niagara falls, canada – with kids

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Niagara Falls with Kids

 

“I can’t believe you are going to Niagara Falls without us !” my son lamented after he overheard me chatting on the phone with a friend.  As quite a well read little traveler, who lulls himself to sleep at night with his collection of travel books, he probably knew more about this white water wonder than I did.  I delicately explained to him that on this trip, as a guest of Tourism Niagara and Niagara Parks, I would be traveling without the family. He was only moderately comforted by my promise to research all things cool for kids, so that when eventually we do return together, we would know exactly what to do.  Without further ado, here is my list of all things wet and wonderful for families traveling with kids to Niagara Falls, Canada.

the best attractions in niagara falls for kids

*saving money note*

Niagara Falls attractions can add up.  You can save up to 30% by purchasing the Niagara Adventure Pass (adults $46.95, children (6-12) $34.95).  For most attractions in Niagara, children 5 and under are free.  The pass includes 2 day WEGO bus transportation  (accessible – easy to use with a stroller).

 

maid of the mist niagara falls with kidsmaid of the mist (website)
5920 river road (map)
(905) 358-5781

Step back in time and take a ride on North America’s oldest tourist attraction (It has be running since 1846 ! ). This exciting boat ride takes you past the base of the American Falls and into the basin of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

reviews: 96% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults (13+ years) $19.75, children (6 to 12 years) $12.65, children 5 and under are free
hours: mid apr. – to mid oct. – leaving every 30 min. from 9:45am-4:45pm, with extended hours during peak periods see website
note:  As you can see in the photo, you are provided with a complimentary blue plastic poncho to help keep you dry for this attraction

 

journey below the falls niagara with kidsjourney behind the falls (website)
6650 niagara parkway (map)
(905) 354-1551

From inside the Table Rock Welcome Centre (next to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls), you can descend an elevator into a network of bedrock tunnels that offer several different viewing points under the falls.  Along the way there are also many interesting educational features that will pretty much answer any question you have about the falls, such as “Can you really go over the falls in a barrel and survive?“.  And yes….despite better fashion sense, I am wearing a large yellow plastic poncho.  As with several other Niagara attractions, the poncho is included in your entrance fee, and in the end, you will be glad to have it.

reviews: 67% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults (13+ years) $15.95, children (6 to 12 years) $10.95, 5 and under are free (reduced rates in mid Dec. to mid Apr.)
hours: hours change depending on season – see schedule
note: Although most reviewers love this attraction, a few express frustration over large crowds.  Avoid peak times by visiting at opening.

 

niagara whirlpool aerocar with kidsthe whirlpool aerocar (website)
3850 niagara river parkway (map)

Ride this antique cable car across the Niagara Whirlpool. Designed by a Spanish engineer, Leonardo Torres Quevedo, the car has been in operation since 1916. It is suspended from six sturdy cables and offers a wonderful view of the Niagara Whirlpool which is formed at the end of the rapids where the gorge turns abruptly counterclockwise, and the river escapes through the narrowest channel in the gorge.

reviews: 70%  recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults (13+ years) $13.50, children (6 to 12 years) $8.50, children 5 and under are free
hours: open daily march-october, with hours varying by season (see website)
note: While you are here you may want to also do the White Water Walk on the pathway below, giving you a close up view of class 5 and 6 rapids.

 

niagara jet boats with kidswhirlpool jet boat tours (website)
departs from Canada and the U.S (see link)
905-468-4800 or 1-888-438-4444

If you really want to experience the power of the Niagara River rapids, take a ride on a jet boat and speed along at 80km/hour.  Not only is the experience exhilarating, but you also learn some very interesting facts about the role the river and it’s settlements have played in history. The company offers both covered and uncovered boats (you get completely soaked on the latter and will need a change of clothes).

reviews: 88% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults $61, children $51
hours: open seasonally may – sept
note: Children must be at least 40″ (around 4 years old) in height to ride the covered Jet Dome boats and 44″ (around 6 years old) to ride in the open boats.

 

bird kingdom aviary niagara fallsbird kingdom (website)
5651 river road (map)
905-356-8888

Bird Kingdom is the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world, and home to more than 400 birds (many of the species are endangered in the wild). Stroll amongst the tropical plants, 40 foot waterfall and watch the birds perform. Don’t miss the daily bat and lorikeet feedings. Touch and hold many other exotic species in the Encounter Room.

reviews: 86% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults (16+ years) $16.95, children (4-15 years) $11.95, children under 4 are free
hours: open daily sept-jun 9:30am-5pm, jul-aug 9am-6:30pm
note: save money by pre-purchasing tickets online (see website)

 

niagara butterfly conservatory with babies, toddlers and kidsniagara parks butterfly conservatory (website)
2565 niagara parkway (map)
(905) 356-8119

Located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens is the Butterfly Conservatory. Consistently rated as one of the top attractions by visitors to the area, you can stroll through the tropical rainforest environment past ponds, waterfalls and amongst over 2000 butterflies.

reviews: 93% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults (13+ years) $13.50, children (6 to 12 years) $8.80 – note parking is $5
hours: open daily (except Christmas Day), with hours varying by season (see website)

 

niagara nature centre with kids

niagara glen nature centre (website)
3050 niagara parkway (map)
(905) 354-6678

Within the Niagara Glen Nature Area (a wonderful area for a family hike), you will find the Nature Centre.  Visitors are invited to explore new educational displays including “Animals of the Glen”, nature and geology “touch tables” and interpretive panels on the flora, fauna and geology of the Niagara Glen. Park Naturalists are also available at the centre to answer questions, and during the summer months, daily guided hikes are offered at 11am and 2pm.

reviews: 95%* recommend on tripadvisor (these reviews are for the whole Niagara Nature Area
rates: free
hours: open seasonly (call to confirm at 905-354-6678)
note: The Nature Centre is located within the Niagara Glen Nature Area which has fantastic hiking trails, bouldering, geocaching, picnic areas and more.  If you plan to go for a little walkabout, make sure you have sensible shoes.

 

appropriate attire for niagara falls
Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.49.04 AM
To truly experience the falls, you are going to get at least a little bit wet (waterproof mascara ladies).  Although several of the attractions provide you with plastic ponchos, you may still wish to have a change of clothes with you, and be sure to wear sensible shoes.  By sensible, I mean something that is comfortable, has a little bit of tread, and can get wet.  Please see my photo of some inappropriate footwear. Miraculously they survived.  

 

Do you know of some other great attractions for kids in Niagara?  Please share in the comment section below.

other posts that may be of interest you:

victoria, british columbia – with babies toddlers and kids
flying with baby – best strollers, carriers and car seats

 

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