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Soo to Niagara Falls via Sudbury- kids & forts

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We plan to travel from Sault Ste. Marie to Niagara Falls through Sudbury in late July.

As of right now, we plan to stay on the US side in Soo, drive to Sudbury visit the mine and science museum there, spend the night, drive to Niagara Falls (skipping Toronto entirely). Family of 5- 3 sons, 16, 6, 4. We like natural beauty, history (esp. my boys like military history) and are not fans of tourist traps (in other words, we won't be visiting Clifton Hill.

My questions thus far are:
-Is Fort St. Joseph, on St, Joseph Island worth the visit?
-How long sohuld we allow for the mine and science museum in Sudbury? We are more interested in the mine, but have free admission to the museum with a reciprocal agreement with our local museum.
- what are the forts like in the Niagara area? There seem to be so many- Old Fort Erie. Fort. George, and more. Are some better than others?

I also read elsewhere that one should do the touristy stuff on the US side- Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, and instead drive along the Canada side, because the views ARE so much better and just take it all in, but that the boat and Cave of the winds is better than Jousney Behind the Falls.

We are on a TIGHT budget (although we don't camp), so the advice I've heard is stay on the US side (Soo, Niagara Falls) and buy gas on the US side where reasonable. I think my tentative plan is to stay in Sudbury and by Niagara on the Lake and when in Niagara Falls, to find a public lot for $10 and walk around.

Don't hold back if I have things all wrong!

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