Our Niagara Falls Family Trip
Its taken me far too long to write this post in reality because I just didn’t know where to start. We arrived to Niagara Falls after a few wonderful few days spent in Toronto (trip report here). There was no snow in Toronto but as we pulled up outside the Sheraton on the Falls a light dusting began to fall gently, there was mega excitement from the kids. I don’t think they had ever seen snow before other than in films!!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls which is as its name suggests quite literally on the falls. We were allocated a gorgeous room with a Juliette balcony when we opened the door we could feel the spray of the falls. I am not exaggerating when I say the view was breath-taking and to hear the roar of the falls – magic. Each evening the falls are lit up and we were able to enjoy the illuminations from the comfort of our room. The kids were fast asleep and we sat and enjoyed some lovely local wine and watched the falls change into beautiful array of colours. In recent years a huge amount of investment has gone into these illuminations and it certainly shows.
The room itself has 2 doubles and a sofa bed. Starbucks coffee was provided in the room and in keeping with the hotels Green Policy you could receive a $5 gift card in return for not required complete bedding changes each day.
We were more than happy to avail of this. Thee room isn’t big but then you don’t come to Niagara Falls to spend your time in the room. The hotel is huge, I mean huge. Coming from Ireland where we don’t have hotels of this scale its quite overwhelming and you do need to be prepared to queue for everything, check-in/out, concierge and lifts. We were fortunate enough to have club access which really is great when you are travelling with kids. We ate our breakfast here each morning and popped in each evening for some snacks and drinks.
There are a number of restaurants in the hotel complex, we tried the Rainforest Café one of the evenings and the Hard Rock Café another, mainly because they were kid friendly! The adults could have a few drinks with dinner and the kids enjoyed the entertainment. The kids really enjoyed the Rainforest Café however like the hotel it was huge but service was good and the kids enjoyed the display of animals and the thunder storms!
There also is a floor with amusements in the hotel too which if im honest takes away a bit from the hotel, its manic! There is an indoor waterpark attached to the hotel also however we didn’t avail of it on this visit. Despite the hotel being full (all 22 story’s!) the staff did their best to move things along, they were efficient but not over friendly which was fine as they were run off their feet. The location and view here are unrivalled.
What we did
Aside from seeing the spectacular Falls which for me was a bucket list item ticked off. There is plenty to do in the vicinity.
- Journey behind the falls – I was really excited about this.
Because of the time of year the boat trips weren’t operating therefore this was my only chance to get up close and personal to this wonder of nature. It didn’t disappoint, despite the heavy snow we made our way down which was about 15 minutes walk from the hotel. You get a lift down (150 feet) and suddenly there you are standing in a 130 year old tunnel looking out from behind the falls, yes you do get wet, yes its cold and damp but is it so incredible. The roar!! Its quite remarkable to thing one fifth of the worlds fresh water is cascading in front of your eyes.
- Niagara Fury – I sent the oldest and his dad to do this one as I was afraid the youngest would be a little scared with the simulated thunder. This is 4d, 360 degrees experience which takes you on a journey to experience the creation of the falls and to experience its sheer power. You get a souvenir poncho when you arrive and you do need it!!!! Ill say no more! Great fund, oldest really enjoyed and was able to share with me loads of fun facts on his return.
- Butterfly Conservatory – all these attraction are located in very close proximity to each other so its an ideal day out with limited travelling especially important with young kids. This is a lovely attraction 180 meters of pathway through a conservatory where you can observe many different species of butterfly. They are such beautiful gentle creatures.
- Clifton Hill – no visit would be complete with our doing the “sights” of Clifton Hill. Its typical touristy with slot machines, crazy golf and fast foot eateries. A summary of our highlights:
- Wizard Golf – kids loved this. Its all neon golf balls and painted inside. It was a welcome distraction from the cold and snow outside.
- Guinness World Records Museum – Great fun, small but well worth the visit. Lots of cool facts and fun interactive parts
- Captain Jacks Amusement – no more words needed, lots of amusements, games and slot machine, why are kids drawn to these places!!!!
This is Niagara Falls one of the words top tourist attractions so be prepared to pay top dollar for everything. It is expensive however some tips from our experience:
- Niagara Parks Activity Packages: If you are looking to do a number of the key attractions this is your cheapest option especially travelling with children. There are a range of option depending on how many activities you wish to include. You can save up to 48% when compared to booking individually. A no brainer in my book – for FYI a lot of the attractions are free for kids under 5 which was ideal for us! For more information see here
- Clifton Hill Pass – its going to be hard to avoid Clifton Hill when in Niagara Falls so my advice is to buy the Fun Pass. It cover 5 attractions including the Sky Wheel (which was closed during our visit for maintenance much to the kids disappointment) which saves you about $25 per person. What I like about these passes are, we know what attractions we are going on, the price is paid in advance and it saves the inevitable arguments about what to go on. See here for more.
- WeGo – wego is the transport system around Niagara Falls and its really efficient and easy to use. Our hotel provided us with 48 hour passes, so do ask your hotel most hotel do give them out I think. Its saves worrying about taxis and from my experience it arrives on time and no issues. Its state of the art and connects all major attractions.
Similarly accommodation can be very expensive particularly for a Fallsview room, however when you are going all that way I think it’s a must. We got a great rate via booking.com
However there are a number of free attractions obviously the Falls itself, the fireworks, the illuminations, Niagara Parkway and Botanic Gardens. The above is only a tiny snap shot of what is available there were many other wonderful attractions which we didn’t get to but you never know we may return some day. I don’t think I will ever get tired of looking at that incredible view.