Niagara Falls, Ontario is an obvious place to visit to pair with your visit to Toronto, but it’s also a great single destination for many Canadian, American and International travellers alike. We tend to visit the falls a few times a year and are still aw struck by its beauty and raw power!
A lot of our American friends always ask for tips on what to do, where to stay and where to eat in Niagara. There is admittedly a lot of tourists traps, and seasoned travellers like us still fall for them from time to time. A lot of people ask me if Niagara Falls is expensive, and the answer is – it completely depends on when you go. Here’s a quick summary of where to stay, when to visit and some things worth checking out!
Where to Stay
If you have kids, you’re likely going to want to stay near Clifton Hill as there’s a lot of attractions geared towards children. The Fallsview area, which is beside the new Casino is a great area for adults and couples. If you’re staying near Fallsview and have kids, get ready to do some walking as most of the attractions aren’t near you. On the other hand, Fallsview has more upscale hotels like The Four Points, The Hilton and The Marriott on the Falls. The restaurants are less family oriented, but delicious nonetheless! We recommend checking out Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse and Napoli.
If you want to stay near Clifton Hill, some hotels worth staying at are the Days Inn Clifton Hill, The Skyline Inn and the Sheraton on the Falls. If we had to pick one hotel from each area that is our favourite we would have to go with The Hilton in the Fallsview area and Days Inn for the Clifton Hill area. We like the Hilton because their pool, steam room and hot tub are top notch. In our opinion, it’s the nicest hotel in Niagara Falls, and sometimes you can land yourself a half decent price for a two room suite. We love the Days Inn Clifton Hill because during off-peak times this hotel has amazing deals for guests, deals like $80 a night plus some food vouchers and a $50 slot credit at the nearby Casino (Yes, it works out to being about $30 a night for the room if you don’t use the slot credit). It’s also within walking distance of Niagara Casino, which is albeit older than Fallsview Casino but way more accessible and affordable as games and slots tend to be cheaper than Fallsview. To give you an idea of prices, a hotel we pay on average $50 a night for during off-peak times goes for $200+ during the summer months! Another popular hotel is The Courtyard Marriott on Ferry St. It’s a bit of a walk from Clifton Hill, but the rooms are affordable, the pools are massive and there’s hot tubs. We highly recommend upgrading your room to include breakfast. The best breakfast we’ve had in Niagara is at the Courtyard. Food isn’t cheap in Niagara, so if there’s ever a deal that includes breakfast, take it!
When To Visit Niagara
Like most touristy places, Niagara has a boom and bust economy that sees thousands of travellers and visitors in the summer and then it drops off significantly in September to December. It picks back up a bit over winter break, march break and in February for Valentine’s day, but there’s a lot of deals to be had during this time. As a general rule, we tend to avoid staying overnight at the falls during the summer months as the crowds make it not that enjoyable for us. Since we live an hour away this makes it doable. Also, prices aren’t stagnant for attractions either. Expect to pay a premium for attractions in the peak season. The falls are absolutely spectacular during the winter months and there are some events that take place only in the winter like the Winter Festival of Lights.
Things to Do
Niagara SkyWheel – Amazing views of the falls on a massive Ferris wheel!
Fallsview Indoor Waterpark – Catch a wave or laze around this indoor waterpark
Niagara Speedway Go Karts – Not open yet, but the plans look awesome!
Bird Kingdom – This indoor aviary is full of exotic birds and parrots
Hershey Store – Get your chocolate fix! It’s also next to the Coke Store
Queen Victoria Park – Unique and native plants beside the falls
Niagara-on-the-Lake – A nearby town with Victorian charm, good eats and famous wineries
Botanical Gardens – Massive gardens sure to please any horticulture lover
Great Canadian Midway – Fun arcade and carnival games, it’s also open late!
Great Wolf Lodge – Popular waterpark resort near Niagara Falls
Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club – The casino sometimes offers free tickets to shows
Greg Frewin’s Magic Show – Never been, but people seem to really like it
Maid of the Mist – Hear the falls thunder as you get up close and personal
Whirlpool Aero Car – Spectacular views aboard a vintage cable car
Journey Behind the Falls – A must for photography lovers!
Ripley’s Believe it Or Not – Museum of weird objects and artifacts
Guinness Book of World Records – Interesting facts and world records
Wizard’s Golf – Glow in the dark mini putt with a wizards twist!
Lundy’s Lane – Shop till you drop at some great outlets
Places to Avoid
Al Mac’s Breakfast – Any place that lures you in by a billboard or sign advertising a cheap buffet breakfast will likely charge you $5 for a cup of coffee and may refuse to give you tap water in order to sell expensive bottled water. Avoid.
iHop – This is another franchise that charges astronomical prices for some eggs and pancakes in Niagara.
Burger King – Avoid Burger King on Clifton Hill. I’d consider BK low end fast food, especially when compared to Wendy’s. The quality is crap and the prices are ridiculous here. Expect to pay $15+ for a meal. Wendy’s and Tim Hortons are your best bets of Clifton Hill, since their prices are the same at all restaurants. If you want something fast and cheap, go to these two places.