In April our family visited Niagara Falls for a long weekend road trip. We drove in on a Friday evening and it was very quick to cross into Canada from New York. After we got through border crossing we were at our hotel within minutes. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites which was a great decision because it was easy and quick to walk to everything and was under $100 a night. There is a self-park lot behind the hotel which was only $15 a day and we got one of the last few spots left. The hotel rooms were a spacious size for our family of 4 – plenty of room for my 2-year-old to run around and stretch her legs. Everything was clean and pretty basic; our only complaint was the beds were super uncomfortable. Luckily, we were only staying at this hotel for one night so we dealt with it.
For dinner that evening we had no plans and were totally winging it. We usually don’t go on a trip and not research restaurants beforehand, but this trip we were seriously just flying by the seat of our pants. So, without even checking Yelp we walked a few blocks to Antica Pizzeria & Ristorante. The place was busy but we were seated quickly. We split two pizzas (and a bottle of wine) which were very fresh and tasty! I was pleasantly surprised that we found a great restaurant on the whim.
After dinner we walked down Clifton Hill, which to me reminded me of a boardwalk on the Jersey Shore. The street is filled with bright flashing lights, arcades, souvenir shops, mini golf, fun houses, and low budget chain restaurants. We only stopped for some ice cream this evening on the way down the hill.
When we got down to the water we walked along the river taking in the amazing view of the falls. By the time we made it down to the big falls we could see the colorful lights that were projected onto the falls. It was absolutely beautiful! Even my two young girls were in awe of the sound and sight of the rushing water.
The next morning, we walked back down Clifton Hill and stopped in to play some games in an arcade. Next, we were off to check off something I’ve had on my own bucket-list for a long time now. I have always wanted to ride on the Maid of the Mist! However, since we were on the Canadian side we rode it’s equivalent, the Hornblower Niagara Cruises. I read that the Maid of the Mist was once on both the US and Canadian sides but the Hornblower replaced it for the Canadian side. The research I did explained the two cruises are essentially the same experience, same lines, same falls, and same price. All I can say is the experience of going right up to the falls was more amazing in real life than I could have ever imagined.
My two kids looked so cute in their (complimentary) kid sized ponchos and let me tell you, we really needed those things. Our younger daughter did not enjoy the water spraying in her face at all. Although I think she was still excited to be so close to the pouring water. It was pretty rocky on the boat when you got close to the larger falls and was tricky to open your eyes up. It was definitely an experience I will never forget and one that you just need to see to understand how awesome it was.
After the boat ride, we walked along the river and headed to lunch inside the Fallsview Casino. In order to get from the road along the river up to the casino we took an inclined railroad. At only $2.75 a person (kids 5 and under free) it was a super quick ride up the hill and a unique experience. I am sure we could have found a way up to the casino on a street but this was just way more fun!
We ate lunch at Canyon Creek which we chose for the decent reviews and the view of the falls. The food was not very good but the view of the falls did not disappoint. Once we were done with lunch, we walked back to our hotel to get the car to head back to New York.
The last few hours of our trip we spent at Goat Island on the NY side. This offered a whole new view and experience of Niagara Falls. We parked the car (paid parking only) and walked down a path that led us down to the falls. And by that I mean literally next to the falls as in you could jump right in. I could have stood there and stared at the rushing water forever! It was so crazy how close you got to the top of the falls. Madison (my older daughter) was super impressed with this sight! However my younger daughter was more into walking on the rock ledges along the walking paths.
I am not even sure if we quite hit the 24-hour mark in Niagara Falls. Our family definitely took advantage of our time in Niagara Falls and had a great experience. We got to see the falls by boat, on the side of a cliff, from two countries and during the day and night. There were a few more ways to experience the falls that we would like to come back for another time once our children are older. But, for a quick trip to the falls I think we did well with the amount we got to experience!