DFWChild / Articles / Things to Do / Travel / 3 Days in Niagara Falls

3 Days in Niagara Falls

If the thought of visiting Niagara Falls brings to mind heart-shaped beds and honeymooners, think again. Barrels of fun also wait for an unforgettable family vacation in and around the nation’s oldest state park. Although the 12,000-year-old falls are the main attraction, there are actually four distinct districts to visit – Falls, River, Canal and Lakes – that are full of family-friendly activities to suit every interest.

Day One
From a distance you can hear the roaring water and see the billowing mist in the sky, but nothing can compare to the first up-close view of Niagara Falls rushing majestically over the rocks. Get even closer to the falls on the iconic Maid of the Mist Tour. This 30-minute scenic boat ride travels to the base of the American and Canadian Falls, where rainbows in the mist (and a good soaking) are almost guaranteed. Not wet enough yet? Head over to the Cave of the Winds, where a network of boardwalks takes visitors close enough to touch the falls and even brave its pounding forces on the Hurricane Deck. Be prepared: Standing just a few feet away from the power of Niagara Falls is a drenching experience. Dry off on a narrated trolley tour through the lush 400-acre state park that includes stops at the Aquarium of the Niagara, IMAX Niagara Adventure Theatre and Top of the Falls restaurant, where the best views of the American Falls are served with lunch.

With a full day in the Falls District behind you, rest easy at the luxurious Barton Hill Hotel and Spa. Families will love the oversized rooms boasting Old-World décor as well as all the modern amenities, but the location is the biggest draw. Just steps away from the Niagara River and the historic city center, a wealth of restaurants and breathtaking views are waiting for exploration.

Maid of the Mist Tour

Cave of the Winds

Barton Hill Hotel and Spa

Day Two
Start the day in the River District at the New York Power Authority, where the force of Niagara Falls is displayed in a new light. Fifty interactive exhibits and an observation deck invite families to explore the science that allows the rushing water to create clean, renewable energy. After the science lesson, a bit of history is in order at Old Fort Niagara. This 18th-century fortress was an active military base during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Today it is home to many exciting living-history programs and exhibits that include one of the oldest American flags.

With studious pursuits to fill the morning, the Lake District offers a chance to relax and unwind in the afternoon. The Lake District is home to a variety of orchards and wineries with samples beckoning for the adults of the group. To entertain the kiddos, the Olcott Beach Carousel Park is nearby, offering a whirl on a 1928 carousel, vintage kiddie rides and arcade games. At 25 cents a ride, you can afford to let the kids go crazy.

New York Power Authority

Old Fort Niagara

Olcott Beach Carousel Park

Day Three
The Canal District is the last to explore, and the main attraction is the Erie Canal. Before setting off on a two-hour tour of the historic canal, make a stop at the Erie Canal Discovery Center to delve into history through age-appropriate scavenger hunts and multimedia exhibits. Then it’s off to the Lockport Locks, where you will experience the power of this engineering marvel as boats are raised and lowered 50 feet in the only double set of locks on the canal.

After riding the canal, head over to Sweet Sixteen Café, where soup, sandwiches and salads are on offer with a view of the Erie Canal below. Enjoy a signature cake pop or cupcake without guilt and then walk over to the adjoining Sweet Ride Rentals, where you can ride off into the sunset along the towpath that was once used by the mules that pulled the boats along the Erie Canal.

Erie Canal Discovery Center
niagarahistory.org/discovery-center, 716/434-7433

Sweet Sixteen Café

Sweet Ride Rentals