4-day Ontario road trip: Niagara family fun
Family-friendly attractions, events and restaurants will keep kids entertained on your Niagara adventure.
START: Niagara Falls
END: Twenty Valley
With family-oriented indoor and outdoor attractions, kid-friendly entertainment, exciting events and great restaurants, there are endless ways to enjoy Niagara Falls and beyond in the Niagara region. If you are thinking of visiting Niagara Falls you will find out soon enough that the breathtaking falls may bring you here, but with everything that is offered in Niagara it will not be your only visit.
Ontario is the world in one province and is the original homelands to many nations of the First Peoples. With the Cree Nation in the North, the Haudenoshaunee in the South, and the Anishinabek Nation all around the Great Lakes, we are pleased to acknowledge and support the First Peoples and First Nations of these lands; the Inuit; and the Metis as we host visitors together.
Niagara Falls – Day One
The number one reason to visit Niagara Falls is, of course the falls. With over 2,830 tons of water flowing over Niagara Falls every second it is no wonder! Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls between Niagara Falls Canada and Niagara Falls, New York. They are the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It is believed that Niagara is a derivative of the Iroquoian word, “Onguiaahra” meaning “The Strait”.
Whether you jampack your days or spend time strolling the beautiful site of the falls themselves, you and your family will be enjoying the excitement that is Niagara. View the majestic Falls by boat, zipline, helicopter or discover the mighty Niagara River and Gorge on a thrilling jetboat ride. Spend the day making friends at a 150-acre nature park or watch ships navigate through the Welland Canal on your Segway. Whether you choose to hike, bike, swim or just relax and enjoy nature, the Niagara region has a scenic trail, park or beach to discover.
Hint: Niagara Falls is home to three indoor waterparks, so even on a rainy day you can enjoy watersports galore.
Things to Do
Start your day at the new WildPlay Niagara Falls MistRider Zipline attraction at Grand View Marketplace. Riders soar on 4 parallel lines 67 metres high above the Niagara River Gorge and glide 670 metres past the American Falls to an observation Deck at the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
Niagara City Cruises, the 20-minute Voyage to the Falls boat tour brings guests on the journey of a lifetime. Enjoy stunning views of the Niagara Gorge, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, and come face-to-face with the famous Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
The Niagara Parks Power Station is Niagara Falls' newest landmark attraction. Visitors can explore the preserved interior of the historic power station, transformed with immersive exhibits, restored artifacts and interactive storytelling.
Journey Behind the Falls offers yet another unique vantage-point of this world wonder. Descend 125 feet by elevator, where a short tunnel gives access to two outdoor observation decks and two portals located directly behind the Falls.
Just a short drive along the Niagara Parkway, visitors of all ages can lift off with Niagara Helicopters for the highest, most thrilling spectacular views of Niagara Falls and area.
End your day off with dinner 775 feet above Niagara Falls at the Skylon Tower and experience the Falls illuminated by night. The 360º view of Niagara Falls and the surrounding area from the Skylon Tower Revolving Dining Room is breathtaking.
There are endless things to do and see in Niagara Falls including things that are FREE.
- For viewing the nightly illumination of the Falls, thrill seekers can opt for ziplining in the dark to capture the panorama of bright colours while others can enjoy a leisurely Sunset cruise.
- Wildplay’s Whirlpool Adventure Course’s new cliff-side courses are a new and unique way to have a Niagara gorge adventure.
- The Niagara Falls annual summer fireworks starts at 9 pm nightly, weather permitting and scheduling subject to change (and pending travel restrictions).
- Scoot around Niagara Falls, explore Niagara-on-the-Lake or Fort Erie on a fully charged electric bike from E-Snap Rentals.
Places to Stay
Your accommodation options are unlimited with varying price points to suit every budget including hotels with some offering family-themed attraction packages such as the Niagara Parks Adventure Pass or the WEGO shuttle. See the special offers on great discount room rates and package deals.
Located near Clifton Hill, the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel and Crowne Plaza Hotel are connected to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, 3-acres of water fun.
In the Fallsview district you’ll find the Embassy Suites by Hilton – Fallsview as well as the Quality Hotel Fallsview Cascade and Comfort Inn Fallsview, all close to an array of family dining options.
A short drive on historic Lundy’s Lane, cool-off at Waves Indoor Waterpark at the Americana Waterpark Resort & Spa or at Best Western Plus Cairn Croft Hotel’s tropical themed courtyard and indoor pool and with a 2-storey children's play park & golf simulators.
Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls is a destination unto itself with an indoor water park resort and attractions to keep the family entertained day and night.
Off the beaten-path and centrally located in the heart of Niagara, the pet-friendly Holiday Inn & Suites in St. Catharines is ideal for the whole family with its heated saltwater indoor pool and the Parkway Social entertainment centre including a 30-lane bowling alley, laser tag and arcade.
Places to Eat
There are several restaurants situated close to the Horseshoe Falls, all offering a range of dining options including:
Table Rock House Restaurant: The closest you can dine to the Falls and features a locally sourced menu with open-flame grilling and stunning views.
Table Rock Patio: Located at the Table Rock Centre – ideal for lunch and has spectacular views of the Falls. Inside the Table Rock Centre, visitors can enjoy convenient options from a deli to sushi at the contemporary Table Rock Market.
Constructed in 1904, the stately Queen Victoria Place Restaurant: Offers the very best of Niagara through locally sourced menu, paired with a diverse Niagara VQA wine list and craft beer menu.
Massimo's Italian Fallsview Restaurant: Offers a modern and refreshing take on authentic Italian cuisine and the most spectacular views of Niagara Falls.
Carpaccio Restaurant on Lundy’s Lane: Italian cuisine for the whole family.
Mick & Angelo’s Kitchen & Bar on Lundy’s Lane, An award winning, fun family restaurant
Scoops Restaurant on Lundy’s Lane serves up the breakfast and lunch.
The dining options are endless, which will leave you wanting more each time you visit.
Things to Know
Visit the Ontario Travel information Centre located just off HWY 420 at Stanley Avenue for travel tips, brochures or to purchase souvenirs as well as time & money-saving attraction tickets (check ahead for hours of operation).
Niagara Parks Commission offers The Niagara Falls Explorer Pass which includes two attraction admissions to Journey Behind the Falls and the Butterfly Conservatory and a single-day parking pass.
Park your car - getting around is easy on the WEGO - a hop-on, hop-off visitor transportation system that connects all Niagara Parks locations to your hotel as well as other Niagara Falls tourism areas.
Niagara Falls & Niagara-on-the-Lake – Day Two
Distance to First Location: Approx. 3 km (5 minutes)
The Niagara River Parkway Recreation Trail runs along the Niagara Parkway and is used by pedestrians and cyclists and is also wheelchair accessible. Be sure to stop and discover stories of freedom and courage with Niagara Parks’ displays and monuments honouring Black Canadian history.
Your first stop is White Water Walk where you will marvel at the Class 6 whitewater rapids at the edge of the Niagara River from the boardwalk and observation areas.
A short drive away, the Whirlpool Aero Car is an antique cable car offering spectacular views of the swirling Niagara Whirlpool and whitewater rapids of the river below.
WildPlay’s Whirlpool Adventure - a fun and thrilling experience of suspended obstacles and ziplines next to the world-famous Niagara Whirlpool and Niagara Gorge.
The fully accessible Butterfly Conservatory features over 2,000 colourful tropical butterflies floating freely among lush, exotic blossoms and greenery.
Distance to Niagara-on-the-Lake: Approx. 16 km (20 minutes)
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours highlighting the history, scenery and geography of the Niagara River and Niagara Gorge. Exhilaration, excitement and awe-inspiring natural scenery! Get soaked aboard the open-top Wet Jet or choose from wet or dry seating aboard the all-new Freedom Boat!
Spend the afternoon exploring historic Niagara-on-the-Lake and area. Often called the loveliest town in Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake has a long and distinguished history and with plenty of things to do in the area.
On your return back to Niagara Falls, stop at Maple Leaf Place and experience The Maple Trail Adventure where they bring the Canadian Sugar Bush indoors featuring an educational display of Canada's maple syrup heritage, a free Tasting Bar and Maple Taffy Experience.
Back in Niagara Falls, dine and be entertained by the jaw dropping state of the art illusions of WILD MAGIC at the Greg Frewin Theatre starring International Grand Champion of Magic Greg Frewin, with his live tigers and exotic birds.
Things to Do
Wildplay’s Whirlpool Adventure Course’s new cliff-side courses are a new and unique way to have a Niagara gorge adventure.
Grab lunch to go at Walkers Country Market along the Niagara River Parkway – hearty sandwiches, homemade bakery goods, delicious jams, jellies and preserves – all from a family farm operating since the 1930’s.
