Where Adventure Comes Naturally!
No passport is needed to experience nature in its most beautiful form
We’ve all heard of Niagara Falls, but few know that this destination has so much more to offer visitors than its namesake tourist attraction. I used to be one of those unaware individuals, but I recently had the opportunity to go on my own Niagara Falls excursion and am now left with the seemingly impossible task of finding the words to share this great adventure with you. I’ve had experience writing dozens of travel articles, but today I was completely and irrevocably stumped as to where to start this particular story. How does one even begin to describe the amazing and breathtaking beauty of Niagara Falls USA? Do I start with the obvious and gush over their magnificent falls, or do I take the path less traveled and tell you about the destination’s many other hidden gems? I spent several long minutes staring at a blank word document as these questions spun around my head. Finally, I decided to just start writing down the first thoughts that came to my mind in a feeble attempt to retell my once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Niagara Falls USA.
Upon landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, I met up with my travel companions and enjoyed a brief, scenic ride to the downtown area of Niagara Falls, New York. Our very first stop of the day was Third Street Retreat Eatery and Pub, a fun and casual dining joint. The popular hangout spot was filled with personality and great conversations as we enjoyed a one-of-a-kind local dining experience with amazing homestyle food. The eatery was the ideal spot to fuel up on some delicious grub in preparation for a busy day in Niagara Falls State Park. With awe-inspiring scenery, thrilling attractions, interactive exhibits, miles of hiking trails, and delectable dining options, Niagara Falls State Park is an action-packed experience! We kicked off our own adventure with the Maid of the Mist tour, a favorite local attraction for more than 150 years. Generations of visitors have described the tour as one of the highlights of their trip, and it doesn’t take long to see why. After receiving a souvenir rain poncho to wear aboard the double-decker tour boat, the Maid of the Mist ferried us past the base of the American Falls and onto the basin of Horseshoe Falls. The dramatic passage led us through massive rock formations and the powerful waterfall whitewater. Needless to say, we returned to shore with a newfound appreciation for ponchos (you’ll definitely need it!) and more importantly, for the power and grandeur of Niagara Falls.
As if it wasn’t enough for us to “explore the roar” from the Maid of the Mist, my companions and I also had the opportunity to experience the power of the Falls from the Cave of the Winds. Before getting up close and personal with the Falls, we traveled through the World Changed Here Pavilion, which educates guests on the rich history of the Falls that truly changed the entire world. After being outfitted in souvenir sandals and more ponchos, we descended 175 feet into the astonishing Cave of the Winds. A series of wooden walkways led us within feet of the violent, yet majestic Bridal Veil Falls. I can’t tell you what an incredibly surreal feeling it is to stand on that deck and realize that nowhere else on earth will get you closer to Niagara Falls. For the more adventurous guests, a little further up the wooden walkways is the astonishing “Hurricane Deck” where revelers are surrounded by tropical storm-like conditions—even on the calmest of days! Poncho or not, prepare to get wet!
Without a doubt, only accomodations at the region’s premier destination resort could follow such a powerful and energetic start to my Niagara Falls adventure. Fortunately, I experienced exactly this for two glorious nights all while being just minutes from Niagara Falls State Park. The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino is a magnificent property that welcomes more than eight million visitors annually, and I am certain that I will be one of those returning guests in the near future. The Four Diamond-rated luxury hotel tower rises 26 stories above the city, offering guests 604 deluxe rooms and suites awash in unmatched comfort. My own such suite was synonymous with luxury from the moment I walked into my room. In addition to enjoying various upscale amenities, I was sure to set aside time to enjoy my favorite feature of the regal room: A sparkling jacuzzi located in the center of the suite that overlooked unparalleled views of the city and even the grand Niagara River.
Of course a stay at Seneca Niagara isn’t complete without a trip to their world-renowned casino, and I was not disappointed! The 147,000 square feet of gaming space is the ideal spot for guests to enjoy the hottest new slots and all of their favorite table games. With more than 3,600 slot machines and 90 table games to choose from, there was truly a game for everyone. Perched over the casino floor is the resort’s award-winning steakhouse, The Western Door. There we enjoyed a menu of the finest steaks, chops, poultry, seafood, and other treasures that have made The Western Door the premier steakhouse in Niagara Falls. The culinary wonders at Seneca Niagara span the spectrum from authentic Italian cooking at la Cascata to thick, juicy burgers at Blues Burger Bar. With ten in-house dining locations available for guests, Seneca Niagara can truly satisfy every palate day or night.
As darkness fell across the city, I ventured back out into Niagara Falls State Park to enjoy a different view of the Falls. Every evening at dusk, special lights housed around the Falls come together to create an incredible, multi-colored water and light show. The following morning, we pampered ourselves silly with a gentle and calming massage at Seneca Niagara’s full-service spa and salon. The only thing that could compliment a peaceful morning of self-indulgence and relaxation is the ultimate beverage of relaxation—wine, of course! With that, we were off to the Niagara Wine Trail located along Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario just minutes from the Falls. The cool climate region of Niagara allows their vineyards to enjoy the second longest growing season for grapes in New York State. Along with the moderate climate, the character of the local soils is ideal for producing exquisite European vinifera wines such as Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, which all thrive in the region. From Freedom Run Winery and Arrowhead Spring Vineyards to Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards, each stop on the trail offered us a diverse selection of award-winning wines to please every palate from the novice to the most discerning wine connoisseur.
An elegant and adventurous dinner at Carmelo’s proved to be the perfect close to our second day as we relished in creative, seasonal fare in an intimate setting. The following morning, my companions and I enjoyed a mini hiking trail from Schoellkopf Power Station that led to awe-inspiring views of the Niagara Gorge. I knew my return flight home was just hours away, but I didn’t have a care in the world as I stood there breathing in the most refreshing air and memorizing the magnificent scenery as far as my eyes could see so as to not forget a single detail. How anything could be both heart-stopping and heart-stirring is beyond me, but Niagara Falls USA made me experience all those feelings and more from day one, and that feeling never stopped.
Needless to say, there is plenty to do in and around Niagara Falls State Park, and I barely scratched the surface. I implore you to come and see for yourself! Embark on a scenic wine tour where you will meet inspiring and passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to producing the highest quality beverage. Take a break from the wine and enjoy a savory lunch of wood-fired pizza at Woodcock Brother Brewery. Book a suite at Seneca Niagara Resort and enjoy luxurious accommodations, exciting retail outlets and thrilling casino games without ever stepping foot off property. Experience the beauty of the Falls from above on a helicopter tour and then get drenched below on the Hurricane Deck. When the temperatures drop and the crowds thin, Niagara Falls State Park becomes even more magical with trees that sparkle and views that take your breath away, so don’t let winter weather deter you from booking your own adventure today! Plan a week, a weekend or even a day to come experience nature in its most beautiful form.