Niagara Falls NY Local

Discover Niagara Shuttle The Best Secret You Shouldn’t Keep

Free Bus Service

Discover Niagara Shuttle, a free bus service in Niagara County is one of the area’s best kept secrets.

Locals and tourists alike should learn and share about riding this convenient transportation option between Niagara Falls, Lewiston and Youngstown destinations.

So what is the Discover Niagara Shuttle?

It’s a seasonal, free service to many of the areas major destinations. Park and ride in air-conditioned buses with public wi-fi on board. The Shuttle re-opened in August, 2020 with new social distancing protocols.

If you’ve got time to wait for the next bus, then why worry about directions and parking? You can park in one town and let their knowledgeable drivers take you to various attractions or business districts. No need to move your car to grab lunch or take a walk in Niagara Falls State Park.

Buses are equipped with wheel chair ramps and bike racks.

Looking to catch a ride? The service runs 9am -6pm, stopping at locations about every 60  minutes.

Download the complimentary Discover Niagara Shuttle App to track the bus closest to your pick up location.

Discover Niagara Shuttle stops at the following locations. Some locations are marked closed due to attractions not reopening this season.

Discover Niagara RouteNiagara Falls

  • Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center
  • 3rd & Old Falls Street
  • Niagara Falls State Park
  • 3rd Street Entertainment District
  • Niagara Gorge Discovery Center (Closed for 2020)
  • Aquarium of Niagara
  • Niagara Arts and Cultural Center
  • Oakwood Cemetery
  • Niagara Falls Train Station & Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
  • Whirlpool State Park

Lewiston

  • Castellani Art Museum (Closed for 2020)
  • Niagara Power Project Power Vista (Closed for 2020)
  • Lewiston Academy Park
  • Lewiston Center
  • Artpark
  • Lewiston Waterfront
  • Stella Niagara Preserve

Youngstown

  • Youngstown Center
  • Old Fort Niagara

Have more questions about local transportation? Explore our travel information page.

 

Sunflower Farm Sanborn New York

Sunflowers of Sanborn Field

What can you do at a Sunflower Farm? We took a trip to Sanborn in Niagara County, New York to find out.

Sunflowers of Sanborn is home to close to 10 beautiful acres of Sunflowers and opens to the public in August each summer.

When you arrive at Sunflowers of  Sanborn, park your car in the lot and head to the entrance where friendly staff will answer your questions.

You can walk through fields of dense sunflowers along cut walking paths.  Look closely at the flowers, there are up to eight varieties featuring different color combinations.  Flowers are also grow to different heights, making great photo opportunities for little ones and adults.

There is a separate cutting field where you can clip your own sunflowers to take home and enjoy.  Flowers are a modest $1 per stem. When you consider there is no admission fee to enjoy the fields, the entire experience is very friendly to families on a budget.

Bring comfortable walking shoes and your camera. It’s a great place to take great portraits or casual selfies.

If you want to have professional photographs taken, ask your photographer to contact Sunflowers of Sanborn for a photographer’s permit.

The grounds are also pet-friendly. Well-behaved dogs on a leash are always welcome.

Sunflower Farm Pet Friendly

There are small shopping boutiques and food vendors on site.  You’ll also find a regular schedule of events for hands-on activities from crafting to outdoor exercise.

Did we mention the corn maze? Yes you can purchase a ticket to walk through the winding paths in the corn field and see how long it takes to find your way out.

Sunflowers of Sanborn is located at 3311 Saunders Settlement Road in the town of Sanborn.

Visitor hours are 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily during their season.

For more information visit the their Facebook page here.

Looking for more family-friendly activities? Find plenty of ideas here.

sunflower close upsunflower field niagara county

 

Open Attractions In and Around Niagara Falls NY

maid of the mist

Last Updated: 7/29/2020

Open Attractions listing. Updated regularly.

Some locations require reservations in advance, so plan accordingly. Social distancing guidelines are in place in all locations.

