There’s something truly magical about standing at the edge of one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders, Niagara Falls. The thundering rush of water, the mist that kisses your skin, and the sheer power of nature’s spectacle – it’s an experience that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of adults and children alike. But when you’re planning a visit to this destination with little ones in tow, the information out there can be confusing. Today, Amy Eastin, Kansas City mom of three, is sharing her family’s most recent trip to Niagara Falls with kids. This post is filled with tips, advice, and recommendations to ensure that your trip is not only awe-inspiring but also as smooth as the waters of the falls themselves.

Cover photo for Niagara Falls with kids

Planning a trip to Niagara Falls with kids

Niagara Falls is one of the most iconic natural wonders on Earth. It’s a spectacular display of the raw power and beauty of nature. Located on the border between the United States and Canada, this awe-inspiring phenomenon is formed by the Niagara River, which connects the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario. As the river rushes over the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, it plummets in a breathtaking cascade, creating three majestic waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.

What makes Niagara Falls an irresistible tourist destination is its sheer magnificence. The deafening roar of the cascading waters, the thick mist that envelops visitors, and the mesmerizing play of colors as the sun reflects off the falls all combine to create an otherworldly experience.

The falls are not only a visual feast but also a testament to the geological and hydrological forces that have shaped our planet. Visitors can get up close on boat tours, walk along scenic viewpoints, and explore various attractions in the surrounding area. The Niagara region offers a harmonious blend of natural grandeur, outdoor activities, and cultural attractions, making it a must-visit destination for travelers from around the world.

Which side of Niagara Falls should you visit?

There are two cities called Niagara Falls. One is in New York state, and the other is in Ontario, Canada. Experiencing Niagara Falls from the New York side and the Canadian side offers distinct yet equally breathtaking perspectives of this natural wonder.

On the US side, visitors get views of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls up close, allowing for an intimate connection with the falls’ raw power and misty embrace. Goat Island is a small island located in the Niagara River, within Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York, between the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. Goat Islandis a destination for tourists visiting the falls on the U.S. side. It has several viewing points, including from Terrapin Point. Goat Island is connected to the U.S. mainland by two bridges that carry foot, car, and trackless train traffic, and to the smaller Luna Island by a pedestrian bridge. Goat Island is largely wooded and is interlaced with foot trails. The Cave of the Winds tour elevator provides access down to the foot of the falls.

On the Canadian side of the falls, the Horseshoe Falls takes center stage, providing a sweeping, panoramic view that showcases the grandeur and vastness of Niagara Falls. The Canadian side also boasts a lively promenade, vibrant gardens, and an array of attractions that offer a different kind of experience, including a stunning illuminated night view.

While both sides offer unique and unforgettable encounters with the falls, the American side showcases the falls’ intensity, while the Canadian side offers a broader, postcard-perfect perspective, making it no wonder that many travelers choose to explore both sides to appreciate the full spectrum of this natural marvel. If you want to experience both sides, the Rainbow Bridge is located between the cities of Niagara Falls, Canada and Niagara Falls, NY. Crossing the bridge costs $5.00 for a vehicle, or pedestrians can cross for $1.00.

We chose to stay on the Canadian side, so for this article, I am providing information about things you can do in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. 

view of Horseshoe Falls Niagara Falls Canada

Viewing the falls

You can’t go to Niagara Falls and not see the falls themselves. While there’s lots more to do in the area, this is the main attraction! 

Viewing and experiencing Niagara Falls for the first time is nothing short of a sensory overload and a profound encounter with nature’s grandeur. As you approach the falls, a distant rumble gradually transforms into a thunderous roar that reverberates through the air. The mist, carrying with it the faint scent of fresh water fills the air and settles on your skin.

When the falls finally come into view, there’s an almost instinctual gasp as you witness the sheer power and magnificence of this natural wonder. The towering columns of water, their brilliant whites contrasting against the deep blues of the Niagara River, are awe-inspiring. 

There is a long stretch of viewing areas along the river going up to the falls themselves called the Fallsview Trail. The upper part of the falls are called Horseshoe Falls, and nearby are the smaller, but no less grand, American Falls. 

