It’s easy to understand why Niagara Falls is our country’s top tourist destination. The picturesque Canadian side is an impressive sight: around 1 million bathtubs full of water thunder over its edge every minute. But come winter, all that water makes things a bit chilly and more than a little icy. Plus, some of Niagara’s most popular attractions are closed in winter, including the Whirlpool Aero Car, the Jet Boat Tours, and the Maid of the Mist and Hornblower cruises.
So does this mean that Niagara Falls is a summer-only destination? No way! It’s full of year-round, family-friendly activities. Below are some of the best ways to keep the kids busy while visiting Niagara Falls during the winter.
Winter is also an affordable time to visit, thanks to discount passes (keep an eye on Groupon and Wagjag). Be sure to grab a WEGO bus day pass to skip having to walk from attraction to attraction in the cold.
Want a resort experience without the hassle (and the high price tag)? Then check out Great Wolf Lodge. Its waterpark—which is for lodge guests only—is just the beginning; the resort also features bowling, an arcade, and tons of events including an evening pajama party.
Great Wolf isn’t the only waterpark in town. Waves Indoor Waterpark and Fallsview Indoor Waterpark both offer wave pools, toddler areas, and plenty of slides. And unlike at Great Wolf, passes to these spots can be purchased by anyone, not just hotel guests.
Want to save on your trip to Fallsview? Check out Costco, it often sells passes at a discounted price.
Get a taste of Vegas with acclaimed magician Greg Frewin’s family-friendly show. Featuring stunning illusions, mind-bending tricks, and live tigers, including a rare white Siberian cat, the night is sure to spark your kids’ imagination. A buffet dinner is available with most seating options.
Tigers are hardly the only exotic animals that call Niagara Falls home. Dozens of cool creatures, including parrots, lizards and even bats, can be found in Bird Kingdom, the world’s largest indoor aviary. Animal encounters are available, letting your kids get up close and personal with some new feathery—or scaly—friends.
Some 45 different species of butterfly float through the lush (and warm!) gardens of the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory. Several waterfalls enhance the relaxing atmosphere and create the perfect backdrop for a few family photos.
Little kids can burn off some energy in the Falls’ largest indoor playground. With special areas for infants and toddlers, and wi-fi for grown-ups, Cheeky Monkey offers hours of entertainment. It also has “date nights,” where you can drop off your potty-trained child for an evening of fun while you check out some of Niagara’s adults-only activities.
Have older children? Then this 70,000-square-foot play zone is what you’ve been looking for. There are more than 300 games to choose from, including classics like Skee Ball and more cutting-edge ones, like the 6D motion ride. There’s also an on-site Boston Pizza that’s perfect for refueling kids. To save some cash, grab a Clifton Hill Fun Pass.
Catch two of Niagara Falls’ top attractions under one roof. IMAX Niagara: Miracles, Myths & Magic will have your family at the edge of their seats while the Niagara Falls Daredevil Exhibit will give them a hands-on look at the region’s crazy past.
After boning up on your Niagara history, show the kids the falls from a different perspective with a trip aboard the SkyWheel. Soar 175 feet above Niagara in a climate-controlled capsule that guarantees a memorable view.
Over 900 artifacts and exhibits, including shrunken heads and the world’s rarest egg, make up the Odditorium, the top-rated museum in Niagara. It’s also one of three Ripley properties here—Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks and the Moving Theatre are the other two. Plan on visiting two or all three? Then save some cash with a combo pass.
Winter may not seem like ice cream season, but we’re pretty sure that, no matter the temperature, your kids will be up for one of the wacky soft-serve ice-cream creations piled high with toppings from cookies to cotton candy. Inside the Sheraton Hotel, Sweet Jesus serves up its colourful cones Friday through Sunday.
Photo credit: Fallsview Waterpark