3-Day family vacations in Niagara Falls featuring things to do with kids

There are so many fun things to do with kids on a Niagara Falls family vacation. Kid-friendly activities are plentiful on both the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls, so it can be a great choice to experience both sides of the falls during your trip. Learn about fun itinerary options for a 3-day vacation, including where to stay in Niagara Falls with family.

Family Vacations to Niagara Falls American Side

If you’re visiting the American side of Niagara Falls with kids, you’ll find plenty of natural beauty preserved within Niagara Falls State Park. There are lots of fun things to do with kids in Niagara Falls, from hiking scenic trails to boat rides across the gorge and experiencing nightly illumination displays across the falls.

1. See the falls from the top at Niagara Falls State Park

On the American side of Niagara Falls you have the opportunity to get close and view the falls from a top-side vantage point as they thunder down into the Niagara River Gorge below. A great place to start your trip is the Visitors Center at Niagara Falls State Park, where you’ll find maps, information, and the Niagara Adventure Theater, where videos show you how the falls were created, and even plunge over them with some of history’s bravest daredevils. Then head outside to see the power of the Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls for yourself.

2. Get wet at the base of Bridal Veil Falls at Cave of the Winds

In the Cave of the Winds experience you can see Bridal Veil Falls from its thundering base for an up-close view unlike any other. You’ll don a poncho and special footwear, traveling down an elevator into the Niagara Gorge below. A series of wooden walkways lead you to the aptly named Hurricane Deck, where you’ll experience conditions similar to a tropical storm as the falls billow before you. Beautiful rainbows reflected in the spray from the falls are visible virtually all the time. This experience is accessible for all, with a viewing deck specifically for wheelchairs and adults with children-in-arms.

3. See the falls from below, on the decks of the Maid of the Mist

Captains of the Maid of the Mist ships navigate safely through the swirling waters of the Niagara Gorge, giving you the opportunity to see the falls up close. You’ll don a plastic poncho when boarding the ship, but be prepared to get wet as you traverse through the rainbow-hued mists at the base of the falls. You can hear the thundering sounds of 600,000 gallons of water rushing down each second, and see the raging currents below from the decks of the ship. Maid of the Mist tours are suitable for all ages and are fully wheelchair accessible.

4. Follow scenic hiking trails across Niagara Falls State Park

Hiking and biking trails through Niagara Falls State Park provide beautiful views of the sights surrounding the falls, with all trails beginning at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center. Be sure to come prepared for your hike, with sturdy footwear, water, and a rain jacket or poncho as needed. Two easy trails are suitable for all ages: the 1-hour Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike, and the 2-hour Upper Great Gorge Hike. Moderate and challenging trails are also available, recommended for ages 8 and up.

5. Go on a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour through the rapids

Adrenaline-seekers can take a wild Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour, traveling straight into the swirling waters of the Niagara Gorge, through a whirlpool, and through the Devil’s Hole Rapids. You can choose from 2 different thrill-ride style tours, an open-top Wet Jet boat where you’ll get completely soaked, and a closed-top Jet Dome where you’ll stay dry. Wet Jet tours are recommended for ages 6 and up, Jet Dome for ages 4 and up, and all riders under age 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. These tours are not recommended for those who are pregnant or have physical health concerns.

6. See the falls light up at night with fireworks and illuminations

Niagara Falls is known for spectacular evening light shows and fireworks displays across the Niagara Gorge. The falls are illuminated year-round, beginning at dusk, with LED light shows themed for holidays, special events, charitable causes, and nature displays. Regular fireworks shows above the falls add to the spectacular beauty of evening light shows across the water. Fireworks displays are typically held through the summer, and in celebration of certain events and holidays. Check the Niagara Falls State Park website for schedule information on fireworks and illumination displays at the falls.

7. Where to stay in Niagara Falls with family: Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, New York is known for family-friendly accommodations close to entertainment, shopping, and dining hotspots. Rentals can range from apartments and condos to townhomes and single-family homes, with most only a short distance to the falls by car or by foot. Historic sites in the area include Old Fort Niagara, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, and the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. Additional kid-friendly attractions range from hands-on exhibits at the Niagara Power Vista to the Aquarium of Niagara, the Niagara Wax Museum, and playgrounds at public parks.

