Niagara Falls is an awe-inspiring sight and something everyone should have on their bucket list to see. A top travel destination for vacations with the family and honeymooning couples alike, there is virtually something for everyone to see and do. That being said, there are some things that you should know before arriving at this very popular tourist location that might make your stay a bit more pleasant.
Pick your hotel carefully
Location, location, location! Location is everything when picking which hotel to stay at while visiting the falls. It’s important to know that you will need to walk down to get to the falls, and there are only a few roads that take you all the way down. Hotels that are located nearest the Canadian Falls are at the most disadvantage as the only two ways to actually get down are to walk several blocks down and around Queen Victoria Park or pay to take the incline railway. Make sure that you have a decent map of the area when booking, so you’ll know exactly where the hotel is in relation to what you want to see.
Also, know that most hotels will charge a daily parking fee (that is taxed), or you’ll have to pay to have your car valet parked. If you pick a hotel further away from the falls, you can usually avoid the daily parking fee, but then you’ll probably have to rely on shuttle buses or pay to park in lots closer to the falls and attractions.
Be aware that taxes are very high in Canada and the Niagara Falls area in particular. If you can get just a few blocks away from the downtown area, prices for everything (including restaurants) drop by a few dollars or more. Most places will take American money, but be aware you’ll probably get change back in Canadian.
Getting around the area
No two ways about it; there is a lot of walking in the Niagara Falls area, so a good pair of comfy walking shoes will be your best friend. As I mentioned, you have to walk downhill to actually get to the Falls Walkway, and some of those hills can be quite steep.
If walking isn’t really your thing, the People Mover is available (for a fee) and will shuttle you through the Niagara Parkway, making stops at all the tourist destinations and attractions. Passes are available for multiple days and also come with the Adventure Pass. And at the south end of the Parkway nearest the Canadian Falls, you can find the Incline Railway (for a fee) that will take you up the hill near the Fallsview Casino.
You can drive your car through the Parkway as well, but parking lots are few and far between and, of course, have a fee. If you park at one of the lots on either end of the Parkway, however, you can catch the People Mover from there and then explore the area on foot.
What to do for fun?
One thing the Niagara Falls area doesn’t lack is a variety of attractions. When I said there is something for everyone, I wasn’t exaggerating! For the thrill-seekers, there’s the Maid of the Mist, Whirlpool Jet Tours, helicopter rides, and Falls walks. For the kids, mini-golf courses, Sky Wheel rides, and laser tag. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, gardens, museums, and bird aviaries might be more to your liking. Any hotel will have plenty of information on everything available in the area and will probably have tour packages available as well.
If you happen to have a car handy, plan an afternoon to drive north up the Parkway to Niagara-on-the-Lake and dip your toes in Lake Ontario. On a clear day, you can see the Toronto skyline! And on your way back, venture into St. Catherine and visit the Canal Way Lock 3 Museum and see a real canal and lock in action. It’s a great way to get out of the city, definitely worth the drive.
Whether you have just a few days or an entire week, getting the chance to see and experience what Niagara Falls has to offer is worth the trip. Make sure you take the time to do some planning when considering where to stay, pack some good walking shoes and prepare to have fun!