The best words I can use to describe the small town of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada are: Vegas for kids.
We had heard that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was more interesting than it’s US counter-part; but it is also true that Niagara, Ontario is quite the tourist trap.
Full of themed restaurants, bright lights, and family attractions such as haunted houses, a water park, wax museums, mini golf, and tonnes of arcade games; Niagara Falls is a perfect destination for the young, and the young at heart.
Of course, the biggest attraction in Niagara Falls has to be the magnificent waterfalls themselves. The Canadian side offers the best view of all three of the falls that make up Niagara: Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
Now we’re not big on New Year celebrations in our household, but as we were travelling through Canada at the end of last year, and as we’ve always wanted to see Niagara Falls in all its glory; we decided to ring in 2016 in this little town.
Why Niagara Falls is like a Vegas for kids
Where to stay
Because it was New Years Eve, and because we’re a little bit fancy; we opted to stay at the Sheraton on the Falls during our three nights in Niagara. We were placed in the 21st floor, and our room overlooked all three of the falls, giving us fabulous views both day and night.
Our room was comfortable and cozy, with a fireplace and cushy armchairs, a huge bed, spacious bathroom, and an empty mini fridge — which I just love, as we could fill it with whatever our hearts desired.
Unfortunately on our second night, just as we were about to hit the hay, a fire alarm went off throughout the hotel. At first, we weren’t sure what to do, but then it became apparent that we needed to chuck on some warm clothes and get the heck out of there. Everyone piled into the stairwells and started to make the slow trek down through the floors of the hotel, before we were given the all-clear to return to our rooms. It was a little unnerving to say the least, but the hotel staff handled the situation well, and kept us informed throughout.
What’s for eating?
We are creatures of habit, and not at all fancy when it comes to dining options; so while in Niagara, we chose restaurants that we were familiar with, that had simple but delicious food, and that weren’t too busy.
Boston Pizza: If you’re looking for great pizza, filling salads, delicious deserts, and tasty cocktails, then Boston Pizza is for you! With a casual vibe, friendly staff, and a huge menu, there really is something for everyone. Bonus: the Clifton Hill venue is attached to an arcade, so you can burn off those calories with a game of pool or ten-pin bowling, or take your chances on one of the many arcade games.
Hard Rock Cafe: We’re kind of obsessed with the US and Canadian Hard Rock Cafe’s, having now checked Seattle, Orlando, New York, Niagara, and Honolulu off our list! What can I say, the food is good, the drinks are delicious, the deserts? Yum. And they just have a really fun and cool atmosphere. Plus, the music is always good too.
There is so much to do in the small town of Niagara, Ontario; and also, a few activities that aren’t available during the winter months — I’m looking at you, Maid of the Mist — but we had great fun letting our inner children come out to play during our time here.
The 440m Rainbow Bridge connects Niagara, Ontario with Niagara, New York. It includes a pedestrian walk, and cost us around CAD$1 each to cross. We were required to show our Passports and answer a couple of questions from the customs officials at both ends.
The bridge itself gives you a really great view of the falls, and it’s pretty cool to cross the border, halfway along the bridge. It’s like, one second you’re on the Canadian side and the next, you’re in America. It’s the little things, people.
Niagara Falls State Park
The New York side of Niagara is home to the Niagara Falls State Park, providing a spectacular view of the Canadian side, and the chance to get up close and personal with the flowing water.
The first thing we did was check out the Observation Tower, which offers panoramic views of all three of the falls, and takes you right out over the water.
There are many trails and pathways around and through the park, some of which take you right above the falls. It looked to us as though some of the parks attractions were closed for maintenance while we were there, or perhaps they’re always closed at that time of year; but the park itself is open year round.
Before we left, we noticed a couple feeding some squirrels so went over to watch. The man offered me a handful of nuts, and it wasn’t long before I had a cheeky squirrel eating out of the palm of my hand. I’m not ashamed to say that moment was the highlight of our day!
Journey Behind the Falls
Ever wanted to stand under Horseshoe Falls as the water thunders down in front of you? Well, that’s what you get when you sign up for the Journey Behind the Falls. Unfortunately due to ice, the observation deck was closed; but we were still able to travel 45m underground to wander the tunnels and feel the power of the falls.
Lights on the Falls
Each night, the Falls are lit up with a rainbow of lights, making them somewhat visible at all times, and truly magical.
The Great Canadian Midway
I think this has to be one of the biggest arcades I have ever been to. I’m not usually one to get caught up in arcade games, but I have to say, that my inner child truly came out here, and I had great fun trying to win as many tickets as I could. You totally lose track of time in a place like this, but it was great fun!
New Years Eve
New Years Eve in Niagara was pretty much a family affair. I was pleasantly surprised for the lack of drunken idiots you usually come across during the biggest night of the year, and the concert held at Queen Victoria Park was well organised. Music acts in 2015 included Down with Webster, Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies, Dennis Deyoung, and Tom Cochrane (Life is a Highway, people!). We didn’t stay for the whole concert, opting to hear the first and last acts, and take part in the midnight countdown. It was pretty special to see fireworks seemingly jump out from the Falls themselves, and the top of the Skylon Tower.
What’s the verdict?
All in all, we really enjoyed our short time in Niagara. Visiting during winter time definitely came with some limitations, but we were quite content to wander around, play some games, and just appreciate these amazing waterfalls.
If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check Niagara out.