Niagara Falls has long been a wedding and honeymoon destination, but it also has a ton of things to do with your family. We recently had a blast visiting this border town and compiled a list of family-friendly things to do in Niagara Falls with kids to share with you.
Niagara Falls State Park
Of course, if you’re visiting Niagara, you’re most likely planning a stop here. For most people, the whole purpose of going to Niagara is to see the Falls. Niagara Falls State Park is the actual home to the Falls and it is packed with activities. The park boasts multiple viewing areas of the falls, walking trails, a trolley, a restaurant and bike rentals.
The main attractions at the park are, of course, the falls themselves. Goat Island has viewing areas for both Horseshoe Falls and American Falls and is home to Cave of the Winds. From the mainland, you’ll have another view of American Falls and access to Maid of the Mist and the Observation Tower. There are four parking lots convenient to different areas of the park and the trolleys that run between them. Most people can spend at least half a day here, if not more, especially if taking in some of the tours.
Cave of Winds
From Niagara Falls State Park, take an elevator ride down to the base of the falls to get an up-close look. Grab a poncho and prepare to feel the water of the Falls all around you gaze at the Falls from below. Treck around at the base of the Falls on pathways and decks and head up to the Hurricane Deck where you can walk into the falls and feel their strength as you walk to the famed Hurricane Deck.
You’re going to get a bit wet on this adventure, even with a poncho but on a hot day, the cool water was a hit with the kids. Although the baby was intimidated by the sound of rushing water, everyone had a great time overall. Complimentary sandals are included so you won’t get your shoes wet, but there are no lockers for personal belongings so you’ll be carrying everything you bring. Plan ahead, time slots to visit fill quickly during peak seasons, go early and reserve your spot for your preferred time.
Cave of Winds Video
Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist is the most unique boat ride I’ve ever been on. The Maid of the Mist boats load from Niagara Falls State Park, near American Falls and take you up river directly towards the falls. Like Cave of the Winds you’ll get a little wet, even with a poncho, but as the name of the attraction suggests it is mostly mist. You’ll get a great view of American and Horseshoe falls from river level. The ride is intense with a bit of rocking and plenty of water, but it is not scary and everyone in our group had a blast.
Aquarium of Niagara
Our kids loved the Aquarium of Niagara, especially the penguins and seals. This Niagara Falls aquarium is reasonably priced and hosts a bunch of exhibits including most of which are home to rescue animals. Like many aquariums, it focuses on ocean conservation which is so important for kids to learn. The presentations and shows are not to be missed!
Niagara Falls Observation Deck
Niagara Falls Observation Deck is super cheap and even free during the winter months. It is by far the best view of the Falls from the American side. The observation deck is part of Niagara Falls State Park. It stands high above the gorge and is a can be nervewracking for those with fear of heights and small kids. Take a moment to take in the Falls from above with this great view.
Whirlpool State Park
A short drive downriver from Niagara Falls is Whirlpool State Park. The state park is a nice change of pace from downtown Niagara and is usually not too crowded. With a short walk, you get a nice view of Niagara River and the whirlpool. It should be noted that there isn’t really a whirlpool, it is just rapids and fast-moving water. It is a great place to take a hike or share a picnic.
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center dives into the local and natural history of the Niagra Gorge. It is a great spot to learn about the past of Niagara and it’s hydroelectric history. Be sure to take the elevator down to river level and see the ruins of the old Schoellkopf Power Station, which collapsed in 1956.
Fort Niagara is a well-preserved part of history and is the oldest continuously occupied military site in the US. Positioned where the Niagara River feeds into Lake Ontario, this fort dates back to 1679. It is rich with history and exhibits to tell the stories of its past. Every summer the Fort is home to reenactments as well, bringing in thousands of reenactors and spectators. We happened to catch the right weekend to see the reenactors and their camps.
Herschell Carrousel Factory
Just outside of Niagra you’ll find the Herschell Carrousel Factory founded in 1915. The factory museum has various exhibits of the history of the company and carousels. The highlight for any kid, of course, are the rides. The factory is host to working carousels and a Kiddieland Testing Park, where kids can ride all of the kiddie rides they want!
Niagara Power Vista
The Niagara Power Vista is on our list because of how awesome it is for kids and adults alike. Did we mention parking and admission are FREE? The Power Vista is full of hands-on experiments and interactive exhibits. It really teaches a lot about the power of electricity and where it comes from. A virtual reality ride takes you on the process of how water from the Niagara River is converted into power for much of New York State. Over 7 million visitors have witnessed the awesomeness of the Niagara Power Vista.