My brother was kind enough to gift us with a two night stay at a Hilton Hotel. We debated a long time on where to use it (say about 18 months of debating…) and finally decided on Hilton Fallsview Hotel Niagara Falls, Ontario. Since he was covering the room, we thought it would be the perfect time to splurge on those all important yet expensive passports. If you want to do Niagara without a passport, you can still stay on the New York side. I thought I would share a little about what we learned to perhaps help you plan your own trip in the future!
There are two main areas of Niagara for hotels one is the Clifton Hills section which tends to be very tourist orientated with flashy lights and attractions such as wax museums, arcades, and mini golf. It is a quick walk down to the very beginning of the falls area. The other is the Fallsview area which is closest to Horseshoe falls. For our family the Hilton Fallsview was ideal. The hotel is a fairly close walk to the falls and has amazing views of the falls. Plus the hotel pool has a water slide, connects to the casino, and is close to several very clean arcades and yogurt shops.
I say splurge on a nice hotel with a great view. Going a bit off season will allow you big savings. Our trip in early June was right before the crowds start gushing in for summer break. If you can swing a suite, do it. I loved having the space from the kids and it made for better sleep all around. The Hilton Fallsview suite was an amazing experience. We had two amazing sized bedrooms with a large Jacuzzi bathroom in between the rooms. The view was perfect for seeing the fireworks and observing the falls while relaxing in between adventures.
We were highly disappointed with both the food quality and cost in the area. I would suggest booking a hotel with a nice breakfast buffet and loading up each morning. The Hilton has an amazing value where you can upgrade to a breakfast at their Fallsview restaurant. The food and view are superior in quality. We ate enough breakfast to skip lunch and then splurge on dinner.
I suggest getting a room with a mini fridge and bringing along some snacks. Canadians love their Tim Hortons and while we loved snacking on their donuts, their lunch was inedible. We had hoped to grab some great local food, but instead found a lot of terribly overpriced American chain places like Applebees and IHOP. Our room had a table so when the kids were too worn to go for a big meal out, we simply ordered two adult meals and split them between us all. The restaurants will provide plates and utensils if you decide to try this option. Also be ready for hefty taxes on food. If you have an $80 dinner out (which is easily done) then the tax runs an additional $10.
There are a lot of great attractions surrounding the falls, one which we didn’t do due to Cecily’s size was the Jet Boat ride. If you have the funds and the time, I would suggest this great experience. We decided to do the Niagara Adventure Pass, which offers a slight discount and includes four popular Niagara Falls attractions and the necessary Wego bus pass which hops you from attraction to attraction. We loved three of the four attractions included only thinking the Niagara’s Fury was worth a skip. We also added the Whirlpool Aero Car which skirted us right over the whirlpools on a thin wire in an aero car that has seen better days! Can you say daredevil??
There is nothing that could compare to a boat ride beneath the falls and Hornblower provided us with an amazing experience. Don’t want the lines go early in the morning or in the evening.
White Water Walk is a gorgeous walk along some very serious rapids. As amazing as the falls are themselves, the rapids are just as awe inspiring.
Journey Behind the Falls brings you right under the falls in tunnels built decades ago. There is also a large viewing area that gives you the closest experience to the falls.
Another attraction not be missed is the Imax. Now the building and grounds would turn most people off, but this movie is such an integral part of a true trip to Niagara because it gives you that first hand knowledge of the falls, their history and the daredevils that dared to challenge their power! We bought our tickets through Groupon for a great deal and used Ebates for a little back.
We loved our trip to Niagara, the kids were inspired by the history, the magic, and the power of all the falls represent. If we had more time, we certainly would have headed over to Niagara on the Lake for a little break from tourist trap feel of Niagara! I suggest a 2-3 night trip to fully enjoy the area and be ready for some wonderful family memories.