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Niagara Falls Rundown

The New York State side of the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” may look worse for the wear but worry not. Beneath the dingy back-streets Niagara Falls, United States version, has a lot of charm. The very grit and dodgy nature of the city of 50,000 people in the shadow of Buffalo calls to mind the Henry Hathaway film noir that made Marilyn Monroe a star. Alas however, Niagara Falls was rather different when Niagara was made over half a century ago.

Still, Niagara Falls, New York works best as a counterpoint to the antiseptic, theme restaurant and casino allure of Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. While the U.S. side has none of the neon flash, it has a lot more urban authenticity. A good, non-ironic dive bar scene, under the radar public and state parks and a few solid relics of turn of the last century architecture fill the itinerary beyond the obvious star of the show. Spend a night or two, tops, and shun fantastical visions of storybook romance in order to appreciate and enjoy Niagara Falls for what it is.

Niagara Falls’s Top 10

10. Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls fulfill all those shop ‘til you drop desires.

5. Fort Niagara State Park has snowshoe and cross-country ski trails in winter and abundant summer recreation too.

9. United Office Building is a foremost expression of skyscraper Art Deco mastery.

4. Prospect Point Observation Tower offers the best bird’s eye view in Niagara Falls.

8. Whirlpool State Park Picnic over the Niagara Whirlpool and Gorge.

3. Cave of the Winds allows visitors to get up close and personal with Bridal Veil Falls.

7. Seneca Niagara Casino Hotel is the largest hotel in New York State outside of Manhattan.

2. Hyde Park is second only to Central Park in the state of New York.

6. Aquarium of Niagara has some notable marine life, from sea lions to giant sturgeon, penguins to sharks.

1. Niagara Falls State Park encompasses what everyone who comes to Niagara Falls wants to see.

Niagara Falls History

  • Old Fort Niagara – A popular Niagara Falls attraction, this fort has been sitting on the Niagara River since the 18th century.
  • Martin House Complex –This historical landmark was built by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • St Mary of the Cataract Church – Containing more than 1,000 relics, this church has been beautifully restored.
  • Nikola Tesla Memorial – This popular memorial is dedicated to the life and work of one of the world’s greatest inventors.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site – Visit the site where one of America’s presidents was sworn into office.

Niagara Falls Art & Culture

  • Niagara Art and Culture Center – This popular spot is host to many art shows and cultural events.
  • Castellani Art Museum at the Falls – A popular Niagara Falls gallery features falls-related art.
  • Daredevil Museum – See some of the memorabilia of past Niagara Falls daredevils, including the barrels people used to go over the falls.
  • Das House German Heritage Museum – This museum was built in the late 19th century and tells the story of German immigrants.
  • Niagara Gorge Discovery Center – This centre has interactive displays that explain the evolution of Niagara Fall

Niagara Falls Shopping

  • Fashion Outlets of Niagara – Boasting over 150 stores, this is a popular shopping spot in the area.
  • Honeymoon Capital Souvenirs – Buy friends and family a souvenir at this shop.
  • Little Italy – This area of Niagara Falls illustrates the rich history of the area and is a great place to dine.
  • Niagara Falls City Market – Visit the fruit and vegetable market three days a week.
  • Three Sisters Trading Post – This unique store is located just a short walk from Niagara Falls.

Gay & Lesbian Niagara Falls

  • Q – This bar is near Niagara Falls and offers a cosy atmosphere and friendly staff.
  • Roxy’s – One of the most popular lesbian bars in the area, it is famous for its karaoke.
  • Marcella Show Club and Lounge – Located just a few miles from Niagara Falls, this is the largest gay bar in the area.
  • Cathode Ray – This bar caters to the gay and lesbian community of Niagara Falls.
  • Underground – Providing the best of relaxation and dancing.

Niagara Falls Outdoor

  • Cave of the Winds – You can stand just a few feet away from the powerful Niagara Falls and get soaked on the Hurricane Deck.
  • Deveaux Woods State Park – With playgrounds and hiking trails, this park is a great place to spend a day.
  • Hyde Park – Everything from ice skating to fishing can be done at this popular park.
  • LaSalle Waterfront Park – A great place to walk a trail near Niagara Falls or see the panoramic views.
  • Maid of the Mist Boat Tour – Waterproof clothing is necessary for this tour, which is one of the most popular.

