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Travel on a budget! Everyone deserves a trip and it doesn’t have to break the bank. The trick is to know how to make the most of your vacation dollars. Take a getaway to the Niagara Region and Niagara-on-the-Lake without spending a fortune with these helpful resources and insider tips.
Getting Here and Planning Your Trip
First things first! Gas prices are down, so take advantage of it.
And, if you are travelling from the US, you are in luck! Your US $ goes much further in Canada thanks to a really favourable exchange rate. For example, US $1 gets you $1.30 in Canada. Or, a $99 Shaw theatre ticket would cost you about US $76 (subject to change and based on daily exchange rate).
Where to Stay
While there is a wide variety of options when staying in Niagara – hotels, motels, B&Bs, vacation rentals by owners, camping, etc. – might we suggest:
The Residence and Conference Centre, a unique and affordable alternative about 15-minute drive from The Shaw and across from the Outlet Collection at Niagara.
Camping? Why not. Niagara area campgrounds let visitors get closer to the great outdoors, one of Niagara’s best assets. There are many options here. A quick Google search will link you to a selection of local campgrounds such as Shangri-La, Bissell’s Hideaway, Jordan Valley Campground, and more.
Stay nearby. Niagara Falls and St Catharines are two Niagara cities that boast affordable accommodations within a 20 minute drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Check out niagarafallstourism.com or tourismstcatharines.ca for your best options.
Book a Package
The Shaw offers overnight packages with reputed suppliers that includes a theatre ticket. Check them out here. For example, an overnight stay at the Residence and Conference Center – offering two-bedroom suites with kitchenette and free parking – is priced from $121.50/night per person, including a theatre performance.
A package with B&B Concierge – choose from high quality, inspected B&Bs + a theatre ticket – starts at $135 per person. A theatre and hotel package at the very affordable King George III Inn is priced from $118.
Alternatively, contact the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce who can help you find the accommodation choice to fit your budget. Reach them at niagaraonthelake.com or 905-468-1950
There are always ways to save! But first thing first, visit our Ways to Save page to see if there is a discount there you could take advantage of. Also, make sure you sign up for The Shaw’s eNewsletter and eBlasts for the occasional special offer.
Food and wine? Wine and food? The two go hand-in-hand in the Niagara Peninsula, one of the great wine regions of the world and a big player in the farm-to-table cuisine. It’s worth splurging on a meal but there are always cafés and pubs, or picking up a Shaw picnic for $15.95 and eating it by the Niagara river and gazebo, that might make saving there worth splurging elsewhere.
Exploring the Area
Here’s a list of free and almost free things to do in Niagara, in no specific order. There’s more but this should get you started!
Cycle or drive the beautiful Niagara Parkway from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie via Niagara Falls. Read more.
Window shop Queen Street or the Outlet Collection in Niagara
Niagara-on-the-Lake and Bench Wineries – free to get in, affordable tours and tastings. But you must pay for that bottle of wine you want to drink later!
Fireworks over the famous falls – check schedule
Falls illumination – the falls are lit in the colour of the rainbow. At night of course!
Floral Clock. Free.
Welland Canal Center in St Catharines – watch the ships go through the canal.
Family Friendly Activities
With kids? In addition to the activities listed above, here are activities that every member of the family will enjoy. Some are free but most have a cost. Please visit the various website’s below for pricing and more information.
Happy Rolph’s in St Catharines, along the shores of Lake Ontario, and only about 10 minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake, provides an opportunity to experience a variety of animals, birds and plants, in a natural setting. Visitors can also enjoy quiet seating – picnic lunch occasion! – and viewing opportunities along Lake Ontario or adjacent to two ponds on site. The site also features the 9/11 Memorial walking Trail. Free.
Or go to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls.
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, let history come back to life with a visit to Fort George, a military post that goes back to the war of 1812. Self-guided tours of the Fort with interactive reenactments within the buildings. Musket and canon demos daily.
Backstage tours at The Shaw. Take a peek behind the scenes and explore the inner workings of a large-scale theatre company. Discover what it takes to bring the plays to vibrant life.
