When adults venture to the world’s largest waterfall, they are chasing natural serenity. Most adults are familiar with the idea that nature is wonderful and awesome, and visiting the falls, they expect to feel that wonder and awe so palpably absent in regular life. Adults can just stare at the falls and be happy.
Kids aren’t like that.
Most kids don’t know what to expect from Niagara Falls — or any other tremendous natural phenomenon, for that matter — because they lack experience with both life’s mundanities and its profundities. If you take your kids to Niagara Falls and expect to stare in wonder and awe, you will enjoy less than a minute of peace before you are interrupted by grumbling and whining.
Therefore, you need a plan. Fortunately, I have devised one for you. This Niagara Falls itinerary is ideal for dads and kids looking to spend an active, amazing, and stirring time at this natural world wonder.
First, you need to set up a home base, ideally within easy walking distance of most of your activities around the falls. There is a bevy of Niagara Falls hotels located just minutes from the falls and connected to a handful of activity centers. Some of the best for dads and kids include:
- Sheraton on the Falls. This hotel is well-appointed, but more importantly, it is attached to Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, a year-round play place for kids and adults.
- Skyline Hotel. Every room in the Skyline contains a Nintendo gaming system, and the gorgeous skywalk connects you to another indoor water park as well as Adventure City (an enormous arcade) and shopping opportunities.
- Niagara Falls Crowne Plaza. One of the swankiest hotels in the area, the Crowne Plaza still boasts many affordable rooms. Additionally, its lobby contains a shopping area where you can explore Hershey’s Chocolate World, an old-fashioned soda shop, and more.
Niagara Falls continues to be an astonishing natural wonder, and it didn’t develop out of nothing. On this trip, you can take this opportunity to teach your kids something about geology and history — both of which transformed Niagara Falls into the gorgeous and important place it is today. Fortunately, Niagara Falls has plenty of places where your whole family can learn:
- Niagara’s Fury. You can see, hear, and feel the geological forces that formed Niagara Falls thanks to this short, informative show within the Niagara Parks. This is a good place to start learning — or to rest in the midst of a long day of exploring the falls.
- Niagara Falls History Museum. The local history museum focuses on the human history around Niagara Falls. Its current exhibits include artifacts and stories from the War of 1812.
- Niagara IMAX Theatre. The IMAX theatre offers a show about Niagara’s history with daredevils. There is even a collection of barrels and other props used by historic death-defiers.
Niagara Falls knows it is a prime destination for families, so dozens of kids’ recreational places have popped up in recent years. Thanks to the following attractions, I found some time to relax and quit worrying about safety — at least a little bit.
- Indoor Waterparks. Fallsview isn’t the only indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls, but it is the one I liked the most. Here, you can soak in an adults-only pool while your little ones slip and slide for hours on end.
- Arcades. Some of the hotels have smaller arcades, but on Clifton Hill, you can lose yourself in flashing lights and ringing bells thanks to the Great Canadian Midway.
- Mini-golf. Golf courses abound around Niagara Falls, but your kids probably won’t have much fun while you walk a regular course. Instead, you all can enjoy a round of mini-golf. I particularly enjoyed the glow-in-the-dark environment in Wizard’s Golf.
You can and should participate in waterfall sightseeing while you are in the area, but you should try to transform the views into adventure. Fortunately, there are plenty of hidden places to explore around Niagara, including:
- Journey Behind the Falls. Venturing down 150 feet and into a cave behind the falls, you can get an up-close look at the rushing water and make lifelong memories with your kids.
- Boat tours. Maid of the Mist is the most famous boat tour to Niagara Falls’ base, but you can find similar experiences for less money and without a reservation.
- Bruce Trail. One of the longest hiking trails in Canada, the Bruce Trail follows the Niagara Escarpment. You don’t have to drag your little ones the whole way, but you can take a day hike to see other astounding views of the Niagara region.