Niagara Falls

Old Jan 10th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Niagara Falls

We are planning a trip to Niagara Falls during the summer of 2006. This is a family vacation with kids ages 7, 5 and 4. We are driving through Canada from Michigan and plan to be gone from Sunday to Friday or Saturday.
Any suggestions for the best activities for the kids.
Thoughts on Marineland?
Any tips on Lodging - where to stay Canadian side or American side?
Is the Jet Boat okay for a small 7 year old.
Is the covered Jet boat fun too and okay for kids?
Thanks!
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Old Jan 10th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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There are several places on the Canadian side that cater to families...any of the chains will give you package rates and many offer fallsview rooms... if fallsview is not vital, consider the Americana, which is a few blocks from the falls but offers a huge indoor waterpark... seems right for your age group...

You will also be near Clifton Hill, a block of Museums, Mini-Golf, and generally cheesy tourist stops...it can be fun but expensive... instead consider crossing to the US side (you can even walk over the rainbow bridge) and buying the Niagara fun pass booklet on Goat Island. This includes The Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, the Peoplemover shuttle and other Niagara attractions at a discount price...

The Jetboat is fine for a seven, but seat them between 2 adults... skip the covered boat, its like going through a carwash... the summer water is refreshing so prepare to get wet...

Marineland is like a Seaworld with its whale and dolphin shows and aquarium views of the sealife, as well as kiddie and some adult rides... your ages will probably love it!!!

The difference in the sides of the Falls is that the US features more of the Natural attraction and the Canadian is more touristy.... have fun
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 04:49 AM
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Thanks so much that was extremely helpful!!
Overall, are most of the activities like the Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds - safe for smaller children?
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 06:03 AM
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The activities are fine for your kids. You should also take a trip to the butterfly Consevatory just outside of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. There are two different indoor waterparks being built in Niagara Falls Canada, which should be open by the summer. Other possiblities are a day trip to Toronto (it's no more than 1 1/4 hours away once you're in Canada. Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY is fun for history buffs. Or a trip into Buffalo (about 20-30 minutes away. There is a AAA baseball team in Buffalo and the games are always fun. There's also some kind of festival somewhere in the area everyweekend (Art Shows, Italian Festival, Toy Fest, Canal Days, etc.) You will find plenty of things to fill your days and nights with.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 06:21 AM
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If you have time, the kids might like the Butterfly Conservatory, just down the road from the Falls.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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My 16 year old son and his high school choir traveled from Nebraska to New York City and Niagara Falls this past summer. It takes a lot to impress a 16 year old but he loved Niagara Falls and actually took photos (pretty much all the photos he took on the trip--LOL). He especially ranted and raved about their Maid of the Mist trip--your kids would probably love the fact that you have to wear rain slickes that they provide and will get wet.

They stayed at the Hilton on the Canadian side. Guess there was a great water slide at the hotel's indoor pool. Believe he said there's a casino attached to the hotel, though--that could either be a plus or a minus for you
 
