Generations of sightseers continue to travel from all over the world to one of the most dramatic natural wonders – Niagara Falls. You’ll stand in awe as millions of gallons of water surge 300 feet over the falls in a roar of thrilling thunder and splash up in a magnificent mist. The average water flow over the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls varies from 60,000 to 75,000 gallons per second. The water falls at an accelerating rate of 32 feet per second. Twenty percent of the fresh drinking water in the US goes over the Falls. Best of all, it’s right in our backyard.
Established in 1885, the Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in America. Explore a scenic preserve covering 400 acres of nature’s beauty with premier observation areas to see the Falls. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead designed this wonderful gem. You’ll find hiking trails, picnic sites and pathways to the bridges to the Three Sisters Islands, just above the river’s drop. The Niagara Scenic Trolley circulates throughout a three mile route during the peak tourism season and one can disembark and rejoin the circuit at various points of interest.
While it’s true that Niagara Falls continues to earn its reputation as “the honeymoon capital of the world”, you don’t have to be a lovebird to enjoy its natural beauty and many attractions. Here are a few ways to experience the awe of the Falls: Ride the historic Maid of the Mist boat along the lower Niagara River right to the foot of the magnificent waterfalls in the basin of the Horseshoe Falls.
Take the Cave of the Winds walking tour, where you are guided onto a series of wooden decks to the base of the Bridal Veil Falls bringing you as close as two feet to the water. Goat Island, is a perfect spot for family picnics. At the New York State Observation Deck at Prospect Point, you can stand directly above the fast-moving current. The visitor center features displays, exhibits and a theater that helps tourists understand and interpret the natural environment of the Falls. Discover great photo opportunities along the Great Gorge Rim Trail, which takes you through Goat Island, the American and Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls.
The nearby Niagara Gorge Discovery Center is a park facility that relates the natural and local history of the gorge and the falls through interactive displays, fossil and rock specimens and a multi-screen presentation. Take on a different point of view when hiking along the trails of the Whirlpool Rapids Gorge, which takes you down the whirlpool stairs and up river to the whirlpool sandstone. Get a birds-eye view with a helicopter ride via Rainbow Air, located just before the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge. The Aquarium of Niagara features over 1,500 aquatic creatures from sharks to sea lions, and piranhas to penguins. Located on Pine Avenue and streets intersecting, you’ll find Niagara’s “Little Italy” with family owned and operated Italian restaurants, bakeries and shops feature fresh confections. The Niagara Falls City Market offers fresh fruits and vegetables every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Beyond the Falls
With more than 30 miles of pristine shoreline along Lake Ontario, world-class sportfishing, derbies and tournaments are a favorite here. East of the Falls, the Village of Wilson is known for yacht clubs, marinas and spectacular views. Nestled between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario you’ll find the region’s best wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail. Our boutique wineries offer a diverse selection of traditional vinifera styles, native, late harvest and ice wines, as well as unique styles such as award winning fruit wines and meads (honey wine). Lockport still retains its 19th century charm, and many of the locks continue to function as they did over 150 years ago. A collection of artifacts are at the Niagara County Historical Society.
Just seven miles north of the Falls are the villages of Lewiston and Youngstown. You’ll enjoy waterfront parks and the splendor of the lower Niagara River throughout the area. The Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista features exhibits on energy, electricity and local history. Youngstown was one of the first settlements to grow outside Old Fort Niagara, the site of historic battles and sieges, trading and conquest.