A trip to majestic Niagara Falls the unexplored haven of natural and pristine beauty.
For every self-respecting Indian traveller who makes his way to the United States of America, a pit-stop at Niagara Falls is kind of mandatory.
It’s just a 45-minute plane ride from New York city and another 30 minutes by car from Buffalo International Airport to get to one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. Yet, there’s just a handful of adventurous souls, or in this case the more perseverant ones, who choose to explore the region beyond the falls – a part of America so rich in culture, heritage, history, food and wine, that you can actually spend upto a week in this unexplored haven of natural and pristine beauty.
Archana Shenoy explores the Niagara region in 48 hours
Straddling the US-Canadian border, Niagara Falls draws around 12 million visitors per year, who might not realise that Niagara Falls is actually composed of three falls: American, Bridal and Horseshoe. They converge and crest over a 170-foot dolomite and shale cliff to plummet to the raging river below. All three waterfalls form the area that is collectively referred to as Niagara Falls, which reaches into the province of Ontario and New York state.
Four Great Lakes – Superior, Erie, Huron and Michigan — supply the water to the Niagara River that creates the three falls that combine to form Niagara Falls. Once over the falls, the water flows for 15 miles until it empties into Lake Ontario. Within the Great Lakes and the Niagara River flows 20 percent of the world’s freshwater, according to Niagara Falls Live. The second largest falls in the world, Niagara is surpassed in size only by Victoria Falls in southern Africa. During winter, the mist from the falls freezes to form huge mounds of ice that measure up to 50 feet thick. The ice often stretches all the way across the falls and spans several miles to form an ice bridge.
The Maid Of The Mist
Dressed in blue plastic ponchos, with cold winds slapping the thin plastic against boot clad legs, a ride on the Maid Of The Mist is the most obvious activity to undertake when at Niagara Falls. These little boats – all powered by coal – have been shuttling visitors to show off the falls and its magnanimous beauty since the late 1800s.
Old Fort Niagara
If you enjoy history, make sure to save time for a visit to Old Fort Niagara. Located on the U.S. side of the falls, this 17th-century fort has changed hands between French, British and American troops. This site has seen action during numerous wars, including the American Revolution and the French and Indian War, making it the longest operational fort in North America. Today, the fort occupies one of the most scenic areas in western New York, overlooking both Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. Inside you can explore underground gunpowder rooms, old army barracks and ancient cannons. If you’re looking for a more in-depth history, make sure to stop by the visitor’s centre.
Old Fort Niagara is perched on the banks of both Lake Ontario and the Niagara River just north of Youngstown, NY — across the river from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The Wine Trail
Aside from the falls themselves, the Niagara Falls region is known for one other thing: wine. If you have the time (and are over the legal drinking age!), take a drive along the scenic Niagara Escarpment area to visit some of the 22 wineries that dot this northern part of New York state. These small, intimately run boutique wineries produce some of America’s best wines.
Nestled beneath the Niagara Escarpment, an ancient geological structure formed of limestone, it is a prominent factor that works in conjunction with Lake Ontario’s warmth to extend the growing season in this region. Freedom Run Winery and Arrowhead Springs Vineyards at Lockport, both producing a large number of wine varietals, boast of tasting rooms, accommodation on the vine-yard for visitors and elaborate tours of their estates.
They also play host to weddings and other special occasions, the vineyards offering the perfect setting amidst the natural beauty of the region.
The Giacomo, located right opposite the Niagara Visitors Centre, is a cozy boutique hotel housed in an old restored art-deco style building. Their beautiful rooms, stunning view of the surrounding and the Canadian border line, a birds-eye view of the Falls being lit up at night from their 19th floor terrace make it the perfect place to shack up for a few days while you explore the region.