Last time I was there, I met the world's tallest woman
September 1, 2015 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Headed to Niagara Falls this weekend for the first time since I was a kid. Interesting things to do and see?

We're headed up to Niagara Falls this weekend, staying in St. Catharine's. I haven't been there in many years - what are some recommended activities? Maid of the Mist and the tour behind the falls are good, I remember. I know the town is packed with tourist traps, which are the good ones?

Open to stuff both touristy and otherwise (biking?) that would be appropriate for a family of four with 8 and 11 year old boys.
posted by Chrysostom to Travel & Transportation around Niagara Falls, NY (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the Niagara Glen. Nice little area to walk (or lightly hike) through.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:41 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The war of 1812 sites on the Canadian side
posted by brujita at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2015

The American side of the Falls is not great BUT the state park is fantastic. Goat Island and Three Sisters Islands are just lovely. There are also some nice hiking trails in the Niagara Gorge.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:51 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is a bird house right near the bridge. It looks like it used to be a hotel that has been turned into an attraction. Parking there is fairly cheap as well.

There are also a couple of indoor waterparks there, but it seems a waste to go if it is as hot this weekend as the week will be.

If you have bikes then going down the Niagara Parkway would be nice. You can stop by the floral clock, butterfly conservatory and other gardens and there is also a rock climbing area which has hiking trails on it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:02 AM on September 1, 2015

If you are into ice cream, Cows opened a location in Niagara on the Lake this year, and the Avondale Dairy Bar does fantastic sundaes.
posted by kyla at 11:03 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just some quick ideas:

The Canadian side has the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory. It is a hidden jem. Most tourists miss it. Try not to. My kids (teenagers) both loved it.

Maid of the Mist - a requirement. Fun.

View the Falls from the US and Canadian sides. In my opinion, Canada does a better job.

Fort Niagara (Or Fort Erie). If you are at all interested in history, military history or have the time to visit, a great opportunity. BONUS - not expensive for either tour.

(Note - US Citizens must have proof of citizenship to cross into Canada. DO NOT take this lightly.)

On the US Side

See the Falls.

Jet Boat the Falls and Rapids. You can ride a jet-powered boat up and down the Rapids. My kids (and I) found this a blast! Can be expensive. Worth it.

If you are willing to travel to Buffalo (about 40 minutes):

Canalside. Historical. Rent paddleboats, radio-controlled boats and play by the water. Fun!

This weekend - Buffalo Wing Festival Saturday and Sunday. (At the Baseball stadium in downtown Buffalo.) A blast! Eat yourself silly! Warnings - hot wings can be too much for some kids. My son (16) blew through 30 wings last year without blinking.
posted by Colonel Sun at 11:34 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I grew up in the Falls, and second the recommendation for the Niagara Glen. You take stairs down (and up) to an elevation below the Niagara Parkway and there are trails you can take right down to the edge of the Niagara River (downstream from the falls, don't worry). It's beautiful mossy rocks and ferns, tall trees, and the roar of the water.
posted by girlpublisher at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2015

Your youngsters might enjoy the Flying Saucer restaurant because of the ambiance, and the adults will probably enjoy the food.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:52 PM on September 1, 2015

I was just there last weekend. It looked like the park on the American side was under some serious construction, so do check that out first.

2nding Maid of the Mist/"Hornblower Niagara Cruises" (as it's now called on the Canadian side). It's not outrageously expensive, but is wet, loud and a fun visceral way to experience the falls.

I hate Niagara-on-the-lake. It's busy, the food is bad and expensive and it's fake quaint. Skip it.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 4:07 PM on September 1, 2015

Many years ago when I was young, Tussauds Wax Museum had an exhibit in the side horror gallery on the history of punishment in human cultures, and it was exactly the sort of thing which Michel Foucault would have found most fascinating.

So if you want a real Foucauldian experience, it's not there anymore. I actually went back last year, and the side horror gallery was now kinda Freddie Kruger and Leatherface, which is more in touch with the kids these days, I guess. Tussauds Wax Museum is very highly recommended if you want to take selfies posing with various movie stars and pop stars and the Queen, etc.
posted by ovvl at 6:13 PM on September 1, 2015

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