Are We There Yet? Save Your Sanity With These Road Trip Tips

wpblog5Aside from the fact that Niagara Falls is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind destination, another of the reasons that it’s such a popular family vacation destination is that it’s just so easy to get to. It’s only a day’s drive from most major cities on the east coasts of the United States and Canada or it can be easily worked into a road trip that incorporates other destinations.

Families have been road tripping to Niagara Falls since cars became a household item but that age old question has always remained the same, even before the days of tablets and LTE.

“Are we there yet?”

Taking a road trip to Niagara Falls with your kids is an adventure but it’s also one that’s bound to have some hiccups. Here are a few ways to keep your kids engaged, happy, and focused on the destination when you still have many miles to go.

Utilize Tablets and Phone

If your kids have their own smartphone or tablets it’s unlikely they’re going to want to give them up for a round of the old-fashioned license plate game. These devices are simply a part of our kids’ lives but you can encourage them to use these items in a Niagara-centric way.

Create a Niagara Falls quiz before you leave and remind your kids that you’ll be asking questions along the way. Devise a reward system that works for your family and then randomly fire off a Niagara trivia questions. Maybe your children will have researched Niagara beforehand or maybe they’ll Google on the spot, but the child with the fastest correct answer wins.

wpblog6Switch Things Up

Instead of letting the kids have all of the “are we there yet?” fun why not switch things up a little bit? Provide each child with a paper map or, if you prefer, let them use Google maps and at various spots along the way ask them, “Are we there yet?”

The kids can then use their maps to determine where they are currently and how far from Niagara Falls they are at that point. Ask them how many miles are left to go, which routes are best according to the map, or what cities or landmarks you can expect to pass along the way. Not only does this help kids engage in the moment but it’s pretty satisfying as a parent to be the one asking THAT question.

Take the Back Roads

If you have time and the inclination it’s always much more entertaining for parents and for children to take the back roads as opposed to the interstates. Small towns, farms, fruit stands and more await you on the back roads to Niagara Falls and you can get a much better feel for the area and its culture. Plus, it gives the kids much more to look at and talk about than truck stops and fast food.

A road trip to Niagara Falls is almost a rite of passage in many circles and is a great way to spend the last bit of summer as a family. Use these tips to avoid the common road trip hassles and get your kids excited about one of the most wondrous places in the world.

Setting Boundaries: Teaching Your Kids About Border Crossings

wpblog3For many children their first international trips involve crossing the border of a neighboring country. For kids from the United States this often means Canada or Mexico and for Canadian tots this generally means the United States. As Niagara Falls encompasses both the United States and Canada, a family vacation in Niagara might mean that your children will cross an international border for the first time.

The concept of international borders is a fluid one and in other parts of the world borders can even change without notice. However, your children might have questions about crossing a border into another country. How does it work? What happens when I’m in another country? What will be different?

If your family vacation to Niagara Falls is going to involve your child’s first border crossing, these are a few ways you can explain the process in simple and easy to understand terms.

What Is My Passport?

For some children their passport is their first form of official identification but they might not know exactly what it’s for or why they need it. If your child is old enough try to involve them in the application process as much as you can.

Explain that a passport shows who they are and where they come from and that this document is very, very important. Without it they won’t be granted admission to other countries.

What Happens When We Cross the Border?

Even for seasoned, adult travelers border crossings can be confusing, especially when one crosses by land. Your child may have questions about borders and what happens when they cross. Without delving too deeply into current affairs you can explain to your child what to expect when crossing the border.

Let them know that border agents are there to ensure that everyone has the proper documents and paperwork. The border agent will ask to see passports and other paperwork. You can explain to your child that you, as the parent, will take care of most of the interaction with the border agents, but they should be quiet and respectful and answer questions if asked. You can also let them know that there may be a line to wait in and they should try to be patient.

What Does It Mean When I’m in Another Country?

wpblog4Travel is a wonderful gift for any child and learning how to be a respectful traveler might be even more important. While the transition from Canada to the United States and vice versa might not seem like too much of a change to a child, it is a great opportunity to discuss how to behave as a guest in another country.

You can explain that it’s important to be respectful of the laws and customs of other countries. You can prepare younger children with age-appropriate books or informative websites about international travel and let older children and teens explore websites on their own. The important thing is to reinforce the fact that they are a guest and should behave appropriately while enjoying their experience.

Travel is a wonderful way to allow children to experience other cultures but it’s equally important for them to understand the mechanics of moving across borders. Utilize these tips with your children during your next trip to Niagara and encourage them to expand their world.

