Niagara Falls during the day

Niagara Falls USA: Fall in Love

I have journeyed to Niagara Falls USA several times in my life and the roaring power of the water never ceases to amaze me. The first time I visited with my family as a teenager while looking at colleges in upstate NY towns. My second time I eloped with my first husband. I have been back twice in later years with my current husband and kids, and it is an unique experience every time.

Cascading waters over Niagara Falls USA

Prospect Point, Niagara Falls USA

In my early 20’s, wild and free, my boyfriend and I decided to get married. We took a month to plan our secret wedding only telling one or two friends. We hopped on a train from Geneseo, NY and arrived at Niagara Falls a few hours later. Our plan was to go to the Canadian side of the Falls. However, we found out that our marriage wouldn’t be legal in NY if we married in Canada, so we changed our plans. A friend of ours drove his Harley up to meet us and sign our marriage license as a witness. He arrived with a bouquet of white roses for me and a six pack of beer for my soon to be husband.

We met at Prospect Point. I remember the judge that was supposed to marry us sent a substitute. He couldn’t find us at first because he was looking for a complete wedding party, not us in our casual attire. It started to rain and we sought shelter under a bridge. So did everyone else.

Our wedding was filled with tons of unknown guests. Some of them even cried. Several came up to us afterward to give advice and congratulate us. It was as if we had known them for years. Our wedding snapshots have graffiti in the background and the sky was filled with clouds. But a more romantic wedding we couldn’t have hoped for with the apropos Bridal Falls in the background and the sound of the roaring water plunging to the depths below. We felt as wild and free as those falls.

The last two times I journeyed to the falls were with my current husband and kids. Whether as a romantic getaway or as a family vacation, Niagara Falls is a must for everyone’s bucket list. Here are some of the highlights.

Maid of the Mist

view of the Maid of the Mist from above Niagara Falls USA

The maid of the mist has been running in Niagara Falls USA since 1846. Of course they have upgraded the boats during that time. Tour operators give out blue rain ponchos. Although not mandatory, I highly recommend using them, as you will get wet. The mist from 600,000 gallons of water will refresh you as you observe raging currents and hear the roar of the falls. I recommend going during the summer when the average temperature is between 75-81 degrees F during the day. During winter some attractions will be limited due to ice.

Cave of the Winds

people walking the wooden pathways along side Niagara Falls USA at the Cave of the Winds

The Cave of the winds got its name initially due to a rock overhang which allowed people to stand under the falls. However, the overhang has since collapsed, but the name remains. While waiting for the experience you will go through the World Changed Here pavilion. Here you will learn about Tesla’s harnessing of the power of the Falls.

Then you will don complimentary sandals and yet another rain slicker before descending 175 feet in an elevator. You will begin a journey winding your way through wooden walkways which bring you in close contact with the falls. On the hurricane deck you will be within feet of the Bridal Falls where the force of the water creates near hurricane conditions.

Niagara Falls Aquarium

When you want a break from nature, head inside to the Niagara Falls Aquarium. The aquarium houses injured marine animals such as Sandy the Harbor Seal, and Medusa and Della which are Gray seals. Touch sharks and sting rays in the new M&T Bank Shark & Ray Bay. Watch the fish, eels, and giant octopus. The aquarium offers additional experiences such as penguin or seal encounters, or a chance to be a trainer for the day.

Additional Diversions for the History Buff

Many additional attractions await. Visit Old Fort Niagara where you will visit 18th and 19th century historical buildings and demonstrations. The fort is located in Fort Niagara State Park. Additionally, swimming and boating are available at the park, as well as water fowl hunting. During the winter visitors can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.

You can also explore the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center to learn about authentic stories of abolitionists and those seeking freedom. The center is located in the 1863 U.S. Customs House that is adjacent to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station. You will find stories of brave men and women who risked their lives to achieve basic human rights. It is important to understand the past to create a better future.

Then if you like waxworks, check out Niagara Wax Museum of History. Located at 303 Prospect Street in Niagara Falls, NY, the museum is open daily. The museum houses 46 galleries of exhibits. In addition to historic figures the museum showcases some humorous waxworks of people going over the falls in a barrel.

Also nearby is the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. Located at 180 Thompson Street in North Tonawanda, NY the museum offers educational programs, tours, and family fun. There is a wood carving area where originally carvers would carve the carrousel animals out of basswood or poplar. If interested you can even enroll in a Beginner Carving Class. The museum also houses the Wurlitzer Music Roll Department which has over 1600 hand punched music rolls which were used on band organs to create the carrousel music. In the Children’s Gallery you can explore interactive activities with your family. Rides for all ages are available as well.

Hopefully you will get the chance to cross off Niagara Falls from your bucket list. If you do I encourage you to explore some of these off the beaten path attractions as well as the popular falls attractions. Enjoy. Also for some smaller waterfalls, almost no crowds, hiking, and camping, check out Letchworth State Park.

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