Top 11 Things for Families To Do in Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since before the last century. The Falls and the attractions that surround them consistently rank as top travel destinations for families and visitors from around the world. Growing up in Ontario, Niagara Falls was the obligatory day trip destination to bring our out-of-town visitors, to marvel at the natural wonder and enjoy the many things to do in Niagara Falls.

Whether it’s getting soaked on a jet boat, viewing the incredible Falls from above (or below), having fun at local theme or water parks, or watching a re-enactment of the War of 1812, here are the top 11 things to do in Niagara Falls and the surrounding region.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

The thrilling Journey Under the Falls brings you up close and personal to the thundering intensity of this natural wonder

1. The Falls

The Falls were created as a legacy of the last Ice Age 18,00 years ago, and they still has the power to inspire wonder in worldly travelers. The Falls deliver an inspiring demonstration of the raw power of nature. Over 6 million cubic ft of water go over the Falls every minute during summer – you can hear the roar of the Falls even before you see it. The beautiful green colour of the Niagara River that feeds the Falls is a result from dissolved minerals and limestone that are swept over the Falls every day. It’s a stunning site.

The view from the Canadian side of the Falls (known as the Horseshoe Falls due to its shape) is wide and impressive. The pathway along the Niagara River allows you to get very close to the action as the water makes its way to the drop off of the Falls themselves. If you’re not too afraid, lean over a bit to try and see through the mist, but be mindful of kids leaning over the low railing or when posing for photos.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

A boat tour is the best way to see and feel Niagara Falls up close

2. Journey Behind the Falls

This popular attraction offers a illuminating view of history, and of the physical reality behind the Falls. Slip on a yellow poncho to keep yourself dry as you descend in an elevator down 150 feet, through bedrock to tunnels leading one third of the way behind the Falls.

Interpretive signs and plaques describe interesting Falls Facts, such as how the tunnels were built, and detail the history of daredevils who plunged over (or walked above) the Falls. The Cataract and the Great Falls tunnel portals bring you up close to the roaring water. Walk out onto the Lower Observation Deck to view the Falls from below. If you thought that the Falls were impressive from above, you’ll be even more amazed at how powerful they look – and feel – from underneath.

3. Hornblower Niagara Falls Tours

The 30 minute Hornblower Niagara Falls Boat Tour takes you past the base of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and then up close and personal with the Canadian side of the Horsehoe Falls. You’ll actually feel the thundering intensity of the water flow, and you’ll certainly see it in the ever-present mist. Even your poncho won’t save you from a good soaking.

4. Niagara’s Fury

Niagara’s Fury will literally shake the ground beneath your feet. This is a 4D multi-sensory attraction that allows you to experience the formation and creation of the Falls, complete with water spray and cold, ice age-like temperatures. The eight-minute animated pre-show with star Chip the Beaver is great for the kids, and explains how the Ice Age formed Niagara Falls. A six minute, 4D ‘Fury’ show follows the animated geology lesson. You will get wet, but the blue poncho should save you from the worst of the cold water.

5. Skylon Tower

The best views of Niagara Falls can be found high up in the air, 775 feet above the Falls to be precise. The Skylon Tower offers incredible views of both sides of the Falls, as well as the surrounding area, including the city skylines of Buffalo and Toronto. Step outside onto the observation deck for 360 degree photo opportunities of the Falls. There are two fine dining restaurants at the top, a 3D movie theatre, and a Family Fun Centre.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Fancy a ride across the Great Gorge in an antique cable car at Niagara Falls?

6. Whirlpool Aero Car

Looking to soar over the Great Gorge from a 99-year old antique cable car? This unique attraction takes you on a one kilometre round trip over the Niagara River, with incredible views of the Niagara Whirlpool and Gorge. Have your camera at the ready and make sure it’s strapped tightly to your wrist! It’s a long way down to the Class 5 white water rapids below.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Challenge your fear in Class 5 whitewater rapids of the Niagara Whirlpool. (Credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

7. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

If you’re up for some serious thrills during your visit to Niagara Falls, don’t miss the Whirlpool Jet Boat tour. The Jet Boat speeds along the Niagara River at 60 mph to the Class 5 whitewater rapids in the Great Gorge. Do prepare to get fully soaked (your poncho is just a thin, bright accessory, with zero water protection) during this wet, wild ride that everyone in the family can do, provided they’re 40″ tall and in good health.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Marvel at over 45 species of beautiful butterflies at the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory. (Credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

8. Butterfly Conservatory

Located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, the warm indoor setting of the Conservatory is perfect for viewing the more than 2,000 tropical butterflies floating in the lush jungle rainforest. Kids will be amazed watching pupae become butterflies through the Emergence Window, and you can take your time wandering through the pathways and trying to count how many butterfly species you can identify (Hint: there are 45 different species living in the Conservatory.)

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

The Niagara SkyWheel whisks you up for breathtaking views of the Falls and the skyline all year round

9. Niagara SkyWheel + Clifton Hill

The touristy area of Clifton Hill consists of a large entertainment complex that includes restaurants, a 4D theatre, dinosaur mini-golf, bowling alley, haunted house, and the Great Canadian Midway. The premier attraction is the SkyWheel, which whisks you up 175 feet above the ground in fully enclosed, climate controlled gondolas, with incredible views of the Falls and the Niagara skyline. The ride lasts from 8 to 12 minutes, and is open year-round.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Follow the Niagara River via the scenic Parkway

10. Drive the Niagara Parkway 

The scenic Niagara Parkway and Garden Trail winds 22 km above the Niagara River from Niagara Falls to the quaint and highly touristy Niagara-on-the-Lake village. The drive offers beautiful views onto vineyards, the river, the Floral Clock, and stunning heritage homes. There are walking paths off of the Parkway should you wish to explore the area on foot.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

Enjoy the historical re-enactment of the War of 1812 at Old Fort Erie. (Credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

11. Niagara Heritage Sites

The Niagara area was a key location of conflict during the War of 1812 between Canada and the United States. There are many important historical sites along the route, including Laura Secord House in Queenston, and Brock’s Monument. The battle forts of the War of 1812, Fort George and Old Fort Erie, have been restored to their former glory, and Fort life is re-enacted in lively fashion during the summer months.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada since the 19th century. Here are the top 11 things for families to do in Niagara Falls.

The Niagara Falls skyline showcases many hotels, including the Marriot Fallsview Hotel

Where to Stay

The many attractions at Niagara Falls make for a perfect weekend getaway with the family. Finding central, family-friendly hotel accommodation in Niagara Falls is key to maximizing your holiday time together.

The Niagara Falls Marriot Fallsview Hotel is just steps away from the Horseshoe Falls, and in walking distance to many of the attractions included above.

The Marriot Fallsview features a variety of room options, including spacious 2-room Family Suites with a view of the Falls. There’s also an indoor pool for the kids to enjoy and the award-winning Serenity Spa for adult pampering.

TTM Tip: There are several, money-saving Niagara Falls Passes to choose from for a variety of regional attractions, including; the Ultimate Niagara Falls Tour, the Wonder Pass, Adventure Pass, Clifton HIll Fun Pass, and Heritage Trail Pass. Plan the attractions you want to visit (and how you plan to get there), and choose your pass accordingly.

Photo Credits: C Laroye {unless otherwise noted}

Note: The Travelling Mom thanks the Marriot Fallsview Hotel for its sponsorship of this article. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.

Have you visited Niagara Falls? What did you enjoy the most? Share your comments below.

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