Pros:Maid of the Mist Boat Tour, Cave of the Winds, the scenery
Cons:Clifton Hill venues, anything Ripley's, Fallsview Restaurant
The Bottom Line: Definitely recommend. The falls were gorgeous. Niagara Falls park venues were the best part of the vacation experience.
I took my kids there in July 2006. We're American, but I had a free room through Hilton Honors, and they only had availability on the Canadian side. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Victoria Avenue. It was not as nice as some Hampton Inns I've seen, but free is free.
We did the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour first. That was excellent. If that was all we'd gotten the chance to do, we would've been happy. It was worth every penny. We brought a waterproof disposable camera, which I would recommend. I was glad I did not take an expensive camera to Niagara Falls. Our photos came out just fine.
We then walked across the Rainbow Bridge to the American side. If you go this way, bring quarters. The Canadian side has tolls to enter and exit Canada. The American side does not, either way.
We then walked to the visitor's center on the American side, passed through it, and bought tickets for the trolley. I highly recommend the trolley. Even if I were not 7 months pregnant at the time I could not imagine walking all over the park. It was fairly spread out.
Next we ate at the Fallsview Restaurant. That was a horrible waste of time and money. I did expect to spend a lot on food and incidentals, as with any "captive audience" venue, but the service was so horrendous! It was a very slow night. We were one of only three guests there. The restaurant had plenty of staff just standing around talking, but our waitress took forever to acknowledge us and take our order. She also didn't check on us during the meal. She was so slow to bring and then collect the bill, I seriously considered just walking out. I doubt she would have noticed!
After that, we did the Cave of the Winds tour. Thankfully the staff there was extremely friendly. They give you a poncho and wet-suit shoes before you start the tour. Without having to ask, the lady at the desk went to some trouble to find a pair of pink shoes for my little girl. It made my daughter very happy. The tour itself was amazing. If I could only do one thing at Niagara Falls, this would be it. We were so close to the falls, we could reach out and touch them. The views were amazing. Our favorite memory from the trip was getting soaked on the hurricane deck.
After that, we took the trolley to the Maid of the Mist tour area on the American side. The boat tour was closed by then, so we were able to stand on the bridge leading to the observation tower and watch the falls being lit up. That was OK, but not the most amazing sight I've ever seen.
We walked back across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada as the fireworks were starting. That was a nice touch. I definitely recommend going on a Friday to catch the fireworks over the falls.
The next day I took the kids to the Ripley's Museum and Toussad's Wax Museum. Both were a waste of money, in my opinion, and expensive. The kids heard about the wax museum from friends and just had to go. The best part was getting their hands molded in wax at the end. That was pricey as well, but it made them happy. I'd advise skipping the Clifton Hill experience altogether if you can.
Finally we did some souvenir shopping on Victoria Avenue. We were able to pick up some cheap t-shirts, shotglasses, etc. There were enough shops clustered together that this took no time at all.
Overall, we had a lot of fun. As with any vacation, expect to spend $$$.
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Jun - Aug