Or, why not be tempted and indulge in a fabulous European Chimney Sandwich at Budapest Bake Shop located in the heart of Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Picnic in nearby McFarland Park, a beautiful spot next to the Historic McFarland House or Queenston Heights Park nestled high atop the Niagara Escarpment with its historic monuments, two large picnic pavilions, a children’s splash pad and Queenston Heights Restaurant.
Don’t miss visiting The Landscape of Nations - a living memorial dedicated to the contributions and sacrifices made by Six Nations and Native Allies on Queenston Heights and throughout the War of 1812.
Notable stops include:
Explore the vineyards, gardens, fruit farms and cruise along the region’s scenic cycling trails on a self-guided bike tour. For bike rentals in the area check out Zoom Leisure Bikes or Vino Velo Boutique Bicycle Tours.
Shop the quaint stores of Niagara-on-the-Lake and be sure to visit Greaves Jams & Marmalade made right in the heart of Niagara’s fruit belt.
Cool down in rural Niagara farm country and enjoy the region’s finest home-made ice cream from Avondale Dairy Bar. Family operated since 1955, enjoy the backdrop of a working dairy farm, cornfields, and vineyards.
Explore all the attractions, heritage museums, gardens, restaurants, golf courses, and events of the Niagara Parks.
Places to Eat
Treadwell: Upscale-casual Canadian spot with patio dining & a menu of local, seasonal.
Sunset Grill: Serves all day breakfast! All the items you want for breakfast, plus burgers and sandwiches for lunch.
The Epicurian: Enjoy lunch made with fresh locally grown ingredients on their spacious patio.
Farmhouse Cafe: Caroline Cellars Family Estate Winery – NOTL serves up locally in-season ingredients from local farms and their own vast on-site garden resulting in a fresh and comforting menu with wine country flare.
Queenston Heights Restaurant: Offers an intimate and elegant ambiance in a rustic setting with breathtaking views of the Niagara River and local vineyards from its patio.
Whirlpool Restaurant: Located at the fabulous Whirlpool Golf Course, enjoy pub-style cuisine paired with a glass of Niagara VQA wine or a pint of Ontario craft beer.
Niagara Falls & Area – Day Three
Distance to Location: 23 km (17 minutes)
Things to Do
Safari Niagara, a 150-acre nature park with over 1,000 native and exotic animals, bird and reptile species, located only 10 minutes from Niagara Falls in Stevensville. The park is completely interactive with animal feedings, a petting farm, paddle boats, speedway, splash pads, ropes course, trams, a catch & release fishing pond.
Take in the excitement and thrills of Clifton Hill with attractions, restaurants, entertainment and more! Located minutes from the Horseshoe Falls, this “Street of Fun” is a must-visit for families.
Take a ride on Canada's largest observation wheel, the Niagara SkyWheel. Towering 175 feet visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the Horseshoe and American Falls day or night.
The Niagara Speedway is North America's largest elevated go-kart track facility. Dubbed a "mario-kart" inspired racetrack, this Niagara Falls Raceway is a combination of traditional throttle powered go-karts with the added thrill of an elevated roller coaster style track.
Stop by Sweet Jesus for a 'divine' ice cream experience or BeaverTails® for a one of a kind. artisanal iconic Canadian pastry.
The Great Canadian Midway entertainment complex is 70,000 square feet of fun with over 300 games. Here you'll find the best in interactive games, the Wild West Coaster Motion Simulator and the spooky Ghost Blasters Dark Ride.
Fans of the bizarre and unbelievable will enjoy Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, home to over 500 mind-boggling displays of rare and amusing oddities. Here you’ll see some of the most incredible customs, unusual hobbies, and weirdest artefacts from around the world.
Things to Know
Snap a #Selfie and strike a pose at Ripley’s Louis Tussaud's Waxworks with your favorite celebrity, from the famous to the infamous. Drake, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
The Clifton Hill Fun Pass offers you popular attractions at one low price.
Enter through a 4-storey high Hershey’s Chocolate Bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Load up on treats and enjoy a HERSHEY’S signature milkshake.
Check out Ripley’s Attractions or the Niagara Falls Fun Zone where multi-passes are also available for purchase.
Experience the thrill of skydiving at the Niagara Freefall & Interactive Centre.
Places to Eat
There are several options to choose from in the Clifton Hill and Fallsview area:
Clifton Hill Family Restaurant: Offers affordable, familiar menu options for a variety of diners, big and small, right in the heart of one of the busiest districts in Niagara Falls!
The Works Craft Burgers & Beer: Upscale & cleverly themed burgers, poutine & milkshakes.
Antica Pizzeria & Ristorante: Authentic Italian Wood-oven fired pizza.
