The entire crew (four kids, Orlando and Emily) plus the in-laws.
How did we pay for this trip:
We decided to do a road trip from Chicago to Canada. We paid for food, gas and an overnight hotel stay on the way to Niagara Falls.
How did we get there:
We have a 2017 Toyota Sienna SE. If you are familiar with the SE model, the van comes with a wide-screen TV and a Blue ray player. If you have small children then you already know that TV + Blue ray = peaceful drive. If you are thinking about buying a Toyota Sienna, this is how we rate our van:
Comfort: 10/10 – Pretty spacious seats even for the back row. Everyone was comfortable and we had a full van (8 people).
Performance: 4/10 – It’s a van and that is all there is to it.
Gas mileage: 6/10 – Yes, we load this van with 8 people plus luggage. It all fits, but at a cost. We get about 22 MPG Highway.
Entertainment: 9/10 – Widescreen TV, Blue ray player, HDMI inputs, video inputs and nice sound system. Do I need to say more?
Where did we stay:
Our first stop was Toronto. We stayed at the The Westin Prince, Toronto. Overall, it was a beautiful hotel with a good breakfast and good amenities. However, the restaurant staff was limited and it took a while to get an omelet and even a cup of coffee.
Price: $150 per night.
Family friendly rating: 8/10
In Niagara Falls we stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls. The stay came with free passes to a nearby water park. The water park is connected next to the hotel so you never have to go outside to go to the water park. The hotel is a bit outdated, but it’s perfect for the kids. The location is perfect (a few blocks from the falls) and near the tourist area.
Price: $200 per night.
Family friendly rating: 10/10
The falls during the day and at night:
The falls are beautiful day and night. During the day you get to see the beautiful nature of the falls. At night you get to see the falls illuminated by different colors. Since we were so many, we did not buy tickets to see the falls up close, but instead walked the boardwalk, which was still plenty misty from above. Bonus: Go during the winter for an amazing icicle experience.
The tourist area in Niagara Falls:
You will know where this is once you see it. Although it’s full of touristy stuff, it’s worth walking around and watching people. Our teenagers really enjoyed walking around. Go to the Hershey store for the ultimate dessert deal ($6 for a shake and a cupcake), but don’t drink it before walking the falls (yikes!).
Downtown Toronto is easy to walk, but finding parking is difficult and traffic is heavy. St. Lawrence market is nearby and highly recommend you visit the market. Go to the marina and enjoy the outdoor sellers and the music that is randomly played near the food sellers.
Fallsview Indoor Waterpark:
The children had a lot of fun, especially the toddler. The waterpark is smaller than your typical waterpark in the US, but it had enough activities to keep the kids busy for half of the day.
We wish we would have stayed a day longer in Niagara Falls. The kids really loved the tourist area and the waterpark. We also wish we had enough time to cross to the US side. Toronto had some attractions that were closed due to the weather and other reasons, so we should have checked ahead of time.