Family Vacations to Niagara Falls Canadian Side

You’ll find a ton of kids’ activities on Niagara Falls Canadian side, including unique adventures like zip lining to the falls and riding a funicular railway. Clifton Hill offers some of the best things to do with kids in Niagara Falls at night, with rides, games, interactive experiences, arcades, and family attractions.

8. Stroll the Niagara Falls walkway above Niagara Gorge

On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls you’ll find a stroller-friendly walkway stretching above the falls and along the edge of Niagara Gorge, giving spectacular panoramic views of the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. It’s recommended to bring waterproof jackets or ponchos if you want to get close to the strong mist spraying from the falls, otherwise, you’ll end up soaked. Locals recommend visiting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to enjoy views of the falls with fewer crowds.

9. Go on a Journey Behind the Falls at Table Rock Welcome Center

At the Table Rock Welcome Center you can dine with scenic views, shop, and enjoy family-friendly attractions. The Table Rock House Restaurant provides upscale dining with tableside views overlooking Niagara Falls. Niagara’s Fury takes you on a 4D interactive ride in a 360-degree theatre, where you’ll witness a simulated creation of the falls in a multisensory experience. Then, with Journey Behind the Falls, you can don a poncho and travel down to observation decks below and behind the falls, seeing their power and feeling the spray from the water first hand.

10. Take a ride on the steep Falls Incline Railway

The Falls Incline Railway is a unique funicular railway perched on the side of the Niagara Gorge, connecting family attractions above with the parks below. Fully-enclosed rail cars are climate-controlled and safe for all-weather operation year-round, sparing visitors a walk up or down the steep hillside, especially handy for families with young children. Inside the cars, you can experience spectacular views of the falls, and kids especially seem to enjoy the unusual features of the hillside railway. Tickets are budget-friendly and range from one-way and round-trip to all-day passes, with children 5 and under riding free.

11. Experience the falls at sunset on a Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour

You can voyage to the falls on a boat tour with Niagara City Cruises by Hornblower, sailing straight into the swirling mists in Niagara Gorge. On a daytime cruise, you’ll don a poncho on the decks of the ship, for a journey that takes you up close to the thundering base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Sunset cruises provide the chance to experience the falls’ evening illumination displays from a unique viewpoint below, with less mist so you aren’t too chilled. Tours are suitable for all ages, and ships are fully accessible for wheelchairs.

12. Zip line to the falls with Wildplay Niagara Falls

Zip lining with Wildplay is a crazy and unique way to experience the beauty of Niagara Falls, flying in the air across a zip line. You can go on a daytime or nighttime adventure, with fully-guided zip line experiences in safety harnesses and helmets. Riders must be age 7 and up, and children 13 and under require an adult chaperone to be present. Check Wildplay’s website for more information on zip line restrictions and requirements.

13. Play day or night at Clifton Hill family attractions

Clifton Hill is often compared to Las Vegas, with its array of vivid neon lights and colorful signs, family attractions, and lively entertainment options. It’s a great spot for both daytime activities and kid-friendly nightlife, with plenty of restaurant and snack options to cater to picky eaters. You can ride the Niagara Skywheel, a Ferris wheel with climate-controlled gondolas, speed down the Niagara Speedway on go-karts, and see famous characters at the Movieland Wax Museum. Games and interactive attractions range from mini-golf and bowling to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, to themed shooting rides.

14. Where to stay in Niagara Falls with family: Niagara Falls, Ontario

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Niagara Falls with family, you can check out the kid-friendly options around Niagara Falls, Ontario. Accommodations range from cozy condos and apartments to spacious townhomes and single-family homes, with many in close proximity to the falls by foot or by car. There are tons of things to do with kids in Niagara Falls, from scenic views atop Skylon Tower to family attractions at Clifton Hill, and Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. Additional family fun can be found in botanical gardens, nature preserves, museums, and animal attractions in the area.