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Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Brisbane
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Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

I have read that parking and parking costs can be a problem, so is this enough reason NOT to have a vehicle in the Niagra Falls area? As I am trying to sort out transport from Hamilton airport, am now wondering if hiring a vehicle may be as cheap as using other services So the option if I do that is to drive to Niagra Falls and keep the vehicle for two days or return it at the relevant Hire Car company on arrival.

Any thoughts thanks?

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Hi Lorraine H H

What time of year are you visiting?

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

sent by Ipod Touch

Brisbane
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2. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Thanks..will be 29th May 2012

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Hi Lorraine H H,

Welcome to the NIAGARA FALLS TRAVEL FORUM

And I see that you are a Brand NEW member of TripAdvisor… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

As you have discovered, there are not a lot of transit options from Hamilton Airport… one of the reasons no doubt that it is cheaper to fly there via WestJet than to just go the normal route onto Toronto International.

Renting a car may make the most sense (sorry I am not up to date on what other options might be workable from Hamilton, so hopefully someone else can provide that info here… or in the other topic you currently have open elsewhere in this FORUM)

Having a Rental Car may though be your only option (or even with the extra cost the best choice… or even the cheapest one… know that the chartered shuttles can be quite expensive to and from Niagara)… again hopefully someone else will have more info on that.

Additionally, in Canada Car Rentals are subject to what is known as DROP FEES if they are not returned to the originating Rental Office… and Drop Fees can oftentimes add up to be MORE than the basic rental cost… as some how the vehicle must make its way back to the Point Of Origin… even if that means being towed (so fees increase the further one goes away from the Rental Office… other side of town, different city, different province… and the worst dropped off in the USA ~ different country)

If you were to return the car in Niagara Falls you would no doubt be subjected to this extra cost.

Parking in NF is certainly not cheap… the average being aprox $ 20 to $ 30 (plus Fees & Taxes… and Tips if it is Valet) per night. Although Accommodations that are away from The Falls area (and not perched atop The Escarpment offering Falls View Rooms) may offer cheaping parking. But then you'd still probably end up paying some parking... to get a spot near The Falls when you are in that area... so you will most likely have to pay parking at some point no matter your strategy (unless you happen to get a hotel away from The Falls that also happens to be on one of the Bus or PeopleMover routes)

When at The Falls (particularly so if you have a Hotel nearby)... there is no need for a car … as there is good public transit to get around and see the sites (PeopleMovers) … and the major ones that are right around The Falls Gorge, are all walkable.

The one true advantage to having a car though… is being able to get beyond The Falls and see the wonderful countryside that is the Niagara Region… a real "gem" for Ontario.

With a car you can visit nearby Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake… which is about 25 Kms North of The Falls. Driving there via the scenic Niagara River Parkway which is considered to be one of the prettiest drives in all of Canada (or so said Winston Churchill when he visited back in 1943)

Having a car means you can get away from the high tourist areas around The Falls… and see more of what makes the Niagara River so famous…

The Niagara River Parkway spans pretty much the entire length… from Fort Erie on Lake Erie thru to NOTL on Lake Ontario. And the drive (about 50 Kms in total) is truly worthwhile.

You can see how amazing the River is… taking in its quieter beginnings… and recalling history as this is where the Slaves from the US escaped Northwards to freedom in Canada… there are historic sites along the river explaining various points (Freedom Trail) including info in NF, NOTL and St Catharines in regards to this area being a Terminus on the Underground Railroad.

And then as the River gets closer to The Falls area, you can see how it intensifies in power… (and also see how man has tried to harness its fury into generating hydro electricity)

Beyond the Thundering Falls and The Falls Gorge, the river narrows down into a deep gorge (the Niagara River Gorge) and makes its way dramatically thru the Whirlpool area… with Class 6 Rapids… some of the most fierce in the world (you can view them by enjoying the White Water Walk, the Niagara JetBoats or from a high in the Spanish Aerocars… or really high in the Niagara Helicopters)

After this stretch, the river calms down a bit… but you can still hear stories of its fascinating history as the place that the Americans crossed into Canada at Queenston Heights during the War of 1812…

Once the River reaches NOTL it is no longer a ranging torrent… and calmly slips into Lake Ontario.

It is enchanting actually to sit at Mississauga Lighthouse Park at the northern end of NOTL and see where the River meets the Lake, and look out across at the Toronto skyline.

NOTL is a wonderful destination in its own right… once a Capital City (when we were Upper & Lower Canada) it is charming in its architecture and history… and to hear its magnificent stories of bravery and strong Canadian Women during the War of 1812. Sites worthy of a visit include… Brocks Monument (Queenston Heights Park & Battleground) – Laura Secord Homestead – and Fort George (with a view of Fort Niagara across the River)

Historic NOTL is a National Historic Site (the only town in Canada) and has the finest example of Victorian Architecture (1815 – 1860) after the town was reconstructed following its razing in December 1813 by the retreating Americans… which turned the women and children out into the cold night.

Today NOTL is primarily a couples getaway Destination, with its wonderful assortment of Award Winning Boutique Hotels, Country Inns, B&Bs, Spas and Restaurants… Summer Theatre (Shaw Festival), Art Galleries, Antique Shops, and Specialty Boutiques. It is also the heart of Ontario’s Wine Country… and where it all began in the 1970s… with now over 150 Growers and Wineries that are sprinkled across the countryside from NOTL thru to Stoney Creek (on the way to Hamilton) that hug the land between the shore of Lake Ontario and The Niagara Escarpment (this ridge, is part of what makes the weather here so unique, and the climate one of the warmest in all of Canada)

So with a car you can take all this in and more… wandering the countryroads between Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake thru wine country vs staying on the very busy (non inspiring) QEW Expressway.