Niagara Falls Sport

  • Play volleyball or basketball at the Oppenheim County Park.
  • Ride a bike along the Niagara Gorge Ridge trail for great exercise and views of Niagara Falls.
  • Go skiing or snowshoeing at the Joseph Davis State Park in Niagara Falls.
  • Race your family and friends at Ransomville Speedway in Niagara Falls.
  • Jump aboard a high-powered jet-ski near Niagara Falls and race through the Niagara River Gorge.

Niagara Falls Events

The Maid of the Mist boat tour has been in operation, in one form or another, since 1846.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours offer a more daredevilish way to enjoy the power of the falls.

Whirlpool Golf Course tees it up from April to October.

Niagara Falls Blues Festival features an impressive bill of talent every September.

Niagara Wine Festival takes place on the other side of the falls in the Niagara Peninsula viticulture area in the province of Ontario, Canada.

Winter Festival of Lights illuminates the falls on the Ontario side of the border in November and December.

When To Go

Niagara Falls has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. One of them, summer, predictably draws the vast majority of annual visitors.

Temperatures in June, July and August - the bread and butter tourist season - range from 56°F (13°C) to 79°F (26°C). On the other end of the spectrum, conditions in winter waver between 16°F (-9°C) to 32°F (0°C).

Niagara Falls receives 2 in (51 mm) of rain a month, minimum, with significant snowfall throughout the winter season.

Getting Around

The most popular way to arrive in Niagara Falls, New York is by car. Many come via the likes Toronto (1 hour, 45 minutes), Buffalo (25 minutes), Rochester (1 hour, 30 minutes), Cleveland (3 hours, 40 minutes) and New York City (7 hours).

The Niagara Falls Amtrak station is at 27th Street and Lockport Road. A number of operators provide coach bus service to the city as well.

Within the city proper, a car is the only viable way to get around. One can, however, cover a lot of ground on foot.

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Hotels in Niagara Falls

Recommended hotels

From US$131

1 Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino

4 stars
4.8 / 5 4 reviews

310 Fourth Street Map

Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino invites the guests for a comfortable stay by offering excellent amenities and quality services. This property has a casino, spa, sauna, fitness centre and indoor... More

great trip with wife and son
The hotel was great. The staff were the nicest people I ever stayed at. Can't wait to go back. Could walk to the falls and everything is at your finger tips.
22 Jul 2015

2 Red Coach Inn

3 stars
4.6 / 5

2 Buffalo Ave Map

Featuring well-equipped accommodations with scenic Niagara Falls views housed in a 1923 property, Red Coach Inn makes for an ideal base for holidaymakers in a getaway in this side of New York.... More

From US$69

3 Travelers Budget Inn Niagara Falls

2 stars
2.3 / 5

9001 Niagara Falls Blvd Map

Presenting standard facilities and luxurious comfort, the Travelers Budget Inn Niagara Falls offers intimate hospitality and friendly services for an unparalleled retreat. Guests can take the... More

From US$85

4 Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa

3 stars
4.0 / 5 1 reviews


Fall into Savings 20% Off

Get away to the areas only island resort. Equal distance from Niagara Falls and Buffalo, the Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa (formerly the Holiday Inn) Grand Island is ideal for business and leisure... More

Great deal!
Definitely on the up-and-up--and seems to be considerably further along than older reviews I saw. We got a fantastic room for a ridiculously good deal. An easy drive both from Buffalo and Niagara...
21 Dec 2014
From US$66

5 Budget Host Inn

2 stars
2.0 / 5 1 reviews

6621 Niagara Falls Blvd Map

Featuring a convenient distance from must-see attractions and local business destinations, Budget Host Inn Niagara Falls makes for a suitable base for discerning travellers looking to explore this... More

Trip good
Simply avoid this motel. From the day we checked-in the only thing we regret was the choice of hotel I made to save few dollars. Everything here is either very very old or patched up to avoid...
18 Aug 2015
From US$54

6 Cascade Inn Niagara Falls

1 star
4.0 / 5 1 reviews

7804 Niagara Falls Blvd Map

Exceptionally placed and offering comfortable accommodation and services, the Knights Inn Niagara Falls (NY) is an ideal place to stay when you are on a vacation to Niagara Falls. GeneralYou can... More

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