The Niagara region is one of my favourite places in all of Ontario. Chris and I got married at a winery just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake and so the whole area holds a really special place in my heart. We go every chance we get and love taking the kids as well. So when we got invited by Niagara Parks to check out some of their winter attractions, we of course jumped at the chance. There’s so much to do both in the summer as well as winter, and the off-season means fewer crowds (always a good idea in my books). If you’re heading to Niagara Falls with young kids in tow, I’ve put together my top 5 things to do with young kids in the area. All Isabelle and Nicolas approved, of course.
[ 1 ] Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory
Visiting the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is one of my absolute favourite things to do in the Niagara region, especially in the winter. Wandering through the warm tropical rainforest setting is the perfect escape from the cold, and the 2,000+ colourful butterflies flying around freely are fascinating to watch for the whole family.
If you’re visiting before April 18th, make sure to check out the Northern Owls Exhibit, a travelling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum. There is also a live bird display on a select few days this year (March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22). We caught a bald eagle demo and it was so cool to watch! Isabelle and Nicolas were both completely enthralled.
[ 2 ] Journey Behind the Falls
Elevators, tunnels, and a waterfall up close – all things universally loved by young kids. Journey Behind the Falls brings you down 45 metres (13 storeys), to witness the most powerful waterfalls in North America up close. Go in the off-season (or during the week) if you can to avoid long lines. And bonus if you go in the winter – no need to wear a poncho since the ice and snow that build up around the falls means less mist on the observation deck. (We all know how difficult it is to get toddlers into clothing of any kind, let alone a giant plastic cape.)
[ 3 ] Falls Incline Railway
If you’re heading to the Fallsview tourist area (there are several hotels as well as an amazing waterpark up there), you will very much appreciate the Falls Incline Railway. It saves you quite a bit of walking time (always a good idea with toddlers) and gives your kids an exciting ride. Plus the view of the falls as you ride up is a nice bonus. This might not seem like an attraction on its own, but it most definitely will be for your train- and cable-car-loving tiny humans.
[ 4 ] Bird Kingdom
Another great indoor option to take your kids to is Bird Kingdom, the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the entire world. They have over 350 birds as well as other exotic mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Your kids can even feed some colourful Lorikeets if they’re up for it (or you can do the feeding, while your kiddos watch). Bird Kingdom has a “Toddler’s Day” every Wednesday where children 1-3 are free and you get 50% off regular admission (up to 6 people).
[ 5 ] Elements on the Falls
When your little ones get hungry, make sure to head to one of Niagara Park’s five restaurants. I personally like Elements on the Falls the best for its fantastic location overlooking the Falls. They have great food (for your littles as well) and when your kids get antsy from sitting in their chair too long (which, let’s face it, is after about 10 minutes for toddlers), they can look out the window and watch the falls (as well as all the people and dogs passing by). As an added bonus, all of Niagara Park’s restaurants are Feast On certified, which means they source at least 25% of their ingredients from Ontario. Supporting the many growers, producers and craftspeople that make up the Ontario’s strong food and agricultural sectors is always a great idea in my books.
If you’re heading to Niagara Falls before end of April, make sure to get yourself a Niagara Falls Wonder Pass, which includes admission to everything listed here (apart from Birds Kingdom) as well as Niagara’s Fury and 2-day WEGO bus access (to get you to/from all of Niagara Park’s attractions). Starting in May, you can make use of the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, which includes some extra seasonal attractions.