Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Niagara Falls-area attractions. Understandably, the spectacular Niagara Falls in
all their powerful splendor are this region's big draw. Yet both the Canadian and the United States sides of this splashy
natural wonder are liberally sprinkled with peripheral attractions to inspire and entertain. Niagara Falls, young in geologic time,
was created by melting ice. As the frozen mass retreated, land rose behind it to form ridges such as the Niagara Escarpment.
Melting ice also formed what is now Lake Erie and its surrounding lowlands, with the lake overflowing about 12,000 years ago
to create Niagara Falls. Originally formed about seven miles north in Lewiston, erosion has put the Falls about midway between
lakes Erie and Ontario on the Niagara River, a 37-mile long body bisected by the international boundary. Niagara Falls,
New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario are connected by bridges. The American falls are higher, at 184 feet, with a shorter
crest of just over 1,000 feet. The Canadian (or Horseshoe) falls are 176 feet high with a deep, curving crest of about 2,200 feet.
The smallest of Niagara's falls, Bridal Veil, is separated from the other falls by Luna and Goat islands. Whether seeing how power
is harnessed at Power Vista, greeting a colony of penguins at the Aquarium of Niagara or heading off to assorted other attractions,
following the traditional grid system layout is the key to navigating Niagara Falls, New York. Across the Canadian border,
Niagara Falls Ontario also has a superb menu of diverse attractions including gaming and duty free shopping.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Niagara Falls Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- United States
- Airborne Adventures
One-hour hot air balloon adventures launch twice daily, at sunrise and sunset (weather permitting) from the Niagara Wine Trail.
Gasport, New York. (716) 772-7452
- Aquarium of Niagara
Visitors can dive into a sea of discovery with 40 living exhibits, from sharks to seals, and penguins to eels. Located just a few blocks from the falls, the museum has a gift shop, observation deck, and free parking.
701 Whirlpool Street, Niagara Falls, New York. (716) 285-3575
On 200 acres of New York State Park, Artpark is Niagara's premier performing and visual arts center. Summer events include professional musical theatre, big band concerts, cultural festivals, and headline concerts.
450 South Fourth Street. (716) 754-4375
- Cave of the Winds
Waterproof clothing is provided for guided trips along special walkways at the base of Bridal Veil Falls, at Niagara Falls State Park.
Goat Island. (716) 278-1730
- Colonel William Bond House
This circa 1824 brick house on the National Register of Historic Places has 12 rooms furnished in a pre-Victorian period.
143 Ontario Street, Lockport, New York. (716) 434-7433
- The Erie Canal Trail
Opened in 1825 as the engineering marvel of the 19th century, the Erie Canal and villages along side are undergoing rediscovery for scenic beauty and a rich role in New York State history. When planning started for what many scoffed at as “Clinton's Folly," there were no schools of engineering in the U.S. All 363 miles (with exception of a few places where black powder was used to blast past rock formations) were built with muscle power of men and horses. The result made New York the leading commercial city in the U.S. Where before it had taken weeks on sun-parched trails to reach fertile far lands of the Midwest, New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton's vision of a canal from Buffalo to Lake Erie started the westward ho movement. The Erie Canal Trail has four main developed segments along that path that starts at the Niagara River between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda and goes to Troy. The developed segment in western New York is officially tagged as the Erie Canal Heritage Trail, including hiking and bike trails.
- Falls Illumination & Fireworks
Fireworks explode over the falls at 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday from mid-May through Aug. 31.
- Goat Island & Other Isles
In the Niagara River, Goat Island is accessible by foot or vehicular bridge and has walks that offer spectacular views of the falls. The Three Sisters Islands, in the rapids, are accessible by footbridge, as is Luna Island, lying between the American and Bridal Veil falls.
- Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
In the original Allan Herschell Company factory complex, the museum's building is one of seven once housing manufacturing components. Allan Herschell, founded in 1915, was fourth in a series of Tonawanda companies making carousels and other rides. Allan Herschell, the most prolific, specialized in portables, and created more than 3,000 hand-carved wooden carousels, out-producing all industry rivals. It also pioneered concepts such as “Kiddieland,” and introduced thrill rides such as the Twister and the Sky Wheel, a double Ferris wheel nearly 90-feet tall. Allan Herschell previously had been a partner in the area's earliest carousel firm: The Armitage Herschell Company in 1873, and later with the Herschell-Spillman Company in 1901. Spillman Engineering Company operated from the 1920s through the 1930s in competition with its founder. Exhibits include the Lockman Collection of 20 hand-carved animals documenting changes in style and ownership of the companies; a 26-photo montage tracing production from lumber
delivery to set-up in a park; “Good Fun in Hard Times” explains the Allan Herschell “Kiddieland” concept. Best of all, the museum operates two historic carousels: The large 1916 #1 Special, 40 feet in diameter, has 36 hand-carved horses and 580 lights. A Children's Gallery “Kiddie Carousel” is for small fry only. Museum admission includes one free ride on either carousel, with additional ride tokens for 25 cents.
