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traveling on a budget

Milwaukee, WI
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traveling on a budget

I am planning on visiting Niagara Falls on the weekend before memorial day this year with my girlfriend for our 2 year anniversary. Right now it looks like we will be staying for the weekend getting there on Friday late morning/early afternoon. We live in Milwaukee WI and the ride is roughly 10 hours plus some time for stopping. We are planning on visiting both the Canadian and the US side. I read that the Canadian side was better, is it even worth visiting the US side? Also are there any must do's when we are there on each side?

Also I was wondering how many days will we need? Should we stay till Monday morning or leave sunday afternoon (keep in mind the 10 hr drive). We just plan on doing the must-do attractions, since we are both in college and on a tight budget. If anyone knows any cheap but clean hotels to stay that would also be very helpful. Nothing to fancy just want to have a clean room.

Thanks for any help,

Matt

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1. Re: traveling on a budget

Hi, Matt! I thought I'd try to answer some of your questions, and pass along a few suggestions! Since all this would amount to an extremely long entry which would probably give you a headache to read :) , I'll divide it into two replies sent a few minutes apart. First, the hotel: if you're on a budget but still want to be close to the Falls, your best choice would be Days Inn at the Falls on Fourth Street.. It's not a luxury hotel, but it's clean and comfortable (no complaints from reviewers!), features a 24-hour Denny's Restaurant, and is located within a five-minute walk to the Niagara Falls State Park - and at an average of $113, it's the best price you'll find this close to the main attraction! If you don't particularly care about being within walking distance, then the Super 8 on Niagara Falls Boulevard might be a suitable choice; the Falls are about ten to fifteen minutes away by car - or you could take the #55 Metro bus right to the Falls area -a stop for the #55 running in that direction would be almost literally right outside your door! The Super 8 is also clean and comfortable, features a continental breakfast and an outdoor pool, and is within walking distance to Tops International Shopping Plaza (shops include the titular mega-supermarket, Target, Radio Shack, Blockbuster Video, and many discount and specialty stores). Still another option might be the Falls Motel on Buffalo Avenue, another clean, comfortable motel, this one in rather pleaantly green surroundings; it's quite a bit out of the way , but the Falls are still within an approximately fidteen- minute drive - or, you could take the #50 Metro bus, which stops very close to this motel as well. Again, there's nothing in the immediate vicinity, but if you travel down Buffalo Avenue en route to the Falls by car, you'll encounter the locally legendary Sullivan's Ice Cream Stand - well worth the stop! You'll also exit onto Niagara Falls Boulevard, a major shopping district...and, if you happen to have a taste for old-fashioned, Mom and Pop-type amusement parks, the Falls Motel is a two-minute drive away from the Grand Island Bridge; Grand Island is home to Martin's Fantasy Island, which features several surprisingly up-to-the-minute rides (including "Flight", a spectacular 150-foot-high flying swing tower), and costs only about $23 for an all-inclusive admission. Well, those are your three best hotel/motel options, budget-wise - I'll be back in a few minutes with some suggestions for budget sightseeing and entertainment!

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2. Re: traveling on a budget

If you plan to cross to the Canadian side, you will need passports to return to the U.S. There is much more to see and do on the Canadian side, including a much livelier night life. These sites will offer some ideas on what is available.

http://www.niagarafallstourism.com/

http://www.niagaraparks.com/

www.cliftonhill.com

fallsviewcasinoresort.com

casinoniagara.com

A quick check on Expedia shows the following hotels within walking distance of the Falls, and right in the middle of the tourist areas: Days Inn Cliton Hill ($107CDN, Days Inn Fallsview ($87CDN), Michael's Inn ($97CDN), Ramada Niagara Falls($102CDN), Admiral Inn ($69(CDN), Super 8 ($96CDN), Days Inn Near the Falls ($93CDN), Chalet Inn ($86CDN)

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3. Re: traveling on a budget

