LAST UPDATED JULY 30th, 2020
The Ultimate Family Road Trip To Niagara Falls, Canada
Road trips are something that our family LOVES! There’s just something about having the freedom to go where you want, see a lot of different places and spend time together.
This is a really fun road trip as there’s a great mix of things to see and do for families of all sizes and ages.
TIP: As of the date of this writing, you only need a Passport Card to cross the border into Canada. So, you can save some money by getting Passport Cards for the kids instead of full passports.
Day One: Depart for Springfield, Il with final destination being Toledo, OH
We love history! If there’s an opportunity to see/visit something historical, we will almost always do it. One of the great things for families is that the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is free. However, if you plan on going during the summer months, we highly suggest you arrive early to reserve tickets for the home tour.
TIP: The last tour begins at 4:30 pm.
We thoroughly enjoyed the house tour as there’s something special about being where Abraham Lincoln walked and lived. Our guide was engaging, knowledgeable and you could tell he really enjoyed giving these tours.
There is a four-block area around Lincoln’s home including 12 buildings that date back to Lincoln’s time which have been restored to their 1860 appearance. It is a self-guided tour with several outdoor exhibits.
After visiting the site, we headed over to the Lincoln Tomb National Historic Site located in Oak Ridge Cemetery which we would also recommend. This is also a good option for families since it’s free. The cemetery is full of tall, beautiful oak trees. You walk inside the 117-foot tomb to see where Lincoln is buried.
Fun Fact: The centograph to mark Lincoln’s burial location was made from Arkansas red granite. With the exception of Robert, the entire Lincoln family is buried here. A fun tradition is to rub Lincoln’s nose at the Lincoln statuary and our boys really liked that!
If you think your kids may not like going to a museum the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum is the place that will change their minds. The ghosts of the library will be a magical surprise for your kids!
There is a re-creation of Lincoln’s log cabin, kids can try on period clothes and even perform chores of the time. Maybe your kids won’t think to unload the dishwasher is so bad after going here?!
The treasures gallery has tons of items belonging to the Lincoln Family. While items are rotated frequently, we saw an original hand-written copy of the Gettysburg Address and the evening gloves in Lincoln’s pocket the night he was assassinated.
It is such an engaging museum that families will really enjoy.
Day Two: Depart Toledo, OH for Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
After check-in, we went straight to the Hornblower Cruise area to get our tickets for a close-up view of the falls. This is such a must and our boys loved it! Prepare to get wet so make sure to protect phones and other electronic items.
TIP: We brought along a large zip-loc freezer bag in which to place our phones.
Niagara Falls is absolutely amazing to see in person! The beauty and power of the Falls is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Going to Niagara Falls as a family is truly a family travel moment all of you will remember for a lifetime.
As of November 2019 ticket prices for a voyage to the falls cruise is:
Adults ( 13+) : $30.50 CAD
Children (5 -12): $20.50 CAD
Children 4 and under are FREE
While the entire focus of our short visit was to experience the Falls, there are additional things to do in Niagara Falls. We had a great time just walking around and enjoying this beautiful area and wonder of nature. Here are some suggestions if you plan to stay in Niagara Falls longer:
Day Three: Wake up for breakfast, get a morning look at the Falls and then head to Mackinac Island, MI
Mileage from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Mackinac Island, MI: 532 miles or 8.5 ( I promise it is totally worth it!)
If you’re going to be in Detroit and you enjoy music at all, then going to Hitsville U.S.A. is a must! We were certainly excited to see it and walk through the museum. We listened to a ton of Motown music in the car on the way back to the United States.
Frankenmuth is called Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” and you’ll see why the second you arrive in town. For lunch, we ate at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, which was not only a fun atmosphere but more importantly, it was good food. There are lots of shops within the immediate vicinity, including the world famous Bronner’s Christmas Store.
Day Four: Take a Ferry From St. Ignace, MI to Mackinac Island,MI
Mackinac Island is truly magical. No cars are allowed on the island; only horses, and in the winter snowmobiles. You can also rent bicycles and get around the island that way as well. To have a day with no car noise pollution, no honking horns or being stuck at a stoplight is amazing! The island is full of cute stores, restaurants and, of course, their famous fudge is available at a few different fudge shops. Note that all of the “taxis” on the island are truly horsepower-based as well. A stay or visit to the Grand Hotel is a must!
Fun Fact: Travel + Leisure lists the Grand Hotel as one of the “Top 100 Hotels in the World.” It also has the longest porch in the world and is a beautiful throwback in time.
After taking the ferry back to St. Ignace, we headed down the Western Coast of Michigan toward South Bend, IN.
Mileage from St. Ignace to South Bend,IN: 365 miles or 7.5 hours ( yes, you will make it to South Bend late. However, you are now a full-fledged road warrior and can do this!)
Stops: Holland, Michigan ( a beautiful area of Michigan and, if you’re there in the Spring, you can see the Tulip Festival).
Day 5: Depart South Bend, IN to Hannibal, MO
Mileage: 370 miles or 5.5 hours
Stop off: Mark Twain boyhood home and museum
The Mark Twain boyhood home and museum is really neat. You can visit Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home (a National Historic Landmark), Becky Thatcher’s House, Huckleberry Finn House, J.M. Clemens (Justice of the Peace Office), Interpretive Center and the Museum Gallery for one ticket Price. There are interactive exhibits and memorabilia. Hannibal hosts quite a few festivals and concerts throughout the year. Definitely take the time and check it out.
Day 6: Hannibal, MO to Boonville, MO
Mileage: 104 miles or 2.5 hours
If you make reservations ahead of time, you can visit the Anheuser-Busch Warm Springs Ranch. This is the home of the Budweiser Clydesdales. For 2020, guided tours are available from March-November. You can take a photo with a Clydesdale, have a Budweiser Beer ( for those over 21 of course) and see the 1903 beer wagon
Note: The tour is ADA compliant and accessible for the disabled – all paths are flat, level and paved.
This road trip covers a lot of ground. While it may even seem overly ambitious, it’s well worth the energy. Our boys loved this trip and were excited to tell their friends about it. Being able to see Niagara Falls in person was awe-inspiring, to say the least. Showing our boys Mark Twain’s home was a joy for us and it even inspired our oldest to read more of Twain’s writings. Ever since I watched Somewhere in Time as a teenager ( if you haven’t seen it, find it and DVR it), I have dreamt of going to Mackinac Island (and it was everything that I hoped it would be and more).
We love everything history and were super excited to start our trip by visiting Abraham Lincoln’s home. Great news for families… visiting the site and even the tour of the home is free. Just be sure to arrive early and reserve your time for the home tour.
Don’t forget to bring a portable power charger, I like lipstick sized chargers because it’s easy to stash in my purse. If your phone has ever had a low battery power on a trip, you’ll know why you need this. This is the one we use and it has never failed us.