I’ve lived in Ontario all my life but I had never been to Niagara Falls. I have no idea why, it just hadn’t happened. So this past summer, since it was the summer of road trips for us (despite me not being a huge fan of road trips!), we decided to finally visit. After researching and booking a hotel, the next thing to figure out was what to do when we got to Niagara. I asked friends who had visited and I did a little bit of digging on the internet and we decided on these 5 family-friendly things to do in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
For this visit, we decided to do all the touristy activities. If we do go again, we’ll do the more “off the beaten path” things. This time, it was all about being tourists and doing all the fun, first-timer must-dos!
So, if you are planning a first-time trip yourself and you aren’t sure what to do, here is a list of things we did and enjoyed.
5 Family-Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls, Ontario
1. See Niagara Falls
Of course, this is a given. You can’t go to Niagara, Ontario without seeing the falls!
We did the Hornblower Cruise which will give you an up close and personal experience with the falls. After paying for your boat fare, you wait in line and make your way to the boats. Just before getting onto the boat, you are given the signature red plastic poncho (it’s recyclable (not reusable), you just need to drop it into the designated bin after getting off the boat). There are several boats coming and going at all times so your wait is never really long.
As you may already know, there is an American side to the falls and a Canadian side. The picture below is the American side:
This, is the Canadian side:
Up close and personal with Canadian side of the falls.
While on the cruise, you’ll get so close that you WILL get wet despite wearing your poncho! But it’s OK, it’s all part of the experience!
There are quite a few other falls related activities, besides the cruise, that you can experience. There are behind the falls tours, helicopter rides over the falls, and if you’re a bit of a daredevil, you can also try out zip-lining over the falls. This of course, is not (young) kid friendly, so keep that in mind!
More info: https://www.niagarafalls.ca/
2. Check out Clifton Hill
Clifton Hill has everything you need: food, entertainment, and fun. Most of the hotels in the area are a short walk away from this district. It’s a little hard to describe what Clifton Hill is like. It’s busy, there’s always a lot of people filling the sidewalks, the roads are busy, and there is a lot for the senses to take in. It’s like a carnival but at the same time, it also reminds me a little of the Vegas strip. It’s a place you have to experience yourself to understand!
There are numerous sit down and fast food restaurants on each side of the streets, so whatever you feel like eating, you’ll likely find it here. There are shows, activities, the sky wheel (so you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire area), museums, dinosaur mini golf, and so much more.
Check out the Clifton Hill website for everything available for you to do when visiting. They have ticket deals so you can take in some of the attractions at a discount. We did not do a lot in Clifton Hill but we did stroll through it a few times to see everything and we did eat there a couple times.
More info: https://www.cliftonhill.com/
3. Visit Hershey’s Chocolate World
If you love chocolate (who doesn’t!?) then you must visit this spot. It’s walking distance from Clifton Hill and it’s filled with all things chocolate.
Inside, you’ll find tons of Hershey’s merchandise and of course, chocolate!
The sweet scents from the Hershey bakery (located inside the store) are sure to lure you over with curiousity. Of course, all of the sweet treats are made with Hershey’s chocolate and you’ll have a tough time choosing just one thing! So get more than one, and don’t feel too badly, you’re on vacation!
4. Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Clifton Hill and falls areas. Once you get into this charming little historic town, the pace slows down and you feel as if you’re taken back in time.
The area is filled with history. As you walk up and down the main street, Queen Street, you are met with modern shops as well as vintage looking shops. I’m not sure if the vintage shops were made to look like they are or if they were the original buildings from years and years ago (I wish I had asked), but either way, you’ll enjoy taking it all in. You’ll find plenty of souvenir shops, bakeries, restaurants, vintage hotels, and so much more.
Tip: Grab a snack or lunch to-go, and enjoy it while relaxing in the park across the street from the Prince of Wales Hotel!
Niagara-on-the-Lake is also famous for its many wineries and orchards. Peaches (my favourite!) are a popular crop in the Niagara area in July and August. Depending on the time of year you visit, there are many fruit stands along the outskirt roads when you come into and leave the town. Niagara-on-the-Lake is about a 30-minute drive from the Clifton Hill area. Visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake was one of my favourite things we did from our list of 5 Family-Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
More info: https://www.niagaraonthelake.com/
5. Visit the Butterfly Conservatory
Your kids will love the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls. It’s about a 10-minute drive from the Clifton Hill area.
The conservatory is like an indoor rain forest, very warm and tropical feeling so the butterflies are comfortable. There are over 2,000 butterflies in the conservatory and if you’re lucky and are still enough, one may land on you so you can snap a quick pic.
Once you get in, it’s a self-guided tour of the area where the butterflies live. You make your way around and observe them doing what they do!
You have to pay for parking and admission at the conservatory and there is also a gift shop inside if you want to buy souvenirs.
A Quick Note About Niagara Hotels…
Hotels in Niagara vary in price, depending on the time of year you go and the quality of the hotel. The closer your hotel is to the falls will raise the price. There are also hotels that face the falls, so getting a room with a premium view is going to cost you (if you do face the falls, you will be able to see the nightly fireworks show). Do a little research and find one that has amenities to suit your family and is at the right price point for you.
These were just 5 Family-Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls, Ontario, but there are so many more things to do in this area. Are you planning on going? Have you been? Tell me about it!