Niagara Falls USA Observation Tower provides the only panoramic view of all three Niagara Falls, including the American Falls.

Niagara Falls Lit Up red at night

Niagara Falls at night

Viewing Niagara Falls at night, when the waters are artfully illuminated by lights, is a magical experience that adds an entirely new dimension to your visit. As the sun sets and darkness descends, the falls become a canvas of radiant colors, with ever-changing hues that dance across the water’s surface. 

To make this experience even more extraordinary, fireworks displays light up the night sky, casting a vivid, explosive contrast against the gentle, flowing beauty of the falls.

Every night from mid-May through Canadian Thanksgiving, fireworks are shot off over Horseshoe Falls. Fireworks start at 10 p.m. People start arriving around 9 p.m. to get a good spot. If it is a weekend or the summer, I recommend getting there early if you want to be in the front row. 

The combination of illuminated falls and dazzling fireworks turns the Niagara night into a truly enchanting and unforgettable sensory feast, evoking a sense of wonder and awe that remains etched in the memory of all who witness it. If you’d like to see the falls lit up without the crowds, wait until 10:30 p.m. when the fireworks crowd clears out.

Niagara Falls Boat Tour Canada America

Boat tours

Families planning a visit to Niagara Falls should consider a boat tour. Seeing the falls from a boat tour gives you such a unique and up-close perspective of the falls. It’s an experience that’s not only exhilarating but also educational. The boats take visitors right to the base of the falls, where the sheer power and majestic beauty of the cascading waters are awe-inspiring. No wonder that boat tours are the most popular thing to do in Niagara Falls. 

After viewing the falls from land, we couldn’t wait to do a boat tour. We rode with Niagara City Cruises. Tickets for tours are sold in half-hour time slots. I recommend getting your tickets early if you have a specific time you would like to take the tour. The tours take 20 minutes and run all day during the busy season. Because the tours are so short, even the littlest kids can handle the tour without getting too restless. 

To get to the boat, you will go down a ramp or stairs to an elevator (consider this if you’re traveling with a wheelchair or stroller). On your way out to the boat, you will be given a red poncho to put on. You will definitely want to wear this unless you want to look like you stepped out of the shower! They do have kid-sized ponchos available, but for little kids, it might be too long. We taught our daughters to walk like princesses holding their ponchos up with both hands so they didn’t trip. 

My kids were captivated by the thunderous roar of the falls, the mist that enveloped them, and the thrill of getting so close to the falls. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, offering a unique opportunity for kids to connect with the powerful forces that shape our planet.

The boat is completely full of people with very little room to move around. We were lucky and were some of the first people on our boat, so we got a corner of the top deck. The boat leaves quickly and goes right up to the falls, so the spray of the water will completely cover you. Make sure anything you don’t want to get wet is safely stored under your poncho. After your tour, you discard your poncho and take the elevator back up. 

a kid looking at a bridge on a Niagara Falls Boat Tour

Tunnels under the falls

Another fun way to see the falls is by walking in tunnels underneath them at Journey Behind the Falls.

This is such a unique and immersive perspective. As you walk closer to the falls, you can feel the earth-shaking power of the cascading waters overhead. The thunderous roar of the water reverberates through the tunnels, and the dimly lit, misty atmosphere adds an element of mystery and adventure to the experience.

For the tour, there are reserved time slots, and they do sell out, so I recommend getting your tickets early online. When it’s your time to go, you will still have to wait in line. We waited for 45 minutes to an hour. Bring snacks and something for the kids because they will be bored. 

For this experience, you will also get a poncho. You will walk through underground tunnels to be directly behind the falls. All you will see is rushing water. There is another observation area where you get to walk out and stand at the base of the falls. The spray of the waterfall will get you very wet! The view and experience are similar to the boat ride, but it is less crowded, and you get to see the falls from a different view. 

family in the tunnels under Niagara Falls

Viewing Niagara Falls from a Ferris wheel

You can not only view Niagara Falls from below, but also from high above! Observing Niagara Falls from the top of the Niagara SkyView Ferris wheel gives you a breathtaking panoramic view of the falls and the surrounding landscape. 

