The 7 Best Things to Do in Niagara Falls with Kids
Long known as a destination for honeymooners, and lately a draw for its flourishing casino scene, Niagara Falls is nevertheless a fantastic place to visit on a family vacation. Both the Canadian and American sides offer not only breathtaking views of the area's signature natural wonder, but also plenty of all-ages entertainment, from zoos and waterparks to arcades and museums. In fact, there are so many things to do in Niagara Falls with kids that you may wonder how we narrowed it down to just these seven.
Here's our list of the top Niagara Falls activities for families:
Niagara Falls State Park / Niagara Parks
It goes without saying that you should visit the Falls from one side or another (or both!) while you're in town. But you may not realize how many ways there are to do so. On the U.S. side, you can take a boat trip to the base of the Falls on the famous Maid of the Mist. Over in Ontario, the Journey Behind the Falls attraction lets you descend through 130-year-old tunnels to reach an observation deck at the foot of the 13-story Horseshoe Falls. Both sides also feature places to hike, bike, and picnic.
Take to the sky: For a bird's-eye view, book one of several area helicopter tours (such as this one from National Helicopters), which typically have no or very low age minimums.
Grab some grub: There are several places to grab snacks on the American side, including quick eats at Prospect Point and in the Cave of the Winds on Goat Island. But the most striking dining experience is at Top of the Falls, where floor-to-ceiling windows provide a panoramic view of the scenery.
Ontario's most prominent tourist destination is a strip known as Clifton Hill, and Clifton Hill's most visible attraction (at least from a distance!) is this 175-foot Ferris wheel. Hop aboard for a 360°-view of the Falls and surrounding area from a climate-controlled gondola.
Night-time is the light time: Thanks to the multi-colored lights that illuminate the Falls each evening beginning at dusk, you can still enjoy a spectacular view after sunset.
Bundle and save: Multi-attraction packages such as this Clifton Hill Fun Pass can save you money if you intend to check out more than just the SkyWheel.
More than 1,000 animals, including rhinos, giraffes, wolves, and gibbons, populate this 150-acre park. But what might not be obvious at first glance is that it isn't just a zoo. Admission also includes access to such kid-friendly activities as catch-and-release fishing, giant bounce pillows, a carousel, and pedal-bike go-karting.
Feed the animals: Guests can purchase park-approved foods from vending machines and feed them to designated animals (but no people food!).
Show and tell: A daily schedule of Keeper Talks provides an up-close look at giraffes, hippos, African cats, and more.
Inside the Odditorium you'll find more than 400 exhibits across 15 themed galleries, including such curiosities as two-headed animals, a model of the world's tallest man, and real shrunken heads. For an additional cost you can enter Louis Tussaud's Waxworks, featuring more than 100 lifelike wax figures.
Must do: Try out interactive exhibits that challenge your sensory perceptions, including a vertigo-inducing swirling room and a vortex tunnel that will keep you off balance.
Travel in place: Another ticket add-on is for Ripley's Moving Theater, a movie-ride hybrid that uses motion seats to create the illusion of exploring a mysterious underwater city in The Deep 4D.
You could have a pretty sweet family vacation at Great Wolf Lodge without ever leaving your hotel. The indoor waterpark alone is enough to keep the kids entertained for days, thanks to its high-speed water slides, wave pool, lazy river, and kiddie pools. Small children will particularly enjoy the resort's other activities, from storytimes and shows to arts and crafts.
Game time: Hit the arcade to play classics like the claw machine, skee-ball, Fruit Ninja, and other games that pay out (electronic) tickets you can exchange for prizes.
Kiddie sports: Go bowling on the pint-size Ten Paw Alley, whose shorter lanes and smaller bowling balls make it easy for toddlers to participate, or play a round on the Wacky Wilderness Mini Golf course.
Older kids might find the pirate theme a touch cheesy, but even they'll find plenty to do at this family fun center in Clifton Hill. There are more than 200 arcade games on the main Midway, not to mention glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, cannon blasters, and a Mission: Impossible–esque Lazer Maze.
Target practice: The newly opened paintball range gives visitors a chance to test their aim with high-end paintball guns in a controlled environment.
For the parents: Relax at the sports bar and restaurants, which overlooks the game floor and which features 20 large LCDs and two 150-inch screens. There's even a Date Night package with food, tokens, and mini-golf for two.
About an hour east of Niagara Falls, NY, sits a major theme park with more than a dozen thrill rides, loads more family and kids' rides, and a 10-acre water park. Magic and hypnosis shows, concerts, and a laser show dubbed Ignite the Night provide extra entertainment.
Must ride: Reaching a max height of 208 feet and speeds of up to 75 mph, the Ride of Steel is both the tallest and fastest coaster in New York State.
Soak it in: The Shipwreck Falls ride plunges you down a 50-foot slope and into the water, creating a 20-foot wave. Ride the ride or stand on the observation deck—either way you're getting drenched.