Old Jan 12th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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I was there last August and stayed at the Oakes overlooking the falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The view we had was absolutely fabulous!!! I would take the kids to Clifton Hill, we had a blast.
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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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The Maid of the Mist is accessable from either the Canadian or US sides. IT will be the highlight!
IF you go on the cave of the winds make sure you hold onto your year old, especially on the hurricaine deck.
PS if you do the maid of the mist first they give you long disposable raincoats. Don't throw them away as the last time we did the cavof the winds all they gave out were short USELESS rain jacketss!
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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We had a wonderful vacation on the US side of Niagara Falls ini 2004--did not go to the Canadian side because we did not bring our son's birth certificate--the border guards said it could be difficult bringing a child BACK over the border into the US...don't know is this is still the case. We stayed in Youngstown at the only place there--Youngstown Motel...Youngstown is lovely--you can walk to the beautiful lakeside, restaurants and Fort Niagara...and it's away from the touristy (and can I say tacky??) Niagara Falls US side. The motel itself is low budget--but fine if you're not spending a lot of time in the room. All the Niagara Falls sites--Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist--were spectacular and we all had a blast--even my husband who hates to travel!!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:56 PM
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Where is the jet boat you are talking about? If it is the one that leaves from Niagara on the Lake (Canadian side) which heads to the whirlpool, then your 7 year old might like the ride. My daughter was 10 and won't go on it again--too scary. But her cousins the same age and younger (down to age 8) loved it. I would stay on the Canadian side, as they have more hotels and the prices are better. If you are located near the Skylon tower, there are hundreds of family motels/hotels. Those not in national chains are very cheap, some OK, some not, so I'd stick to a chain. From the area where the casinos, the Minolta and Skylon towers, etc., you can take the funicular down to Table Rock area, and skip Clifton Hill tourist area, which is loaded with money grabbing attractions like Ripley's, Wax Museums, etc. The Table Rock area is the main building where the Canadian Horsefalls can be viewed. Skip "Journey behind the falls." 30 years ago, it really went behind the falls, but now it just goes to a platform near the base and the view up isn't as good as the view from Table Rock. Walk along the waterfront to the Maid of the Mist and take the boat tour--I've done it about 100times because when people visit they like to visit the Falls. I never get tired of it. Later, get back to your car/hotel and drive along the waterfront until you come to the floral clock (a drive by attraction, in my opinion), and then go to the Butterfly House. Then a trip to the whirlpool and the "Spanish" gondola over the whirlpool. Kids like this a lot, so when visitors come, I send them, while I wait. They now have timed tickets, which helps as this cablecar ride of 10 minutes holds very few people. Then I would head north on the road along the waterfront, as there is parkland (on the Canadian side), and plenty of picnic spots if you have sandwich stuff. Keep going until you reach Fort George--kids like this spot and they usually have some games for kids, etc. Across the river you can see Fort Niagara--on the American side. Keep driving until you get to Niagara on the Lake (with no stops it is a leisurely 25 minute drive from the Falls). The drive is very pretty, and passes rose gardens (not much interest to kids), a historic museum home, etc. Niagara on the Lake has awards for the prettiest village in Canada--this is a posh little village, but a good spot to catch the whirlpool jet boat (get reservations via phone). You can get discount coupons via hotel desk or in a tourist flyer in your hotel lobby. You can do all that in one day, if necessary. Niagara on the Lake has bike rentals, and there is a bike path from the village to the Falls. They have tandems, etc. so the 4 year old wouldn't have to pedal, and might be a fun break from the hustle of the Falls. At night, it is fun to spend one night making the stroll along the Canadian side just to see the falls lit up--and you can see both the American and the Horseshoe falls from the Canadian side. On the American side, drive over and go to Goat Island. Park in the 4-6 car lot (no fee) across from the sign for 3 sisters islands. This is a spot kids love--they can cross the bridges from one little island to the other and the islands are located in the rapids above the Horseshoe Falls, so the water is fast and beautiful. Next head to the big parking lot and go immediately to the ticket booth for Cave of the Winds. They have timed tickets, full length disposable rain coats, and disposable sandals for the elevator ride down/walk along the American Falls. Depending on when you get there (I'd go first thing in the morning on a weekday as they get busier as the day gets longer and waiting in line for timed tickets gets old for kids), it can be very busy. From this parking spot, you can go on the Cave of the Winds tour (I've taken people aged 3-70--all have loved the Hurricane Deck!!), a walk to Bridal Falls, and a walk to Terapin point, which is the other side of the Horseshoe Falls. It isn't that exciting on the 20th trip, but kids like to see the Falls, and they can be "up close" without getting wet. There is no way to stay dry on the Cave of the Winds, but there is always a good breeze and you and your clothes will dry quickly if you go in the morning. Cave of the Winds is another place I've been countless times. I wouldn't waste my money on the trolley on the NY side. I wouldn't go out on the observation deck on the NY side--not that great of a view. The kids would like the Acquarium on the NY side--at least my Girl Scout troop liked it (at ages 8-10) when they spent the night.
Marineland is like a theme park/animal park that they didn't finish. There are very few rides, and they are spread out so that there is about a 5 minute walk in between. I was last there in the summer of 2004, and decided I would not take visitors back. Not much to do or see, but quite expensive for what it is. Animals are also spread out so that the walk around the entire place takes hours, and you can count the rides and animal attractions. For the age of your kids, I'd definately do the aquarium and skip Marineland. Go up in either Skylon or Minolta tower--you can probably get discount coupons someplace--if kids like going up in high places. If they are into forts, you could also visit Fort Niagara, on the American side. If you want a park with rides, go to Fantasy Island. You would be on the NY side, head for the I-190 and head towards Buffalo. It is alongside the highway so you can't miss it. It has lots of rides for the ages of your kids and is quite reasonable for an amusement park. Probably about 20 minute drive from the NY side of the Falls.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 07:21 AM
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We stayed on the Canadian side and had a wonderful time. We took advantage of a money saving pass that gave us admission to several attractions. I believe it is now called the Niagara Falls Great Gorge Adventure pass - http://www.niagarafallslive.com/Attr...gara_Falls.htm

