“We were provided accommodations and access to some attractions by ‘Niagara USA’ in order to facilitate this story. As always, all opinions are ours”
Niagara Falls USA – Where to Stay, What to Do & What to Eat
“Some like to travel for the food, some like to travel for the sights, and some like to travel for the controlled chaos visiting a new city can sometimes bring. Personally, I feel the moral obligation to show my kids what all is out there, and how them too can dream big.”
When we broke the news to our kids that we were headed to Niagara Falls, NY for the weekend, they looked at us in disbelief. After all, we hadn’t said a word about this until the 2017 Honda Ridgeline was fully packed and all of us ready to go. Perhaps they were more disappointed that their constant parental-eavesdropping hadn’t turned a clue, and this was truly a surprise.
Missi and I were careful to not spoil things, as this was her and the kids’ first visit to Niagara Falls, and the State of New York (outside of Manhattan). I had previously visited at the age of 12 when my family took a 30-day RV trip across Canada, and now it was my turn to take my family on a super-condensed version of that trip.
Hopefully this will motivate you to embark on your own Niagara Falls USA trip with your family!
What to wear?
We visited the weekend after Labor Day, meaning that it was technically summer, but only a few weeks shy of fall’s official arrival. With temperatures in the low 80’s most of the day, we certainly made the right call with cargo shorts and light shirts. Comfortable shoes are a must as you’ll be doing lots of walking across various kinds of terrain. Also, don’t forget that many surfaces around the falls are wet and very slippery, so dress appropriately.
It’s not uncommon to wait in line at various attractions for long periods of time and sometimes in direct sunlight, so make sure to pack sunscreen and a hat in your purse or backpack. Keep in mind that temperatures do drop quite a bit at night, and the wind/breeze really picks up in the evening. Bring a hoodie or windbreaker to shield you without making you too hot.
Where to stay?
Niagara Falls USA is home to many hotels of all kinds and prices. Booking during off-peak times can guarantee you incredibly low rates. We were provided accommodations at the ‘Sheraton at the Falls,’ and stayed in one of their new 4-bed family suites, which I highly recommend.
The Sheraton is located in the center of the action and only 0.4 mi. from the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park. The property features a T.G.I Fridays, Rainforest Cafe and Starbucks in the lobby level, and a mind-blowing kid’s pool area called ‘The Reef.’ Basic Wifi is included but breakfast buffet will set you back $17.99 for adults and $14.99 for kids. For our hotel review click here.
Where to eat?
As always, we decided to go local, and we ate at some incredible places that not only pleased our bellies, but also our wallets. If you’re a fan of delicious, local, and inexpensive, then you want to eat here. *Meals were not provided by these businesses in exchange for mentions*
- Breakfast: Third Street Retreat & Pub. Eat their BF burrito and WNY omelette. Seriously good!
- Lunch: Eat on-the-go to maximize your play time, or sit down for a lunch with-a-view at the ‘Top of the Falls’ restaurant.
- Dinner: Donatello’s. Venture into town and away from tourist attractions for a mouth-watering pizza and wings. Seriously, I want to go back to this place right now.
What to do:
This is where it gets tricky. There are a ton of things to do in Niagara Falls USA, but only a couple are iconic must-dos. You can’t leave town without checking these out:
Walk straight into the heart of the falls—literally. Witness first-hand the force of the falls by getting as close to them as you can without risking death.
Lower yourself into the core of the falls via an intimidating but exciting elevator shaft, put on a poncho, and let the magic begin. The Cave of the Winds features a path of platforms and stairs that allows you to walk along the base of the falls, and even be drenched by them at times. The look in the kids’ faces was mesmerizing. This experience will truly make you fall in love with Niagara.
FIY: You’ll be provided wet-sandals for this experience, so don’t worry about getting your shoes wet. And yes, you can keep them.
You can’t leave town without a bon voyage in ‘ole Lady Mist. While the cave allows you to experience the falls from within, the Maid of the Mist allows you to witness their glory from a photo-perfect distance.
We were in awe of the falls as we stood on the boat’s deck. The captain gently maneuvered the boat so we could get a glimpse of the Canadian and American falls, along with the blinding mist generated by their force. Just as we were making a u-turn to head back, a stunning and vivid rainbow cut through the mist for a picture-perfect moment.
FIY: Lines can get long and there isn’t any shade. Make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, as well as some bottled water to stay hydrated. Also, foresee having to stand up for a long time.
Whether you’re a history-nerd like myself or not, Fort Niagara is a must-visit on your trip to Niagara Falls USA. You’ll be welcomed with mesmerizing views of Lake Ontario, and during our visit we could even see Toronto’s downtown in the distance!
Originally the 300-year-old fort belonged to New-France, and it controlled access to the Great Lakes which was vital for trading and developing the new found territories. The fort played protagonist during the War of 1812 where it was captured by the British and later on given to the Americans.
You’ll be able to walk through its in-house museum, old watch towers, barracks, and the main fort house which is reminiscent of a European castle. This, along with an original flag from the War of 1812 were an excellent history lesson for the kids, which backs up our teachings of learning and appreciating our rich history.
FIY: During the short 20 minute drive north of the city to Fort Niagara, you’ll enjoy a beautiful rural scenery, as well as the Niagara Power Vista dam where falls’ water is turned into electricity.
Niagara is magical. You will arrive but you won’t want to leave. Perhaps it’s the fact that everything revolves around one major natural attraction. This isn’t Disney. No one built the falls; this is mother nature at its finest. We left Niagara Falls USA amazed, in-love, and desiring a comeback.