180 Thompson Street, Tonawanda, New York. (716) 693-1885
- Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride
Lockport Cave is actually a man-made hydraulic raceway blasted out of solid rock nearly 150 years ago -- among many accomplishments of 19th century patent virtuoso Birdsill Holly, inventor of district steam heat and the world-famous Holly system of fire protection. (Chicago dallied in purchasing Holly's patented inspiration, but anted up right after its great fire. Ironically, within hours after Holly's 1894 death, the city of Gasport, New York. – one of the nation's few cities failing to buy his fire protection system – burned in its entirety.) Guided historical tours let participants see the Erie Canal locks, walk through Holly's 1,600-foot waterpower tunnel, view geologic cave formations, and take a ½ mile underground boat ride for a trip of industrial revolution wonder. Tours, conducted on the hour, start at the main ticket office.
2 Pine Street, Lockport, New York. (716) 438-0174
- Lockport Historic Trolley
The Towpath Trolley offers a one-hour tour of Lockport's historic sites, telling the story of its famed citizens, remarkable architecture, and place in Niagara County's history.
210 Market Street, Lockport, New York. (716) 628-6095
- Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises
Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises provide two-hour journeys including “locking through” the only double set of locks on the historic Erie Canal. Adjacent is the Erie Canal Heritage Museum.
210 Market Street, Lockport, New York. (716) 433-6155
- Maid of the Mist
Waterproof clothing is provided for this 30-minute boat tour of the three falls, operating from mid-May until late October.
Access via Observation Tower elevator at Prospect Point at Niagara Falls State Park. (716) 284-8897
- Niagara Climbing Center
No experience is required for this controlled indoor rock-climbing environment allowing participants to stretch body and mind.
1333 Strad Avenue, North Tonawanda, New York. (716) 695-1248
- Niagara County Parks
Certainly, no shortage of parks exists in Niagara County. Among options are Bond Lake Park and Nature Center (2571 Lower Mountain Road, Lewiston) with eight lakes for fishing and canoeing, along with 13 miles of mountained trails; Devil's Hole State Park (Robert Moses Parkway, 4 miles north of the Falls) has a terrific view of the Niagara Gorge; Fisherman's Park (River Road, North Tonawanda) is an angler haven and has a bandshell with regular Thursday evening concerts; the new Gateway Park (Main & Webster streets, North Tonawanda) serves as the base of the annual CanalFest each July along with other events.
- Niagara Wine Trail
Formalized in 2002 by Gov. George Pataki and state legislators and opened in May, 2003, the Niagara Wine Trail includes Warm Lake Estate and Niagara Landing Wine Cellars.
Warm Lake Estate, 3868 Lower Mountain Road, Lockport. (716) 731-5900
Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, 4434 VanDusen Road, Lockport. (716) 433-5616
Chiappone Cellars Winery, Inc. 3401 Murphy Road, Newfane. (716) 433-9463
Varney's House of Wine & Antiques, 4120 Ridge Road, Lockport. (716) 434-4724
- Old Fort Niagara
Begun in 1727 and controlled in turn by France, Britain and the U.S., Old Fort Niagara is a Registered National Historic Landmark and features the oldest building on the Great Lakes among original buildings and fortifications.
Youngstown, New York. (716) 745-7611
- Power Vista
The New York Power Authority's Niagara Power Project Visitor's Center – Power Vista – makes it a point to be electrifying, the goal being to spark interest in exhibits on energy, electricity and local history. Admission is free.
5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, New York. (716) 286-6661
- Ransomville Historical Museum
In the Old Post Office behind the William McLaughlin Library, museum displays showcase history of this hamlet with focus on the Ransom family.
3733 Ransomville Road, Ransomville, New York. (716) 791-4073
- 30 Mile Point Lighthouse
One of seven lighthouses open to the public along New York's Seaway Trail, the 30 Mile Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1875 on the northern most point of the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The treacherous area has been the scene for several shipwrecks.