How to Get Your Kids Involved in Planning Your Niagara Vacation

wpblog1Planning any vacation takes time and care and while a trip to Niagara plans itself in many ways, there are still many boxes to check and reservations to secure. Of course the parents or guardians are generally in charge of the trip planning as they’re the ones with the credit card, there are ways to involve children and teens in the planning as well.

Most kids are excited to travel and learn more about new places but some might not know very much about their destination or the mechanics behind putting a trip together. However, with a few simple prompts and some creative ideas you can get your children involved in the planning of your upcoming trip to Niagara Falls, which will have them even more excited.

In addition, this can help children feel more in control of what’s to come and help them feel closer to the family. Here are just a few ways to get your kids involved in planning your trip.

Allow Children to Choose Activities

Pleasing everyone while on vacation is a daunting task. Again, as parents generally do the bulk of the planning it can be hard to ensure that each activity interests everyone and in some cases a child may feel left out. If you allow your children to see the activities available in Niagara Falls and let each child choose what they’d like best you can avoid hurt feelings later.

Again, depending on your child’s age and computer skills, let them do their own online research. For instance, if you have a budding paleontologist on your hands let them search for geologic history sites or museums in the area. Teens can choose activities that might give them a bit of freedom during the trip as long as it’s within your parenting parameters. Regardless, allowing your kids to be active in choosing their own activities gives them a sense of responsibility and inclusion.

wpblog2Bring Out the Maps

For some younger kids it can be hard for them to discern exactly where they’re going as it related to the place they live. Without spatial reference of some sort any place they’re not familiar with can just seem like “away” and they might not have any idea where “away” is. This is when you bring out the maps.

Online resources like Google Maps are great places to start. Depending on your child’s age and computer skills you can ask them to put in your home address and the address of your hotel in Niagara Falls, then get directions. This way they can see just how far or near it is, the different ways to get there, and the places in between.

A family trip to Niagara Falls is always going to be on that you all remember for a lifetime. Giving your children the tools they need to become involved in the planning aspect not only shows them that you value their opinions it also sets them for a lifetime of travel and adventure. What could be better than that?

Vacation Mishaps and How to Deal With Them

wpblog18While it’s rare there is always the chance that things can go wrong when you’re on vacation. Usually it’s nothing more than minor issues that can be cleared up with just a few phone calls or emails, but on occasion things go wrong that need much more attention.

It’s not terribly likely that you’ll deal with anything more serious than sunburn or a favorite toy that goes missing. However, if you do find yourself in a situation that needs immediate attention you can rest assured that many people in the hospitality industry in Niagara are well-versed in these types of problems and how to deal with them.

These are a few of the things that could go wrong while you’re visiting Niagara Falls, and how to deal with them quickly and efficiently so you can get back to having fun.

What to Do If Your Child Gets Sick

The last thing you want is for your child to get sick on vacation but it does happen. If it’s something minor like a cold or allergies there are numerous pharmacies that can supply you with the over the counter medications that you might need to have your little one back on their feet in no time.

If it’s something more serious be sure to contact your hotel concierge right away. These professionals have intimate knowledge of all the services in the area and can point you in the right direction to a pediatrician’s office, an urgent care clinic, or a hospital emergency room. The concierge will even be happy to call ahead to alert the office of your situation and arrange transport.

What If You Lose Your Passport

Losing a passport is a traveler’s worst nightmare, but if you take the proper steps this problem can be rectified relatively easily. First of all, be absolutely sure that you take paper copies of the information page of each family member’s passport with you, and email copies to yourself for added assurance.

wpblog19Contact your local embassy as soon as possible. Again, your hotel concierge will have the appropriate phone numbers and email addresses to put you in touch with the right people. There are several passport agencies in Buffalo County if you’re on the American side of the falls.

However, if you’re in Canada, the nearest US consular office is in Toronto, which is about two hours by car from Niagara. Bring your paper copy of the lost passport and any other official identification with you to expedite the issuance of a new passport. In some cases you can be issued a temporary passport to allow you entrance back into the United States, then you can apply for a regular passport when you return home.

Most vacations go off without a hitch but sometimes things go wrong and you simply have to deal with them as they arise. Preparation is more than half the battle so be sure that, before you leave your home, you’re armed with all the things you may need to deal with any problems that may arise. This way, you’ll have more time to enjoy your time in Niagara Falls despite any mishaps.

Toddlers and Teens: How to Please Both in Niagara Falls

wpblog15Families come in all different shapes and sizes and most families have children that are close in age. However, families are different and you may have children in preschool and high school, all at the same time.

While you’ve generally got your home routine memorized backwards and forwards, when you travel it can feel like all rules have flown out the window. While you’re likely a pro at potty training while simultaneously dropping another child at the mall for a movie with her friends, add a new adventure in a new city to the mix and all bets are off.

