In the spirit of not wanting to pay for fuel surcharges or baggage fees at the airports, tripatlas.com/new is celebrating the last few long weekends of this glorious summer with some great ideas for road trips, local tourist activities and staycations.
So pack up the family in the van with your portable DVD player and cooler of juice boxes and let’s make our way to one of the top tourist destinations in North America: Niagara Falls, located in Ontario, Canada and Buffalo, New York in the United States.
10 Niagara Falls Family Holiday Highlights
Niagara Falls has something for everyone, for families, couples, honeymooners, singles, young and old. Nearby the falls, you’ll also discover that the Niagara Region is one of the Top 10 Wine Regions of the World. Better yet, you’ll find that two of the Spas in Niagara-on-the-Lake are Best in North America, as rated by SpasofAmerica.com: the Secret Garden Spa at the Prince of Wales Hotel and the 100 Fountain Spa at the Pillar and Post Hotel.
From the wine region to the Casino, amusement parks like MarineLand, the Butterfly Conservatory, and the scary Nightmares Fear Factory experience – there’s so much to do in Niagara Falls! Read on to find out our favourites – and Find out How to Win a Family Trip for 4 to Niagara below, including accommodations at the Sheraton and passes to many of these amazing Niagara Falls Attractions!
All prices are listed in Canadian Dollars (CDN) unless otherwise noted.
MarineLand is one of the most popular attractions in Niagara Falls: roller coasters, beluga whales, orca or “killer” whales, dolphins, fish, bears and deer – you’ll have a “whale” of a time. Shows take place throughout the day all over the park where you can watch the marine animals splash and perform – you could even get “kissed” by one! Everyone loves MarineLand!
Hours: 9am to 6pm from June to August. 10am to 5pm from September to October. Season is from May 17 to October 12, 2008.
Cost: $39.95/Adult (10+); $32.95/Child (5-9); $32.95/Senior (60+). Children 4 years and under are free.
Location: 7657 Portage Road., Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Nightmares Fear Factory takes you on a tour through the old legendary Cataract Coffin Factory where you’ll be scared, thrilled, and might even chicken out. The Nightmares Fear Factory experience was deemed the Attraction of the Year in 2006 and 2007 – and is no experience to joke about: 90,000 people have “chickened out” to date – it’s that scary.
Hours: Open daily from 11am to 1:30am.
Cost: Regular Cost: $13.95/Adult (13+), $9.95/Child (under 12). Online Cost: $11.38/Adult (13+); $7.57/Child (under 12); $43.81 for a Family of 4 (13+); $62.86 for the “666 Six Pack” – a group of 6 adults.
Location: 5631 Victoria Ave., Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours offers the whitewater adventure of Niagara Falls and takes you through the breathtaking canyon of Niagara Gorge right into the high-thrill Devil’s Hole Rapids. Known to have some of the friendliest tour guides and staff, you have the choice of the open-air Wet Jet Tour or the closed Jet Dome Tour for those hoping to stay dry. Jackets and “aqua socks” to cover your shoes are provided. Trips are 45 minutes or 1 hour and departs from 3 points: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Lewiston NY and the Niagara Glen. Yes, you’ll probably get a little wet. Please note that passengers under 16 years must travel with an adult 18 years+.
Hours: Tours operate in summer 9:45am to 7pm; otherwise 10am to 5:30pm. Arrive 45 minutes prior.
Cost: $56/Adult; $47/Youth (6 to 13 under 44″). Book online and save $5/person on individual rates. Schedule a tour for 10am and save $10.
Location: 7657 Portage Road., Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
IMAX Theatre offers great features that are both education and inspiring – in IMAX. This summer season’s features include the Niagara: Legends & Daredevils showing which gives a glimpse into the history of Niagara Falls and the legends or daredevils who attempted to challenge the falls. There’s also Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia that features a unique way of experiencing and learning about dinosaurs that roamed the earth.
Hours: Showings are every hour on the hour from 9am to 10pm during the summer. Open year-round except for Christmas.
Cost: Regular Cost: $14.75/Adult (13+); $10.62/Child (4-12). Online Savings: $9.40/Adult (13+); $6.75/Child (4-12). Family Combo (2 adults, 2 children, 4 drinks and 2 large popcorn) for $49.95. Combo admission for Skylon Tower next to the IMAX Theatre is also available.
