We were in Toronto when we decided to visit the Niagara Falls. We left it to our very last Friday because the car rental company offers a good deal on weekend rentals, and we took that long to decide if and how we were getting there.
We decided on driving because it was way cheaper than any other way for us.
Anyway, it was June 2017 and it was FUN!
Niagara Falls is the name of the beautiful waterfalls but also the town surrounding it. At least in the Canadian side.
We left home at 8:30 am (or something), with sweaters, a few snacks, water, cameras, and everything else one should take on a road trip. Our game this time was to find all the store chains we found somewhere in the world, like Mc Donald’s, Wendy’s, Ikea, etc. Imagine the excitement of the kids when they spotted Toys R Us, their favorite shop while we were in Japan. Then imagine their disappointment when they realized that we weren’t gonna stop AND that we couldn’t buy anything anyway.
When the GPS said we’d reached our destination, we were able to see the actual falls. It was pretty impressive and Coral (5) asked us to stop so she could take a photo – which we couldn’t since there was nowhere to stop. We assured her that we’d go closer so she could take a better photo and she understood but wasn’t happy about it.
We decided to drive around to find a spot to park the car when we saw the sign saying ‘Parking’. Well, we wanted to get to the falls really quickly so we went straight there.
The lady in the booth welcomed us, gave us a guide, a booklet, and the payment receipt and told us that the fireworks were starting at 9 pm. We wondered if we could remain there until 9 pm (it’d be close to 12 hours) but thanked her and went to park the car. It was a bit full, so we had to look for a spot to park the car, and we only found a spot a bit far from the fall. It was around 10 minutes walking. It wasn’t a problem on the way to the falls but on the way back to the car…
It was really hot there, so the smart Melissa and Angelo left their sweaters in the car. By the way, don’t do it. The rest of us took our stuff BUT neither of us reminded of the water. Also, don’t forget your water bottle.
So we left. We walked for around 10 minutes from the car to the sidewalk boarding the waters. Oh so beautiful! The waters were greenish blue, clear. The weather was perfect, no cloud in sight. And the number of tourists there was unbelievable. I think it pairs up with Disney World.
When we saw the water mist high up in the air, we went to it as fast as we could. It was truly a remarkable moment. We were at the amazing Niagara Falls.
I’m going to jump to the end here now. We left at midnight because the parking lot closed at midnight. At 11:48 we were running from the falls to get to the car before it got locked inside. It didn’t feel so far from the park in the morning but at that moment, it seemed unreachable. Angelo even considered going ahead by himself. We all made it, but so tired that the kids fell asleep in less than 5 minutes. We had to wake them up to go to the toilet at the first gas station we found, as EVERYTHING at the Falls was closed at that time – the things closer to the parking lot, that is.
We were super tired but we were one satisfied family. So much fun in one day!
So now, read on to see the things we did, the restaurants we tried, and our tips!
Family friendly things to do in Niagara Falls
We weren’t gonna do much there but in the end, we bought the Adventure Pass Classic because we decided on doing the Journey Behind the Falls and the Hornblower Cruise, so the Adventure Pass (with entrance to 4 attractions) ended up being almost the same price as the 2 attractions alone. Well, we had all day until the fireworks, so we’d better do it all.
We bought the pass at the Welcome Center.
Our ticket included the Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, White Water Walk, and the Hornblower Cruise, plus the WEGO bus pass for 2 days.
Some of the attractions are timed, so leave a lot of time between one and the next so you can go without needing to rush as we did.
One tip here: keep the first raincoat you receive throughout the day so you can skip the other ones. They all are used once and are trashed, so it’s really a good idea to reuse the same one.
Journey Behind the Falls
This one was the first place we went to and it was a bit disappointing. We were expecting to be behind the falls, and see it from there, but it wasn’t exactly like it. There were tunnels, and 2 of them ended just behind the fall, but the opening was small and we didn’t really get the feeling of being there. It was like seeing a downpour by your front door. And it was full of people yelling, whistling, and being really noisy inside those echoing tunnels that gave me a headache.
The only good part about it was that we got to see the waterfall from really close after all those tunnels and it was beautiful and wet. Delightful!
Well, in the end, we even thought it was worth all the headache and nausea from the tunnels.
They distribute some raincoats at the line so you won’t get soaking wet.
Melissa and I skipped this one as we left the Journey Behind the Falls feeling sick. We sat on a bench in front of a souvenir store and just rested and recovered. Angelo took the 3 younger kids to it. It’s a 4D movie that tells the story of the Falls. He said it was pretty cool, but Coral (5) got a bit scared at times. She said she didn’t like it at all. Haha. The boys enjoyed it, though.
It sprinkles some water on you, so you receive here another raincoat.
White Water Walk
It’s literally a walk through a wooden path that at the margin of the river. They said it was a 20-minute round-trip walk but it was way less. I think we took 10 minutes each way but we stopped quite often.
There are many viewing platforms and it’s well worth spending a moment there, just listening to the water and seeing its beauty. We searched for it but didn’t see any fish, unfortunately.
The last platform is the prettiest but it’s also a little bit dangerous. One of the waves came around so high it soaked both Angelo and me. And this attraction didn’t give people the raincoat. Haha. I guess we were just lucky.
Our entry here was scheduled for 3 pm and it was 1,5 hour after the Niagara’s Fury (also timed entry). We had lunch between them and we had to run, catch the WEGO bus and still arrived late. It wasn’t a problem, nobody complained, but we were half an hour late. This attraction is the farthest, so leave 1 hour if you’re not gonna stop in between attractions of leave at least 2 hours if you intend to eat or rest or shop, or whatever. The WEGO bus to this place stops earlier too, so you might want to do it first so you’ll have the bus on the way back or you might decide, as we did, to just walk around town. It was a long walk (around 40 minutes) back to the Hornblower, though.
