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Road Trip to Niagara Falls area: Tips and Recommendations

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We took an awesome road trip to Niagara Falls and the surrounding area a few weeks ago. I’m happy to share tips and recommendations about this trip–where we went, what we did, where we stayed and ate, and tips on what you should do if you get a chance to go there!

Road Trip to Niagara Falls area
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I have also shared about other adventures that we took on this long road trip: to Quebec City, Maine post #1, and Maine post #2.

Day 1 — Getting to Niagara Falls

We live near Chicago, so we started our drive at 6:30 a.m. and stopped for lunch in Ann Arbor, MI. Whenever we go through a college town we try to drive by the university there–our easy way to do a “college visit” for the kids. 🙂  It was our 3-year-old daughter’s birthday so we had a nice lunch at Chili’s.  I’ve often heard about Detroit and the devastation economically there, but it was shocking to see large buildings falling in ruins. We crossed the border at the bridge there.  I was thankful that I got passport cards for the kids, because even though it was an extra expense and hassle to get them, it made the border crossings a breeze.

As we were heading toward Niagara Falls, I pulled out our Jonathan Park audio dramas. My favorite set is Jonathan Park Volume V: The Explorers Society
–and the first episode is about Niagara Falls!

We arrived in Niagara Falls, Ontario at 7 p.m. that evening. After checking into our hotel Holiday Inn and resting a bit, we took a short walk over to the falls. We got there when it was dusk and had some great pictures taken.  Then, as dark struck, colored lights shone on the falls, which were beautiful!

Be sure to go to both sides of the Falls; you get unique views from each side. (You’ll need passports to pass over the border–so plan ahead!)

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American and Bridal Falls:

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Horseshoe Falls:

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Check out this awesome travel journal for kids.

We were pretty hungry by this point, but it was 9 p.m. and every restaurant we walked by was closed. We headed back to our hotel and found that their restaurant was open.  It turned out to be a very nice meal and not very expensive, since we had gotten some “kids eat free” coupons when we checked in.

Day 2 — Niagara Adventures

The next morning we made a huge mistake by going to IHOP, way overpriced–don’t go there in Niagara Falls!  The following morning we went to Tim Horton’s — much cheaper!

We then drove over to New York to go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride which takes you directly into the spray of Horseshoe Falls.  Incredible!  They gave everyone a blue slicker, but my 5-year-old didn’t want to wear it. There was also a group of Amish people on the boat who didn’t wear the slickers.  I felt sorry for them-they got soaked!  I highly recommend doing this great boat ride.

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After that I took some of the kids one direction as my husband took them another. If we had had more time (and energy for walking) we would have walked over to the Goat Island.  By the way, look at the grassy area in the picture just below. My oldest son was wondering who actually goes out there to mow it.  I said he should get hazard pay for that job.

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I’m afraid of heights and can’t believe I actually stood at the top of this tower and overhang!

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Time in Buffalo, NY

Our oldest son talked us into driving into Buffalo, NY to get buffalo wings!

We found a great restaurant that I’d love to recommend: Duff’s.  The meal was delish and fun!

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After we got back into the car, there was a big downpour. It rained most of the way while we drove to the quaint little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was back in Canada.  We got there just as Fort George was closing; otherwise we would have gone there. They re-enact the War of 1812.  I love history stuff like that!

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We walked into the town and got some ice cream at place called Cows.

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We had fun looking in an Irish shop, where I bought a beautiful framed quote- loved this little town. There is a theater and lots of bed-and-breakfasts–would be perfect for a romantic giveaway.

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We drove back to the Holiday Inn and the kids had a ball swimming.  The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, but it was too chilly for the outdoor pool.  I was really grateful for the indoor pool!

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We ate leftover wings for dinner and headed to bed.  

Other Nigara Falls Ideas

Then, we heard the fireworks that they were doing over the Falls.  We looked out the window, but couldn’t see them.  So, be sure to look into that if you go for a visit. I wish we had seen them!

A few other things I’d like to do if we ever get back there: Journey Behind the Falls, the tall tower on the Canadian side, and the walk over to Goat Island.

Here’s a journal entry from my 6-year-old daughter:

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If you enjoyed reading about this trip, be sure to read about some of our other road trip adventures: MontereySan Francisco, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Legoland California, Pennsylvania, Smoky Mountains.

And now I’m happy to introduce you to the Summer Road Trip Series. Visit all these other bloggers and enjoy some more great Road Trip adventures and tips!

Summer Road Trip Ideas from Around the World


Bar Harbor, Maine at Playground Parkbench

DC to NY Baseball Trip at Sunny Day Family

Indianapolis, Indiana at Mom Inspired Life

Upstate NY / Finger Lakes at My Joy-Filled Life

Sandusky/Put in Bay at Something 2 Offer

Charlotte NC at Beauty in the Mess

Newport, RI at Be Fed Again

Philadelphia, PA at The Fraggle Momma

Frankfort, Michigan at Purposeful Homemaking


Northumberland, England at Peakle Pie

Scotland at Witty Hoots

North Norfolk Coast at Travelled So Far


Melbourne Australia at Every Bed of Roses


Grand Bend Beach and Bayfield at HEN Family

Algonquin Park, Ontario at Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Niagara Falls (New York & Ontario) at I Choose Joy!


Santander to Girona at In The Playroom

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  1. Homeschool Parenting Summit 2.0 October 16-21, 2023
  2. Niagara Falls is a must see for everyone at least once in their life! I grew up about 2 hours away and have been often but it never gets old. The Maid of the Mist is a must and I loooove Duff’s! What level of hotness did you get your wings? Looks like your family had a great time and made some great memories!

    1. I mostly ate the mild ones, but tried one medium! It was hot!

  3. Thank you for all of the tips – it’s that those make taking kids to places so much easier. Niagara falls is on our bucket list and I hope to do both sides.

  4. Nice! Looks very familiar ????. I can see you guys had fun, that’s really great!! I actually have never gone to Duffs. Better check this out soon!

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