We loved Marineland - it was very nice.

Here is a link for some printable coupons for area attractions cliftonhillresorts.com/coupons/ and www.niagarafallshotels.com/coupons.php

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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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Personal opinion. Definately stay on the Canadian side walking distance to the falls....
American side definately worth a visit
goat island, cave of the winds, walk around falls.
There is a waterpark nearby for
your age kids. Would definately
skip the Aquarium unless looking
for something to do.
Fantasy Island was mentioned - about 1/2 hour away, amusement park - good for your age kids with water park.

Back to Canadian side.....
Marineland-skip it for the price
Maid of the Mist - yes
Skylon tower - yes- cute shops and an arcade downstairs, movie about the falls, things people went over the falls in

Jet boat - my 8yr old did it no problem and loved it - 4 yrs old - I don't know if they allow it - they do have seats that are safer than others??? Thats a tough one, check their web site. You can do it from Niagara on the Lake (Cad side or the US side)

Fort Niagara on US side -yes if you want to go to a fort and it has a big pool for a few dollars if the kids are good (ha)- with young kids area-take your suit (at least the kids) and a lunch - there is a little park near the pool. I think its better than Fort Erie.

Niagara on the lake - my kids at that age would get nothing out of walking the cute town.

Whirlpool and cable car - yes - even if you just stop to look at it - about 5 miles from falls. Your kids are alittle young for hiking. But the Indian trails are about 1/2 mile past the Whirlpool on the right. Stop in the Center there, get a map and decide. You hike down to the lower Niagara. If you want to hike at all, this is the one. You can always turn around!
Another one my kids like.

Butterfly observatory - fun and hot
If you never have been to one - it might be fun.

Clifton Hill - touristy, expensive - but would be hard to avoid for a walk.
Its right in the middle of town.

New suggestions.....
DON'T MISS the lower gorge tour. Elevator down to lower rapids and then not even 1 mile walk. Wow - those rapids are bigger than the ones up top and you are right up close.

Dufferin Falls - about 2 miles from falls and free! Natural swimming hole with slippery bottom and small waterfalls they can go up to. Weather permitting, throw some blow up arm things and take a lunch. My kids love it there!!!!! On the way out - park on side of road still in dufferin and walk (or you can pay 5.00 parking) to the horticultural flower center (1/4 mile at most back toward the falls). Even my kids love the nature. You will only be there 1/2 hour - but fun and free

I happen to be a travel agent. If you have dates, I may be able to help with accommodations.
If I think of anything else, I will post










