The fun never stops at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Case in point? This area is rife with amusement parks, zoos, ziplining, water parks, and breathtaking outdoor wonders.
You can easily find a memorable activity for the whole family, whether you’re traveling with toddlers, young children, or teens.
This guide to Ontario’s activities around Niagara Falls will make vacation planning as expedient as it gets.
See Niagara Falls
As much excitement awaits you in the area, you must set aside at least some time to see Niagara Falls itself.
Get up close to the water. Feel its power under your feet and hear the roar fill your ears. Be mesmerized by the incessant blue-green flow.
Niagara Park in Ontario is near the Niagara Gorge’s southern end and features triple waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls between the United States and the Canadian border is the largest, using up to 90 percent of the Niagara River’s water flow.
The second waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls, which receives a much smaller percentage of the water flow from the Niagara River. Bridal Veil Falls is on the US side, but you can get a spectacular view of it from Ontario.
The American Falls, the third waterfall, is 90 percent in Canada, which makes the name a tad confusing. This waterfall is between 70 and 110 feet tall at its peak. You can get very close to the edge of American Falls, but please, exercise caution.
Visiting Niagara Falls is one of my family’s favorite activities. It’s free to enter, the park is stroller-friendly (perfect if you have toddlers or babies), and it’s a great opportunity to get outside and see one of the world’s most monumental landmarks.
Go Deeper into the Falls
Why settle for standard views of the three waterfalls at Niagara Falls when you can get that much closer? Journey Behind the Falls takes you nearer Horseshoe Falls than you can ever get when visiting.
This year-round attraction, operated by the Niagara Parks Commission, is an Ontario exclusive. You’ll take a guided tour and enter a tunnel more than 125 feet below the base of Niagara Falls.
Along the way, you can see Horseshoe Falls from the Great Falls Portal, Cataract Portal, and the Lower and Upper Observation Decks. The latter vantage points put you right at the mouth of the waterfall!
You’ll hear the rush of the roaring water and feel it pulsating, receiving a light misting due to your proximity.
Journey Behind the Falls is a low-cost family activity that takes about an hour. Your purchase of a ticket includes a biodegradable poncho if you visit in the spring or summer.
Spend a Day on the Beach
Here’s an added perk of visiting Niagara Falls, Ontario: access to some of the most beautiful beaches on the Great Lakes!
Plan your visit in the summer, ideally after May. The average temperature in Ontario in May is only 74 degrees Fahrenheit, as a high, with gentle breezes.
You can stroll the beach wearing regular attire in that temperature, but you won’t want to wear swimsuits and plan to swim.
The high is 88 degrees by June, 92 degrees in July, and the high 70s by August.
» MORE: 15 Beaches by Niagara Falls
So which beaches do I recommend? Wainfleet’s Long Beach Conservation Area and Campground has a stunningly beautiful beach and over 200 campsites. I would suggest a stay here if you’re trying to take a vacation to Niagara Falls on a budget.
Lakeside Beach Park in elegant St. Catherines is another standout. This beach is situated in the historic Port Dalhousie. The harbor is a slice of idyllic summer paradise with a lighthouse and a beach.
The shores are dog-friendly, but the parking lot has room for under 100 cars, so make sure you arrive early to beat the crowds and stake out an optimal place on the beach.
Crescent Beach in Fort Erie is over 60 miles long. Pass the Friendship Recreation Trail on your way to the beach and give your kids a short history lesson on this fascinating part of Ontario.
You’ll see Old Fort Erie, Port Colborne, and Lake Erie on your route.
The parking around the area is free, and the round beach with silty sand is quite popular.
Visit a Theme Park
Ontario has all you need if family thrills are more your thing. The theme parks at Niagara Falls will have the entire family screaming with delight.
The pinnacle of entertainment in Ontario is Clifton Hill. This theme park has entertaining, dining, and attractions aplenty.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the Niagara SkyWheel, a massive, towering Ferris wheel of over 170 feet that gives the entire family immersive views of Niagara Falls, including American and Horseshoe Falls.