Niagara Historical Museum – dedicated to understanding the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Ghost tours – experience Fort George after dark. In addition to one of the prettiest towns in Canada, Niagara-on-the-Lake is commonly referred to as the most haunted. May to October.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Pool and Tennis Courts: Daily public swim times available. Court times available through the town.
Simcoe Park: Located in the center of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake with a wading pool with fountain and great playground. Free.
Zoom Leisure Bike Rentals: Bike rentals for the whole family including children’s bike, baby trailers and trail a longs that attach to an adult bike like a tandem.
Whirlpool Jetboat tours: Splish splash! Head down the Niagara river for a fun – and wet – ride. Height restrictions for the Wet Jet tour are 44” (avg 6 year old) and for the Doom Tour 40” (avg 4 year old). Under-16 must be accompanied by a parent.
Paddle Niagara (10 yrs +): Get a unique view from the Niagara River down onto Lake Ontario as your guide teaches you the basics of paddle boarding.
Niagara Heritage Trail – visit the Laura Secord Museum and the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum among other.
Families – One day
- Pack a lunch to eat enroute
- Stop at Happy Rolph’s in St Catharines to look at the farm animals, birds and picnic
- If you’re lucky, you might get to see a boat going through the canal on your way to Niagara-on-the-Lake!
- Take Lakeshore Road all the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Attend a matinee performance of Alice in Wonderland
- Take the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls and stop to see the Floral Clock
- Head home or grab a bite at one of Niagara Falls’ many family-friendly restaurants
Families – Two days
- Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Take a backstage tour at The Shaw
- Pick up your pre-ordered Alice-themed picnic and eat on-site or meander to the gazebo by the Niagara River and enjoy the town
- Enjoy a matinee performance of Alice in Wonderland
- Head to your overnight accommodations at the Residence and Conference Centre and grab a bite across the street at the Outlet Collection
- Return to Niagara-on-the-Lake in the morning for a tour of Fort George
- Then head to Niagara Falls via the beautiful Niagara Parkway and stop at the Butterfly Conservatory
- Make sure to visit the Avondale Dairy Bar before you leave. You will earn big point with the kids!
Couples – One day
- Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake and stop in Virgil on the way. Grab a beer at the Silversmith Brewing Company and then cross the street for a pizza at the Pie Plate. Remember to grab some yummy baked goods for later on!
- Make your way to The Shaw for a matinee performance
- After the show, drive over to Peller Estates Winery or Trius Winery to make good use of your wine tasting vouchers (free with tickets to a show) and maybe pick up a bottle or two for home.
- If heading back home in direction of Toronto, you can stop at the Outlet Collection At Niagara for shopping and a bite
Couples – Two days
- Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake. If coming from the states, make sure to take the Niagara Parkway – a beautifully scenic drive sure to be the highlight of your visit … after The Shaw of course!
- Park at the Court House Theatre and take in the lunchtime performance, an entertaining one-act play.
- Head to the Irish Tea Room at the back of the Irish Shop for some lunchtime delights
- Spend the afternoon walking along Queen Street for some window shopping
- Visit the Niagara Historical Museum • Enjoy dinner at a local pub – say, the Olde Angel Inn, the Irish Harp, the Garrison House or the Sandtrap among others.
- Return to The Shaw for an evening performance. If your show is at the Festival Theatre, make sure you get there earlier for the free pre-show talk
- Head to your overnight accommodations at the Residence and Conference Centre
- For breakfast, a little something at the Outlet Collection at Niagara perhaps and maybe enjoy a bit of shopping while you’re there!
- Return to Niagara-on-the-Lake and take a backstage tour at The Shaw
- Pick up your pre-ordered Shaw picnic lunch and eat on-site at the Festival Theatre or meander somewhere else to enjoy.
- Rent a bike to explore the area – maybe head to MacFarland House for tea
- Visit Peller Estates Winery or Trius Winery to take advantage of your wine tasting vouchers (free with tickets to a show)
- Then head to Niagara Falls via the beautiful Niagara Parkway and stop at the Butterfly Conservatory before heading home.