(8215 Heartland Forest Road, Niagara Falls)
Heartland forest is a great nature area for the family to enjoy. There are trails, frog and turtle ponds, picnic shelters, a small playground for young kids, mini-putt and one of Canada’s largest tree-houses that offers a panoramic view of the forest. It’s free to the public and trails are open daily from early morning to dusk.
Lakeside Park and Carousel
(9 Main St., Port Dalhousie)
Lakeside Park has a big, beautiful sandy beach, picnic area, concessions, a large playground, dressing rooms, washrooms, pavilion, Waterfront Trail, and a carousel. The carousel costs 5 cents per ride (basically free!) and is open daily from 11am – 8pm until September 5, then only open weekends from Sept 10 – Oct. 9, 2016.
St. John’s Conservation Area
(3101 Barron Road, Thorold)
St. John’s Conservation Area has a small trail and a large pond, great for tadpole/frog and turtle watching. It is a renowned hot spot for seasonal trout fishing, and is also known for birdwatching and nature education. It is open year round from 8am until 8pm.
Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm
(2 Northrup Crescent, St Catharines)
Happy Rolph’s is a small animal farm and park with a large playground, picnic area and pavilion, washrooms, nature trail, and farm animals such as goats, cows, donkeys, and rabbits. It is free to the public and open 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Why not take the kids to watch the ships go through the Welland Canal from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and vice versa? They’ll find it fascinating! Lock 3 (St. Catharines) and Lock 8 (Port Colborne) have observation platforms with great views of the ships. For times when the ships are scheduled to go through the Locks, check here before you go. And here is a list of the locations of the Locks: http://www.infoniagara.com/attractions/welland_canal/canal_map.aspx
Dufferin Islands is a quiet, secluded park containing several small islands connected by small bridges and footpaths. There is a `catch and release` fish program, which is great for the kids. Dufferin Islands is free to the public and open daily, year round. It’s located just south of the Falls on the Niagara Parkway, between the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse and the Rapidsview Parking Lot.
Water fun is another way to keep cool this summer. Splash pads are a stress-free alternative to swimming because they are great for toddlers too. It’s easier to take a group of kids (that may not be the best swimmers) to a splash pad than it is to the pool. Check here for a list of splash pads in the region.
Registered kids receive two free games of bowling daily all summer long at either Fairview Bowling Lanes in St. Catharines or Hillside Lanes in Welland. Register here.
Enjoy great, free movies outdoors in the park this summer. Bring a blanket or chair for seating, and be sure to dress for the weather. A non-perishable food donation for St. Catharines-Thorold Community Care is appreciated, in lieu of admission. Concessions will available to purchase (food, beverages, etc).
Lakeside Park (9 Main St., Port Dalhousie) – August 2, 9, 16, 13, 2016
Many libraries offer free programs and activities throughout the summer. When it’s super hot outside, they are a great place to take your kids to cool off and relax. Most libraries offer incentive programs to get kids reading during the summer months. Check here for a list of local libraries.
Playgrounds and Parks
Try new playgrounds that your kids haven’t explored yet and visit them throughout the summer to keep your kids active and having fun. Take a picnic to make it extra fun. Check here for a list of parks and playgrounds in the region.
We’re lucky to have access to so many different beaches in the Niagara region. Spending the day at the beach is a great free activity for everyone this summer. Pack a picnic and some sunscreen and the kids will have so much fun, playing in the sand for hours. Here is a list of beaches in Niagara.
Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site
(400 St David’s Rd, St Catharines)
The Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site is a large public open space with attractions for families, school children, environmentalists, walkers, joggers, hikers and bird watchers.
Kids will love walking the boardwalk by the pond filled with catfish and geese, climbing the big rocks, and going through the small tunnel.