Major Open Attractions at the Falls

The Cave of the Winds  and the Maid of the Mist, two iconic ways to see Niagara Falls up close and personal are open.

The Aquarium of Niagara is open to the general public.

New York State Parks Remain Open.

Niagara Falls State Park is where the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island, Luna Island and Prospect Point are located.

Devils Hole State Park,Whirlpool State Park and DeVeaux Woods State Park all offer great access to the Niagara River Gorge Trails.

Buckhorn State Park on Grand Island is a great nature preserve.

Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island offers public beaches, a golf course, marina and more.

Artpark State Park offers hiking trails, art, events and more. Events are running a reduced schedule this year but include drive in movie nights.

Fort Niagara and Four Mile Creek State Parks in Youngstown are open.

Golden Hill State Park in Barker, Reservoir State Park in Niagara Falls, Wilson-Tuscarora State Park in Wilson, and Joseph Davis State Park in Lewiston are all open.

For more information on New York State Parks, see the state website here.

Scenic Transportation

The Scenic Trolley through Niagara Falls State Park is open 10:00 am – 8:30 PM.

The Discover Niagara Shuttle will begin operations on August 7.

Outdoor Adventure

Whirlpool Jet Boats and Niagara Jet Adventure are open for thrilling rides in the lower Niagara River.

Many fishing charters are open. Call ahead for reservations.

Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours are Open

Lockport Caves is open for Underground Walking Tours

Sunflowers of Sanborn opens August 1st.

History & Museums

Old Fort Niagara is open

Herschell Carousel Museum is now open

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is open. Purchasing tickets in advance online is recommended.

Wine, Brewery & Distillery Tastings

Some locations are open. Reservations are generally required. Call ahead.

Find locations to explore wine, beer and more here.

Entertainment

Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino is open.

Movies – see Artpark under State Parks

Niagara River Gorge Hiking A Great Day Trip

NIagara River Gorge

The Niagara River Gorge is a great place to take a casual walk or go for a hike as a great workout. You’ll enjoy spectacular scenery along the way.

Hiking the Gorge Is A Great Outdoor Activity for Families

I have fond memories as a kid family would head to the Niagara Gorge. Mom packed a lunch and a canteen of water. We brought along a camera, binoculars and maybe a bird book. Our family would pile into the station wagon, head to Niagara County and spend a morning descending the stone stairs from Lewiston down to the Lower Niagara River.

My brothers would explore their favorite cave just off the main trail and tell me ghost stories. My sisters pointed out flowers and great views.

We would all enjoy a nice picnic on a rock somewhere at the base of the Gorge and then hike back up. We’d return home full of memories and tired out, which I’m sure made my parents happy.

Visiting the Niagara River Gorge in 2020

Devils Hole State Park Stairs Niagara River GorgeLittle has changed about the trails. They remain a quiet area, preserving the nature along the Lower Niagara River.  There is one extra treat for hikers that didn’t exist years ago. When the jet boat tours are running, see them navigate the rapids and drench guests with cool water.

Gradual Descent from Discovery Center Niagara River Gorge

There are 3 main access points to enter the trail system: Devil’s Hole State Park, Whirlpool State Park and Niagara Falls State Park from behind the Discovery Center near the Aquarium of Niagara. You can park at any of these 3 points. If one lot is full, try another.  Another option is to park anywhere along the Niagara Discovery Shuttle bus route in when it  runs in summer and take the bus to the trail head of your choice.

Going up or down from the Whirlpool or Devil’s Hole can take an hour or two, less if you’re jogging. Making a loop down one set of stairs, across the floor of the trail system, back up another set of stairs and then back along the top of the Gorge on Rim trail is a nice few hours or half day adventure at a leisurely pace.

The stairs at Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool are a good workout. Trails and rocks can be slippery, especially after a rain. So if you are not sure you’re up for the climb, enter the Gorge from the Discovery Center where the path is more gradual. Wear proper footwear. Check trail conditions as sections sometimes close for maintenance.  At the bottom of this post, we’ve shared images of what’s open when this article was posted.

