Niagara Falls has been a popular tourist attraction since at least the early 19th century, when the completion of the Erie Canal made them accessible to most visitors for the first time. Soon, this Canadian border town was known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World – but it’s far more than that today. Modern Niagara Falls is a great family vacation destination.
Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, a trip to Niagara Falls can get expensive fast. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not possible to enjoy a fun-filled family trip to Niagara Falls on a budget. There’s plenty to do here that doesn’t cost a dime, and there are ways to save money on those things that do charge admission fees.
Save on the Most Popular Attractions
Of course, you won’t want to go to Niagara Falls without actually spending some time at the Falls. If money is really tight, you’ll be pleased to know that looking at the Falls is free – but if you want to do any of the main Falls attractions, such as the Hornblower Niagara Cruise, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, the White Water Walk, or the Whirlpool Aero Car, you’ll have to pay. Fortunately, there’s no need to shell out hundreds to pay for all these attractions separately. During the summer, you can buy the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass; the Classic pass gives access to the Hornblower Cruise, the White Water Walk, Journey Behind the Falls, and Niagara’s Fury, as well as two days of public transportation. In the off-season, you can buy the Niagara Falls Wonder Pass, and save even more. Check out the Niagara Falls webcam view to see what conditions are like while you’re planning your trip.
If you’re visiting Niagara Falls with kids, chances are they’ll want to go to Clifton Hill, and enjoy attractions such as Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Niagara SkyWheel, Zombie Attack, or the Movieland Wax Museum. Save on a day of fun in Clifton Hill with the Clifton Hill Fun Pass.
Take Advantage of Free and Cheap Things to Do In and Around Niagara Falls
There’s a lot more to Niagara Falls than the Falls themselves and even the Clifton Hill entertainment district. If you don’t have the budget for mini golf, don’t worry. There’s plenty you can do in and around Niagara Falls for cheap or free.
For example, you could go to the Niagara Falls Farmers Market to stock up on delicious local foods, and then take the kids for a picnic in Queen Victoria Park. Here, you can spread your picnic blanket within sight of the Falls, for an afternoon of great views while you eat, play Frisbee, sunbathe, snap family photos, and explore the park’s tea rose garden, rock garden, and beautiful flower beds. Enjoy a great view of the fireworks displays over the Falls here on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-May to mid-June, and every night throughout the summer. Fireworks start at 10:00 p.m.
Speaking of parks, don’t forget to take in some of the many other lovely parks in Niagara Falls. Kids will love Heartland Forest, with its massive tree house and frog pond. Escape the hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls at quiet, secluded Dufferin Islands, a 10-acre park where catch-and-release fishing is allowed. Take the kids to Niagara Glen to learn about the plants, animals, and geology of the Niagara Gorge and Escarpment; free nature tours leave the Nature Centre each day through the summer at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Explore the Bruce Trail, or bring the family’s bikes to Niagara Falls and take the kids on a ride along one of the many trails that make up the Greater Niagara Circle Route system. While you’re at it, you’d be remiss if you didn’t spend at least a few minutes at the famous Floral Clock on Niagara Parkway.
The Niagara Falls region is rich with history, and if you have a few extra dollars to spend, it’s worth visiting the Niagara Falls History Museum, where a family of five can gain admission for $15. Here, you can teach your kids about the War of 1812, and pick up a walking tour map to take a self-guided tour of Lundy’s Lane Battlefield. Other sites of historical interest near Niagara Falls include nearby Fort George, where kids get in free. At Fort George, you can learn about military life during the War of 1812, by watching live musket and fife-and-drum demonstrations and exploring restored period buildings.
With plenty of budget-friendly entertainment options, Niagara Falls may be the perfect place for your next family vacation. Your kids will love it here – and so will you.
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