- New York
As the city lights of Niagara Falls came into view, I looked forward to experiencing first hand the world-renowned beauty that was about to surround me.
Situated on the US-Canada border, northwest of New York City, Niagara Falls USA is a vibrant, nature-rich region, home to not only an incredible North American natural wonder, but also hiking, wildlife watching, history and wine.
Flying High with Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours
My first adventure was a ride over the falls with Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours. The clouds began to break, and blue skies peeped through from beyond as I climbed up into the flight deck of the canary yellow helicopter. With headphones in place and thumbs up from Mike, the pilot, we were ready to go. Steadily rising through the air, we swept out over the Niagara River. I held my breath as we passed the roaring, foamy falls below with a prime bird’s-eye view. This was a brilliant way to start the day.
Aerial view of Niagara Falls in New York
Asenath, Angeline and Celinda Eliza: Three Sisters Islands
A short, five-minute drive took us into Niagara Falls State Park. Dating back to 1885, the oldest state park in America offers over 400 acres of luxuriant vegetation and beautiful terrain. As we strolled through the autumn leaves and across the footbridges to Three Sisters Islands, named in 1816 for the daughters of General Parkhurst Whitney, gulls sat on the rocks and waded in the shallow, less turbulent waters of the upper Niagara River. As I looked down toward the Horseshoe Falls and saw the water drop off sharply into the gorge, I listened to the constant rumble of the cascading falls. I was excited to get closer.
Getting Wet on the Cave of the Winds Tour
Next, kitted out with souvenir poncho and sandals, I took the elevator into the Niagara Gorge for the Cave of the Winds Tour, and made my way down the wooden steps until I was standing on the famous Hurricane Deck, just six meters from the Bridal Veil Falls.
Still feeling exhilarated from the surprisingly warm waters that washed over me, a toddler exclaimed, "It's a rainbow!" She was not the only one impressed by the rainbows that are generated by the mist of the falls reflected in the sun. For the first time in my life, I saw not only the beginning, but the end, too.
Unique perspective of Niagara Falls on the Cave of the Winds tour
The Maid of the Mist Boat Trip
The Maid of the Mist boat trip to the basin of Horseshoe Falls is truly breathtaking, and has been the Park’s top attraction for over 150 years. What with the roar of the water and the smell of fresh, crisp air as we bounced about above the waves and laughed as we got lashed by the wind and spray, it was a complete sensory overload.
Maid of the Mist boat tour approaching Niagara Falls
History of Old Fort Niagara
We ended the day at Old Fort Niagara, the oldest and longest continuously occupied military site in North America. As the sun began to set across the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, I took a tour of the fort and exhibits, with its original artifacts, including the War of 1812 flag. Finally, I watched a musketeer carry out a firing demonstration.
Old Fort Niagara Grounds
Alternative Ways to Enjoy the Waters
For other ways to enjoy the water and the region, consider taking a Whirlpool Jet Boats trip down the Niagara River, with its class five rapids, or take a side trip to the Lockport Locks on the Erie Canal, both within 30 minutes of Niagara Falls.