Rainforest Café: An immersive dining experience featuring animatronic animals, indoor thunderstorm, sounds of the jungle and more.
Zappi’s Italian Eatery: Authentic Italian eatery and visitor fan favourite.
Smokes Poutinerie: The iconic Canadian dish of fries, cheese curd and gravy and has created an entire new food category, complete with unlimited variations of topping ingredients to choose from.
St. Catharines & Twenty-Valley – Day Four
Distance to Location: 15 km (15 minutes)
Leave behind fond memories of your time in Niagara Falls and turn your sights today towards St. Catharines and Twenty Valley where there are endless things to do for the whole family. Also known as “The Garden City”, St. Catharines is renowned for its lush parks, gardens and trails. Twenty Valley may be slightly off-the-beaten path, but it’s what makes this region remarkably unique.
St. Catharine’s Museum and Welland Canal Centre at Lock 3. Watch ships navigate through the Welland Canal in St. Catharines, one of Canada’s engineering marvels from the indoor Lock View Lounge or Lock 3 Observation Deck. Learn about the rich history of the Canal and its latest engineering advances at the museum or while on a guided Welland Canal Segway Tour. Extend your one-hour tour by an hour and travel all the way to Lock 7 of the canal where you can see the viewing complex and the Murals of Thorold.
The Welland Canal Parkway Trail stretches southwards from St. Catharines to Port Colborne. Make time to stop along the way to admire the large ships as they navigate the locks from St. Catharine's to Port Colborne. At Port Colborne, watch the ships from the patios of the quaint dockside district along Lock 8. Take a stroll down Historic West St. and enjoy a diverse selection of charming boutiques. This area also boasts a fine selection of restaurants and pubs serving a variety of foods.
Distance to next location: 14 km (18 minutes)
In nearby Pelham, learn how four generations of sugar-makers at White Meadows Farm craft their pure 100% syrup from their 150 acres of sugar bush. Reserve your Discover Maple Tour – a one-hour journey starting from the Sugar Shack, the hub of maple production into the heart of the forest on a wagon ride along groomed walking trails led by an expert Sugar Maker. Your tour is followed by a legendary sugar bush treat – Taffy-on-Snow and maple syrup tasting.
Distance to next location: 11 km (11 minutes)
Explore Ball’s Falls Conservation Area in Lincoln, home to the Ball’s waterfalls, popular with locals and tourists alike. Rich in flora and fauna and natural landscape, the conservation area is spread over 200 acres with many trails and scenic waterfalls. The area features structures dating back to the 19th century when it was a small village where the Ball Family lived and worked.
Things to Do
Shop for the entire family at the Outlet Collection at Niagara Canada’s largest open-air outlet mall combines brand name fashion and lifestyle retailers, all at outlet prices you can’t resist!
Stop at Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm - the perfect setting for a family picnic. The park has an animal viewing area, huge playground and one of Canada’s most interesting collections of flowering rhododendrons.
St. Catharines’ historic Port Dalhousie is a beautiful little town with unique restaurants and cafes. Lakeside Park Beach is a picturesque escape on the south shore of Lake Ontario with stunning views. Most notably is the century-old, beautifully carved and restored Lakeside Park Carousel offering rides for just five cents. Avid Segway users may want to explore the area’s parks and beaches.
All things Maple! Shop for Maple Kettle Corn, home-made maple butter tarts, and pure maple syrup products at the White Meadow Farm’s Maple Sweet Shop.
Be sure to stop by one of the region’s fruit and vegetable stands. The Romagnoli Farms in Beamsville is a third-generation fruit farm and one-stop shop for just about every tree and vine fruit Niagara has to offer. Come high season, the Romagnoli Farms stand sells berries of all kinds, cherries, peaches, pears, table grapes and apples.
Places to Eat
Diner House 29, St. Catharines: A fun and fabulous retro diner and great place for breakfast - be sure to check out their home-grown jams for purchase from their on-site pantry.
Twisted Pig Italian Kitchen, Port Dalhousie: Great fare and oven-fired pizza & pasta.
Georges Greek Village, St. Catharines: Lunch on the patio with spectacular views of the Welland Canal and the Garden City Skyway.
The Yellow Pear, near Port Dalhousie: A farm-to-table focus and elevated home-style cooking.
Café Amore, St. Catharines: Mediterranean inspired cuisine.
Good Earth Bistro, Twenty Valley: Niagara’s original “farm to table” experience – enjoy a farm to table lunch with beautiful patio views of the property and winery to explore and shop.
Last updated: February 8, 2023