tunnel walls which was fun to read about.
Thank goodness they give you ponchos behind it is VERY wet in the tunnels. Our feet still got wet and we had to keep telling the kids to avoid big puddles. We didn’t want wet shoes for the rest of the day!
There is an observation deck as part of the attraction and it gets you so close to the falls. It is beautiful view and we even spotted a few rainbows.
We spent about an hour on this self guided tour. After this stop, we headed over to the Hornblowers Niagara Cruise. This is the boat ride that takes you right up to the falls.
I will mention that we bought our tickets for both the Journey Behind the Falls and Hornblowers boat cruise in advance. I wasn’t sure how crowded the tours would be this particular weekend. But, after the crowds we faced on our last family trip , I didn’t want to take any chances with this trip.
As it turned out, it seemed to be a very quiet weekend in Niagara Falls. We did not have any lines or any waiting at anything we wanted to do.
The Hornblowers boat tour was probably our favorite attraction of the trip. I had been to Niagara Falls as a kid and this boat tour is the one thing I remember. It is pretty memorable!!
Thank goodness they gave us ponchos (again!). The kids wanted to be right up front-where we were told we could get soaked. We persuaded (forced) them to go up on the second level of the boat which wasn’t supposed to be quite as wet of a ride!
This boat ride was just around 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time! They take you right up to the falls and let you enjoy the view for a few minutes. Then you turn around and are back at shore. Any longer of a tour and our kids would have gotten antsy.
Everyone was hungry after a busy morning, so it was time for lunch! We googled a kid friendly option in the area and came up with The Works Burger Bistro. This spot was at the top of Clifton Hill (where all of the museums and main activities are located). On our way to the restaurant, we got to see all of the fun attractions that Clifton Hill offers. There is a bit of everything on this street including, haunted houses, arcades, museums and rides.
We scouted out which attractions we were most interested on the way to lunch and told the kids we would pick a few after we ate.
Lunch was very good and the restaurant had a lot of unique features. All of our drinks were served in liquid measuring glasses. One cup glasses for kids and two cup glasses for the grown ups.
The menu featured build your own burgers or chicken/veggie burger/turkey burger. There were so many toppings and combinations to choose from. It was a very tasty lunch!
After lunch it was time to hit the strip. My husband and I had done a little research the night before and decided on Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the museum to visit. There is also the Guinness Book of Records Museum but Ripley’s seemed to have better reviews.
All of the attractions along the strip are NOT CHEAP especially for a family of five. So we really had to be choosy on what we wanted to do.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not was very entertaining! This museum had a lot of exhibits and we spent a couple of hours going through it all.
The kids really spent their time on each exhibit. We took another look at the world’s tallest man!
We got a chance to launch some mini barrels over the falls.
After we had covered all of the museum, we were hungry for a snack! We decided, instead of another museum or attraction, we would head to Hershey’s Chocolate World. Thinking this might be more than just a store, we discovered it was really just a big chocolate candy store.
It was okay with us–we were hungry! The Hershey’s chocolate world has candy and baked goods but we were in the mood for ice cream. Fortunately, there is an adjoining soda shop that is inside a Coca-Cola store.
After our treat, it was time for a break back at our hotel…we were running out of energy! We had over a mile to walk back to our hotel!! It was a very slooow walk.
For dinner, we found a pizza place right near our hotel called Zappis. We stumbled on a gem–very tasty authentic Italian eatery! There was a bit of a wait for a table as we got there right at the dinner rush on a Saturday.
We ordered a big salad, pizza and breadsticks for our crew.
After dinner, it was time for bed. We logged over 15, 000 steps over the entire day—phew!
Day Three in Niagara Falls: Time to Head Home
After a full day and a half of touring Niagara Falls, we were ready to head home. We could have probably stopped at a few more places on Sunday, but we were tired. We left after breakfast and we were home by lunchtime. All in all, it was a very fun and memorable trip!