Location: 6170 Fallsview Blvd., Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Niagara Helicopter Rides begin on Victoria Avenue and lift off to see the Niagara Region: from the Sir Adam Beck Generating Plant, the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture to the Niagara River, the Whirlpool area, the Whirlpool Rapids and the Rainbow Bridge. You’ll see the American Falls, Skylon Tower and Horseshoe Falls. Headsets with commentary are available in 12 languages for the 9 to 10-minute flight.
Hours: Flights depart daily from 9am until sunset, weather permitting. Open year-round except for Christmas.
Cost: $10 off 1 Adult Ride coupon available on Niagara Helicopters Website. Regular costs are $120/Adult and $74/Child. Children under 3 are free.
Location: 3731 Victoria Ave., P.O. Box 636, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Bird Kingdom Tropical Adventure at the Niagara Falls Aviary. Like the Butterfly Conservatory, Bird Kingdom is a great experience and adventure for the whole family. The Niagara Falls Aviary is made up of 50,000 sq. ft. of tropical rainforest and 500 birds of nearly 80 species flying free. Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate in meeting birds, frogs, reptiles, bats and even skunks up close at the daily shows. Don’t forget to visit the nocturnal zone and go for a night jungle walk (in the middle of the day!).
Hours: Summer hours: 9:30am to 6pm. Otherwise, 10am to 5pm. Open 365 days/year.
Cost: Regular Costs: $19.49/Adult (13+); $13.74/Child (4-12); $92.50/Family Pass (2 adults and 3 kids). Online Booking Costs: $17/Adult; $11.50/Child (4-12); $55.00/Family Pass (2 adults and 3 kids).
Location: 5651 River Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show offers a great laugh and fun dinner experience for the whole family. The dinner theatre features a celebration of music in Canada, with all songs performed written or sung by a Canadian. Watch out for those hockey players, Canadian Mounted Police, and Anne of Green Gable characters.
Hours: Open most evenings at 6:15pm.
Location: 8585 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Cost: $53.55/Adult or $48 when booking online. Children 3-16 years are free with purchase of a full price paid adult. Infants 0-2 are free. Costs include admission and dinner but not tax or tips.
Casino Niagara & the Fallsview Casino Resort Hotel are two reasons that attract packed tour buses from all over North America to Niagara Falls, a mini-Vegas of the north. With all the glitz, buffets, comps and ding-dings of a grand Vegas casino, both Casino Niagara and the newer Fallsview Casino are perfect for a few hours of adult-fun. Good luck!
Maid of the Mist is one of the most popular attractions in Niagara Falls. Why? It’s one of the only attractions that will take you up close and personal with the falls to experience this natural wonder up close. You’ll board the Maid of the Mist Ferry, departing every 15 minutes, which will take you to close up to the bottom of the falls. Light raincoats are provided with admission – so you don’t get too wet! The Maid of the Mist launches from both the Canada and U.S. sides.
Hours: 9am to 7pm during summer months; 9am to 4:45pm/5:45pm in September
Cost: In Canada: $14.50/Adult; $8.90/Child (6-12); Children under 5 are free.
In the United States: $12.50/Adult; $7.30/Child (6-12); Children under 5 are fee.
Location: Board on the USA side at the Observation Tower; Board on the Canada side at the bottom of Clifton Hill.
The Butterfly Conservatory is especially fun for kids of all ages and a great learning experience, at the same time. The 11,000 square ft. conservatory allows visitors to walk through the rainforest path to watch and spot hundreds of species of butterflies in their natural habitat, amongst its exotic flowers and greenery.
Hours: 9am to 5-6pm daily. Open year-round except for Christmas
Cost: $11/Adult (13+); $6.50/Child (6 to 12); Children under 5 are free
Location: 2405 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Win a Family Trip for 4 to Niagara Falls!
Until August 30th, 2008, tripatlas.com/new is offering a Family Trip for 4 to Niagara Falls Giveaway Contest where you can win a trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls to enjoy a weekend in Niagara Falls. Package includes: transportation for 4 from VIA Rail from Toronto to Niagara; a luxury suite at the Sheraton on the Falls hotel; 4 passes to MarineLand; 4 passes to Nightmares Fear Factory; 4 passes to Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours; 4 passes to IMAX Theatre; and a 4-person Niagara Helicopter Tour.
To enter the tripatlas.com/new Niagara Falls Family Giveaway, visit tripatlas.com/new and sign up a tripatlas.com/new Member. All new member sign-ups from July 30 to August 30, 2008 are automatically entered in the contest. Good luck!