Generations of families have been vacationing at Niagara Falls for years but in today’s travel market it can be difficult to get your kids excited about a vacation anywhere that doesn’t involve their favorite cartoon character. It’s not really their fault; family travel and the way it’s promoted has changed a great deal over the years and direct marketing to kids definitely has its effects on parents’ decisions.
However, while your kids might not yet realize it, Niagara has always been a family-oriented vacation destination. And while some may think it’s just a waterfall, there are so many more aspects of the Niagara region that most kids just don’t know about.
However, if they did know what was in store for them, their interest is bound to grow. So when you’re planning your trip, involve your kids, give them some information on some Niagara Falls facts, and see how excited they become, and be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
Where Is Niagara Falls?
One of the things your children will probably wonder about is where is Niagara Falls anyway? This is a great opportunity to give them a little lesson on geography as Niagara Falls is actually in two countries, Canada and the United States, and the border is between New York and Ontario. You can explain to them about the Rainbow Bridge and how the border between the two countries lies right in the center.
You can also explain that they’ll need to use their passports and for many children this might be the first time they’ve done so. Crossing an international border is always exciting, no matter what your age, so this will have them doubly excited.
What’s So Special About a Waterfall?
Waterfalls exist all over the world and there are many that are taller than Niagara, so how do you explain to your kids what makes Niagara special? You can start by explaining that Niagara Falls is actually made up of three separate waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls. Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest and Horseshoe Falls is the largest. While none of these falls are the tallest in the world, the capacity of the combined water flow of the three is the largest volume in the world.
For the budding scientists in your family you can also explain how the power of the water is used by hydroelectric power plants to create electricity for the surrounding area. During the summer, when most tourists visit, the power plant diverts less water so visitors are treated to a large volume of water cascading over the falls, which is a spectacular sight.
Where Does the Water Come From?
Another question your kids might have, and a valid one at that, is where does the water come from? To answer that question you’ll need to start with the past and have a talk about glaciers since it was the movement of glaciers 10,000 years ago that created the conditions for the falls to form. As to the water, it comes from nearby Lake Erie, which is part of the Great Lakes, one of the largest source of fresh water in the world.
In fact, if you live in Canada or the United States the chances are almost 100 percent that you’ve had a glass of water that, at one time, cascaded over Niagara Falls.
Do People Really Go Over the Falls?
This question is one that has fascinated people, young and old, for years and the answer is yes, people have gone over the falls. Some survived and some did not but it’s always been the fascination of daredevils from around the world.
The first person to go over Niagara Falls and live to tell the tale was a woman named Annie Edison and she did so on October 21, 1901. Since then many other people have attempted it but few were successful. One interesting case was a Greek man named George Stathakis who went over the falls in a barrel with his pet turtle named Sonny.
Another interesting aspect of Niagara Falls is that fish go over the falls all the time. In fact, if you take the Cave of the Winds tour you can often see them as they go down. Most of the fish survive due to the foamy water at the base of the falls which acts as a cushion.
Fun facts aside, there is a lot more to Niagara than just the falls. As a truly family friendly destination there are fun activities like the indoor waterpark, the games and rides at Clifton Hill, the fireworks displays, the food, and so much more. And once your kids know more about this fun and fascinating destination the excitement is certain to ensue.