Things to do in Niagara Fals with 4yo

I’m taking my daughter to Niagara Falls in a couple of weeks for two days or so. What kinds of things might she like to do while we are there. I don’t think that she’ll like doing the boat tours as she doesn’t like to get wet. Since I’ve never been there as an adult so I don’t know much about the place.

What kinds of places is a 4 year old going to be interested in, and what are some good places to eat?

We’ll be coming from the Washington DC area so if there are any places that might be fun to stop by on the to or from the area. We’ll probably be cutting through the middle of Pennsylvania and not taking the main highways.

Ah, a vacation to Da Falls, home of one of the Natural Seven Wonders of the World, and one of the Seven Wonders of Urban Blight.

I’ll assume here you want to go to the Canadian side (which is a lot less Blight-y than its American neighbor). My kids would certainly recommend Great Wolf Lodge, which is a massive indoor waterpark, but in the event that you don’t have that kind of money or time, the Rainforest Cafe would probably right up a 4-year-old’s alley. It’s right on Lundy’s Lane with all the other touristy stuff.

I don’t know if your 4-year-old is made of stern stuff, but if she is, the Maid of the Mist boat tour is a thumbs-up. My own then-6-year-old daughter loved it.

I’ll ask around tomorrow for favorite kid-friendly places. And make sure you have something for her to do during the trip. It’s a dull drive, whether you go through Williamsport or State College (I recommend the State College route, if only because it’s a nice college town to visit), and kids get bored.

I was 5 when we stopped there on a vacation. No way my parents were going to get me on the Maid of the Mist. I was afraid. The LOUD sound of the Falls, the boat disappearing around behind the Falls. Nope, I wasn’t having any of it. Sorry.

40 or so years later on the way home from a vaca to Toronto with a friend we stopped by. Loved the Falls then. As an adult it was peaceful and compelling. Unfortunately, we only had an hour to spend there on the long long drive so we didn’t do the boat. I totally would have then. One thing I did remember though was that there was a rest stop between the Falls and the Canadian town of Niagara-on-the-Falls (or something like that). When we stopped I totally remembered the landscaped clock (that worked) made out of flowers from my first trip. Crazy that it was still there after all that time… :slight_smile:

I took a four year old to the Falls once and he was suitably impressed. But I don’t recall we went to any other attractions in the area (most of them are designed with an older crowd in mind). And as I recall, we ate at Arby’s.

There’s the aquarium on the US side - it’s okay but nothing special.

Overall, I’d recommend driving another hour north up to Toronto after you see the falls themselves. Go there and you’ve got Centerville, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Science Center, Fantasy Fair, and the MetroZoo.

The only problem with driving the extra hour or so to Toronto is that it’s an extra hour plus. I’d rather just park the car for a day or so if I can. We have one night so far with a fall view, I love having a wife that works in the hotel industry.

I don’t think that she’ll like being on the boat as she hates to get wet. I’d like to do it, but I don’t think she will. I will ask her and find out though.

Assuming you’ll be in the Canadian side, there’s a ton of cheesy “museums” – not the quotes – on Clifton Hill. When I was very young, I loved them, especially Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

As Rust Belty as the US side might be – it’s basically an industrial satellite of Buffalo – the food is better over there. Check out Como Restaurant (Web site plays music) in Little Italy; it’s a very old-old school, 1950s-style “classy” restaurant that isn’t kid-unfriendly. Niagara Falls, New York has an absolutely massive Italian-American population, with the associated good food.

The Buffalo Zoo is about a half hour away, and worth a stop. It’s nice, but not huge; you’ll probably be through it before your kid gets bored.

Keep in mind that it’s still March, the snow is barely melted, we may get another snowstorm yet, and most outdoor attractions aren’t even open on the weekends yet. It’s much much nicer in May.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, is basically Las Vegas surrounded by, well, Buffalo, but with a greener parks system than Vegas. I’ve heard good things about the Butterfly Conservatory, and it’s open this time of year. Victoria Park around Table Rock is nice, and, after April, you can take the Parks bus through downtown NF and hit all the attractions.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is extremely touristic and cute.

I guess I forgot to say, we will be on the Canadian side of the falls. Does anyone know if the both of us will need passports, she has one as is, just me or neither. I planned on taking both of them, but would leave them at home if I didn’t need them.

You’ll both need passports for getting back into the States, yes? (I assume you both are US citizens.)

I hear the barrels for 4 year olds are a lot cheaper than the adult ones.

I’ve already made my own barrels thank you very much. The materials are much cheaper here then they are up there.

Seconding the Butterfly Conservatory, kids love it.
Clifton Hill has a ton of Ripley type places some of which are pretty scary for a 4yr old but it’s a fun walk up the street watching all the neon and eating ice cream.
The Minolta Tower has a beautiful view of the falls as well.

I was there in the summer. They had an indoor waterpark with a giant ship. It looked fun for all. It’s attached to a hotel on the street facing the falls. I dunno about 4 but we enjoyed screamers and ripleys believe it or not. Oh how could I forget marineland. It’s near the falls although I don’t know if it’s open yet but when I was a kid it had an awesome petting zoo, whale show and rides.

Local Niagara Fallsian checking in.

Yeah, there’s lots to do in the area (and its NOT just Vegas surrounded by Buffalo). The cheesy attractions, wax museums and arcades on Clifton Hill might appeal to the child in both of you. The Butterfly Conservatory is always a big hit with kids. If your daughter likes flowers, then take her to the Greenhouse. Lots of exotic plants and birds.

Actually you could just spend an afternoon walking along the Niagara River starting at Dufferin Islands for maybe a picnic or bbq. Walk down the river to visit the greenhouse, then past the old power plant approaching the brink of the falls and Table Rock. After gaping in awe at the spectacle of the falls, you can continue on your way towards Clifton Hill. It’s only a couple of kilometers and downhill.

Also, don’t forget Marineland where she can look at whales and dolphins, feed the deer and go on amusement park rides.

Can I add that i loved the butterfly conservatory (even if I’ve not been 4 for a few years). A benefit is that you’ll get great pictures of her with butterflies on her.

Fortunately, she’s too young to read - a lot of US 15 north of Harrisburg has signs for… “gentlemen’s clubs” :::blush:::. Our kids were old enough to read when we made that drive. Fortunately they did not notice (or did not comment)… I’ve posted here before about the time when Dweezil was 6 and asked what an “adult toystore” was. I don’t think they’d have bought my prevarications this time!

If you’re right in the heart of the touristy area, you’ll find lots of places - it’s like the Boardwalk From Hell. There’s a Ripley’s Believe it or Not place… there’s a “fun house” place… lots of others (we were there summer 2006).

The Maid Of The Mist is fun. Your daughter might like the elevator ride down that takes you to a platform behind part of the falls.

Oh - and depending on your travel timing, Hershey isn’t too far off the trail (15ish miles from US 15 near Harrisburg) and Chocolate World is free and takes an hour or so; the park itself is pricey.

Took my kid there when he was 3, he loved the Butterfly Conservatory. Clifton Hill he found too scary, though he was very interested in it as well.

For months after, he asked if we could go back to what he called the “Street of Scary Things”. He solemly informed me that there were exactly four scary things on the Street of Scary Things: a scary Monkey (a statue of King Kong climbing a building); a scary Building (a building built at an odd angle); a scary Face (the entrance to one of the attractions); and a scary Box (a box covered with chains with a device that screams and rattles at passers-by).

He remembered this list for months.

Don’t watch Superman II with her before you go.