Airfare: Portland to Buffalo (~$750 roundtrip for 3 people)
Hotel: Swiss Cottage Inn~$100 (shared by 4)
Car Rental: $20
Average cost per person~$290 per person+ hotel. Can be cheaper if planned in advance.
Niagara Falls is no doubt one of the most famous attractions of USA/Canada. My mom had long yearned to see the Falls. I made a last-minute plan to visit Niagara Falls as a surprise birthday gift for her.
When I was researching airfare from Portland to Buffalo were around $500 for every weekend trip. Landing at surrounding airports (Syracuse, Rochester, Erie) did not offer much cost benefit either. I recollected that I have a companion pass with my Barclay’s US Airways credit card. The card has two $99 companion passes. Using these two passes, the total for three tickets from Portland to Buffalo came out to be ~$750. If I had booked earlier, I could have gotten it for ~$450. However, the priceless expression on my Mom’s face when she realized she was going to see Niagara Falls is more than worth the splurge.
I booked a the cheapest room possible at hotels.com and thought I would return later to optimize the hotel stay. Turns out I totally forgot about it until it was past the cancellation time. So, I was stuck with a crappy room at Swiss Cottage Inn. I should mention that there are much cheaper and better hotels on the Canada side. However, I am not a permanent US resident and do not have a Canadian visa. Earlier, it was possible to get Canadian visa on the spot at Buffalo. Not sure why that capability was taken away.
I was extremely busy the weeks leading up to this trip and had little time to plan my trip. My tentative plan was as follows:
11AM: Reach Buffalo Airport, pick up rental car.
12noon: Reach hotel, check in
1PM: Head out to Niagara Falls: Cave of the Winds first and then onto Maid of the Mist. Soak in the views in between. Again. we would not be able to hop onto the Canadian side. If you can, head onto the Canadian side.
4PM: Drop on at Niagara Falls Discovery Center
5PM: Whirlpool State park, Devil’s Hole State Park, Reservoir State Park (highly rated on tripadvisor.com)
7:30PM: Return back to hotel, rest
8:15PM: Head to Niagara Falls State Park to see the lighting display.
8AM: Head out to Erie Marina and hang out
11AM: Head to Buffalo Airport
Again, the actual execution was different, adapting to the situation and our desire to spend more time at the Niagara Falls itself.