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Postcard from Niagara Falls, Ontario

Our very own Haley Overland and her family find lost treasure, eat like Willy Wonka and get soaked.

By Haley Overland
Postcard from Niagara Falls, Ontario

Postcard from Niagara Falls, Ontario

Postcard from Niagara Falls, Ontario

Who knew Niagara Falls could be so magical, fun and kid-friendly? After an hour and a half drive from our home in Toronto, my family and I arrived on the outskirts of the city, catching anticipatory glimpses of some of its brightly lit attractions. During our three-day stay, my six-year-old daughter confronted her fears as we journeyed behind the roaring Falls, rode the 175-foot-high SkyWheel, and flew down a giant waterslide. I confronted my fears in the foyers of a haunted house or two in Clifton Hill, the action-packed main strip by the Falls. My four-year-old son discovered the glory of fudge and turned blue from cotton candy, and my husband became a kid again in a dazzling arcade. (For the record, it was me who scored our daughter the little panda she wanted in one of the arcade’s impossible claw machines!).

A version of this article appeared in our May 2012 issue, with the headline Postcard From ...Niagara Falls, Ont. (p. 30).

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by David Sacks/Getty Images

Where to stay: Great Wolf Lodge

Popular wilderness-themed Great Wolf Lodge’s new pièce de resistance is MagiQuest, an interactive game that now fills the upper floors. Families run around the enchanted hallways with special wands on one of several medieval-style quests, searching for ruins, potion ingredients, pixies, dragons and more. The Lodge has a ton of other activities to offer too, including its famous enormous water park, evening storytime pyjama parties, an activities-packed Cub Club, lavish “Scooops” kids’ spa and more. Best thing ever? A kid-only log-cabin-themed area with bunk beds and a TV/game centre.

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by David Sacks/Getty Images

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When to go and why

The spring is a great time to hit Niagara Falls if you want to enjoy its famous botanical gardens.

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by HotblackDesiato via Flickr

The best place to make a new friend

The Butterfly Conservatory at the Botanical Gardens. “Look, Mama,” my son says as a butterfly lands on his leg. “I think I made a new friend!”

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto via iStockphoto.com

The best little boy fantasy

Brick City. Enter a world made entirely of Lego-like blocks. The exhibit features the pyramids, Spider-Man, a 10-foot CN Tower, the band AC/DC, the Falls, Star Wars-spaceships and moving trains.

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto via iStockphoto.com

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The best restaurant with a view

Terrapin Grille Fallsview Restaurant at the Marriott. Enjoy a perfect view of the Falls. Watch the water light up in colour, beginning nightly at dusk.

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto via iStockphoto.com

The best water attraction

Jet boat tour of the lower river, which takes you to the Niagara Gorge and back through Devil’s Hole Rapids. Prepare to get wet on the “Wet Jet” tour; stay dry on the “Jet Dome” (whirlpooljet.com).

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto via iStockphoto.com

Fudge Factory on Clifton Hill

It wouldn't be a Niagara Falls trip without fresh Canadian fudge and classic candies, now would it? Move over, Willy Wonka!

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by Richard Elzey via Flickr

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The Strike Rock n' Bowl at Boston Pizza

Perfect for a rainy day — if you are not staying at Great Wolf Lodge — for minigolf, bowling, state-of-the-art arcade games, billiards and more!

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by Robert Snache via Flickr

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Take a 15-20 minute drive through several picturesque vineyards to the quaint nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake district (be sure to hit The Shaw Café while you're there and try the scrumptious falafel wrap and crunchy baguettes), and enjoy the unique craft, antique and souvenir shops.

Photo by DJ Singh via Flickr

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by DJ Singh via Flickr

Did you know ...

  • The Falls are about 12,000 years old.
  • Marilyn Monroe stayed at what's now called the Crowne Plaza Hotel while filming the 1953 movie Niagara.
  • During a boating accident in 1960, seven-year-old Roger Woodward survived going over the Falls in nothing but a lifejacket and bathing suit, suffering only minor injuries.

Postcard from Niagara Falls, OntarioPhoto by BirdImages/iStockphoto.com

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More postcards....

Postcard from Niagara Falls, Ontario
This article was originally published on Apr 10, 2012

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