You can check for any new updates on New York’s website here.

Under NO circumstances should you go in the water. The Niagara River here is swift and dangerous and not for swimming or even wading.

You can download a trail map below.

Download

 

 

There are no facilities once you start walking down the trail, other than a stone picnic table at the bottom of the Whirlpool stairs. Pack out whatever you bring in and keep the trails clean.

When you escape into the lower Niagara Gorge you’re treated to a variety of trees and rock formations not seen from above.  There is shade on most of the walk and temperatures can be cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.

Visit the Gorge again in Fall for a spectacular showing of colorful foliage as the leaves change.

To learn more about places to enjoy a walk or hike, see our hiking and biking page.

Lower Niagara River Gorge Trail

Trail Status as of Mid-June, 2020.

Gorge Trail Status 1 June 2020

 

Gorge Trail Update June 2020

 

 

 

Outdoor Dining Areas in Niagara Falls

Outdoor Dining Rainforest Cafe Niagara Falls

We took a walk near Niagara Falls, New York to see what restaurants have outdoor dining areas. Pleasantly we found more than expected. Some open, others not ready yet.

Call ahead if you’re looking to dine al fresco to see who is ready to seat you.
New York’s announcement that patio dining could open this week took many restaurants by surprise. They are working hard to open seating areas.

Here’s a list of places we spotted with patio dining areas within a short walk of the American Falls.

Old Falls Street has picnic tables at the end closest to Niagara Falls, allowing locals and tourists to eat from a number of restaurants. Mario’s Pizza, Flip Burger, Mackinali’s, Mother Clucker’s and The Dosa Hut all surround the seating area.

The Rainforest Cafe and TGI Fridays and Starbucks at the other end of Old Falls Street offer their own patio dining.

Look up from there and you’ll spot the rooftop patio at the Hyatt.

Just around the corner you’ll find Papa John’s Pizza

Head up Third Street to find Power City Eatery and The Craft Kitchen and Bar

Going back toward Goat Island from there, we spotted people hard at work, expanding the outdoor dining area for the Anchor Bar.

Parkway Prime at the Doubletree Hotel overlooks the rapids.

On Goat Island, the Top of the Falls Restaurant is as close as you can get to Niagara Falls for an outdoor dining experience.

If you’re looking for restaurants in other parts of Niagara County, explore our restaurant page and call ahead to see who is open for outdoor dining.

Open restaurants can all serve take out food to go.

Cheers!

Updated Jun 11: The Red Coach in now has patio seating overlooking the rapids above the falls.

Is Niagara Falls Open – Safety Considerations During Covid-19

Niagara Falls Open

Is Niagara Falls Open?

(Updated June 15)

Niagara Falls State Park, America’s oldest state park, is open to visitors, but many things are closed and restrictions are in place.  Guests need to be aware of New York laws and safety guidelines when visiting and be responsible.

The park is open, with access to view Niagara Falls and parking within the State Park is free.  Guests are allowed to go outdoors, enjoy nature and get exercise, but must practice good safety measures and wear a mask within 6 feet of anyone.

On June 16, Niagara and Erie County in New York State enter phase III of reopening businesses .Essential businesses, some retail, restaurants with takeout were already open to serve locals and tourists. With Phase III indoor restaurant seating, food services which includes wineries and salons, spas can reopen with proper guidelines in place.

The border between the US and Canada is closed to non-essential travel until July.

New York’s guidelines change as news changes, so please check these State websites for the full details and most current information and be informed before you go.

New York State Parks

Niagara Falls State Park

New York State On Pause Executive Order

Common Sense and Good Practice

Respect the safety measures in place to help keep Niagara Falls open for all of us.

While some public restrooms are open, facilities are more limited than during regular season, so plan accordingly. The Niagara Falls State Park website lists what restrooms are open. Masks are required.

Practice social distancing. Other state parks have closed when areas have become too crowded, so please spread out.

