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Advice on July roadtrip to Niagara Falls (and maybe Toronto)?

508 419 January 4, 2020 at 08:22 PM
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Last Edited by MBster January 4, 2020 at 08:36 PM
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So, we're planning a family roadtrip this July up to Niagara Falls (going to Canadian side). It'll be the kids' first time (all under 10). We'd be starting from mid-Atlantic going north. Would love to get some travel tips and advice from those in the know on how many days to spend and kid-friendly activities (in addition to the typical Hornblower/Maid of the Mist and behind the falls). I'm thinking three nights? 1st night would be the initial 7-9 hr drive up and two days of activities before moving onto to Toronto? Thoughts?

Having never visited Toronto, would love tips on areas to focus for AirBnB/VRBO stays and kids/family friendly activities for another three nights stay.

Thanks in advance!

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There are all kinds of activities on the Canadian side, it has become very commercialized so you can spend lots of money very quickly with all of the individual activities. Unless there are some very specific activities your family is into (like mini golf of which there are a couple nice courses there) then I'd focus my expenses on a couple of the activities related to the falls as many of the other activities can be found at other touristy spots. For us the absolute best falls experience has been the Maid of the Mist. Even though you can be quick crammed on there with lots of people go up through the base toward the base of the falls up into the horseshoe you can see, hear, and feel the power of the falls. If your particularly into waterfalls there are several other nice waterfalls in the finger lakes region of NY, some big and powerful (though obviously not as big as Niagara) and some smaller and more scenic. Our last trip to Niagara we included an extra night and 1 1/2 days to explore some of those falls.

We've only been to Toronto once to visit Canada's Wonderland as we had already visited most parks in the Northeastern US. It is a huge park and ranks up there with some of the better parks we have been to a very wide range of attractions for all ages.
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#3
i would say don't bother with that but seems you've already decided. Niagara falls in July is exactly the same as Time Square at 11:59 PM on 31st of Dec. The falls are nothing fancy, but I am biased with shark hole during the storm.

Toronto itself is very dull city with nothing to look at so I would recommend to stay as close to downtown as possible, maybe check out the CN tower. The views are not bad so it might make sense to spend a bit more $ and get a high floor apartment in towntown.

Overall, I would recommend checking out Montreal/Quebec/Ottawa much more than Toronto. Every time I'm in Toronto area the only thing i want is GTFO from there.
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I assume OP is planning a visit to Toronto because if they are already at Niagara they will be quite close, but still quite some distance from places like Montreal and Quebec. However OP should you happen to find yourself near Montreal that time of year there is an international fireworks competition. It is held at La Rhonde (Six Flags park) and is amazing. Several countries from around the world compete each year. they have a half hour to make the best pyrotechnics show to music.
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Quote from firedog79
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I assume OP is planning a visit to Toronto because if they are already at Niagara they will be quite close,
it could be. that's why you don't go to this frozen shawarma called Toronto and instead go to Montreal from where you can visit Ottawa and Quebec on a day trip.
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Thanks firedog70 and AlexK.

Yeah, firedog is correct. The only reason Toronto is even in the discussion is because of its proximity. The trip to Niagara Falls is really just for the kids (I have gone before but never beyond the falls themselves).
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There are plenty of small attractions in the built up area on the Canadian side for kids (and adults) but you will blow through a lot of money really fast. If you plan on letting your kids do a lot of them there are a few combo packages that will save a little bit of money and also some coupon books at hotels and information spots. I went as an adult twice and though I dont care much for the commercialized tourist district and am not really one for the bar scene at night I certainly wanted to make sure my kids saw Niagara Falls, to me its kind of like the Grand Canyon everyone should see it at least once. I may take them back again as teens, but that will probably be it for Niagara trips. If you do decide to just spend all your time in and near Niagara and not go on to other places beyond and you're looking for other attractions for kids there is a small amusement park with water park on the American side calls Fantasy Island, I had never heard of this before and we do a lot of theme parks. It's nothing compared to the bigger parks but it was a nice little park and worth the visit, by now our kids have been to many bigger parks so they might find that one a bit cheesy. Also there is a Safari park in Niagara, again it doesn't stand out compared to bigger zoo's and safari parks or something like Animal Kingdom but was still worth a visit and we had some cool up close giraffe interactions. There is also a nice drive in theatre just a few minutes drive from Niagara on the Canadian side that we have done each time we have visited.

Just to throw out a completely alternative suggestion if your not particularly set on staying in Niagara itself. Darien Lake is a short drive on the US side and has a nice theme park and campground (with cabins that are nice but pricey). You could still see the falls a day from the American side park and do Maid of the mist, all without ever crossing the border and going into the built up Canadian side, and possibly spend about the same amount of money for the theme park tickets depending upon how many attractions you were going to let your kids do in Niagara.

You still have plenty of time to plan for this trip, while its certainly not at the top of my list of places to vacation it is for sure something you should share with your kids, enjoy.
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#8
Toronto is the metropolitan city of Ontario. I had the best time there. Shop at younge street and many things to do and see. Stop by the lake side and you will have a romantic experience and best for families as well.
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#9
My advice is to not drive a pretty GMC there. Apparently they are popular with car thieves in Canada. It took a year and a half before claim was closed. We did still have a good time though!
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Quote from Virago06
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My advice is to not drive a pretty GMC there. Apparently they are popular with car thieves in Canada. It took a year and a half before claim was closed. We did still have a good time though!
that''s the only car which can handle canadian roads.
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