Hi again, Matt! Now to the subject of sightseeing and entertainment! Tackling the latter first, I have to tell you that your Friday arrival is GREAT timing - not only does our excellent Hard Rock Cafe on Prospect Point (right across the street from the Niagara Falls State Park) feature free live music every Friday night, there's also a free, five-minute fireworks display over the illuminated Falls at 10:00 P.M.! Don't miss this display, it's excellent! You definitely must tour the American side of the Falls as well as the Canadian side; although it's true that our city is a little bit...well, "anemic" right now, the Niagara Falls State Park has a great deal of natural beauty - much more "unspoiled" than Niagara Falls Ontario's Victoria Park, although they're equally beautiful in different ways; also, there's the Great Lakes Garden (simple but amazingly peaceful - I love this garden!), a quasi-IMAX movie about the Falls at the Visitors' Center for a very low price (great gift shop, too!); the breathtaking viewing of a spectacular rainbow over the American Falls on sunny mornings from Prospect or Terrapin Points - and, there's the Observation Tower, which for a $1 turnstyle admission will transport you in a cliff-side elevator down to the level of the American Falls. This is the American landing dock for the world-famous Maid of the Mist Boat Ride; it's a "must-do" recommendation, of course, but if the price is a little too steep for your budget, there's also a spectacular attraction on this level that's absolutely free: the American Falls' Crow's Nest Staircase! Climb up this slippery stone staircase, with its swaying rope guardrails, on a sunny morning, and you'll climb right through an INCREDIBLE circular rainbow and reach out to actually touch the billowing white mist of the Falls.- in fact, if it's the slightest bit windy, the mist will soak you to the skin!! Great fun, but watch your camera!! Also in the Niagara Falls State Park is the entrance to the world-famous (didn't I said that?? :D ) Cave of the Winds, a paying attraction but - like the Maid of the Mist - a "must-do", and if it's within your budget, it's well worth the price! I'd also like to mention three additional free attractions in Niagara Falls, New York: the Visitors' Center at One Niagara (you can't miss it; it's the large, bluish-tinted glass building across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe), which features a free 9th-floor indoor observation "tower" (and - incidentally,ahem!- rinky-dink gift shop), which overlooks the Niagara Falls State Park and really is a view worth seeing; the Daredevils' Hall of Fame Museum, a small but absolutely free display of flotation devices that have survived trips over the Falls (some of their occupants didn't!!), located inside a souvenir/convenience store on Rainbow Boulevard, down the street from the Seneca Niagara Casino; and the Robert Moses Power Project Visitors' Center, a/k/a the "Power Vista", located on the Robert Moses Parkway next to Niagara University, which includes many entertaining and informative interactive displays, as well as a glass-lined walkway with spectacular views of the Niagara River Gorge. Finally, there's also the Niagara Falls Wax Museum on Prospect Point, another slapdash sort of Mom-and-Pop operation but which does include a lot of histoical information - and a whole lot of really weird wax mannequins - which may amuse you for the very reasonable $7 admission price - and, if you're into hiking, there's Whirlpool Park near Niagara University, where you can follow the grimly-storied Devil's Hole Trail (free)down to the bottom of the Niagara River Gorge...ask the museum proprietor about the gruesome ambush that gave Devil's Hole its name! Well, those are your best bets for the American side...I can see that I'm going to need a third entry to cover the Canadian side!!! Back again in a few minutes!!!

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4. Re: traveling on a budget

Hi again, again, Matt!! Now for the Canadian side! As fallsdude said, there's much better nightlife in Niagara Falls, Ontario - but it's not all budget-friendly! I've been down that road, pal!! :) The 'dude gave you some really good links, though - he comes through every time! Here's my input on the Canadian side's "must-do"s: first and foremost, the Journey Behind the Falls and the Hurricane Deck! You mustn't miss this fantastic experience - set one foot onto the Hurricane Deck at the very brink of the Horseshoe Falls, and you'll know how it got its name!! Another "must-do" is the Skywheel: a gigantic ferris wheel with glass-enclosed gondolas which rise hundreds of feet above the American, Horseshoe, and Bridal Veil Falls for a dazzling view...unless you're afraid of heights, of course! :D I'd also like to add my own personal "must-do", which you won't find on any standard list for touring Niagara Falls, Ontario, but which, if you can manage at all to fit it into your budget, must NOT BE MISSED: the Indoor Skydiving Centre on Victoria Avenue!! You read that right - indoor skydiving!! They provide the jumpsuits and a 20-minute instructional class; you "free fall" over a windtunnel portal - it's very, very safe, and it's like nothing you've ever experienced!!! It's not free, but it's amazing!!! That said, thr Canadian side also has a lot to offer that IS free, or at a very reasonable cost: the Brock Garden, the Oakes Garden, the lovely Victoria Park with its duckponds, its flowerbeds, its "nature climb" to the base of the Skylon Tower (another great attraction, if it's within your budget!), and its breathtaking view of the American Falls; NFO's own Hard Rock Cafe, where, for the purchase price of a cup of coffee, you can enjoy a self-guided tour of their wonderful collection of rock memorabilia; the live entertainers who often perform free concerts outside the Hard Rock; the Rainforest Cafe, where the purchase price of a hamburger or a bowl of soup will pay your way into an astonishing animatronic tropical rainforest, complete with thunder, sudden downpours, humid mists, a projected rainbow, and a starry sky with an artificial Aurora Borealis; a walk along Clifton Hill, where the "teaser" entrances to dozens of wax museums and attractions provide their own unique free entertainment; the Great Canadian Midway, which is free to enter and is something to see in itself (thousands of lights!); and the famous Table Rock, near the Maid's Canadian landing. Well, Matt, I'm going to wrap up and let you process all this - I hope it helps!!! Have a great night!!! :)

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5. Re: traveling on a budget

Thank you very much for all your insight. I will for sure take all of this in to consideration when planning out this trip. Right now just trying to figure out how much we can afford and what we can do on our budget. But from looking at websites and your post it seems that there are many free things to do there. Thanks again for all the info and if you come up with anything else I would be happy to hear it

Matt

Milwaukee, WI
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6. Re: traveling on a budget

actually I do have another question. I was looking at hotels and it obviously seems that the closer you get to the falls the more expensive it is. I dont mind driving into the city or staying somewhere not right next to the falls. The only issue that I have is parking. Do you know how hard it is to find parking and roughly how much it would cost, or ideally if there was a shuttle?

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7. Re: traveling on a budget

There is free parking in downtown Niagara Falls USA and some paid lots. Parking is usually $5-$10 dollars.

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8. Re: traveling on a budget

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