SUMMER TRAVEL 2022 – In Niagara Falls, New York, a 400-acre park is your gateway to sightseeing and outdoor fun.
Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the country, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are an easy destination to get to in the Northeast,” said Krystina Iacovelli, communications manager for Niagara Falls USA. “And our outlook for tourism is very positive for this summer. We are already seeing that pent-up demand, the return to travel.”
In the park, visitors see the American and Bridal Veil falls from several vantage points.
“There is no admission fee,” Iacovelli said. “The only thing you are paying for is parking. Right now it’s $10 for the day. If you were staying at one of the hotels within walking distance, you could leave your car at the hotel.”
Once you are in the park, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, the boat that cruises the river down below, in front of the falls, or go on a wet and wild Cave of the Winds tour, where gales generated by the thundering water can blow up to 68 miles an hour.
Maid of the Mist has been operating since 1846, when tourists traveled to the falls by horse and buggy. In 2020, the attraction launched its first two all-electric zero-emissions boats.
“It’s a much smoother ride, a quieter ride,” said Iacovelli.
“The Cave of the Winds is another experience that’s unique to the U.S. side. You take that elevator down to the base of the gorge. Then you take the stairs to the hurricane deck, where you are basically standing within feet of the Bridal Veil Falls. You get completely soaked.”
The boat rides run through November; the Cave of the Winds is open year-round.
Farther down the river, adventurous visitors can ride the waves with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours or Niagara Jet.
“The jet boats take you into the gorge and into Class 5 whitewater rapids,” Iacovelli said.
Some of the region’s best hiking trails can also be found in the park. At the Niagara Gorge Trail Center, trail maps are available for both easy and challenging hikes. When it’s time to rest, set up your own picnic in a quiet woodsy spot.
Food is also available in the park at snack bars, a café and the Top of the Falls, a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling views of the falls.
This month, the park’s popular fireworks shows, which light up the sky over the falls, returned after a two-year pause during the pandemic.
Scheduled each night at 10, the shows run through Oct. 10. Visitors gather at scenic lookouts or set up blankets and chairs on the grass.
And that’s not all.
“Every night they illuminate the falls and there’s a display of colors,” Iacovelli said.
Niagara Falls State Park is also a good place to board the Discover Niagara Shuttle, which starts rolling May 27 and runs through October.
“It’s a free hop-on, hop-off shuttle,” Iacovelli said. “They have pickup locations within downtown Niagara Falls and then it takes you all the way out to Youngstown, where Old Fort Niagara is, and it stops along the way. It stops in Lewiston, it stops in Whirlpool State Park. There’s a lot of different sights on that 14-mile route.”
Old Fort Niagara is a military fortress that dates back 300 years, with several 18th-century buildings.
“They have an awesome living history program where they have musket firings and cannonball demonstrations,” said Iacovelli.
The city of Niagara Falls, also on the shuttle route, is home to the Aquarium of Niagara and the 26-story Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino.
Feel like taking a little drive?
Twenty miles away, in the city of Lockport, you can cruise through double locks on the Erie Canal or take an underground boat ride.
And if you’d like to wander the Niagara County countryside, there’s the Niagara Wine Trail.
“We have over 20 wineries, breweries and cideries within our county,” said Iacovelli.
WHAT: North America’s famous water attraction is actually three waterfalls that span the mighty Niagara River, a natural border between the U.S. and Canada. On the U.S. side, you can see the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. To see Horseshoe Falls, the largest one, drive across the river to Canada.
WHERE: Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario
GETTING THERE: The drive from
Schenectady to Niagara Falls is 285 miles and takes about 4 1/2 hours.