What to budget and where to find a last-minute package deal
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My last trip to Niagara Falls was two weeks before Mr. Yoder and I said our vows! Visiting the falls in the middle of summer with my parents and 5 of my best Australian friends (holy 2004!) was just a BIT different than visiting in winter with my husband and 4 children. Lol. This trip wasn’t about doing all of the typical tourist stops – this trip was about attempting our first trip with baby #4, spending as little money as possible, and surviving on broken sleep.
Niagara Falls can be an ultra-touristy destination. It has a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! It has a SkyWheel! And it’s known for overpriced food. However, Niagara Falls can also be a family-friendly destination, especially in the off-season. We found November weekdays in Niagara Falls to be quiet. Take that quietness and add in a last-minute package deal and you’ve found a recipe for a great getaway with kids.
Here’s a breakdown of our trip to Niagara Falls + what we spent
We’re lucky enough to live only a 4.5-hour drive from Niagara Falls. It’s an easy trip from our area. So, when I found a package deal on Travelzoo for the Embassy Suites Niagara Falls that included breakfast each day, a complimentary happy hour, and a Fallsview room for 6, I couldn’t pass it up.
Things to know about the package deal at the Embassy Suites Niagara Falls:
- The cheapest Fallsview rooms only have a view of the Canadian Falls. At check-in, they will try to get you to upgrade to a better view. I believe the upgrade was $75 CAD/night. We declined the upgrade, yet were still happy with the view from our room. However, we were informed that our room would only have a shower. For two nights, we could deal without having a bathtub for our kids, but if your kids are younger and will require a bathtub, it’s something to consider.
- The breakfast wasn’t worth writing home about, but it does take place in The Keg dining room with a gorgeous view of the falls. Get there early as the place becomes a zoo around 9 am. (I speak from experience)! There is also a Starbucks and TGIFriday’s on-site. We loved having coffee/food options that didn’t require us to go out into the cold air.
- Parking is not included in the rate, and the hotel charges an obscene $70 CAD/night off-site or $90 CAD/on-site for valet. The bellmen were very kind and allowed us to unload ALL our stuff as long as hubby left the keys in the van in case they needed to move it. Then hubby drove a block to the Fallsview Casino and parked! The Casino only charges when you leave – we left twice (once to see Christmas lights, once to go home) and paid $15/time or $30 CAD TOTAL.
- The free Happy Hour is okay. You get one free drink/adult. (For example, at TGIFriday’s, most beers were $9 CAD, so this saves you a bit)! The snacks were just pretzels and chips. However, there is an arcade right off of the Happy Hour area. Give your kids $5 and enjoy a few minutes of peace. 🙂
- WIFI is only free for Hilton Honors members, so make sure you sign up before you go.
- The Niagara Falls incline is just a short stroller-friendly walk from the hotel! This was so convenient for us, especially with the cooler temps!
So, how much does a trip to Niagara Falls cost?
Here is how much we spent – converted to US Dollars.
HOTEL – $228 USD total for 2 nights
- Starbucks Coffee – $8.98
- TGI Fridays – $100.33
- Vinny’s Italian – $75.12
- Tim Horton’s (coffee + donuts) – $7.59
- Breakfast at hotel + ham sandwiches for lunch that we brought with us – $0
- 2 nights at Fallsview Casino ($15 CAD each) – $22.62
- Parking at Floral Showhouse to see Christmas lights – $3.76
- Winter Festival of Lights – FREE – but gave a donation of $5 CAD – $3.76
- Niagara Falls Incline (To get from the hotel to the Falls) – $16.58
TOTAL SPENT IN USD: $519.74
I did not include our stops at McDonald’s or Cracker Barrel on the drive, because you can pack snacks or stop at any place that suits your budget. If I added these stops, we’d have another $59. Even with that expense, a great 2-night getaway for a family of 6 for under $600.
Sadly, food was a budget-buster on this trip! Eating in Niagara Falls, Canada is very expensive. We could have saved more by being more intentional with what we ordered, but we were just trying to get through meals quickly.
How to book:
If you’re interested in booking a last-minute package to Niagara Falls, I would check with Travelzoo or Groupon. Both usually have an abundance of options in the winter.
No matter what season you are traveling in, I do recommend the Embassy Suites Niagara Falls. We had a great stay! My only real disappointment was in the ham & sausages offered during breakfast – maybe your visit is a good time to be a vegetarian! Hahaha!
Tip: The best way to pay for expenses is to choose Canadian Dollars and pay with a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – plus you’ll earn 2x points at those pricey restaurants. Feel free to comment below for a referral link.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? What’s your favorite season to visit?