Ride it day or night, as the gondolas have built-in temperature control and are enclosed. You could even take a spin on the SkyWheel in the winter if you wish!
The SkyWheel is open until after midnight, so try to squeeze onto a nighttime ride if you get the chance. A dazzling array of colors illuminates the waters of Niagara Falls, and you might just get to see a fireworks show while you’re up there!
Carnival Chaos is a HyperRide where you and the entire family will wage war with evil clowns as you shoot your blasters at the freakshow.
You’ll sit in a cart that pulls you this way and that, creating a level of difficulty that older kids should certainly enjoy.
Venture into the XD Dark Ride Theater for Zombie Attack, an interactive dark ride that accommodates up to 36 people at a time.
Take a seat and strap on your seatbelt, then get ready for a crazy ride through an apocalyptic wasteland where zombies roam free. Target the brainless undead to see who among your family racks up the highest score.
The amusement ride Ghost Blasters challenges you to shoot animated props, set pieces, and animatronics with your guns as you sit in a cart. Don’t get scared by the ghouls that pop up unexpectedly!
Don’t miss the Cosmic Coaster, an interactive ride that uses the best of FX to make you feel like you’re riding a bonafide roller coaster despite that you’re strapped to a chair the entire time.
The movement rate is 400 movements per second, so you’ll certainly feel like you’re whooshing through the air.
It was no accident to include the Marineland of Canada on this list. While it features an aquarium full of creatures your kids will spend hours gawking at, you should set aside enough time to explore the amazing amusements.
Many of these rides are kid-friendly, requiring riders to be at least 42 inches. Here’s a rundown of what’s included:
- Wave Swinger, a flying swing
- Viking Adventure, a Buccaneer gondola
- Tivoli Wheel, a swing ride for young kids
- Star Voyager, a space-themed ride for kids
- Sky Screamer, a drop ride
- Sky Hawk, a drop ride
- Orca Screamer, a drop ride for kids
- Ocean Odyssey, a spinning, themed ride for kids
- Magic Experience, a Scrambler for kids
- Lady Bug Coaster, a family-friendly mini coaster
- Kandu’s Twister, a teacup ride
- Flying Dragon, a family-friendly mini coaster
- Eagle Tower, a drop ride for kids
- Dragon Mountain, a twisting coaster
- Bumble Bee, a spinning, flying ride for kids
- Boat Carousel, a carousel for young kids
Take a Dip in a Water Park
Water parks cap off any vacation and will be the highlight of your kids’ visit to Niagara Falls. Ontario offers the cream of the crop when it comes to water parks, as they’re all indoors for fun in the water, rain or shine.
An all-inclusive getaway, Great Wolf Lodge has everything you need within its 100,000+ square feet of space, including the indoor water park, the Great Wolf Adventure Park, dining, shopping, live shows, a kids’ club, event space, and a fitness center.
You don’t have to stay in the lodge to visit the water park – you can purchase an entrance just for the day.
It’s open daily and is always a comfortable 84 degrees. The range of rides here has something for every member of the family.
Immerse yourself in a whirlpool hot spa for relaxation the entire family will love, especially after a long drive or flight. The kids can play until they’re sleepy at Chipmunk Cove, Fort Mackenzie, Otter Lake, or the Frog Pond.
What about slides? You will find no shortage of ‘em at Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, from wide open, sloping slides to twirling, spinning enclosed slides. A few of the water slides are designed for young kids so no one feels left out.
The Waves Indoor Water Park on the grounds of the Americana Conference Resort Spa & Waterpark rivals the Great Wolf Lodge. Your family can stay and play, selecting from beauteous rooms and suites. Onsite dining and a spa are other exemplary features.
