10 free things to do at Niagara Falls
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
If you're a cost-conscious traveler looking to visit Niagara Falls, you'll be pleased to find out that it's an amazing destination with many free things to do. There's no need to spend money to have a good time.
My wife Pam and I were in western New York in late August, so we went for a weekend visit to Niagara Falls State Park. We had such a great time in two days that we returned the next weekend to do it again. We were unable to see and do it all the first visit as there were so many great things to do that don't cost a penny!
Here is a look at 10 ways to save some cash while visiting Niagara Falls:
1. Free parking
RV parks around the Niagara Falls area are not in close proximity to the falls, and parking can be a problem when it is really busy. We figured it might not be as busy since some of the U.S. public schools were already back in session. What we had not counted on were all the foreign tourists who were visiting. We had to be a little more creative with our picture-taking in some areas of the park.
Anyway, given the $50 to $80 nightly RV park rates, we decided to search the Web for some free options in the area. We found Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino. Their information states the following regarding RVs parking at their facility:
"Parking for oversized vehicles, including RVs, is available on a 'first come, first serve' basis in the huge parking lot on the east side of the property (Use 'Falls Street' entrance for your convenience). The Native American casino allows vehicles to park on the east side of the lot, by the fence, even though the lot surface area is not marked for oversized vehicles. Utility hookups are not available. The casino is located about a mile from the entrance of Niagara Falls State Park."
We stayed a total of five nights between our two visits and found it to be a perfect place to boondock. We were able to use our leveling jacks, put our slides out and use our generator as needed. As long as you have enough onboard storage for your water usage, you can enjoy a few days in this area without having to pay RV park fees.
2. Take a walk
Walk around, enjoy the sights and sounds — and learn the history of the falls. There are numerous plaques spread around the grounds that describe different areas of interest. Some are historical, and others state current facts.
One fact I found amazing was that 75,000 gallons of water spill over the American Falls every second. We walked for miles around Niagara Falls State Park enjoying all the different views of both the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
3. Falls at night
Every night after sunset, the falls are lit in a rainbow of colors. It is just spectacular! It was so enjoyable and relaxing to just sit, watch and listen to the sounds of the rushing water.
There are many ways to catch this event photographically. Even pictures taken with my Samsung smartphone, at its lowest-resolution setting captured the sights quite well during the night viewings.
4. Fireworks show
On Fridays and Sundays during the summer months, you can see a free fireworks show at Niagara Falls. The fireworks shot from the river bed light up the Falls in a unique way.
Now, fair warning, this is not a really long fireworks display — I figure it lasted about five minutes or so.
5. Walk across Rainbow Bridge
If you have the proper documentation, it is easy to walk across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. The walk only takes a few minutes, and there are more great views of both the American and Canadian falls.
Once you get through customs, you are right in southern Ontario. While we were there, we saw beautiful gardens and water fountain displays, and we listened to free entertainment while enjoying the views of the falls.
We had such a good time just walking around, we made the journey into Canada twice during our stay. We figured the walk from the parking lot of the casino to the Horseshoe Falls in Canada was about 2.5 miles. It was really quite easy with a comfortable pair of walking shoes. With all the places to stop and enjoy, you can take a break, if you need one.
6. Biking around
Biking around the Niagara Falls area and the park is a great activity that does not cost anything if you bring your own bicycle. If you don't have one, there are rentals available, but then it is no longer a free activity. If it is really crowded, it can be a bit difficult to bike around within Niagara Falls State Park.
If you visit during a busy time of year, you can bike along Robert Moses Parkway to avoid the crowds. One side of the street is an unused road that is closed off for pedestrian traffic. You can bike for miles. This is not a scenic as being right around Niagara Falls State Park, but if you want a good ride, this is certainly an option.
7. Walk the dog
The seventh of the free things to do at Niagara Falls is to take your dog for a walk in the park. They can enjoy themselves as much as we humans.
Our pup, Lindsey, had a great time being photogenic when we placed her on a pillar right by the Falls. After we took this photo, we actually had a small crowd that had gathered while we were taking the numerous shots it required to get this one. She was distracted with all the attention.
8. Have a picnic
There is plenty of open space to lay out a blanket, bring some food and enjoy a meal and the sights. If you just want to pick something up on Falls Street before you get to the park, there are several options to choose from.
We found Mario's NY Style pizza, and we really enjoyed the selection they had and the quality of their pizza. It has been a while since this native New Yorker had a good slice of New York-style pizza.
9. Games and music
When strolling up and down Falls Street, you can enjoy games and music. There is an area right outside the Econo Lodge that had large game boards of chess and checkers. There were also ping pong tables and large Jenga blocks to play with. There was even a huge chalkboard where you can express your lifetime wishes to the world.
Lindsey decided she wanted to play chess, but none of the other fur-kids wanted to take her on. So, we just let her sit there and look cute for a while. She did get others to take her picture, too.
10. Take pictures
There are so many great places to stop and enjoy the falls while capturing their splendor from so many different angles and distances. There are numerous walkways where you can get up close and personal with the falls.
If you enjoy getting wet, you can partake of the mist created by the huge amounts of water cascading down — depending on which way the wind is blowing. This also creates some great photographic opportunities.
As I stated earlier, I was using my Samsung smartphone to capture the pictures I have displayed here. It did a fine job of capturing day and night shots while being portable and easy to keep dry when that was necessary.
If you have a chance to bring your RV to the Niagara Falls area, be sure to enjoy some of these free activities. It is a great opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy the beauty that is Niagara Falls.
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