Don’t ask another guest to hold your phone or camera and take a photo for you and have a mask to wear if you must come within 6 feet of another guest.

Respect wildlife. Spring means many of the animals are nesting. If you venture off walkways to provide more space for others, don’t wander close to geese and other wildlife that may currently be nesting and protective.

Parking costs are waived for the time being.  Space out and leave some space between your car and the next.

 

Niagara Falls NY Restaurants to Go

Looking to order meals to go from Niagara Falls, NY Restaurants?

There are many places to eat. Restaurants need support from the community. Please consider ordering takeout from your local establishments.

There are many places keeping up good lists of what is open and what ordering options are available.

You can use any of the options below to identify restaurants to call for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Niagara County, Niagara Falls and nearby communities. Many of these links will even connect you with menu options for Niagara Falls NY Restaurants

1)Niagara Falls NY Restaurants Restaurant Week

restaurant week to go 2020Local Restaurant Week, when menu specials for $20.20 are available at many locations, is March 18-30.

This season of course all the offers are to go.
Even after March 30, the Restaurant Week, these links will continue to be great lists for local places to order curbside pickup and food to go.

Here’s are restaurant links by town.
Niagara Falls

Grand Island

Lewiston

Lockport

Newfane

North Tonawanda

2) Local Business Associations and Organizations

Look to your local business association or chamber of commerce for a list of restaurants near you.

Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce covers much of the Niagara region and is doing a fantastic job of sharing information about ordering from local restaurants.

3) Reach Out to Your Favorite Restaurants.

Smaller establishments are hard hit by the pandemic.

There may be many places to order takeout near you who aren’t affiliated with organizations or promotions and not represented on area lists.

Not having a listing does not mean they aren’t open and ready for your business. Call your favorite local spot, or check their website or Facebook page and see what’s for dinner, lunch, or breakfast.

4) Niagara Falls NY Local Listings

Find contact information for area restaurants using the Restaurant Page on our website!

If you operate a restaurant, diner, or take out business in Niagara Falls or Niagara County and aren’t on this list, we want to hear from you!

Send us a short writeup if you want to be added to our restaurant page. Send your information using our Contact Us page.

Listings are Free!

Best Spots to see Niagara Falls in Winter for Less

Cave of the Winds Winter Experience

Seeing Niagara Falls in Winter means ice formations, frozen landscapes and beautiful spots for black and white, or color photographs.

This winter there are two great spots to see Niagara Falls during the Winter Months, for less than during summer.

The Cave of the Winds Winter Experience

Ice beneath Niagara Falls 2020

Ice beneath Niagara Falls

New this year, the Cave of the Winds on Goat Island opened a special viewing deck. Go below Niagara Falls to get a view of the Bridal Veil and American Falls. You’ll get a close-up look at how the mist from the Falls creates ice formations on the rocks.

Tickets for this event are just $7 for adults (less for kids) and include the short educational film, History Happened Here. After you watch the movie to learn local history, step outside and head to the elevator building. You’ll descend to the base of the Falls.

The Cave of the Winds is also offering snowshoe loans on Goat Island.

See Niagara Falls in Winter from the Cave of the Winds from 9-3, weather permitting.

You can call ahead for conditions (716) 285-0705.

The Observation Deck

The Observation Deck

Observation Deck

Walk out from Prospect point onto the observation deck to get New York’s broadest view of all 3 Falls: Bridal Veil, American and Horseshoe.

This is a fantastic spot to take a photograph and get a good winter view of Niagara Falls.

During the summer months, there is a nominal fee for the observation deck.

Winter months the deck is free and open 10-4:30, weather permitting.

Winter Conditions

The mist from Niagara Falls creates plenty of ice crystals. Both attractions are open weather permitting.  State Park staff work hard to ensure the walkways are safe from slippery surfaces and falling ice. Please be understanding if attraction hours vary due to conditions. Wear boots with good treads and enjoy!

