Last summer we took a road trip with a famous goal in mind that I had not visited, Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls actually consist of three falls at the end of the Niagara River: The Horseshoe Falls, Bridal View Falls and American Falls. Each of these falls has unique beauty. Therefore, you will want to give them all some time. Niagara Falls aren’t the largest waterfalls, but have the highest flow rate of any water fall in the world. The flow is so great that well before you can visualize the falls, you may see its mist rising into the skies. Although the falls aren’t very high (less than 190 feet high), they are very wide (over 3000 ft.).
Be sure to use the walkways to stroll along and visualize their whole length from across the river. Due to the powerful turbulence of the Niagara River, resulting in huge amount of dissolved salts and rocks, the falls are a stunning green color and the mists produce copious rainbows, adding to the falls’ astounding beauty. Did you know that 20% of the US’ drinking water goes over Niagara Falls? Unlike humans, 80% of fish survive the trip over the falls!
Our previous stop on the road trip was the Ithaca region of New York. Heading north toward Niagara we planned to stop for a respite of glamping at Branches of Niagara Campground and Resort on Grand Island, NY. The campground is about half an hour south of Niagara Falls. We enjoyed it. The grounds were well maintained and quiet, yet they had many activities available for the kids,including a pool, zip-lining, boating and biking. We would love to return here for a long visit.
The American Side of Niagara Falls
There are a plethora of family activities available surrounding Niagara Falls. It is very built up and touristy. We focused all of our energy in experiencing the beauty and power of the falls, so did not spend time on anything other than that. It is well publicized that the Canadian side of the falls is the side to visit, but there are definitely things that you shouldn’t miss located only on the American side.
Cave of the Winds
There is a trolley tour and some great close up views of the falls from this perspective, but a not-miss experience is the Cave of the Winds. After queuing up, you will be outfitted in rain gear and transported by elevator down under the Bridal Veil Falls. What follows is an hour walk at the bottom of those falls. If you are brave, you can get a pretty decent pounding to really feel like you are part of the falls. My kids loved it!
This tour gives a unique perspective of the Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls, Canada
We decided to stay the next night on the Canadian side of the falls at
Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls Fallsview so the rest of our exploring happened from that perspective. We loved our hotel and I cannot recommend it more. It was so worth the upgrade to the full falls view rooms. Sleeping five in any of the Embassy Suites properties is easy and the room was lovely, as we have come to expect from the brand. The views alone, with kids, made the upgrade price more than worth it. While your child naps or goes to bed at a reasonable time you can read by an unbeatable view of all the falls.
Check this schedule to make sure that you are visiting when the fire works will light up both the falls and the sky overhead. We watched them straight from the comfort of our hotel room.
The next day we took the funicular down the hill to the viewing pathway, which the kids really enjoyed.
Take a boat ride into the falls
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the walkway. Then we went on a thrillingly wet boat ride right into the foot of the falls. You either take The Maid of the Mists from New York or The Hornblower from Canada. You could also take an adventurous ride on the Whirlpool Jet Boat Experience.
Sometimes it is hard to make my whole family happy on a trip, but all five of us adored every second of this one! We were really able to experience and appreciate the beauty and power of this, not-to-be-missed waterfall!
Check out more from our New York road trip with stops in Albany and Herkimer and Ithaca, NY and 10 Things to do outside of Niagara Falls with Kids.