Best Things to Do in Niagara Falls NY for Families

This list of the best things to do in Niagara Falls NY for families will help you plan a perfect visit to one of the most popular destination in North America.

A visit to Niagara Falls, NY should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. It is a great place in the United States to visit.

Visiting Niagara Fall, NY is an all seasons destination. You will experience different popular attractions depending on the season but will find lots of things to do no matter what time of year you visit.

Are you visiting in winter? Check out: Niagara Falls Weekend Getaway at Sheraton on the Falls Hotel

american falls winter in niagara falls.

Where to See Niagara Falls New York

If you plan a trip to Niagara Falls you need to know where to see Niagara Falls New York. It is very easy to find and there are a lot of signs pointing you in the right direction.

You want to start your visit at America’s oldest state park Niagara Falls State Park. There is a visitor center near the parking lot if you want to learn more.

In Niagara State Park you will find access to the Niagara Scenic Trolley, Cave of the Winds Tour, Observation Tower, Maid of the Mist Boat Ride and information on all the popular attractions in Niagara Falls NY.

things to do in niagara falls ny for families

What is Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is located on the American and Canadian side. It is a combination of three waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls (smallest one), American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.

The Bridal Veil Falls is located to the right of the American Falls separated by Luna Island. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is named the Horseshoe Falls.

You can see all of the water falls from the New York side but for panoramic views the Canadian side is the best.

My personal opinion is that the American side is under rated because it doesn’t have the expansive view of the falls but it does allow guests to get very close.

You can feel the mist of the falls as soon as you leave the Niagara Falls visitors center. For this reason keep small children very close. There are areas that do not have great fencing or walls.

Where is Niagara Falls USA

Most of the activities in Niagara Falls, NY are located at the Niagara Falls State Park or around it. The map below shows that there are two areas you can park.

One spot is near the American Falls viewing area and the other is at Goat Island near the Cave of the Winds.

Depending on weather and who you are visiting with you can walk from one are to the other on bridges across the Niagara River.

How to Get to Niagara Falls USA

Most people will arrive in Niagara Falls by car. The closest airport is Niagara Falls Airport or the Buffalo airport. If you are visiting for longer than a day trip consider visiting the Canadian side of Niagara Falls too.

Best Things to Do in Niagara Falls NY for Families

There are so many fun things to do in Niagara Falls NY. The best things are the family-friendly activities that work for your family trip.

Keep that in mind when picking the activities you want to do.

Hiking Trails

There are 4 main gorge trails at Niagara Falls State Park ranging from easy/beginner to difficult/seasoned hiker.

They all begin at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead center. Conditions on the trail are impacted by the weather and hikers must stay on the trails.

Guided trail tours are available May-October.

The trails are mapped out and it is very important for your safety to stay on the marked trails. Learn more here.

Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds takes guests on a elevator ride down the gorge to follow the paths around the falls. During the winter months two observation decks are open.

Cave of the Winds is currently open through the winter season. Guests need to purchase tickets upon arrival.

On our recent visit we couldn’t get an appointment until 2 hours after arrival, and ended up not getting to do it. Plan to arrive early and schedule your day around your reservations.

I really hope to do this next time we visit!

cave of the winds at niagara falls state park.

Trolley Tour

The Niagara Scenic Trolley Tour is a great way to explore the area and not worry about driving. Guests are allowed to hop on and off for the day. Learn more here.

Three Sisters Island

Three Sisters Island is located at Niagara Falls State Park. It is past the visitors center and has a small parking lot.

The three walking bridges located on Goat Island give you a close up view of the upper rapids.

On our most recent visit this was a highlight of our trip. It is a beautiful area that I am happy we included on our visit.

three sisters at niagara falls.

Old Fort Niagara

I haven’t visited Old Fort Niagara in years but am hoping to take the kids this year. Old Fort Niagara served as a battle ground through the 1700s and 1800s, and even house POW’s in the 1940s. It is open year round and hosts events throughout the year.

