What’s unique about Niagara?
I grew up in Lockport, N.Y., where the name speaks for itself. Lockport is home to the only double set of working Locks on the historic Erie Canal. Less than 20 miles from Niagara Falls, visitors check seeing this Wonder of the World off their bucket list and then travel to Lockport where they can take in the charm and renaissance of a 150-year old city.
What are the top three things a visitor should do in Niagara?
Ride the Maid of the Mist, travel through the double set of working locks on the Erie Canal at Lockport Locks & Underground Boat Ride, and dine at one of our farm-to-table restaurants (we have 800 farms in Niagara County).
Which tourist attractions are worth the effort?
Maid of the Mist: Take a ride on an iconic American attraction, past the American and Bridal Veil Falls and up to Horseshoe Falls. It’s the best way to experience Niagara Falls. Arrive early to beat the crowds.
Cave of the Winds: A thrilling walk up to the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls leads visitors to a stormy mist zone on the Hurricane Deck. Do this before riding the Maid of the Mist and you’ll have comfortable, waterproof sandals to wear for the duration of your stay.
Rainbow Air, Inc.: Experience Niagara Falls from the air for a thrilling view. Bring your camera to capture amazing photos.
Old Fort Niagara: History comes alive at the oldest fortress on the Great Lakes. Old Fort Niagara is situated where the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario meet. It is also where battles throughout our nation’s history have taken place. Fascinating year-round.
Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride
Journey past industrial ruins, walk safely through a water tunnel that was blasted out of solid rock, view stalactites and various geological formations, and artifacts that were left behind by the men who built the Erie Canal.
What are your favorite restaurants?
Carmelo’s in Lewiston, N.Y. is a culinary treasure. Farm-to-table, seasonal, and cozy, there are always new flavors to try (even at the bar). The entire staff has trained palates to explain the ever-changing menu, and if you’re lucky, Carmelo may come out from the kitchen and speak with patrons. It’s great in the summer when he’s using fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden out back; or a foodie friend stops by with fresh produce to use in the dishes.
Where is the best shopping?
The Main Streets in Lewiston and Lockport are lined with individually-owned clothing boutiques and furniture stores. The entire county is also dotted with antique shops, which can be a treasure hunt. There is also the newly expanded Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA for top designers.
Where do the locals hang out?
Orange Cat Coffee Co. in Lewiston, N.Y. is a hub of activity. Grab a cup of coffee or visit for lunch, and catch up on the latest news and gossip. For coffee connoisseurs, they Tweet (@orangecatcc) their flavors of the day first thing in the morning.
Wait! There’s more!
Driving up Rt. 78 in the summer and stopping at Bye’s popcorn for a fresh bag of popcorn or caramel corn, and taking it to Krull Park in Olcott, N.Y. and watching the sunset over Lake Ontario, is a must do. Wilson, N.Y. is also another charming lakeside community to take in this beautiful scenery.
Another warm weather activity is kayaking Lake Ontario, the Erie Canal, or another body of water (we are surrounded by it in Niagara USA). If visitors or locals don’t have a kayak or canoe, there are many places to rent in Niagara County.
Although we have a reputation for being particularly chilly in the winter months, it only makes us appreciate the warmer ones even more. Visiting one of our many public gardens and viewing the flowers is a fun thing to do; however, there’s nothing more breathtaking than seeing Niagara Falls covered in snow and ice for a truly majestic experience. Strap on the snowshoes and transverse one of our many State Parks for another fun winter activity.
Michelle the Communications & Community Relations Manager at Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation (NTCC), the tourism promotion agency for Niagara County, N.Y. She grew up in Lockport, less than 20 miles from Niagara Falls.