9691 Lower Point Lake Road, Barker, New York. (716) 795-3885
- Tiffany Window Tour
Brochures are provided for self-guided tours, and slide lectures can be arranged for groups.
First Presbyterian Church, 21 Church Street, Lockport, New York. (716) 433-5905
- Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours takes passengers ages 6 and up on an hour-long whitewater adventure through the Niagara Gorge.
The Riverside Inn, Lewiston, New York. (888) 438-4444
- Whirlpool Rim Walks
Appropriate for all ages, this 20-minute walk focuses on the whirlpool and rapids.
- Whirlpool State Park Adventure Hikes
Quality hiking shoes and a day-pack with water and snacks are recommended for guided hikes into the Gorge, not appropriate for children under age of 8.
Whirlpool Shelter Building, in the Niagara River Gorge. (716) 282-5154
- Alien Encounters
Billing itself as Canada's only interactive Alien museum/haunted house, those who dare enter come face to face with full scale alien figures from classic Sci-Fi movies, including Alien, Predator, Independence Day, Species, Star Wars, Star Trek, Roswell and more. Film footage from the 1947 Roswell Alien Autopsy is on view. Haunted house visitors must choose between the Yellow Tour (scary, but hands off) and the Red Tour (not for the weak-hearted, given that aliens will reach out for a touching experience when least expected).
5751 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 374-3011
- Butterfly Conservatory
Grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens are home to one of North America's largest collections of free flying butterflies, with the Butterfly Conservatory featuring a 600-foot network of pathways providing access for the physically challenged.
Niagara River Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- Casino Niagara
- Casino Niagara has more than 2,800 slot and video poker machines on four levels in denominations from nickels to $100, with bell-ringing slot excitement including Monopoly, Wheel of Fortune, Double Diamond, Blazing Sevens, Reel'em In, 10xPay and more. On a Megabucks Progressive, the jackpot starts at $1 million. Table games include blackjack, roulette, craps, Caribbean stud poker, and baccarat. Lower limit tables start at $5 and there are exclusive high-limit sectors. Since opening in December, 1996, the Casino Niagara revenues have exceeded $2.5 billion.
From Highway 420, follow the signs. (888) 946-3255
- Clifton Hill Entertainment and Dining District
Dining, sightseeing, shopping and fun await at Clifton Hill, a block from the Falls and brimming with more than 40 attractions, the SkyWheel Ferris wheel added recently, and restaurants from the Great Canadian Midway (with the Ghostbusters Dark Ride and the Fun Express) to the Maid of the Mist Restaurant, Rainforest Café, Tim Hortons and the Hard Rock Cafe. Shoppers can scope out merchandise at the Niagara Falls Marketplace, the WWE Retail Store (the world's only World Wrestling Entertainment Store and Ride Attraction), and more. Chocoholics revel in the one-of-a-kind Hershey Store, with an entrance through a four-story Hershey's bar under the giant Hershey's Kiss.
4960 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 358-4783
- Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum
The Old West, Roaring 20's, and modern day crime scenes come to life in a self-guided tour with about 40 wax figures and snippets of history to inform and entertain. Gift shop stock includes t-shirts, posters and handcuffs.
5751 Victoria Avenue (at the top of Clifton Hill), Niagara Falls, Ontario.
- Dufferin Islands
One of Niagara's hidden treasures is on a 10-acre plot alongside the upper Niagara River. Dufferin Islands, originally formed by glacial drift, were further extended by the Ontario Power Company in the 1900s with rock fill excavated from the river. Winding trails invite leisurely strolls through the eleven small islands, over small bridges leading to areas for viewing waterfowl and other inhabitants. Anglers of all ages can enjoy the “catch and release” fish program. From mid-November to mid-January, during the annual Winter Festival of Lights, Dufferin Islands are aglow with numerous animated lighting displays.
Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- Falls Incline Railway
The historic Falls Incline Railway operates twin cable-rail cars between the Minolta Tower Centre and Table Rock. Rail cars run daily from late March through late October, weather permitting.
Next to the Table Rock complex. (905) 371-0254
- Fighter Combat International
Offering extreme aerial adventure, Fighter Combat International provides a varied menu including opportunity to be a top gun with aerial combat missions and one-on-one dog fights. Ultimate aerobatics, from mild to wild, including seeing Niagara “upside down” with or above “the Falls” in an open cockpit vintage biplane. Flights start at $195.