Also with a car, you can take in the Welland Canal… a true engineering marvel… as it serves as the waterway for Ocean Going Ships and Lakers that make their way from Lake Ontario UP to Lake Erie (a change in elevation of aprox 100 Metres = 325 Feet)… can be fascinating to see these ships “climb the mountain” that is The Escarpment in a series of Staircase Locks.

A car will serve you well because there really isn't much in the way of public transit out into the countryside (LOW Demand)... there is a shuttle that runs to and fom NF to NOTL but it is fairly expensive $ 18 and has really limited hours of operation. Having a car means you can have the optimum in flexibility and convenience for your travel to and from the airport and explorations enroute.

This is just a small sampling of what there is to see and do in the whole Niagara Region… here are some websites to get you started on your research…

* Niagara Falls Tourism = www.niagarafallstourism.com

* Niagara Falls USA Tourism = www.niagara-usa.com

* Niagara Region Tourism = www.tourismniagara.com

* Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce = www.niagaraonthelake.com

* Niagara Parks Commission (where you'll read about most of the Bigger Attractions) = www.niagaraparks.com

And as always… you will find an absolute ton of info here on the TA's NIAGARA FALLS TRAVEL PAGES (those buttons to the right of this screen... ie TOURISM - TRAVEL GUIDE - THINGS TO DO - HOTELS - RESTAURANTS) along with the TRAVEL PAGES for NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE... and of course the TRAVEL FORUMS for both Destinations.

Hope this is helpful,

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 24 November 2011, 12:56
detroit
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for Niagara Falls
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4. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Not all hotels charge $20--$30 for parking. When you get away from the falls parking rates come down to $10 or even free depending where at and the hotel.

It be cheaper to ride the Go Bus from Hamilton but then you be stuck in Niagara. Well not totally stuck, there is bus service and the people mover but once the sun sets the people mover closes down the bus service is less frequent.

I would rent a car from Hamilton but you could ride the Go bus to St Cat or Niagara and have the rental company pick you up. Enterprise always got to me in 10--15 mins after I called and said I was ready to get picked up at either the bus station or hotel.

This way you don't have to drive on the freeways if that isn't for you.

Niagara is not like downtown Toronto where its easy-quick to get around using public transportation. Far less people and far less options. Few traffic jams thou and many places to see which only a car or bike will get you there.

Now you could just get a hotel room right near the falls. Use Go to get to Niagara. Take a taxi to the hotel and just ride the people mover and hangout in the tourist area all of the time.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Don't give up on renting a car, even one-way. Although travellers here are routinely subjected to doom-and-gloom pronouncements about unavoidable sky-high drop fees as rental cars are towed back to their origins, in reality it depends entirely on your dates, locations, and the company you choose. In the past, a closer look has revealed every possible scenario: no fee at all, modest fees, huge fees, and no cars offered.

In your case: according to www.Avis.ca, if you rent a car from Hamilton Airport on May 29 and return it on May 31 you'll pay the same whether you return it to the starting location or drop it off in Niagara Falls. So take a look and see if this makes sense for your situation. (You may want to give them a call to confirm the details of the rate.)

Brisbane
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6. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Hello Wine-4-2

I would have to say that your big effort in answering my tiny query really made my day (apart from the info which in itself was wonderful). A six weeker from Australia has my head buzzing with all the info to take in, and even though the hire car from Hamilton seems a nuisance in more ways than one, I now have to stay an extra day to see all the wonders that this area has to offer. Many thanks!

Brisbane
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7. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Thanks MattInTor and Stillsmoking for hire car info. I agree that the doom and gloom sometimes overtakes common sense.

I'm leaning towards the hire car even though it will sit in the dusty parking lot for at least 24 hrs and need a shuttle bus to retrieve. With extra costs for public transport, waiting time and inconvenience added in, I think it will be a more worthwhile option. Another tick in the box for TripAdvisor's help, thanks for your advice.

Ottawa, Canada
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8. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Hi Lorraine H H,

Thank you for your kind words... they are much appreciated.

You are very welcome... glad to help.

Wow, 6 Weeks to visit Canada... I am so envious... wish I had 6 weeks (and the money) to visit your end of the world... Australia is most certainly on my Travel MUST DO List !!

As I said, you can find out much more about the Niagara Region here on the NIAGARA FALLS TRAVEL PAGES (those buttons to the left of this screen) and by even reading thru past topics (or active ones) here in the FORUM... same goes for NOTL...

Tons of great info at your fingertips.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

West Grey, Ontario
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9. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

Hi Lorraine;

FYI...the #1 rated hotel in Niagara Falls, the Country Inn & Suites, only charges $6/night for parking.

tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g154998-d660670-…

While it doesn't offer views of the Falls, it does provide decent accomodations at a reasonable price.

Best Regards

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Would having a hire car be an advantage at Niagra Falls

We visit NF periodically to see family. Last time we stayed at the Country Inn and Suites and would echo RT's recommendation. One advantage for us was that it was right on the edge of the tourist zone - the northern end of the Falls area being about a 15 minute walk. If we wanted to drive anywhere, such as Niagara on the Lake, we could exit the tourist zone without having to become embroiled in all the traffic.