Niagara Falls is a seriously impressive natural beauty. The town around Niagara Falls… lets just say you go there for the falls and not the town. We spent around 24 hours on the US side of Niagara Falls and honestly, that was plenty of time to experience its beauty, especially for the kids. The state park on the US side right by the falls is lovely, with lots of grass, shade and benches to take in the view. The town itself is more touristy and less polished, but it is definitely worth the trip to see this stunning landmark! My advice – spend one night here to visit the falls, but drive 30 minutes north to Niagara on the Lake to be truly charmed (post on Niagara on the Lake coming soon).
When: One morning/afternoon in July 2017
Weather: Highs in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s
Wear: Comfortable clothes for daytime (I wore jeans and short sleeve shirt), good walking shoes
Ages: Our son was 2 and our daughter was 6
Our Hotel: Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino
About 4 or 5 blocks from Niagara Falls State Park was our hotel, Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino. I was unsure about taking two kids to a casino, but this place was wonderful and very welcoming to the kids! When you drive up the outside leaves little to be desired, as the entrance is very bland, but I was pleasantly surprised once we walked in how well appointed, clean and lovely the interior was! It definitely did not match its outside exterior.
The rooms are incredibly spacious, with a very large and luxurious bathrooms and lots of storage. The best part was the view. While you can’t see the falls directly, you see the mist coming up from the trees, and an impressive fireworks show at night over the falls! While it wasn’t until 10pm, it was worth keeping the kids up.
Once we arrived, Emmie & I went for a little R&R at their spa and got a mother/daughter pedicure. I really enjoyed spending some one on one time with Emmie again, and who doesn’t love a pedicure! The ladies were extremely nice and let Emmie take her time, which she did, picking out her nail polish color. The salon & spa was peaceful and quiet with warm and calming tones.
After the spa, we all went to dinner at Thunder Falls Buffet. Now, I will preface this saying I am not a fan of buffets in general and usually find the food subpar to restaurant quality, but I was honestly surprised by not only how good the food was, but how much of a selection they had. This works great for our family as everyone got to get what they wanted, and the kids went nuts over the dessert options (not going to lie, I did too). Their chocolate and caramel cake was so, so good! This was a great dinner and would definitely recommend it for a family. The best part, kids 5 and under EAT FREE. In total, we got a delicious dinner, dessert, and two glasses of wine for about $60. Not bad 🙂
In the end, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring a family here, even though it is a casino. We enjoyed our room, food and the staff was great. They even have a little arcade area for kids to play. The best part of our stay had to the fireworks show from the room – what a view!
Maid of the Mist Tour
If you are going to do one activity with your kids, I HIGHLY recommend the Maid of the Mist Tour. We LOVED it, while everyone but Easton 🙂 With you tickets, you get to walk out onto the viewing bridge to get a great look at both the American and Canadian falls. It was a great contrast to see it from up high, and then head down low, board the boat and see it from the water. The boarding process was very easy and even though there was lots of people, it moved extremely quick (I think we waited 8 minutes).
It was quite an exhilarating experience to head right to the bottom of the falls and feel that water pounding down. The total ride lasted about 20 minutes, and for about 5 minutes of it when you are at the base of the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls, the mist and wind is so powerful that is was hard to look at it (because I was getting drench). The poncho the tour provides you keeps you dry, but unless you turn your face away, it will get wet. I wore my water boots not sure how wet it was going to be, but tennis shoes or sandals would have been just fine.
The boat has railings and doesn’t rock that much, so Emmie was completely fine standing by the rails on her own. I held Easton tightly in my arms because he didn’t want to stand. Even if he did want to stand, I would have still had to hold him because the railing was so high he couldn’t have seen. It was an incredible experience and one I recommend you do!
While there are other attractions available, I felt the kids had seen it enough walking around Niagara Falls State Park and doing the Maid of the Mist viewing deck and boat ride. While I could have stared at it all day, I think they were done after 4 hours.
We were debating about doing the Cave of the Winds Tour before we arrived, because it is so widely popular and well-reviewed. However, while I think I would have loved it, I am glad we didn’t do it with our young kids. I saw the wood walkway/stairs on the side of the falls from the view of the Maid of the Mist and I would have been a nervous wreck taking my squirmy toddler on it. It looked like a steep and long hike, with not a lot between you and the falls other than a waist high railing. Plus, I wouldn’t want to carry him for that long! While it is tempting, I wouldn’t tackle this with toddlers or babies. Take them on the Maid of the Mist instead. You will enjoy it more as a family.