Of course, you’re here for the water park. Waves is 25,000 square feet and doesn’t require resort check-in to enjoy. Rent a cabana, fill your belly at the poolside Oasis Pizza & Snack Bar, then get ready to hit the rides!
They include a kiddy pool with water slides, an activity pool, three-story tube slides, a beach-entry wave pool, two-story body slides, and a water play structure your kids will adore.
An oversized tipping bucket regularly drops gallons of water onto unsuspecting parkgoers below.
The three-acre Fallsview Indoor Water Park is awe-inspiring. This resort/water park is huge and an excellent place for a long-term stay in Niagara Falls.
Your kids will never want to leave between onsite dining, the water park, a 4D motion theater, rides, games, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and milkshakes and ice creams stacked a mile high.
The 125,000-square-foot water park features six-story water slides. A children’s play area will entertain the young ones, while Jacuzzis will appeal to Mom and Dad.
The water park also offers a plunge pool, a jungle beach playhouse (not a water attraction), a sundeck for soaking up rays, and a wave pool.
The tipping bucket releases 1,000 gallons of water each time it spills, and body slides keep the fun going as your kids race on their bellies to the finish line.
Experience the Wonderful Outdoors
Don’t stay cooped up inside during your entire family adventure to Niagara Falls. Ontario has some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders on the planet that must be seen to be believed.
Adjacent to Ontario’s Floral Clock, the Centennial Lilac Garden is a collection of vivid plants representing more than 200 species. Watch the way 1,200 beautiful plants and flowers sway with the gentle Canadian breeze.
The colors and variety of greenery available change seasonally, but you can always guarantee an alluring scent sure to please your olfactory receptors.
One of Ontario’s most elegant outdoor curiosities is the Floral Clock within Niagara Parkway. A popular spot that always attracts a lot of tourist attention, the Floral Clock features a real working clock that keeps time.
As was the case with the nearby Centennial Lilac Garden, the selection of flowers the Floral Clock displays changes with the seasons.
The Niagara Parks horticulture department will add blue Festuca grass, California golden privet, and Santolina sage between the summer and autumn.
A springtime visit will yield appealing Alternanthera, with four cultivars showing their brightest and most vivid hues. Make sure to snap some photos no matter which time of year you visit.
Impressively beautiful, the Niagara Park Botanical Gardens between the Great Gorge and Niagara Parkway is only 10 minutes from the Ontario side of Niagara Falls if you venture northward.
The Butterfly Conservatory is the main attraction here, with the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture another great spot to check out. You and your family can also spend a relaxing, sunny afternoon strolling through the 99 acres of vegetables, herbs, shade, and garden plants.
The Niagara Park Botanical Gardens originally opened in 1936 and features a rose garden with over 2,000 colorful blooms. Your nostrils will fill with the tantalizing fragrance.
Oh, and did I mention it’s free to get into the Niagara Park Botanical Gardens? That’s right!
Plan the outdoor adventure of a lifetime at the Niagara Riding Stables, a beloved area attraction for over 60 years that’s only 15 minutes from Niagara Falls.
The horses available at the stables suit riders of every experience level, even complete beginners. You can see the fall foliage on horseback, ride into the quiet early winter, or plan a spring or summertime romp on a horse.
You can’t get to know Niagara Parks without spending time in Queen Victoria Park, the heart of the area. Surrounded by the Niagara River Great Gorge and the Fallsview moraine, this park near the Dufferin Islands and Clifton Hill is a tranquil slice of paradise.
The neat lawns, benches for taking a rest, and the hybrid tea rose garden will captivate your senses. I suggest a springtime jaunt if possible, as you can see yellow daffodils everywhere. More than 500,000 flowers will spread across the park as the season gets underway.
The summer includes the introduction of lantana and fuchsia, while autumn welcomes kale and chrysanthemums. The shrubs bear it through the winter, although the trees will be naked around this time.
There’s history to behold at the Niagara River Recreational Trail, as Sir Winston Churchill chose this as a resting spot in 1943 on his route to meet the prime minister.
