5 Ways to Explore The Niagara Falls Region On A Budget
Can you think of any other fun things to do in Niagara besides visiting the Niagara Falls? If you don’t want your visit to go like that of the typical tourists, keep reading for more creative ideas…
When you think of Niagara, I bet the first attraction that comes to mind is Niagara Falls! Yes the Niagara Falls is a beauty, and a wonderful sight to see! However, there are other places you can visit in the Niagara, Ontario region on a budget of under $100.
Niagara Botanical Gardens
Kayaking at Niagara-On-The-Lake
Dinner at Niagara-On-The-Lake
I went over Niagara for the first time in 2020 since it had taken up to 2 years to fully feel settled in Canada (see 5 Ways To Deal With Homesickness). For this trip, I went with one of my friends, Jen – and because we were both efficient planners, and on the same page about what we wanted to do, it was easy to have fun and stay within budget at the same time.
Tip: In order to be efficient and have a great time, it’s important that you plan your itinerary in advance and include activities that appeal to you.
This was during the first wave of the pandemic so we only had to wear our masks indoors. For this trip, we did the following 5 activities, and spent under $100 CAD each for the entire day.
“Don’t confuse this with the Niagara Speedway that’s closer to the Falls. Totally different experience! It’s basically the minor leagues vs the majors! If you want a fast and furious-ish kind of experience, you definitely want to check out the Niagara go-kart.. ”
The following is the vlog of the entire day and the places we visited.
However, to get a more detailed overview and the budget breakdown to help with planning your trip, keep reading.
1. Niagara Botanical Gardens
Admission is free to all visitors to the Niagara Botanical Gardens, however parking costs $5 per hour. It was also our first stop, since it was only a 10 minutes drive north of the Niagara Falls. It also has a Butterfly Conservatory which we did not see (packed schedule, plus it’s not free), but we were able to explore as much of the 99 acres (40 hectares) of land. The best time to visit the Botanical Gardens is when the flowers are in full bloom – especially the roses. We visited in July and the rose garden (which is said to comprise of 2400 roses) which was not in full bloom as expected. So that was disappointing!
Total cost to visit: $5 (an hour) Perks: Great for a photoshoot! We saw a couple and their family taking pictures by the rose garden and we also joined in the action too…not with them though 🙂
2. Niagara Falls
The Falls is said to be more beautiful on the Canadian side (lucky us!) vs the US side. As you probably know, there are several activities you can participate in at the Falls. We initially planned to try out a couple but decided against it because it was not as thrilling as expected – and especially for the amount of money required (no thank you)!
Exhibit A (in video above): The zipline was just on the side of the falls as opposed to going across it. What’s the fun in that?! I’d rather be properly strapped and zipline across the falls, or at least a bit closer to it (see vlog above to catch a view of tourist ziplining on the side of the Falls).
However, if you’re not a thrill seeker and this qualifies for you as ample experience of the Falls, go for it! Here are a few other activities that we considered (maybe a future visit) that you can participate in:
a. WildPlay Zipline to the Falls
As you may have guessed, we decided to just walk and take pictures around the Falls. The area is usually packed with tourists also doing the same, so you’d have to get creative with your picture taking.
At the Niagara Falls
Also, parking is pretty expensive at Niagara Falls! Closer to the Falls, expect to pay up to $30 per hour. However, if you drive away towards the restaurants & retail stores, you can find parking for ~$4 per hour like we did. After parking, it took us about 7mins to walk back to the Falls (not bad).
Total cost to see Falls & take pictures: $0Parking: $8 (for 2hrs)
3. Niagara Go-Karting
Don’t confuse this with the Niagara Speedway that’s closer to the Falls. Totally different experience! It’s basically the minor leagues vs the majors! If you want a fast and furious-ish kind of experience, you definitely want to check out the Niagara go-karts. You can go as fast as you want and can handle, just try not to crash like I did in the video above 🙂
4. Niagara Kayaking
One things to know about #kayaking in the area is that it may be hard to get one, so it’s better to call and book in advance. Since we did not realize this during our planning, we ended up calling multiple kayak companies to see who had an extra #kayak available. As luck would have it, someone canceled at Niagara Kayaking so we were able to share a kayak for 2hrs. You’ll also get a life jacket and mini training on how to kayak, if it’s your first time.
Cost: For 2hrs on a single kayak = $60 + tax (~$68 | $34 per person)
5. Dinner (Niagara-On-The-Lake)
After kayaking, we headed to Niagara-On-The-Lake to have dinner. By this time (>7pm EST), we were already exhausted! There are several restaurants to choose from in the area with cuisine ranging from Mexican to American and more. I settled for the Banquet burger (back when I could eat red meat) and fries because only a meal that big could curb my hunger.
Cost: $13.99 + tax + tip (~$20)
Overall, I paid approximately $85-$90 in total (including gas) to have this fun filled day, plus great company! There’s no reason to break the bank with advanced planning and budgeting.
What other attractions or activities have you participated in in the Niagara region that you loved? Comment below