Luckily, if your family or group is traveling with a combination of little ones and teens, Niagara offers a number of activities that appeal to all ages, so you can keep your family together, everyone is entertained, and you’ve got great memories to last a lifetime. These are just a few ways to ensure that happens when you visit Niagara Falls.

Always Have Snacks

Every mom and dad knows that snacks are usually the magic potion to ward off meltdowns from kids of all ages. Even though Niagara is brimming with amazing places to eat and featuring a variety of cuisine to please even the pickiest eater, sometimes it’s the snack from mom’s purse that saves the day. You know your kids; keep a few packages of what they love on hand to tide them over until the next meal.

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark

wpblog16There probably aren’t many kids in the world who don’t like to swim, and this holds true for babies all the way up to adults who still think they’re kids. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark offers a number of waterslides that teens will love as well small splash pools for toddlers, and even outdoor hot tubs for adults.

The impressive structure features a view of the falls and also offers the Planet Hollywood Beach Club which is perfect for light meals and drinks. One of the best parts is that the waterpark connects directly to the hotels in the Falls Avenue Resort complex, so getting back to your room for a quick change or cleanup is a breeze.

4D Motion Theatre

Also located within the Falls Avenue Resort is the impressive and always entertaining 4D Motion Theatre. This wholly immersive theatre experience not only features state of the art 4D technology, but water sprays and blasts of air heighten experience and make it feel as if you’re really there.

Currently the theatre offers two shows, “SpongeBob SquarePants 4D: The Great Jelly Rescue” and “The Great Wall of China.” Both films appeal to kids of all ages, and even your teens will be able to recall the good old days when they were fans of all things SpongeBob, even if they might be reluctant to admit it.

Traveling with kids of any age can present challenges, but when you have children that have a greater than usual gap in age this can present some a different set of challenges. Niagara Falls is the perfect destination for families of all types, and parents can rest assured that age appropriate activities are around every corner.

Niagara Falls Souvenir Ideas for Kids

wpblog12Now that virtually everyone has access to a digital camera, whether it’s a phone or a full DSLR kit, making memories during your family vacations is easier than ever. In fact, through the wonders of modern technology, you’re even able to share these memories instantly with family and friends across the world.

However, leaving these memories to languish on Facebook or Instagram might be a great way for parents to remember their visit to Niagara Falls, younger children might not retain the same wonder and joy they felt during their visit. It’s not their fault; they’re little and learning so much that Niagara might just slip through the cracks.

These are some great Niagara souvenir ideas for kids that can help them recall their family vacation, and may even be keepsakes that they’ll carry with them for a lifetime.

A Piece of Art

Art falls under many different categories, but a nice painting or piece of pottery proudly displayed in your child’s bedroom is a great way for them to remember their visit to Niagara Falls. If you choose, you can visit one of Niagara’s many art galleries to select a piece or you can visit one of the many street artists in the area who proudly sell their work. This way their souvenir will grow up with them.

Another way to bring Niagara art home and to make it personal is by paying a visit to Crock a Doodle, the paint your own pottery gallery. You kids can spend some time getting messy with paint but the end result is their own, unique piece of pottery that they will always associate with Niagara Falls.

A Photo Memory Book

wpblog13Instagram and other photo sharing apps like it are great ways to edit and share your photos while you’re traveling, but when you get home these photos can be forgotten as you get back into your daily routine. That’s unfortunate because many Instagram users take great care to edit their photos and the results are usually extremely good.

There are several reputable companies who can take your Instagram photos and print them, then bind them into a wonderful photo album. These photos can also be made into creative collages that can be hung on a wall, or print the photo onto fabric that can then become a throw pillow. The options are almost endless but all serve as a way for your child to remember their Niagara vacation for years to come.

The Ubiquitous T-Shirt

T-Shirts are generally the go-to choice for souvenirs, and kids love them. With their bright colors and eye-catching logos, kids will often gravitate toward T-Shirt stands and immediately choose one or more that they simply can’t live without.

However, it’s likely that you child already has several destination T-Shirts at home, and they grow so quickly that sometimes they’ll only get a few months’ wear from them. However, one clever use of discarded T-Shirts is to carefully cut the logos of pictures from them and combine them together into a keepsake quilt or blanket. Not only does this result in a cozy blanket, but your child can look over the various squares and remember their family trips.

3 Reasons to Stay Up Late in Niagara Falls

wpblog10Family vacations are generally a time to abandon some of the rules that you keep in place for your kids while you’re at home and let them enjoy themselves in the way they want. This could mean pizza for breakfast or ice cream for dinner, or a number of other ways that help remind your children that vacations can and should be fun.

