9 Ways to Recapture Your Teen Spirit in Niagara Falls, Ontario
By Rosalind Stefanac-Skugor
It has been a long haul for many teens this past year, stuck indoors with their parents—and vice versa. So, to get my son excited to hang out with his mom outside of the house again, I promised him a mid-week adventure he wouldn’t forget—and Ontario’s Niagara Falls did not disappoint.
As someone who has been touring this geological wonder since my own youth, even I was impressed by just how much there is to do at the Falls these days. Here are 9 ways to impress your teen traveller in Niagara Falls and have an epic adventure in the process.
Rent an e-bike
If the thought of nature hikes has your kids rolling their eyes, consider renting a bike with some horsepower (e-bikes can go up to 32 km/hour) to get them excited about exploring nature. We went to Snap E Bike where owner Michael Lucid gave us a training lesson and equipped us with helmets, maps, snacks and water for the day. When my bike got a flat tire, he was quick to come and meet us with a replacement bike so our sightseeing along the beautiful Niagara River Recreational Trail could continue. Riders must be 16 years of age or older.
Make like a drone
At 3,500 feet above the Niagara Gorge, the Whirlpool Aero Car —an antique cable car suspended from six sturdy cables—provides some pretty magnificent views of the swirling Niagara Whirlpool. The torrent of river rapids coming down the Gorge from the Horseshoe Falls turns abruptly counterclockwise at this point, creating a must-see natural phenomenon.
Face the Falls up close
Niagara City Cruises will get you a misty front-row view of the Niagara Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and awe-inspiring Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Recyclable ponchos are provided for the 20-minute boat ride, but my son picked a perfect spot to soak it all in that got us soaked in the process. We loved it! With reduced capacity onboard, there are plenty of photo ops, provided you don’t mind the mist.
Take a journey behind the falls
During summer daylight hours, more than 2,800 cubic metres of water crashes down the Falls every second at 65 km/hour. To put that into perspective, the average household uses only 14 cubic meters a month! This self-guided tour took about 30 minutes. To begin, we descended 125 feet by elevator to explore a 130-year-old tunnel with access to two observation decks and two portals directly behind the Falls. Again, recyclable ponchos are provided, but be prepared to get a little wet for the full experience. Rates are reduced in the winter when the lower observation deck is closed.
Scale new heights
A good way to get the adrenaline pumping at Niagara Falls is a visit to Wildplay Adventure Course. My son tried the Classic Course (I chickened out) which had him climbing cargo nets, balancing wobbly bridges, crossing tightropes and zip-lining from heights of 60 feet, safely harnessed, of course. With each of the three obstacle courses getting progressively harder, the teen impressed me this time. (There’s a single-level course for kids five to 12 too.) For the more adventurous, there’s also an Extreme Course or the Wildplay Zipline to the Falls. Bring a lunch or snacks as there are only vending machines on-site.
Get a room with a view
Niagara features a slew of hotels to choose from. But there’s something about waking up to a cascading waterfall outside your window that is sure to impress. We had a stellar view on the 26th floor of the 42-storey Embassy Suites, which is a short walk to Horseshoe Falls and the Fallsview Tourist District. Although closed currently, the hotel features amenities teens will appreciate, such as an indoor pool, fitness centre and free breakfast.
Try some local flavours
The sheer variety of fudge in Niagara, hand-mixed on the premises, had us sampling far too many of these decadent treats. We also tried the Table Rock House Restaurant one night where there were burgers and a variety of Ontario-sourced options, such as tasty oven-baked Georgian Bay pickerel and Manitoulin Island rainbow trout. With floor-to-ceiling windows, we had a table-side panorama of the Horseshoe Falls which transformed into a vibrant palette of colours at dusk.
Go on a power trip
With its immersive exhibits and artifacts, the beautifully refurbished Niagara Parks Power Station is well worth a tour. We got a first-hand look at how the plant harnessed the power of the Falls to produce electricity for a century, and our engaging guide provided many additional fun facts about Niagara’s history. Starting September 3, 2021, an evening light and sound show called “Currents” promises to make the experience even more exhilarating. We’re already planning to go back.
Join forces on the midway
No Niagara Falls trip with your teen is complete without a visit to Clifton Hill, also dubbed the “Street of Fun,” for its array of wax museums, rides, games and restaurants. We burned some rubber racing go-karts on the Niagara Speedway and played an 18-hole round at Dinosaur Adventure Golf before heading up 175 feet in an enclosed gondola on the infamous Niagara SkyWheel. It was the perfect view to end our Niagara Falls adventure.