NIAGARA FALLS TRAVEL GUIDE
Perhaps my favorite place I have visited so far, Niagara falls is the epitome of nature meets fun. Straddling the US/Canadian border, both sides offer a variety of attractions in and around the falls, ideal for families, couples and backpackers. It may be hard to decide which side to stay on but both sides offer falls attractions with the Canadian side providing a range of activities for all; – including adventure experiences, wine tasting at Niagara-On-The-Lake, and casinos, arcades, and lots of things to do when it rains in Niagara Falls.
Both the US and Canadian sides offer a variety of falls-related activities; such as boats into the falls or walks in, around and behind the falls. You may also wish to travel upriver to check out the Whirlpool Jet Boats or Whirlpool aero car. Both sides offer restaurants and bars, with the Canadian side offering a wide variety of nightlife opportunities and children’s activities; like a hilariously BAD wax museum!
Budget: Double private rooms starting at $30 – $60, a similar price for both sides of falls.
Midrange: Very nice rooms available from $60 – $150, the Canadian side offering slightly better rooms for the value.
Luxury: 5 star hotels starting at $150 – $200, very few high-end hotels in Niagara falls but plenty of excellent chain and luxury hotels.
Transport: Niagara Falls is a walkable destination but you can use the WEGO – a 24-hour pass costs $9.
The average cost of food:
Both sides of Niagara falls is home to many chain restaurants with a full range of prices; from Wendy’s to Hooters, Denny’s to TGI Fridays, so you will no doubt find food to fit your price range.
We typically would spend $80 -$100 a day (for two) when having breakfast and lunch from fast food chains or sandwich shops, followed by a 2-3 meal course at a sit-down restaurant with a few wines and beers.
Prices in USD
Best time to visit Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls can be visited all year round but to experience all the attractions in and around the falls at there best, the best time to visit Niagara Falls is from June to August.
Summer is peak season because the average high temperature is in the low 80s, you can enjoy a light breeze from the falls to keep you a little cooler but you can also dry off quickly after getting soaked in the Cave of the Winds; which we recommend doing.
Plus, there is a free Discover Niagara Shuttle which runs throughout the summer.
However, visiting in the Autumn offers a different experience, with beautiful colors in the state park as well as harvest season at the local wineries.
The main attractions close over the winter period but you can visit the falls as they freeze over if you time your trip just right.
Where to stay in Niagara Falls
Below is recommended hotels covering both the US and Canadian side.
Days Inn – Niagara Falls Near The Falls, is a favourite budget hotel based on the Canadian side, conveniently placed among a wide variety of restaurants and bars and just a ten-minute walk to the falls. Double private rooms start at $39 but ask for a non-smoking room if you are not a smoker.
Across the border, Days Inn Niagara at the Falls also provides a clean and friendly atmosphere with a short walk to the falls. Both hotels offer wifi and a pool as well as Denny’s restaurant for cheap eats.
With many hotels on both sides at midrange prices, it is difficult to decide which hotel to stay at.
For the US side, I suggest Comfort Inn: The Pointe, Niagara Falls with rooms starting at $80 and Doubletree Fallsview Resort and Spa by Hilton for the Canadian side, with rooms with fall views starting at $83.
The Red Coach Inn is a historic inn on the US side, just 5 minutes walk from the American Falls with suites available for those who wish for a fireplace and fully equipped kitchen. Rooms start at $149 and great deals can be found throughout the year.
The Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls/Fallsview is a great hotel with 3 towers overlooking the falls and also include a gym, indoor pool and spacious suites to relax in. Fall view rooms start at $121 with rooms with whirlpool rooms available at $128.
Save money in Niagara Falls
Canada and the US can be expensive places to travel but there are still ways to save money in Niagara Falls.
- Stay further away – the closer you are to Niagara Falls itself, the more expensive your hotel will be. Cut down the cost of your accommodation by staying further away.
- Visit during the off-season – head to Niagara Falls from October through to March for cheaper hotel prices.
- Use coupons – Check out Groupon for discounted Niagara Falls attractions and restaurants and also pick up a coupon book or flyer found in racks in most hotels and shopping malls.
- Eat at local, reasonably price restaurants – Some restaurants in the tourist area have inflated prices, so your best bet is to move away from the tourist neighbourhood when eating out. Reasonably priced restaurants include jade Garden, Boston Pizza, Flying Saucer and Betty’s.
- Avoid the chain restaurants – IHOP, Dennis and Applebees are overpriced in this area and just not that good.
- Clifton Hill Fun Pass – You can pick up the Clifton Hill Fun Pass to enjoy 6 different attractions at a discounted price. This is on the Canadian side, or you can use the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass for the activities on the US side.
- Free Parking – Many families prefer to drive to or rent a car in Niagara Falls; especially if you are looking to see more of Buffalo State or the Niagara area. Check your hotel has free parking but also check free car parking deals – for example, some hotels offer free parking you eat in their restaurant or use their casino.
Best things to do in Niagara Falls
- Maid of the Mist
- Cave of the Winds
- Journey Behind the falls
- White Water Walk
- Skylon Tower
- Whirlpool Jet Boat
- Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
- Old Fort Niagara
- Niagara Skywheel
- Niagara Fallsview Casino
- Niagara Falls Wax Museum
How to get to Niagara Falls
Fly – You can fly from Toronto (Pearson International) or Buffalo, New York airport with taxis, shuttle buses and train services available from both airports, making the trip to the falls quick and easy. Flights from NYC take approx. 45 minutes and starting prices begin around $60.
Bus – Greyhound offers bus services to Niagara Falls but these can be long; taking 9-11 hours depending on traffic. This route costs approx. $55 each way to the Trailways bus terminal (NY) being located 6 miles from Rainbow Bridge.
Train – The Niagara Falls NY Amtrak Train Station is approx. 4.5km from the Rainbow Bridge, costing around $10 cab fare whilst the Niagara falls station on the Canadian side has stopped trains through to Toronto apart from occasional weekend trips. Trains from New York City take nine hours and cost $78 each way.
Drive – Niagara Falls is approx 6.5 hours drive from New York City with the quickest route taking the interstate 80 west to 81 North to 90 west than 190 North to the Robert Moses Parkway.
How to get around Niagara Falls
Walking is the most popular way of getting around Niagara falls, with most sights within a short walk from one another.
Driving around the center of Niagara falls can be difficult, with very little parking available. There is the Rapidsview parking lot about 3km south of the falls for those who wish to park up and explore.
Bicycle rentals are available around the falls and there are some great bike tours to be had.
The WEGO is an incline railway with red, green and blue lines covering the major sights and hotels.
The Niagara Transit has a good network of buses to get you to and from attractions further afield as well as Buffalo airport.
For the Whirlpool aero car and Whirlpool Jet boats you may wish to drive or get a taxi to these places further up river.