It wasn’t a recreational trail then, as that happened in 1986, but it’s still a historically significant spot.
The Niagara River Recreational Trail can take you to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort George, and Fort Erie all the way to Ontario and back.
The waterfalls at Niagara Falls aren’t the only thing that’s roaring! Animals aplenty await your children, who can have an enjoyable, educational experience learning about creatures and conservation at these must-visit spots.
I love Safari Niagara because of its noble animal conservation initiatives. Your kiddos will adore visiting because of all the cool animals, fun attractions, and activities. Either way, everyone’s happy, and that’s what matters most.
Safari Niagara has an impressive menagerie of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Where else can your children see alpacas, cougars, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, snakes, wolves, gorillas, jaguars, miniature horses, and emus in one place?
Save some energy after visiting all the animals, as Safari Niagara offers so much more. Stay cool at the Splash Pad, a small pool that’s ideal for the kiddos.
Stroll through the aviary where 500 budgies can spread their wings. You just might have one or several land on you during this unique experience.
Older and younger kids alike will adore the Sky Quest Ropes Course, a challenging obstacle course. Go racing on the Safari Speedway, a dirt track for go-karts, or relax on a paddleboat.
Hop aboard the Gator Express tram to get here, there, and everywhere within the park. Perhaps your visit will take you to Papa Steve’s Family Farm, a small barn with animals, or maybe the kids will try catch-and-release fishing.
Oh, and did I mention there are rides here? The carousel is quaint and kid-friendly. Bounce A Rooz consists of inflatable pillows to propel kids sky-high.
A few other kiddie rides in the area are perfect for the little ones.
Where else can you learn about winged creatures? Why, at the Butterfly Conservatory, of course. The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory has thousands of butterflies from the world over, representing many colorful, vivid species.
Walk along the paths throughout the park, and make sure to dress brightly to increase the chances of these beautiful insects landing on you during your adventure.
The birds are here to play at Ontario’s Bird Kingdom. Venture through the Main Aviary, where the exotic birds are free-flying across the indoor rainforest. This aviary has multiple levels to explore, culminating in a waterfall.
Next, see 20 bird species, including endangered birds, at the Small Bird Aviary. The Javanese House dates to the 1800s and is unique to the Bird Kingdom. You won’t find another spot like it in all of North America!
Between those parts of the Bird Kingdom, an onsite museum, and the gardens, you can spend all day here. You just might be in time for the night jungle, where creatures like owls and bats are awake and active.
Get Your Heart Pumping
I’m still not finished yet! Your time at Niagara Falls cannot end until you add some of these activities to your itinerary.
It’s all about fun at WildPlay. While you can engage in unique activities like axe-throwing, freefalling, or bungee jumping, the ziplining is tame and family-friendly by comparison.
The zipline tour is almost as exciting as the ride itself, as the tour is designed to offer you the best scenic routes around Niagara Falls. Of course, the ziplining itself is exhilarating and sure to make your kids smile with glee.
Two attractions in one! The Big Top Amazing Mirror & Laser Maze is the only home of X-Ray Man’s Laser Maze, a four-level acrobatic adventure.
Kids must be flexible to avoid getting hit with the lasers (but don’t worry, they’re harmless). The children can play one-on-one or in pairs.
The other laser game, BUSTERS Beam Buster Challenge, requires the players to break lasers on a timer to see who can do the best.
The Mirror Maze has seven mazes in one, including the challenging Cage Maze Puzzle.
Bronto’s Adventure Playland is one of the best spots for the little ones around Niagara Falls. This oversized interactive attraction is the home of the ultra-fun Ballocity Play Zone.
Kids can also blast colorful play balls at each other with the Ballocity Ball Blasters.
A two-level slide is thrilling for toddlers, while your young kids should enjoy the Log Rollers, Twist N’ Tangles, Cargo Net Climbs, and Bumper Blasts.