This was the last attraction, and we wanted to do it as later as we could, but we decided to go at 7 pm as the kids were getting tired and we were right in front of it.
This was our favorite! A must do, definitely!
We went to the front of the boat, as we wanted to get as close to the water as we could, and we ended up SOAKING wet, even under the raincoats. And it was worth it!
It was a bit disgusting when we saw all that brown foam at the river, where we boarded the boat. It was so dense we debated jumping onto it to see if we’d float or sink. But we forgot all about it the moment the boat got close to the falls.
Incredible moment, it was lovely! The best moment of the day. It’s probably the most amazing thing at night when the falls are alight.
We spent quite some time playing at the playground because we were there already. We had walked from the White Water Walk to the town of Niagara Falls and we had time to spare. It’s a small but nice playground (albeit full of dog poop on the grassy area) with some water play. IF you get tired of the tourists by the river, go to the town. It’s pretty, it’s quiet, and everything is loads cheaper.
As my kids described it, it looks like Universal City Walk. We walked there after the Hornblower to find something to eat and it was pretty cool. It’s got so much to do, it’s actually crazy. Wax museums, restaurants, arcades, Guinness Record Museum, haunted houses, and so much more! We deliberately decided not to do anything more than eat because we didn’t have the time. We wanted to see the fireworks that much. And we didn’t have the extra money to pay for everything (SO EXPENSIVE).
They do have the Clifton Hill Pass, which we didn’t buy, that gives entrance to 6 attractions for one price. Well, if you use it, let us know what you think!
It’s quick (about 5~10 minutes) but it’s cool! So beautiful over the falls, worth taking the time to see it. It’s fireworks, nothing spectacular or new, but we loved it! It also only happens during summer or special occasions (like Canada’s 150th birthday).
Just because the Clifton Hill is just so cool, we gave in and let the kids chose one thing to do. They decided, for my despair, that we’d go on the freaking Ferris wheel.
Let me tell you, I hate heights and I hate slow moving hanging stuff. Ferris wheels and cable cars top my hate list. But the views from up there were quite outstanding. It’s not for photos, but it’s beautiful, can’t deny that. We went after the fireworks, so we saw the Falls changing colors beautifully. We even saw it when it was displaying the USA and Canada flags. Cool thing.
It goes around quite a few times and it’s fairly fast, so it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever been to and it made the kids happy so I think it was worth it.
Don’t know about during the day, though. I don’t think it’d be so pretty, but around sunset it probably is!
So we got the bus pass with the Adventure Pass. It’s straightforward, it has the time schedule posted in a lot of places, it’s comfortable and clean. It also allowed us to get to the White Water Walk almost in time.
We didn’t count on the lines having different schedules. The line that goes through the town stops earlier. We missed the last bus for 20 minutes and it ended up costing us 40 minutes of our day. Not the best idea when there’s so much to do in a short time.
But overall, I think it’s a great service. The line that goes around Clifton Hill works until super late.
Nice Places to Eat Around Niagara Falls
We had lunch there, as it was close to the Niagara’s Fury movie. It’s got some beautiful views of the Horseshoe fall and our waitress was lovely. The food was good, but nothing exceptional. Worth the visit just to have lunch watching the falls, have refill soda and rest a bit.
We saw the sign saying Applebee’s by the end of Clifton Hill and I knew we’d eat there. The food is good, the service was fine. We just had to wait quite a while to get our bill and nearly missed the fireworks. Lucky they didn’t start on time. Haha.
We had ice cream somewhere by the town. We don’t know the name of the place if ever there was a name. The servings were huge and it was A LOT cheaper than anything by the river. If you decide to wander around the town, you’ll find it as it’s the only place that sells only ice creams.
Such a cool and delicious smelling store that was! We entered for the smell, to be really honest, and we bought some stuff to get us through our drive home. Sadly, we didn’t try the fudges because they were so huge, but we bought some cute stuff and some Canada themed macarons. Yum!
– You’ll probably be out for a huge part of the day, so remember your hat and sunscreen
– Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a lot of walking involved!
– You can probably take a sandwich or a picnic and eat somewhere outside, watching the falls. It was just terribly hot the day we went, so having a break under the air conditioning was a blessing
– They give out raincoats for almost every attraction. We took our raincoats, but they don’t cover the legs, so I’d accept a raincoat there too. They’re disposable, but if you’re doing more than one thing, you can take one and reuse it all around. There’s really no need to trash one every time unless they rip or something
– Remember to bring a water bottle and refill it around.
– It doesn’t matter how hot it is, DON’T leave your sweater in the car. Just don’t. We ended up buying Melissa one – a super touristy one that she doesn’t like much but will wear until it’s damaged. haha.
– If you plan on buying the passes, buy ahead of time, online, because you won’t need the line on the day and it gives you a bonus and can be cheaper than buying on the day.
– Protect your cameras because there’s A LOT of water involved
– You don’t really need to do anything. To see the Falls, you don’t even have to pay. It was worth emptying our pockets, though. The kids loved the day.
To finish it…
It was a fun day out. We were there for 16 hours and we loved every moment of it.
It was worth the car rental, the drive, the foot ache, the smelly clothes, the lost bus, the outrageous price tag on everything. We loved it!
The falls are beautiful but it’s a lot more than that to that place. We kind of regretted not spending a night there to have 2 full days around. But then again, I wouldn’t want to shorten our Toronto days because I loved that place too. Haha.
Have you been there? Would you like to? Tell us in the comments!