Travel abroad and ask non-Canadians where they have been to in Canada and chances are they’ll respond with Niagara Falls. Mother Nature’s big stamp on southern Ontario – the powerful waters are a beacon for tourists and a symbol for Canada. Ask any Canadian if they’ve been, and the answer would be 50-50.

We recently played tourist and travelled the 1.5 hours from Toronto to Niagara Falls, giving the kids a up close visit to this natural wonder. We didn’t just do a walk-by, we went down and under (and over – virtually) to truly experience this Canadian icon. Rain or shine, and it our case rain, it’s no wonder it’s on the hit list for travellers to Ontario.

Get up close: Niagara Parks’ Journey Behind the Falls provides one of the closest (and wettest) encounters by land to Horseshoe Falls. An elevator takes you 150 feet below to explore the 100-year-old tunnels that lead to an observation and viewing portals. The gushing and crashing of the water will blow you away and the kids got a serious kick out of wearing the waterproof panchos. (PS – have an early morning withhout kids in TOw? You can also do yoga near the Falls with Namaste Niagara Yoga program.)

Go over the falls: Yes, you could take a helicopter tour, zipline or aero car above and along the river, but a safer and super kid-friendly experience is Niagara’s Fury. A video about the ancient history of Niagara Falls is told by animated characters (extremely easy for kids to follow) and a moving platform in a 360-degree theatre provides a 4D experience with water bubbling and spraying as you feel like you’re travelling down the Niagara River.

The two experiences are part of the seasonal Niagara Falls Adventure Passes, which provide one-time admission to a number of attractions, as well as include WEGO transportation and additional coupons for other Niagara Falls experiences. What’s great is that you can buy online and admissions are valid until November 2017 so you can spread out the adventure over one day or several.

Night time view: The sky above The Falls light up with fireworks all summer long with shows at 10 p.m. Monday to Friday until September 4, 2017.

While you’re there: Niagara Falls proper can feel very Disney with its hotels, haunted houses, dinosaur parks, laser games, movie theatres, restaurants all off the parkway. We suggest heading off the tourist track and explore the natural attractions. Look into exploring the White Water Walk (5 km north of Horseshoe Falls) or the Niagara Glen, 4km of trails through the forest that overlooks the Niagara River’s rapids and the Niagara River Whirlpool.


Getting there: Driving from Toronto, you can park directly at the Table Rock Visitor Centre at Horseshoe Falls. With a daily pass ($25), you have one day of unlimited in and out privileges for one day at various lots. Don’t want to drive, don’t want to park? The GO Niagara Seasonal Train service runs weekends throughout the summer months and includes a round-trip GO Train ticket and two-day access to WEGO. A round trip from Union Station to Niagara Falls is $25 for adults and  $13 for children (6-12). Buy a family/group ticket for $50, good for 2 adults and 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children.

If you stay the night: Make it a full family mini-holiday by staying in one of the surrounding hotels. The Falls Avenue Resort Hotels – Sheraton on the Falls, Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview, Skyline Hotel & Waterpark and Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls – provide access to Fallsview Waterpark.

If you just have the day: More ideas for a day-trip itinerary.