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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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When on the American side, be sure and take your kids for a treat at Twist of the Mist. The building is in the shape of a giant ice cream cone, and there are lots of great flavors to choose from. It's soft serve -- maybe frozen custard. I hope it's still there!
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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I respectfully disagree with Chautaugua: Journey behind the Falls does go onto a deck next to the Falls but from the inside you walk down a corridor & look through Portals & the Falls is 10 feet in front of you. You are definitely "behind" it.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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THANKS SO MUCH for all the wonderful information!!!! We are thinking of arriving either June 11 or June 18 and staying until friday. Any hotel recommendations would be great!! We found a rate of $53 for The Hampton North of the Falls. With 3 small kids we don't know if it that is too far out!! Although, we aren't sure we want to stay where it is so busy!! Any ideas on this??? THANKS!!
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I personally would prefer to stay next to the falls, rather than 1.5 miles away. My suggestion would be the Doubletree. It is set back two blocks or so from the "strip". I've never been inside but it looks like an Adirondack lodge from the outside. Expedia gives a rate of $102/night for arrival on 6/11. There may be further discounts like AAA available at the Doubletree website. Another suggestion would be the Sheraton Fallsview (not the Sheraton on the Falls). The Fallsview is located at the end of the strip so it would be quieter than a room around Clifton Hill. The Sheraton on the Falls is next to Clifton Hill.

Also, here's another vote for the Butterfly Conservatory and the US Cave of the Winds Tour. The tour fee even includes a free pair of sandals!

I'm sure your schedule is packed, but two other suggestions for kids are African Lion Safari (Cambridge, Ont) and Paramount Canada's Wonderland (outside of Toronto). They are both around 1 hr 15 mins from Niagara Falls.
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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I would definately stay walking distance! The Clifton Hill area hotels are 75.00ish (yes touristy, if you can walk by the musuems & food - your close to the falls) Fallsview area quiter and closer to the Skylon Tower are about 100.00ish for your family of 5. I don't know how busy you like to be, but I would also vote for African Lion Safari. Depending on your interests, 5 days in Niagara Falls could be alot.
If you want email me at [email protected] for details.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 07:40 PM
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This is a really helpful thread with lots of good information!

We are also planning a stop at Niagara Falls August 2-4 during a family vacation this summer. We'll be traveling East on I-90, arriving by car Wednesday night, and have to leave by midday Friday. There are 4 of us, including a 6-yr old and a 4-yr old.

Not sure if we should stay on the Canadian side or the American side? American seems to be slightly cheaper, even though someone here said Canadian should be cheaper. Also there seems to be more to do and better views on the Canadian side.

We're finding Canadian-side room rates ranging from USD $125 to $300 -- much higher than the June rates mentioned in this thread. We found $143 at the Hampton At the Falls. Any suggestions on where to find a decent room at a decent price?

Since we'll only have 1.5 days to see everything, I was thinking we'd see the falls at night when we arrive, then the next day try to do the multi-attraction pass activities only.

But which one? The Canadian side's Niagara Falls Great Gorge Adventure pass (Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, Maid of the Mist, and we'd probably skip the Butterfly Conservatory because our kids have seen several butterfly exhibits.) Or the US Side's Master Pass Niagara (Cave of the Winds, Discovery Geological Museum, Maid of the Mist, Observation Tower, Aquarium.)

If on the Canadian side, we'd probably do the Skylon Tower Friday before we depart.

Any advice on which order to do those in? Does that sound like a reasonable itinerary for the time we have? Anything you'd substitute or add? Would you do both the Cave of the Winds and the Journey Behind the Falls?

Based on the comments posted here, I think we'd skip Marineland and the amusement/water parks, and my 4-year old would be too scared for the Jet Boats.

Thanks for the advice!
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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Thanks for all the great advice. I am also looking for a little more help to narrow down our choices. We will have 1-1/2 days in Niagara Falls. What should be priorities - Maid of the Mist, Jet Boat, Whirlpool and Cable Car, Journey behind Falls, Cave of the Winds, Goat Island, Skylon Tower? Kids are 11, 13, and 15. Also, suggestions for Canadian side walking distance hotels would be appreciated. Thanks very much.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 07:30 PM
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If you want Nature, take the US discount Master Pass... it features a much better perspective of the Falls in its original glory

The Can discount Adventure Pass is more touristy and less emphasis on nature...

Priorities should be Jetboat, Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, and a short time on Goat Island to walk up to the rapids and watch the water as it goes over the Falls... the view from Canada is a must see and a stop at the whirlpool is neat... everything else is an add on... have fun!
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