The shopping malls I would pass. Nothing exciting and NO major store names here. Of course the magnets, cups, and souvenirs with NIAGARA FALLS are plentiful throughout the area. The drive into Niagara Falls from Highway 90 was filled with stop signs and traffic jams. Allow extra time once you get off the major highways. Also remember the exchange rate on the Canadian side. YOU get much more for your dollar.
All the major hotels are on both USA and Canadian sides. The Sheraton for those NOT on a budget offers the best views on Niagara. Make reservations on any hotels within the falls area. There are plenty of small, unknown hotels as you drive from highway 80 to NF. Of course we were driving in on a Tuesday. Weekends are usually sold out. Check link if you are looking for bargain rates.