Family vacations in Niagara Falls promise plenty of adventure, sightseeing and entertainment that can be remembered fondly for years. From sharing in the awe-inspiring power of the Falls to taking in the wonder of the Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara is a perfect place to vacation with children. With so many fun activities to be had in the area, wouldn’t it be nice if your dining experiences were memorable — for positive reasons — too?
Eating out with children can pose great difficulty for even the most patient of parents and well-behaved of children, and while it isn’t always the case, much of the failure and success of such an outing can come down to whether or not the dining establishment you’ve chosen looks kindly on serving children. The hospitality industry doesn’t always position itself to serve society’s youngest members, but some choice portions of it do. When you choose a child-oriented hotel, you’re more relaxed when little feet scamper down the hallway. When you choose a restaurant that won’t include an impatient server, everyone will have a better time. So, the next time you’re in Niagara, try out these family-friendly dining spots. Their food is great, and they’ll be glad to see you.
Savoury and Sweet
This European-inspired spot has great food in a casual dining atmosphere that is intentionally family friendly. They pride themselves on the home-cooked flavor of their excellent Hungarian, Austrian and German cuisine, and kids will love trying to sound out words like “wienerschintzel” and “spaetzli.” If you have any picky eaters, you’ll need to skip the chicken liver on toast, but the Stephania Slice easily doubles as a meatloaf and the savory crepes are bound to please. The portions are large, so you may want to share plates.
This restaurant can seem like quite the adventure to little ones who have never eaten authentic Vietnamese cuisine before, and if you have an extreme picky eater among you, there’s always the option of steamed rice or plain noodles. Tucked away in an unfortunate-looking strip mall, Pho Xyclo’s shabby exterior does nothing to prepare you for the great culinary offerings inside. The service is top-notch. The food is always perfectly prepared. Delicious noodles, fresh seafood, excellent vermicelli—their entire menu is large and well-executed, and they refer to themselves as a family restaurant. Want to stay in the hotel and take in a movie? Pho Xyclo will also deliver if your order is over $30.
Paris Crepes Café
This little French bistro is the perfect place for your family to indulge in some sweets, and it’s so kid-friendly that they have a section on their website for school trips. They also only take orders in French, so it’s a perfect opportunity for you and your children to learn a little about another language and culture while you indulge in delicious French cuisine.
Antica Pizzeria and Ristorante
This family-owned and -operated restaurant is another great spot for children and parents. Besides the fact that they make 20 different kinds of tasty thin crusted, wood-fired pizza — including a whole-wheat option — the place looks and feels high style. Regular Italian fare is offered as well, which ranges from spaghetti and gnocchi to veal parmigiana and specialty cheesecakes. No matter what your little ones like to eat, they’ll find something to satisfy them at Antica, and parents can get a nice glass of wine with dinner, too. Antica boasts a great selection, including exclusive Ontario VQA wines.
In addition to choosing these restaurants — and others like them — when you’re in the Niagara region, the following tips will help you and your kids have a fantastic meal out together:
- Timing is everything. Make sure you’re eating your meal around the time your children normally eat, and above all, never try and eat out when it’s naptime.
- Explore before the food comes. Children get curious about new places. As soon as you put in your order, walk around with them so that when the food comes, their curiosity has been satisfied.
- Bring something entertaining. Whether it’s a favorite toy, a book or crayons, bring something that will keep their active mind and hands busy.
Dining out with children can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. The next time you’re in Niagara, visit these great establishments and follow these tips so you and your little ones can enjoy all your meals together.
About the Author: Jenassa Oarck is a contributing writer and world traveler with three books on travelling with little ones.