Niagara Gorge Discovery Center

The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center is not on the map above but a bit north of the Rainbow Bridge (the bridge that connects Canada and the USA).

The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center offers hands-on exhibits, a 180 degree theater, and rock climbing wall.

It is located within walking distance to the Aquarium of Niagara and the Schoellkopf Power Station. Update: Currently Closed due to Covid.

Niagara Adventure Theater

Niagara Adventure Theater is located in the parking lot near the Maid of the Mist entrance. It is located inside the visitors center.

Niagara Falls Observation Tower

The observation deck is the best place to view the falls. It gives you a panoramic view of all the falls. Here you can view the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls.

The observation tower is located in parking lot 1, close to the Maid of the Mist on the map.

american falls winter in niagara falls.

Illuminations and Fireworks

Niagara Falls lights up at night with illuminations and fireworks. Inspired by Nature is the regular nightly five minute lighting display.

It plays 3 times on the half hour starting at 7:30 and ended at 11:30pm. There are also special events throughout the year. Check latest hours here.

Aquarium of Niagara

The Aquarium of Niagara houses over 1500 marine life animals with the highlight being the penguins, sea lions, and seals. There are daily shows and is open year round. Learn more here.

Art Alley Niagara Falls

The Art Alley Niagara Falls is a public walkway with 19 art murals. It is located on 425 Third Street Niagara Falls, New York.

Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad tells stories of freedom seekers and abolitionists. I really wish we had an opportunity to visit but I didn’t know about the center until after our visit.

There is such history there and I look forward to visiting and learning more about its role in civil rights in American history.

Niagara Power Plant

I never thought a visit to a power plant would be something on our list to do with kids but we really enjoyed our visit. The Niagara Power Vista is open year round.

The power plant offers hands-on exhibits and teaches how Niagara Falls powers the state of New York as well as how we discovered power sources and made them work for todays society.

niagara falls ny power plant visit.

Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls State Park is where you can purchase tickets for the Cave of the Winds, walk the trails to see the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls, Check out Three Sisters Island, see the Nikola Tesla Monument and the Nik Wallenda tight rope wire.

The Tesla monument is near the American Falls overlook. The Nik Wallenda wire is near the Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point.

Check out this map of Niagara Falls State Park.

Vortex VR Arcade

Offering VR experiences and arcades this is a fun activity for older kids. It is perfect if you are planning and weekend in Niagara Falls and looking for an after dinner activity.

Schoellkopf Power Station Ruins

Guests can take an elevator down to the Niagara Gorge and learn more about how hydroelectric power works.

There is no cost to take the elevator down to the gorge.

Whirlpool State Park

Whirlpool State parks offers scenic views of the Whirlpool and rapids. There is a gorge history room as well. Guests can also take the staircase down to the base of the gorge to hike the Whirlpool Rapids trail.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

The Whirlpool Jet Boat tour offers tours in the USA and Canada during the months of May-October. Guests can choose between two experiences: get wet or stay dry.

The dry experience offers a ride through the rapids in a covered boat. The wet tour is an experience through the rapids on an open boat.

Children must be 13 years or older to experience the wet tour. For the dry tour children must be at least 40 inches tall.

Whirlpool Aero Car

Although I have never been brave enough to experience this the Whirlpool Aero Car will offer a ride over the waters of the Niagara River.

You will travel between Canada and America, guests do not need passports, and be 3,500 feet above the Niagara Gorge.

Where to Stay in Niagara Falls, NY

If you are looking to stay in Niagara Falls, NY for a night there are many options within walking distance to the falls. The Sheraton Niagara Falls is highly recommended for families.

Where to Eat in Niagara Falls, NY

If you are looking for familiar check out the Rainforest Café or Hard Rock Café. There is an Anchor Bar, which is home of the original Buffalo chicken wings as well.

At Niagara Falls State Park you can check out Top of the Falls restaurant or Prospect Point Café.

There are so many fun things to do in Niagara Falls NY for families all season of the year.

Read Next: 16 Family Day Trips from Rochester, NY

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