It is impossible to go to the Niagara area and not make a trip to see Niagara Falls.
It is truly a wonder of the world. The sound, the view, the sheer beauty. And near the Falls is plenty to do for the whole family.
There are a lot of restaurants, touristy-places like the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. You can take a tour under the falls on the Maid of the Mist. This year, for the first time (since it’s fairly new) we took the kids to Bird Kingdom. An indoor bird aviary where the (mostly exotic) birds fly free. There’s also reptiles, spiders and snakes (but these are not free, rest assured). We didn’t know what to expect but were quite impressed when we walked into a place that looked to be a lost kingdom in the rain forest found by Indiana Jones. The adults (and my son) all agreed, this place was a lot of fun. If you check the website often before your trip, you may find, like we did, that you can save money on the tickets by ordering online.
Places to Eat: A lot of the Falls area can be expensive, but if you’re willing to dish out a little extra for something fun, there’s a Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe. The Rainforest Cafe is a fun atmospher for the family that may be worth doing once.
Gardens and History
On the drive to Niagara Falls, you may take the Niagara parkway and have the (recommended) option to stop at sites along the way, mostly gardens. There is a giant floral clock, the Butterfly Conservatory, botanical gardens and the lilac gardens. My recommendation: Consider packing a lunch and picnicking at one of the garden stops before going into the over-priced Niagara Falls district.
Another place along the Parkway that we like to stop is Queenston Heights, home of the Sir Isaac Brock monument (and his resting place). This is the site of battles during the War of 1812, so Canada’s history is all over here. The monument is central to a major park area. There is a restaurant overlooking the water with a beautiful patio as well. For more information about the history of the area, click here. (As a side note: I neglected to mention in my post about Niagara-on-the-Lake that Fort George is located there. A small fort area, there are buildings and neat historical artifacts for the family to see.)
(View from Queenston Heights)
Be sure to see: The gardens around the Butterfly Conservatory. We haven’t done the Conservatory, but walking around the huge gardens is wonderful and leisurely.
Notes about Costs: With the exception of the Butterfly Conservatory, Maid of the Mist or additional excursions, visiting gardens and monuments are free. Parking at the Falls is typically about $20.
Accommodations: To date, we have yet to stay anywhere but the Inn that I mentioned in my previous post, however, there are a lot of options. For a fun resort, check out Great Wolf Lodge, a huge indoor water park. There’s also the new Fallsview Indoor Water Park that looks pretty amazing. For deals, keep an eye on Travel Zoo’s Canadian destinations.
For more information about where to stay and possible coupons, check out the Ontario Attractions website.
Coming up: Part 3 – Other places in the area to try and catch
All pictures were taken by us on our last trip in May 2009