Niagara Falls is one of the many wonderful attractions within a reasonable driving distance to New Jersey.  It is a great family friendly destination with things to do for the whole family whether you are looking for a wild ride or something a little tamer for the little ones.  I recently had the chance to explore the United States side and get an up close and personal look at awe inspiring natural feature.

  1. It’s inexpensive to see the falls.   For the price of parking you can walk throughout Niagara Falls State Park to see the falls from all sorts of angles.    There is a low cost trolley system that will transport you if you don’t want to walk it all.  There are various easily accessible viewpoints where you can see the falls, feel the mist, and take pictures of the family in front of the falls.  Peak season is July and August so expect Disney like waiting times on many of the attractions but if you visit after the kids have gone back to school, lines are a lot less. 

  2. To save some money and time on ticket lines if you want to get a closer look, buy the Discovery Pass ahead of time online.   This is a bundled package that saves you money on 5 attractions in the park: You can ride the world famous Maid of the Mist Boat tour, walk within feet of the Falls at the Cave of the Winds, meet the legends at the Niagara Adventure Theatre, get hands-on at the Discovery Center and go under the sea at the Aquarium of Niagara for $45 for adults and $34 for 6-12 year olds.  It’s free for 5 and under.   The Discovery Pass also includes one day of unlimited rides on the Niagara Scenic Trolley as well as discount admission to Old Ft, Niagara, free gifts at Artpark State Park and the New York Power Authority, as well as additional savings on attractions, dining and shopping all across Niagara USA.   

  3. Take a break to enjoy a delicious meal while enjoying the view at the Top of the Falls restaurant.   They feature locally made food and beverages.  It is reasonably priced and the food was really tasty.   You get a panoramic view of Horseshoe Falls through floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor dining decks.

  4. The Cave of the Winds and the Maid of the Mist boat tour both let you feel the power of the falls from below.   With the Cave of the Winds you ride an elevator down to the lower part of the falls.  From there you are given a poncho and you can walk up to the falls.  There is a hurricane deck where the water pounds down so it creates hurricane force winds and water.  It’s a lot of fun for the kids to get soaked.   The Maid of the Mist is a milder way to experience Horseshoe Falls.   You also get a poncho and this boat ride takes you right up to the falls and you feel the mist that swirls around the bottom.    

  5. Looking for a thrill to make your getaway memorable?  You have to try a jet boat tour on the Niagara River.   There are two company who run tours: Niagara Jet Adventures and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours.   We tried the first one since we wanted to stay dry.  We rode in the cockpit seats on their domed boat.  It is a cross between roller coaster ride and water slide.  You have the option of getting completely soaked as you ride class 5 white water rapids.  They are also known for their hair-raising 360 degree spins for which the Jet Boats are specifically designed.  It is a unique and adrenaline racing experience.   Definitely worth the price of the ticket.