Family Attractions at Niagara Falls

Romantic honeymoon location, Niagara Falls doesn’t usually come to mind as the first place to take your family vacation, but it’s actually a wonderful place for a family trip. The area is not simply waterfalls but many other excursions packed into one tourist Mecca, there’s even a learning experience or two. The falls themselves get the heart racing and for some it stirs a romantic sensation but for others the feeling is pulse pounding excitement. One of the best ways to experience the falls is with a trip behind the magnificent waterfalls.

Journey Behind the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls is an incredible way to view the waterfalls, it’s a private tour behind the scenes if you will. The thunderous roar of the falls is even more thrilling from the other side of the curtain of water as you travel deep behind the Horseshoe Falls. Elevators take you 150 feet down through rock to the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal which gives you a view from the upper and lower observation decks.  As you’re watching, remember that you’re watching one fifth of the world’s fresh water crashing around you. In the winter months it’s a little chilly behind the falls but it’s something that isn’t to be missed as the mist around you freezes into ice formations that are as unique and incredible as snowflakes. In the summer months you can expect to get a little wet but you’ll receive a souvenir biodegradable rain poncho to provide some protection.

Maid of the Mist

If you’re a little afraid of heading behind the curtain of water, how about viewing it from the water below on the Maid of the Mist. As one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America the Maid of the Mist has been in operation since 1846 and gives visitors an up close and personal view of the waterfalls as they crash into the water around you. The ride takes you past the Canadian docks to the base of the American falls and then onto the basin of the Canadian Horseshow Falls. Unfortunately the Maid of the Mist only runs in the summer months but that’s probably best because you’re bound to get a little wet on this trip.

Niagara Skywheel

So you’ve either seen the falls from the front or back at fall level, how about a view from the sky? The Niagara Skywheel is an amazing way to gaze and the magnificent falls from one of the tallest Ferris wheels in North America, standing a full 175 feet in the air. Not only do you get to take in the spectacular waterfalls, both the Horseshoe and American Falls, but you also get to see the surrounding Niagara River area. On this ride you wont get wet, even if its raining, each cabin on the Ferris wheel is completely enclosed and climate controlled so you’ll be cozy and comfortable and you’ll also feel a little more secure for those of you who feel a little trepidation at the sight of the Niagara Skywheel so high in the sky with the water so far below.

Skylon Tower

Another great way to glimpse the incredible Niagara Falls from the sky is on the Skylon Tower. The tower offers you even another view of the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls but it also gives a broader view of the area encompassing the Great Gorge, the Niagara wine district, and the skylines of Buffalo, New York and Toronto. The Skylon Tower features enclosed exterior elevators which take you to the top in a speedy 52 seconds, uncovering all of the sites are you are swept upward. At the top of the tower are two revolving restaurants so you can relax and take in the complete 360 degree view while having a fine dining experience.

Niagara Falls Aviary/Bird Kingdom

The Niagara Falls Aviary or Bird Kingdom is housed in one of the first poured concrete buildings ever made in Canada, the Spirella Corset Factory from 1907. The building has been many things in its lifetime but it wasn’t until 2000 that it grew and became the Bird Kingdom. The Aviary is filling with winged creatures and is a thrilling experience for people of every age. There are a huge variety of habitats to explore including the small aviary, nocturnal birds, java house, a reptile zone, a macaw market and much more. If you’re a true bird enthusiast you should check the website to see if you can get an enhanced experience with one of their educational and specialty programs, an encounter experience, or the free flight bid show that is a must for all visitors.

Butterfly Conservatory

The Butterfly Conservatory offers more winged creatures but these ones are pin-drop silent as they drift and glide through the air. It’s a welcome respite after the thunderous roar of Niagara Falls, simply relax and let their graceful beauty envelope you as you wait for one of them to alight on you. The Butterfly Conservatory is home to more than 2000 tropical butterflies and equally brilliant and exotic greenery. Spend hours wandering through the rainforest like setting which, of course, includes a waterfall. At the Emergence window you can watch butterfly pupae emerge and take their first flight. This is the perfect way to wind down after an exciting day at the falls.

Marineland

With water abound Marineland seems an obvious choice for a family excursion when visiting Niagara Falls. Marineland plays host to a wide variety of sea creatures and has a little bit of something for everyone. Trained animals, including killer whales, entertain the crowds with choreographed performances. But beyond the staged attractions there is so much more. Educational experiences are yours for the taking to enrich your visit. Imagine your child’s (or your) excitement as you get the rare opportunity to interact with a beluga whale at the feeding and touching experience.  And there’s even a wild amusement park included in Marineland which features unlimited rides for guests looking to get a big thrill out of their day.

Both the Canadian and American sides of Niagara Falls offers an exciting experience that starts with the heart pounding thunderous roar of Mother Nature and then ends with more than a handful of exciting activities for the entire family to explore, whether natural or manmade.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/MATAVI

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