My kids loved this. The wait was relatively short even though we were there during peak season. The slow rotation of the wheel allows ample time to soak in the magnificent vista, capturing the grandeur of Niagara Falls from a fresh perspective while adding an element of whimsy and delight to the experience. We rode it during the day, but you can take night rides too. Each family gets their own compartment which is nice. There is a speaker that plays music while you look out at the view. 

It’s a thrilling and unforgettable way to appreciate the falls and create lasting memories, offering a family-friendly adventure that will be cherished for years to come.

Skyview Ferris Wheel from below, Niagara Falls Canada

Clifton Hill

Clifton Hill, nestled in the heart of Niagara Falls, is a vibrant and whimsical entertainment district that beckons families with its unique blend of attractions and activities. The Clifton Hill area is brimming with colorful arcades, funhouses, miniature golf courses, and engaging museums. This area has tons of blinking lights, music, and interesting things to look at. The street is lined with arcades, play areas, carnival-type rides, restaurants, fair food, and more. It’s a place where fantasy comes to life, offering enchanting experiences such as the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, the immersive Butterfly Conservatory, and the spellbinding glow of the Dinosaur Adventure Golf.

Families can also enjoy delicious treats, ice cream, and various cuisines at the many restaurants and eateries, ensuring that both young and old are well-fed and entertained. With its lively atmosphere and an array of child-friendly options, Clifton Hill promises unforgettable family moments and is an essential stop for anyone exploring the wonders of Niagara Falls with kids.

We spent an afternoon exploring Clifton Hill. We got churros as we walked around. My kids loved all colors and decorations and begged to do every activity. We went to an arcade both nights we were in Niagara Falls, and we completed the Mystery Maze

Clifton Hill at night, Niagara Falls Canada

Mystery Maze, Niagara Falls, Canada

A quiet place to relax

We usually travel to places filled with nature and lots of open green spaces, like state and national parks. While our kids truly enjoyed everything there was to do in Niagara Falls, they also got overwhelmed by all the chaos, lights, music, and people.

Luckily, we found a cute garden close to the falls where they could explore and be in nature with very few people nearby. The Oakes Garden Theater is a beautiful, low-key outdoor area. My kids enjoyed finding a geocache there as well. 

If you’re like us and crave solace, check out serene parks in the Niagara Falls area like Queen Victoria Park on the Canadian side. This lush, meticulously landscaped area offers not only a peaceful retreat from the bustling crowds but also the perfect setting for a picnic or leisurely stroll. In these green oases, you’ll find respite from the excitement, a moment to reflect, and a chance to connect with nature, making your exploration of Niagara Falls a truly balanced and rejuvenating experience.

Garden Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Canada

The Niagara Whirlpool

The Niagara Whirlpool is a natural marvel created by the force of the Niagara River, located just a short distance downstream from Niagara Falls. It forms where the river narrows, creating a natural bottleneck that leads to a dramatic change in water flow, speed, and direction. This abrupt shift results in a powerful whirlpool. The Whirlpool is encircled by a striking gorge with cliffs rising to heights of over 300 feet, offering visitors a spectacular and unique vantage point. 

While it may not receive as much fanfare as the adjacent Niagara Falls, it’s an awe-inspiring experience. You can explore the area by hiking along the gorge rim, taking a cable car ride, or, for the more adventurous, descending into the gorge itself. The cable car spans the gorge, so you can ride suspended above it. It looks thrilling, and yet perfectly safe! 

We didn’t get a chance to visit it this time, but it’s on my list for our next visit. It’s a destination that complements a visit to Niagara Falls, providing a quieter, more contemplative, and equally impressive aspect of the region’s natural wonders. 

Niagara Falls bus system

There is a bus system for tourists called WEGO, that has three different lines and will take you to all of the major tourist destinations. We used WEGO one of the two days we were there, and it was very convenient.

It’s difficult for our three little kids to walk long distances or up the steep Clifton Hill. Getting the bus pass made the trip more enjoyable for my kids and us because we weren’t having to wait on their little legs. The system was easy to use and goes by most major hotels in the area.

