Do you have a travel bucket list for your kids? I’ve been to Niagara Falls a few times, but my kids haven’t, and it has always been a place I wanted them to experience. Well, we finally had the opportunity over Columbus Day weekend this October.
To make the most of our time there, we took advantage of several attractions that offered different ways to see the falls. While some of these only operate during the warmer seasons, all are great choices for kids of all ages.
Take a Falls Boat Tour
It’s one of those “must-do” activities in Niagara Falls: a boat ride along the churning waters where the falls end their nearly 200-foot drop. Since we stayed on the Canadian side, we took the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. We excitedly donned our complimentary souvenir ponchos and found a viewing spot on the bottom deck of the 700-passnger catamaran. This turned out to be a relatively dry spot once we got close enough to the falls to be doused by the spray. The boat traveled from the dock on the Niagara Great Gorge past the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and into the midpoint of Horseshoe Falls. The thunderous noise of rushing water and the amazing views thrilled both our kids.
While you can buy tickets just for the Hornblower Cruise, it makes sense to purchase the Adventure Pass offered by Niagara Parks if you plan to visit other area attractions, as well. We used our passes for admission to Journey Behind the Falls, the “Niagara’s Fury” 4D movie, and two days of transportation on the WEGO shuttle buses that run continuously throughout the city of Niagara Falls.
Go Behind the Falls
The Journey Behind the Falls attraction offers another great way to get up close to the falls, and get even more drenched! This idea charmed our 7-year-old, while the teenager was less enthusiastic. From the Table Rock Visitor Centre, you take an elevator 125 feet down behind Horseshoe Falls and inward 650 feet (the total width of the falls is 2,200 feet). Two tunnels bring you to gated openings behind the rushing falls. It’s wet, it’s loud, and it’s exhilarating. Your last stop is the bi-level observation deck in front of the falls, where your poncho is only partially successful in keeping you dry as the wind whips up the water.
See the Falls on the Big Screen
Another attraction based at the Table Rock Visitor Centre, “Niagara’s Fury” is a 4D version of the story explaining how the falls were formed 10,000 years ago. You’ll realize why you’re provided with a poncho once you step onto a moving platform wher the temperature drops as a spray mists over you. There are other movie experiences in town, as well, including “The Falls 3D/4D” movie shown inside the Skylon Tower, and the two programs presented at the Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre: “Niagara: Miracles, Myths & Magic” and “Niagara Daredevil Exhibit.”
View the Falls From Above
To get great overhead photos of the falls, you have several options, including the Niagara SkyWheel, and the Falls Incline Railway, which connects Portage Road and the visitor center. To get even higher, take the outdoor elevator in Skylon Tower to the observation decks, which reach 775 feet. Try to get there at night, when the falls are lit up in color. And during the summer season, from mid-May to early September, a nighttime fireworks show adds to the pageantry.
– Traci L. Suppa
Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.