 

Valentine’s Day Ideas in the Honeymoon Capital

Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentine’s Day is coming up. If you haven’t made plans yet, here are some creative ideas on how to spend the day with your special someone, local-style. What better spot than the Honeymoon Capital of the World?

See Niagara Falls in red and pink light

Illumination hours are extended on Valentine’s day. Niagara Falls will be light up in Red and Pink from lights shining on both sides of the border. Here’s what each side of The Falls lists for their lighting schedule on Valentine’s Day.

Niagara Falls State Park, USA – Pink & red; top of the hour every hour throughout the evening from 6:30PM until 1AM.

Canada’s Niagara Parks Commission – Pink and red every hour for 15 minutes, 5:30 PM until 2 AM.

Book a cooking class at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.

Spend an evening making dinner together, guided by a pro. Get expert cooking tips and guidance, then enjoy your meal.  If the Valentine’s class fills up, which it probably will, reservations to spend another evening cooking with your date makes a great gift.

Explore the schedule of upcoming classes.

Explore local restaurants

You may not realize how many great restaurants are in Niagara Falls, NY. Many of them are tucked inside other buildings like hotels and the casino.

Here are a few ideas to try:

Looking for something on the fancier side? Try Fortuna’s for an authentic Italian dinner, The Red Coach Inn for Seafood and more, or Parkway Prime for Steak.

Is casual, laid back is more your style? Try Chill 443 for pub-style or Wine on Third for Tapas.

There are many more options to choose from.

You can browse a larger listing of restaurants on our dining page to find a menu that suits your taste and style.

Try your luck at the Seneca Niagara Casino

Check out the casino’s dining and gaming. They also have special spa packages available for Valentine’s Day gifting.

Explore Beyond the Falls for Wineries, Skating & More

Some of the Niagara region’s wineries are holding wine and food pairing dinners.

Join a candlelight walk happening in DeVeaux Woods State Park from 6:30-8:00 PM.

Cornerstone Ice Arena in Lockport is holding a Sweetheart Skate at 10 PM.

We’d love to hear your ideas.

Share them in the comments!

Niagara Arts And Cultural Center

Niagara Arts & Cultural Center

Take a short drive from The Falls to one of Niagara Falls’ neighborhoods where you’ll discover a real community treasure in the arts. The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center (The NACC) gives a property rich in history a new purpose as studio, gallery and performance space for local artists.

The NACC is an eclectic experience in the arts for travelers who like to support the arts, seek out experiences to engage with the creative community or venture off the beaten path for a uniquely local experience.

Explore the NACC

The NACC is home to over 100 artists. Walk through the big red door of this Greco-Roman building, and see what you can discover on a self-guided exploration of this former high school. The first floor hosts a gallery, which is always free to the public and features rotating exhibits, a cafe serving lunch daily, a gift shop and Niagara’s radio station, WJJL.  Look for a selfie opportunity to picture yourself in a barrel on the brink of The Falls.

Stroll through upper floors of the building and you may hear music flowing from the practice rooms, or a theater performance in rehearsal. Art installations are disbursed throughout the building and you may be treated to an open artist’s studio. Jewelry, painting, sculpture, music, photography and more fill the studios. Each artist keeps their own hours, so the experience changes daily. Weekends are often the best time to find open studios, since many of the tenants also have day jobs. Several of the tenants have local ties to the former high school property or the neighborhood and rich stories to share about your surroundings.

Come during lunch hours and you’ll be able to enjoy lunch in Starry Night Café, in an atmosphere reminiscent of Van Gogh’s paintings. Grab one of their sandwiches, wraps, soups or salad made fresh on site.  Wander down the hall to the gallery space to see what’s on display. Or check the NACC’s events schedule for the timing of workshops, live entertainment and special events. There’s almost always something happening at the NACC.

Visiting the NACC

The NACC is a stop on the Discover Niagara Shuttle route. Ride the Discover Niagara Shuttle for free and in the summer and hop on and off at the NACC.

Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM and Weekends 12-4PM.
Find out what’s going on currently at the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center on their website.
The NACC