I like to travel everywhere — not just the places I can easily afford. Niagara Falls is one of those places that isn’t exactly frequent traveler–friendly; it is exceedingly crowded for much of the year, and prices for food, accommodations and attractions are a bit out of my typical budget.
Yet, that certainly didn’t give me permission to skip the destination since it is, after all, a true wonder of the world. I couldn’t just pass by the opportunity to see one of the largest waterfalls on Earth, and that means I had to figure out how to cut costs to travel and participate in the best activities around the falls.
Niagara Falls is huge and breathtaking, and it is well worth a dent in your travel savings account. Here’s a rundown of how I saved money on my Niagara trip — and how you can, too.
Book Accommodations Online
You don’t want to use a travel agent for your Niagara Falls trip, and you certainly don’t want to roll in and expect to find somewhere affordable to stay. Especially during the high season, Niagara Falls accommodations are booked solid; you’d be hard-pressed to find even a spare couch where you can rest your head. The best strategy for finding a deluxe Niagara Falls hotel room at a non-deluxe price is to use a website, like Niagarafallshotels.com, and to plan your trip well in advance.
In fact, you might even book your accommodations for one of the shoulder seasons. Summer is jam-packed with tourists, and not many avid travelers enjoy spending time in places that are crawling with non-natives. In the winter, many attractions are closed down due to snow and ice, and the Winter Festival of Lights attracts millions of visitors, as well. Thus, your best hope for savings is in spring and fall — but because Niagara is a temperate region, you can still enjoy gorgeous weather and stunning scenery even then.
Opt for Ticket Bundles
You can enjoy almost any kind of vacation in Niagara Falls: a thrilling, adrenaline-inducing vacation, a laid-back, epicurean vacation, a family-friendly vacation and more. Even better, you can find a trip package that includes activities and attractions that suit your vacation wants and needs.
To the savvy traveler, ticket bundles should always seem suspicious — are you paying extra for the convenience of getting everything at once? But in Niagara Falls, it truly is worth your money to plan your trip in bulk, especially if you expect to indulge in popular attractions around Clifton Hill or Wine Country. You can find ticket bundles online, or you can talk to the concierge of your hotel for more information.
Use the Tourist Bus Service
Driving is not easy around Niagara Falls. While there are plenty of roads and parking lots, many of them require tolls that up your expenditures significantly during your trip. Plus, driving anywhere that is unfamiliar can be stressful, and you don’t want to waste valuable vacation time getting lost.
Fortunately, Niagara Falls has you covered. The city offers a tourist-specific transit system called WEGO, which conveniently stops at most accommodations and attractions in and around the city. As with other services, tickets for WEGO are available for purchase in advance online, and you can save money by purchasing tickets for more than one day at once.
Anyone can ride WEGO, to include children, seniors and those with disabilities. However, WEGO buses only let passengers off at designated stops, which means you need to research WEGO routes before you decide which days of your trip you will take advantage of the service. You can always use WEGO to get most of the way to an unconventional attraction and rely on other transport, like bikes, scooters or rideshares, to fill in the gap.
Watch for Sales and Discounts
Niagara Falls is a popular vacation destination, which means it isn’t often that you come across a significant sale or discount. Still, in the weeks or months leading up to your trip, you might keep a keen eye on important websites or ticket prices. Undoubtedly, there are certain tickets you want to acquire ASAP, like tickets for the Hornblower Niagara or Maid of the Mist river cruises. However, you can probably hold off on rooms, concerts and shows and similarly variable costs, watching them for low points. Then, you can snag the same experience for less.
I enjoyed my time in Niagara Falls — and I even expect to go back. I encourage all travelers to deviate from the path less traveled and enjoy a comfortable vacation somewhere unique, like Niagara Falls — even if it means working a bit harder to save up.