Highway 55, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario. (905) 684-5440
- Fine Line Sportfishing Services
Experienced guides are fully licensed for fishing the awesome waters of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, or the Niagara River.
1194 Lakeshore Road, West St. Catharines, Ontario. (905) 938-2275
- Floral Clock
One of the world's largest, this 40-foot diameter floral clock built by Ontario Hydro in 1950 has some 20,000 small plants closely placed to create elaborate designs that are changed twice a year. Gardeners use long ladders over the clock for trimming every two weeks. In autumn, four cultivars of Alternanthera are used along with the green and grey forms of Santolina Sage. California Golden Privet provides contrast along with Blue Festuca Grass. In spring, designs feature violas, pansies and other violets. Nearby, the Westminister chimes strike every 15 minutes.
Niagara River Parkway, North Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- Guinness World Of Records Museum
An open invitation for visitors to take a family photograph in the World's Largest Chair or to try to stop rotation of a six-ton Floating Granite Ball in the lobby stands along with access to record-breaking facts through computer data banks in Sports World, Animals and Structures. Videos chronicle adventures in space, the marathon toppling of dominoes, and the crazy food eaters consuming record quantities of hard-cooked eggs, hamburgers and such.
4943 Clifton Hills, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 356-2299
- Haunted House & House of Frankenstein
Providing new meaning to the word nightmare, Haunted House has the requisite ghost in every corner, and a skeleton in every closet, with virtually every kind of ghoul imaginable. By contrast, House of Frankenstein, a door or so away, shelters monsters back from the deceased, creatures lurking in shadows, not living – and yet – not dead. There's no turning back after climbing the 13 entry steps, and visitors must find the hidden passageway to finish the journey of terror, or be lost forever in clutching darkness.
Haunted House, 4943 Clifton Hill Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 357-4330
House of Frankenstein, 4967 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 357 9660
- Historic Fort Erie
A strategic military site during the War of 1812, Fort Erie was occupied by American troops using this location as an operations base for invasion of upper Canada. Authentically dressed guards and interpreters bring to life this re-created 1812 British Garrison. Open mid-May to mid-September, the site includes a playground and picnic area.
350 Lakeshore Road at Niagara Boulevard, Fort Erie, Ontario. (905) 871-0540
- Journey Behind The Falls
This year-around attraction affords thrilling views of the Falls from below and behind. Visitors descend 150 feet by elevator, where a short (150 feet) tunnel accesses two outdoor observation decks and two portals located directly behind the falls. To experience the thunder of the “Horseshoe,” visitors also can walk through 650 feet of man-made tunnels leading to an observation plaza at the brink of the Falls, just above river level. Disposable, biodegradable raincoats are provided when necessary.
Niagara River Parkway. (905) 354-1551
- Laura Secord Homestead
During the War of 1812, Laura Secord set out on a 20-mile trek through American lines and over while, unsettled terrain to warn British forces of an impending attack at Beaverdams. The homestead features authentic circa 1812 furnishings. Ice cream and Laura Secord chocolates are offered in the annex building, on the spot believed to be the location of the original summer kitchen.
29 Queenston Street, Queenston, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- Mackenzie Heritage Printery Museum
The clank of presses and the smell of printer's ink permeates history in the home of political reformer William Lyon Mackenzie. A working Linotype and eight operating heritage presses encourage interactive experiences while exploring the 500-year history of letterpress printing. Rarest in the museum's collection is the Louis Roy Press, the oldest printing press in Canada and one of the few original wooden presses left in the world.
1 Queenston Street, Queenston, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- McFarland House
Built in 1800 from bricks made in a kiln on the property, this Georgian home was used as a hospital during the War of 1812. The original John McFarland, a widower with four children, emigrated from Paisley, Scotland around 1782. He married a neighbor, and before her death in 1809, five children were born, leading to addition of a back wing. Guided tours can be accompanied by relaxing in the herb garden. Tea and home-baked goods along with Niagara wine are served at the McFarland Tea Garden.
15927 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. (905) 371-0254
- Mildred M. Mahoney Dolls' House Gallery
One of the world's largest collections of doll houses covers 200 years from 1780-1980. The 140 miniature homes are decorated and furnished to the period – circa 1780 to 1985. The gallery is open May 1 through Dec. 31 “by chance or appointment.”
657 Niagara Boulevard, Fort Erie, Ontario. (905) 871-5833