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Walk Through History in Niagara County

Niagara County is rich in history, from pre-Revolutionary War military might to the rise of clean power and beyond. Take the whole family to explore the sites that tell the area’s story.

Day 1

Discover America’s Oldest State Park

Day 1 Highlights

While the Falls themselves are considered to be around 12,000 years old, Niagara Falls State Park is actually the oldest state park in the U.S. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the legendary landscape architect behind Central Park, the park is a must for any visitor to Niagara Falls. Start by learning more about the area’s history and attractions by taking a ride on the Niagara Scenic Trolley. Once oriented, take a water-soaked voyage on the all-electric and emission-free Maid of the Mist, which has been operating since 1846. (Luminaries from Princess Diana to Marilyn Monroe to Mikhail Gorbachev have all taken a ride!) Then, visit Oakwood Cemetery to take a tour and learn about the daredevils who’ve braved the Falls and other historic residents. After all the activity, you’ll want to power up at DiCamillo Bakery, a family-run establishment that’s been in business for 100 years. Try their famous Sicilian-style pizza and local favorites like kummelweck rolls and peanut stick donuts.

Day 2

Cruise the Erie Canal

Day 2 Highlights

Go back in time to the creation of the Erie Canal on a guided sightseeing boat tour of the Lockport Locks. You’ll see five of the original locks on the Erie Canal — which in its entirety runs for 363 miles — as well as cruise beneath the widest bridge in the country. For lunch, drop into cute-as-can-be Script’s Cafe for fresh soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods, and rotating seasonal drinks. Finish your time in Lockport by walking through the Erie Canal Discovery Center, which features interactive experiences to help visitors better understand the history of this feat of engineering.

Day 3

Sweet North Tonawanda

Day 3 Highlights

It’s never too early for treats on a vacation so start your day in North Tonawanda with a visit to  Platter’s Chocolate Factory, which has been in business since 1938 — be sure to try the signature orange-flavored chocolates and sponge candy. Then get the young kids over to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, a look back at a thriving carousel manufacturer from the turn of the 20th century complete with still-working carousels to ride. Train enthusiasts will want to stop by the Railroad Museum of the Niagara Frontier with painstakingly restored artifacts. Finish with a meal at the Sawyer Creek Hotel, a family-friendly restaurant that has been a part of the town in various incarnations since 1915.

Day 4

The Fort and the Falls

Day 4 Highlights

Go back to the founding of the region with a visit to Old Fort Niagara, which has been in use since the 1600s and changed hands between countries before becoming an important part of the Colonial defense in the Revolutionary War. Move onto the Civil War-era with a visit to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, where you can learn about the pivotal role the city played in helping freedom seekers. The Niagara Power Vista is an electric experience for kids as they learn about the role the Falls played in the early days of electricity in America, including Nikola Tesla harnessing the power of the Falls to send electricity to Buffalo in 1896. The ultimate end to a historical tour of Niagara County is dinner at the Red Coach Inn, a town fixture since 1923. The inn is in the old Tudor style and the restaurant is as cozy indoors in the winter as it is delightful outside on its expansive patio in the summer.