If you’re planning to visit Niagara Falls over the coming months or years, you’re sure to be keen to check out the legendary waterfalls that the area is so famous for. However, while you’re there, don’t forget that there are also plenty of other activities, on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls that are well worth adding to your itinerary. Read on for some other things you can see and do beyond the famous falls on your trip.
Check out Old Fort Niagara
If you’re a history buff, you need to schedule in a visit to the Old Fort Niagara when you’re in this part of the world. Erected in the 1700s, the fort is the oldest operational one of its kind in the United States, and has an affordable admission price. If you visit during one of the Fort’s special event periods, you’ll even have the chance to meet re-enactors who recreate the struggles and lives of past garrison members. During the off-season, self-guided and audio tours are available, in addition to hourly musket demonstrations.
The Old Niagara Fort was designed to help soldiers take the high ground against their opponents, and was primarily used during the Revolutionary and French and Indian Wars. Ownership and use of the property shifted during the years, between the Native American, British, French, and American troops.
Today, you’ll find that the high vantage point of the fort is best used to give you a scenic view of the falls themselves, as well as the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. In addition though, the inside of the structure has been kept intact and boasts a variety of well-preserved barracks, cannons, and other exhibits and period rooms you can examine.
Visit a Winery
When you check out Niagara Falls hotels for your stay, you may want to book accommodation in the busiest part of Niagara, but keep in mind that there are also beautifully scenic areas nearby where you can have a relaxing stay if you’d like. It is in these parts that you will find many wineries to visit too — in fact, there are 25 vineyards dotting the landscape just 15 to 20 minutes outside of Niagara Falls.
One of the most popular is Inniskillin Winery, located in the pretty Canadian suburb of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The vineyard is particularly well-known for its Icewine, which is made from grapes that are frozen on the vine over winter, and then harvested and allowed to thaw. This process helps to intensify the flavor.
At the venue you can enjoy a free guided tour, where you’ll learn about the work and dedication needed to produce such fine bottles of wine. You can also spend a little time at the Tasting Bar to sample a variety of table and dessert wines or make a purchase.
Many of the other wineries in the Niagara region also have their own restaurants, where you can pair regional cuisine with a vineyard’s fine wines. It’s also worthwhile trying to plan your trip here to coincide with the Niagara Wine Festival in the fall, the Niagara Icewine Festival in January, or the Niagara New Vintage Festival in summer.
Get Your Adrenalin Pumping
If you’d like to get your adrenalin pumping, you won’t be short of places to check out when in the Niagara region. For example, Niagara Freefall and Interactive Center is the place for heart-pumping activities.
Here you can try out indoor skydiving in a wind tunnel flight chamber that can take up to four people at a time and have you flying at air speeds of up to 140mph. (Children from 7 years and up can participate.) At Freefall, you will also find Lazerball, a paint-less paintball game which uses safe, soft reusable foam balls; a mechanical bull ride; 32-foot high rooftop rock wall to climb; and a variety of cutting-edge, interactive arcade games.
Another spot to check out while you’re in Niagara is the Nightmares Fear Factory. This experience is set within a classic haunted house and has been operating for more than three decades. Here you’ll be scared, thrilled, and challenged to “survive,” rather than joining the more than 100,000 people who have chickened out and not completed the experience over the years!
If you’re looking for more action in Niagara, you can also book yourself in to run the WildPlay Niagara zipline and adventure course, take a helicopter ride over the falls and surrounding sights, try your hand at Niagara Fallsview Casino, experience the wonder of the Greg Frewin Theater Magic Show, or take a ride with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours.
Image 2 from Flickr Creative Commons.