Another rule that might fly out with window while you’re on vacation in Niagara is bedtime. During the summer months Niagara stays light until nearly 10 p.m., and there are so many activities that can be much more fun at night, especially as the heat of the day begins to fade.

So try to squeeze in afternoon naps and take advantage of these reasons to let your kids stay up late in Niagara Falls.

Fireworks

The fireworks display over the falls is a summer tradition and one that shouldn’t be missed. While you could theoretically see the display from your hotel room, it’s much more fun to be at the edge of the falls when the fireworks light up the sky. The summer schedule (May 1 to October 31) has the show beginning at 10 p.m.

While there are many vantage points from which to view the fireworks, why not maximize your time and book a boat cruise? This way you can take in the illuminated falls and the fireworks from the water, and this is something you and your kids will never forget.

Visit Clifton Hill

wpblog11Fairs and midways are always a fun atmosphere, but they’re doubly fun at night. The lights and the music are a feast for the senses and your kids will love taking part in all of the activities in a nighttime carnival atmosphere.

Clifton Hill in Niagara offers a number of ways to keep your kids entertained after dark. From mini golf to carnival rides and more, Clifton Hill offers unlimited fun in one, convenient place. If the late-night munchies come on there are a number of restaurants where you can easily get burgers, pizza, and more to keep little bellies happy.

The Greg Frewin Theatre

Greg Frewin is a magician extraordinaire and he performs sold out shows in Niagara throughout the year at the Greg Frewin Theatre. As a Niagara show that is fun for the whole family, Greg Frewin delights with his sleight of hand prowess and feats of magic, and even incorporates animals into his show which children will love.

During the summer months the shows are held nightly Tuesday through Saturday, begin at 7 p.m., and include dinner. This is a fantastic way for parents to treat themselves and their children to a delightful night out and experience one of the finest magic shows in the world.

Staying up late in Niagara is one of the best ways to see a different side of the city and enjoy sights and experiences that just aren’t available during daylight hours. During your next trip to the falls be sure to plan for at least one late night and take in all the fun that happens after dark.

Horseback Riding in Niagara Falls

WPblog7Taking a horseback ride during a vacation is a popular excursion, and people climb aboard our equine friends for rides along trails and beaches all over the world. It’s generally a fun and relaxing experience, and the view from the saddle can give you an entirely new perspective on a new locale and its landscape.

Horseback riding in Niagara Falls is a wonderful experience to add to your family’s itinerary and there are a number of local stables that will happy to make your horsey dreams come true. Just be sure to always keep safety in mind, follow the stable’s rules, and be honest about your experience level before you ride and a great time will be had by all during your visit to Niagara Falls when you need a break from the awesome waterpark.

Horseplay Niagara

As one of the most popular riding facilities in the region, Horseplay Niagara is the perfect place to book trail rides of all types and for all experience levels. Their only mandates are that riders be over 6 years of age, (over 8 years of age for more demanding rides) and weigh less than 300 pounds.

They offer a number of rides, including family rides, beach rides, adventure rides, private rides, and rides for those with experience and can safely handle a horse at a gallop. They even offer a romance ride that is perfect couples and includes a ride to the beach and a private picnic.

Reservations are required so book your trail ride early!

Niagara Riding Stables

WPblog8Another Niagara equestrian institution, Niagara Riding Stables offers trail rides open to the public. They do require riders to be older than age 10 and the weight of the rider cannot exceed 225 pounds. Niagara Riding Stables keeps a barn full of horses that are suitable for all experience levels and are obviously very well cared for.

Rides take place along the Niagara Escarpment and are usually about an hour in duration. Guides give a brief introduction to the horses and basic commands that new riders can utilize. Reservations are required and while rides are scheduled daily they can occasionally be canceled due to inclement weather.

Spruce Meadow Farm

While Spruce Meadow Farm in Clarence, New York is not the type of facility that offers group trail rides, it is one of the best training barns in the region. Therefore, if you or one of your children is an active rider and doesn’t want to miss out on training or lessons while on vacation, this is a great way to ensure that your training and fitness levels don’t slip while you’re away from your home barn.

Spruce Meadow Farm focuses on English riding and offers instruction in dressage and jumping on carefully trained horses. Schedule a lesson while you’re visiting Niagara Falls or check out one of the many horse shows they hold throughout the season. Even the non-riders in your family or group can appreciate the fun and fanfare that comes with a horse show.

Horseback riding is a wonderful addition to any vacation. Consider one of these companies and make your trail riding or riding lesson reservation today!

