Niagara Falls ~ Keeping it on the American Side on the cheap!

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y husband’s birthday is this week, so we decided to take a little road trip.

We knew we wanted to keep it within 4 hours our home in Pittsburgh. Our last trip to Maine (which I have yet to write about…) was over a 9 hour drive and we just weren’t feeling it to make a drive even half that long. At first I thought Sandusky would be a good choice. We could check out Marble Head and ride some roller coasters at Six Flags. Then I remembered our recent trip to Kennywood (I have to write about that one still too!) and how uncomfortable my hips were… Let alone doing the walk of shame on one ride.

I looked over my sight seeing list on my Google Maps and noticed Niagara wasn’t far. That was it! And the research began.

I have a passport collecting dust from a mission trip to Estonia but my husband doesn’t. We worried we wouldn’t be able to have as much fun on the American side of the falls.

We were worried for no reason. It was great!

There was a goal of keeping our day under $50 for the two of us. Yep. A road trip for under $50.

Niagara Falls Road Trip for under $50 |

Parking was found by fluke, for free! In a lot right by the Comfort Inn. Which is walking distance to everything we wanted to do and see. There was a limit of 2 hours, but that didn’t faze us. We did several Smithsonians in under 2 hours. Call us “marathon tourists.”

I had found the park map ahead of time and printed it from here. But it honestly didn’t help a whole lot. It printed in horrible resolution, but maybe you can do better. There are plenty of markers and maps mounted all over the grounds to help you find your way around though. Here’s one just in case πŸ˜‰


On our walk, we noticed $5 parking right by the Hard Rock Cafe as well as $8-$10 parking in the park itself. I’m still glad I cheaped out though.

The path takes you through the Great Lakes Gardens, which is free and nice if you have time or need a space to rest. There are different areas of flowers devoted to each of the different Great Lakes. There were several people sleeping on benches and some litter, but it still felt safe.

We spotted an overlook at the top of the American Falls. So we sauntered over and I did a live Periscope on site. If you joined us for those few moments, thanks! It was awesome to connect in real time!

Then it was off to ride the Maid of the Mist. For $17 per person, this was our only real expense. We ate out of the cooler and parked for free. So that brings our grand total to $34 for our trip to Niagara Falls. To me, that’s just thrilling!


Maid of the Mist. It was $17 each for adults, but it also comes with a few bonuses besides just the 20 minute boat ride into the mist. You also get a postcard for each ticket purchased and a poncho that you could keep as a souvenir if you really wanted to. We pitched ours. I know, I know. Not very good stewardship.


Here is the live Periscope of our tour on Maid of the Mist. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed me tweeting “live on Periscope.” You should totally join me next time πŸ™‚ These are live videos that you can chat in real time with me, and I can show you what I’m up to. I usually share videos from our travels. It’s so much fun! I only saved this one below, so check it out!

The boat has two levels. We stayed on the lower level. I was worried about Bryan’s hearing aids getting wet. We still got pretty wet though! The Maid of the Mist takes you over to the American Falls which are beautiful in their own right. And right up into the mist itself. I can’t even imagine how nice it would feel to go out on a hot day. We were there in 70 degree day with low level humidity and it was glorious.

Niagara Falls on the American Side | Because... I'm Cheap

American Falls and Observation Tower

Niagara Falls American Side | Because... I'm Cheap

American Falls and seagulls

After the tour, you can throw away your poncho and head home. Don’t do it! There’s an area to the right called the Crow’s Nest. It’s a windy cement staircase through boulders and puddles up next to the falls. We only made it halfway up. You absolutely WILL get soaked if you visit this area.

Crows Nest Niagara Falls | Because I'm Cheap

The Crow’s Nest

Niagara Falls Crow's Nest | Because... I'm Cheap

View of the Crow’s Nest from the Observation Tower

The tour also includes the Observation Tower. If you don’t want to get wet, you can actually do just the tower for $1 per person. We almost missed it because the elevators and crowds go to the left to leave. It’s a can’t miss kinda deal. Beautiful view. Plus it’s actually quite windy up there too. We lingered long enough for our clothes to dry. Ha ha ha… not quite though.

Niagara Falls Observation Tower | Because... I'm Cheap

The Observation Tower

By 3:30 we were ready to head home. We got it all done in under 2 hours and under $50! With enough left for lunch on the way back. I love being cheap. It has helped us see so much this year!

Here are some more photos of our trip to Niagara Falls.

Have you been to the falls? Any tips you’d like to share with other readers? Let me know in the comments πŸ™‚

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  • Our Seaside Baby
    March 10, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Wow, looks amazing! I didn’t know you could get a boat trip across. Love the photos, especially the one with the seagulls. Thanks for linking up to #MyFavouriteTrip Let me know if you had a problem adding the badge. Polly

  • Tamieka
    January 25, 2016 at 8:24 am

    This is awesome!

    We are considering a trip from MD to Niagra Falls over the summer with the kiddies.

    Won’t be able to do $50/day though πŸ™

    Thanks for the tips!

  • TravelingWellForLess
    September 20, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    LOL, love your phrase “marathon tourist”. I’m right there with you. πŸ™‚ Niagara Falls is on my list, and love that you can do it for less than $50. πŸ™‚

  • Melinda Dean
    September 16, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I went to Niagara Falls a couple of years ago. It was freezing but a lot of fun. Thanks for posting the pictures to bring back my memories of my trip.

    • Jenn @
      September 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Melinda. I went with my family when I was about 3. I can only remember my face getting wet. Loved it this time around πŸ™‚