Niagara Falls: Here’s what you need to know

And by that I mean, if you’re going there with a six- and four-year old. Not about the Falls themselves, so much. I’m still not exactly super-knowledgeable on those. I couldn’t hear a thing on our boat tour over the tonnes of roaring water and flapping ponchos.

(Side note: The Flapping Ponchos would be an excellent name for a Mariachi band, should I ever be in a position to name one.)

A room with a view

If you can get a room with a view, do it.

Because when you’re travelling with kids, there are so many things that you have to do with them in your hotel room every day – bathe them, feed them, answer their multitude of questions, ignore their multitude of questions during hotel room happy hour…

If you can do this in a room with a view, you can not only pass these mundane experiences off as something new and exciting – “hey kids, who wants to have a bath – with a view!?”, but you can maybe even do them in lieu of the plethora of alternative (overpriced) kids’ experiences, to which you will be subjected at Niagara Falls. More on that later.

Suck up the surcharges

Dining options in the Falls are plentiful but expensive. That said, don’t think you can cheat the system like I did.

I’d heard tell of a kitschy Flying Saucer themed restaurant a mere 3km walk from our hotel and a vastly better value breakfast than what seemed to be nearby. Given our kids had managed up to 14km walking a day in NYC, I figured the whole exercise would be a walk in the park, so to speak.

It was not a walk in the park. At all. It was a long walk on empty tummies, which took us past many a pawn, gun and adult shop in the process.

And the kids whined so much that we ended up taking a cab back to our hotel anyway, so kind of a false economy in the end.

Niagara Falls are kind of wet

I’ve seen many a pop culture reference to Niagara Falls and in particular to the Maid of the Mist boat trip and its Canadian counterpart – the Hornblower Journey to the Falls.

Note the dry hair

(Jim and Pam’s nuptials in The Office anyone? Sorry, spoiler alert.)

And on each and every fictional occasion, everyone ended up soaked.

Yet despite this, I was shocked at how soggy we all actually got in the end and I wished we were better prepared. I mean, the ponchos are lovely, but I should’ve put the kids in wetsuits.

And as far as capturing this beautiful, exhilarating moment we shared as a family? Water and iPhones famously don’t mix, so it depends how bad you want it. Time over, I would’ve brought a Go Pro, or at least a clear snap lock bag.

Fortunately we weren’t staying far from the boat drop-off point so it was straight to the hotel for warm showers and a fun game of – hey kids, how many things can we use in the hotel room as a clothesline?

Come for the view, and stay for the….view?

Niagara Falls are beautiful. And sailing directly into that foaming mist, barely able to hear myself think over the thunderous water will forever stick in my mind as a true highlight of our trip.

So if you’ve not had the pleasure, I highly recommend it.

Go there. Go on the boat. Or stand on the land and appreciate the view, soak it all in.

Just…don’t turn around.

As beautiful as the Falls are, the town (on the Canadian side where we stayed at least) is not.

I had read that the place has become a bit ‘Disneyfied’ which I think is generous at best and a bit of an insult to Walt and his kin at worst.

Think of every dodgy tourist trap you’ve ever seen and it’s all there, right behind the falls. It’s like a glittering who’s who of everything you never wanted to do. With a side dish of trying to explain to your kids why you’re not going to spend your time near one of the most beautiful places in the US inside a Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

That said, if you’re feeling really creative, you can pass the boat trip off as a water-themed roller coaster complete with matching costumes like we did. Everyone’s a winner.

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