What to Do When Your Little Ones Get Sick on Vacation

WPblog5Vacations are supposed to be all about fun, memories, and great experiences. While most vacations usually go off without a hitch, it’s not uncommon for things to awry, and this is especially true with regard to children and minor illnesses.

Travel can sometimes cause even the healthiest among us to catch a bug. The stress of travel, germy airports and airplanes, and even a sudden change in climate can all bring on colds or other illnesses. While none of these are generally serious, sick kids don’t want to miss out on the fun and neither do the parents who might have to stay behind in the hotel to care for them.

If your child gets sick while you’re on vacation in Niagara Falls, here are a few things you can do to get your kids back in shape to enjoy all the fun the region has to offer.

Call Your Hotel’s Concierge

A hotel’s concierge can often be your best resource, and not just for assistance in planning activities. He or she is an expert on the local area and will have a list of doctors and clinics at the ready. This may even include a doctor that will make a hotel call.

If you have to make a trip to the clinic, your concierge will be able to tell you which ones are open, which ones have pediatricians on site, and will call a taxi to get you there. While it’s part of their job, most concierges truly enjoy helping people and assisting you with a sick child will be a top priority.

WPblog6Find a Local Pharmacy

If you’re confident that your child’s symptoms can be treated with over the counter remedies, simply head over to a local pharmacy. Pharmacies are located throughout the main Niagara tourist areas, and a quick Google Map search on your phone will yield multiple results.

However, if you’re not in your home country, be sure to consult with the pharmacist. Some brands and types of medications like cough syrups and fever reducers may be labeled under a different brand. The pharmacist should be able to help you find and choose your favorite or most trusted brands.

Ride It Out

Sometimes you just have to let an illness run its course. While this is especially frustrating when on vacation, you know your child best and you know what they’re capable of when they’re not feeling their best. Plan activities in the morning so you can ensure that your child has time for a nap in the afternoon, and skip the late night adventures, at least for a day or two.

Also, be courteous to other parents and don’t allow a sick child to swim in public pools. This can help avoid spreading the illness to other kids.

Dealing with a sick child while on vacation is hard, but it can happen. Be sure to treat your child’s symptoms early, see a doctor if necessary, and plan alternate activities. It might not be the ideal situation, but you can still make the best of your family’s visit to Niagara Falls.

2 Ways to Surprise Your Kids With a Niagara Vacation

WPblog3We’ve all seen the now viral videos of parents surprising their kids with vacations. The reactions are often ones of shock, dismay, delights, and all out screaming, but the end result is usually one of pure joy. Kids love surprises and they love to explore new places, so a combination of the two is as heartwarming as it is funny.

If you’re planning a Niagara Falls vacation and want to surprise your kids, these are just a few clever ways to let them know they’re about to go on a trip they’ll never forget. You may want to have the camera on your phone at the ready so you can share your surprise with the world, if you so choose.

‘Someone’s in Trouble at School’

This one might be better suited for older children, but if you can enlist the help of your child’s school administrators this is a surprise that will go down in the history books. Arrange a meeting with your child’s principal or guidance counselor and explain the situation. Arrange a date and time when you can be at the school and the administrator can call your child out of class for a meeting in the school office.

When your child arrives at the office to see his or her parents there, a surprise trip will the last thing on their mind. Ask the principal to pull a folder from his or her desk, under the guise of talking about less than stellar homework. However, the folder will be full of brochures about Niagara Falls and a copy of the itinerary. While initially your child might just be relieved that they’re not really in trouble, but the end result will be sheer joy about the upcoming trip.

Backyard Chores Turned Scavenger Hunt

WPblog4Kids and chores don’t usually get along very well, and most parents know the whining, excuses, and other various tactics that kids use to avoid even the smallest of household tasks. However, what if you could turn a chore into a secret scavenger hunt, and the final prize is the realization that you’re all taking a trip to Niagara Falls!

The night before, after your kids are asleep, gather up Niagara brochures, photos, copies of plane tickets, and other pieces of paper and scatter them all over your back yard. Maybe crumple the pieces a bit for added effect. When the kids wake up in the morning tell them that a huge storm came crashing through overnight and all the “trash” in the yard needs to be picked up.

After the inevitable complaining ends and they head out to complete their chore, tell them that they should take a look at the papers to be sure it’s not all trash. If they do as they’re asked they’ll eventually connect the dots and realize that they’re going on a fantastic vacation!

For most parents, seeing the excitement on their kids’ faces when they realize they’re going on vacation is almost as much fun as the vacation itself. Just be sure to have your camera ready for these pranks; yours may be the next viral video!