Budget Friendly Niagara Falls

By AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
October 03, 2018
Create precious family vacation memories on a budget with this list of inexpensive and free things to do in Niagara Falls, an iconic destination with unforgettable scenery that no one should miss. Many hotels and attractions are affordable, and though some restaurants are costly, others are more modestly priced for those dining on a dime. Don’t forget: It costs nothing to gaze at the spellbinding waterfalls for as long as you’d like, and they put on quite an amazing show.
Betty's Restaurant
8921 Sodom Rd.
AAA Inspector Rating
(905) 295-4436
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Betty’s, at least according to the scores of locals who dine here regularly. Betty’s serves up comfort food at super-affordable prices and it’s just like the stuff mom used to make (or better!). Folks rave about the crunchy fish and chips and the homemade fruit and cream pies; the lemon meringue is always a hit. There’s plenty of seating to accommodate the retirees who come in droves around the dinner hour, and Betty’s also serves a mean Sunday brunch.
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Clifton Hill Fun by the Falls
4960 Clifton Hill
(905) 358-3676
If your kids think thrill rides and video games are more exciting than watching water plunge hundreds of feet into a river, then Clifton Hill Fun by the Falls is just the place for them. Lit up like Las Vegas, the three-block area holds kid-approved and budget-conscious places like haunted houses, arcades and a multilevel go-kart race track. Get a bird's-eye view on the Niagara SkyWheel, a 175-foot Ferris wheel with breathtaking views of the Falls – it’s even more memorable at night when the cascading waters light up in rainbow colors.
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Mandarin
7555 Montrose Rd.
AAA Inspector Rating
(905) 358-7000
Even the pickiest of eaters will find something to their liking at Mandarin. Not only does this restaurant contain a huge assortment of edibles in its buffet, but everything is so yummy that you may want to eat here more than once while on vacation in Niagara Falls. Diners can savor every Chinese dish imaginable, as well as salads, sushi and pizza. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll jump for joy when you spot the dessert table, which comes with an ice cream sundae bar. Top it all off with cotton candy you can make yourself.
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The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
2565 Niagara Pkwy.
(905) 356-8554
The beautifully landscaped Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens offers free admission, and that’s a deal that you can’t beat. A walk through the hushed gardens might be just the thing for little ones; getting out in nature can have a calming effect on them. If time allows, make friends with thousands of fluttering winged creatures at the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, housed in a building inside the gardens; a fee is charged.
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Skylon Tower
5200 Robinson St.
(905) 356-2651
Instagram photo ops abound at the Skylon Tower’s observation deck, where you can see for miles and miles after zipping 775 feet to the top in a “yellow bug” elevator for a breathtaking view of the American, Horseshoe and Bridal Veil falls. Built in 1964, the tower will also appeal to fans of mid-century modern architecture. If you eat at the tower’s Summit Suite Buffet Dining Room, admission to the observation deck is free.
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