If you like walking and saving money, skip it! But if you’re looking for convenience when you’re traveling as a family, then I would recommend it. 

visiting niagra falls with kids - things to do, where to go, where to stay

Where to eat at Niagara Falls

Whether you’re looking for street food or sit-down restaurants, Clifton Hill has a ton of family-friendly eating options. 

Street food

There are lots of kiosks with portable food like ice cream, churros, popcorn, and corn on a stick. Your family will love all the snack foods and they make it easy to eat and walk around. 


There are lots of options for places to sit down and eat as well. Pasta, pizza, and burgers were popular options. We went to Rainforest Cafe one night, and my kids loved it! The restaurant is elaborately decorated with jungle plants from floor to ceiling. There are animatronic animals that move and make noises around the restaurant. Every 10-15 minutes, there is a “rainstorm” where the lights flicker, it gets dark, and there are sounds of thunder and rain. The portions were sizeable, and my kids loved the food. What kid complains about burgers and chicken nuggets? 

Rainforest Cafe, Niagara Falls Canada

Where to stay at Niagara Falls

We stayed at the Skyline Hotel and Waterpark. This was a relatively affordable hotel with kid-friendly amenities, including an indoor water park (for extra $). It was very family-friendly, but it was also somewhat dated. Be prepared for mandatory fees added to the cost when you check in (about $50 CAD for our two nights). The hotel does have a bus stop and also is close to Clifton Hill and Niagara Falls if you want to walk. 

If you’re looking for an updated option, I suggest staying at the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls, or Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel & Suites. All of these options also offer rooms with views of the falls, if you would like to view them from your hotel window. 

Kid looking out at Clifton Hill from the Skyview Ferris Wheel in Niagara Falls, Canada

The best time to visit Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is beautiful any time of year, but the winter can be particularly cold. I recommend planning your trip for June, July, or August. The weather during the summer is usually in the upper 70s or low 80s, with 7-8 days of rain a month. The summer months, from June to August, are the most popular for tourists due to warm weather and extended daylight hours. This is the prime time for boat tours and outdoor activities, but it can be crowded. If you go during the summer, I recommend avoiding the week leading up to Canada Day and the weekends if you can. 

Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) offer milder weather, beautiful foliage, and fewer crowds, making them excellent options for a more relaxed visit. For those who appreciate the serenity of a winter wonderland, the off-peak season from November to March showcases the falls adorned with ice formations, and it’s an ideal time for tranquility and unique photo opportunities. Ultimately, the choice of the best time to visit Niagara Falls hinges on your individual preferences, whether you seek vibrant summer energy, the colors of autumn, or the quiet enchantment of winter.

Our family had so much fun in Niagara Falls! I hope your family does too! 

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Canada at night lit up

Niagara Falls with kids

In wrapping up our exploration of Niagara Falls, it’s clear that this natural wonder is not just a destination but a thrilling adventure waiting to happen for families of all kinds. Whether you’re setting out on a road trip or flying in from afar, the falls offer an unparalleled family vacation experience. For those with young kids, the boat tours offer fun things for little ones to discover. On the other hand, older kids might find the geological wonders and thrilling boat rides an exciting adventure of a lifetime. Together, Niagara Falls is the best way to create lasting memories on a family trip, as it caters to everyone’s sense of wonder and awe.

As a destination that boasts not only the grandeur of the falls but also the playful ambiance of Clifton Hill, it’s a great way to balance adventure with relaxation. So, whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll through lush parks or embarking on boat tours that bring you face-to-face with nature’s power, Niagara Falls has the power to unite and inspire the entire family. It’s more than just a sightseeing spot; it’s a place where the heart of every traveler, young and old, can be captivated by the sheer magic of nature’s grand design.

About the author 

Amy is a Kansas City-based adventure mom to three kids. She loves exploring all that the middle of the USA has to offer, from hiking trails to family experiences, rivers, museums, and everything in between. Before kids, Amy traveled and lived around the world, rode camels, trekked through mountains, and occasionally danced with the locals. Now Amy is usually road-tripping with her kids (and sometimes her husband), getting outside, and exploring Kansas City. Amy is passionate about promoting the Midwest as a travel destination and encouraging families to get outdoors with young kids.

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RWMC posts: Amy Eastin