The end of our summer family road trip to the east coast from Minnesota included a two-night stop at Niagara Falls. WELL worth the diversion, it is a sight that is larger than life and there is something for everyone, so many things for all the senses. A huge plus when travelling with children! Four young children (ages 3-12), we are always on a budget, so we have to pick and chose carefully our activities. We stayed on the Canadian side; the children love the thought of going to another country. Be warned, it can take a while to get across the border, and make sure you have all your paperwork in order. Suggestion: you could knock out the American side THEN travel across the border so that you don't have to criss cross the border and then see the Canadian attractions. We did not have traffic crossing over to US in the morning. Even the lightest of traffic will take 15 minutes or so. American side : Cave of the Winds is NOT to be missed. Larger than life and you get so close to the falls and experience all the elements. SO affordable too, (12 adult, 9 kids over 5). They are doing all kinds of improvements to the state park there, we had an awesome time. Warning, if you have never been to Niagara Falls, you will get nervous with the little ones. Very little separates you from the water in terms of barriers!
We went back to the Canadian side for the boat ride. Maid of the Mist is ONLY on the US side, but there is a new boat operation on the Canadian side. I can't remember the name right now, but it's pretty much the same thing: short boat ride up to each of the falls, NO SEATS on the boat, under 5 is free. The kids loved this, too, but would choose Cave of the Winds in a heartbeat if you had to choose between the two. Canadian side is, indeed, prettier in the way of gardens you are walking through while viewing the falls and a MUCH better view of both falls from a front view. We had a beer/snack for the kids at a café and our table looked directly on to the falls. It was lovely. From the boat ride it is a short walk up the hill through the commercialized part of Niagara /Ontario. Yes, it is true what they say about commercialism, but it was tons of fun to walk through with the children and let them ogle at everything and play some games. Tons of stuff to choose from. We stayed at the doubletree and had a great room with a super view of the falls AND the fireworks that they shoot off at 10 pm. Too late to be out with the children, so a bonus that we could all watch them from the room! This hotel has an amazing saltwater pool that was so great to refresh in the middle of the day and at night. no shower needed after because of the saltwater!!!
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