Five Activities at Niagara Falls for Families with Autism
Niagara Falls is composed of three waterfalls along the border of Canada and the United States. The Falls are known not just for their natural beauty but also as a source of hydroelectric power. During the summer, Niagara Falls is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world looking for iconic sights. If you are thinking of visiting Niagara Falls with your family, here is our list of five things to do!
Maid of the Mist
The Maid of the Mist boat cruise is the oldest way to see the Falls, in operation since 1846. The company operates on both the Canadian and the American side of the Falls. They get visitors up close to the waterfront. With everyone from British royalty to Hollywood celebrities, visitors never know the guests that one might meet on board! Of course, travelers will be sprayed with water and hear the deafening thunder of the Falls. However, it is a once in a lifetime experience, so it should be on everybody’s bucket list.
Cave of the Winds
Another popular way to visit the Falls is walking next to them through Niagara Falls State Park. Visitors take an elevator down into Niagara Gorge and then travel the walkways to Hurricane Deck, a few feet away from the water. Much like the Maid of the Mist cruise, visitors should expect to get wet, and the walkways may be slippery on certain days or times.
Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
Just a two-minute walk from Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark has sixteen waterslides, an indoor wave pool, Hot Springs, and an outdoor pool. Travelers can buy daily passes to the waterpark or purchase a resort package with a pass. Towels, tubes, mats and double tubes come with the pass, and this is highly recommended for families who have never experienced an indoor waterpark. For parents who want to enhance the experience, beach balls and life jackets are also available for a charge. Guests should know that there are several restaurant options on site to choose from as well.
Hersey’s Chocolate World
If you have a chocolate lover in the family, definitely make time to stop by Hershey’s Chocolate World. On the Canadian side of the Falls, next to the Crowne Plaza hotel, visitors will find everything from traditional Hershey favorites to freshly made chocolate delights such as chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzels. Our kids thought they landed in chocolate heaven as they tried free samples and when we purchased a large sized Hersey’s bar for each of them to snack on. They also got a huge kick out of taking selfies with the chocolate mascot.
Aquarium of Niagara
This aquarium features friendly seals, penguin or shark feedings, and a daily magic show. The Aquarium of Niagara is on the smaller side and houses some fascinating animals. If your kid with autism likes animals interactions, this is the place to go, since the place is small and you can get close to the action.
Bridge Connecting Canada to the US
Call it strange, but our son with autism thought that crossing the bridge between the two countries was the coolest thing he had ever experienced. So he decided to walk from Canada to the US across the bridge several times, back and forth, and knock on the immigration door buildings on each side. A fun fact about this bridge is that its proper name is the Rainbow Bridge, which some pet owners might recognize as the name of the bridge that pets “travel” after death. For kids in elementary and middle school, this might be a good way to explain borders between friendly countries, where there are no soldiers or guards with weapons, just a bridge that you can safely walk across and knock on doors to get in.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Prepare kids for the splashing water and deafening noise of the falls.
- Pack ponchos for all family members or purchase them on board, because as the boats go near the Falls, you will get wet.
- Parents should look into purchasing the Niagara Falls Discovery Pass to get admission to several attractions at a discounted price. Look for the pass on its website and on discount travel sites like Travelzoo, Groupon, and Travelocity for updates.
- For a truly magical experience that your kids won’t forget, try to get a hotel room facing the Falls on the weekend in the summer. During this time, officials light up the Falls with different projected colors for a fantastic display.