Buffalo, NY – An Overview

When thinking of vacation destinations, most people probably think of Caribbean islands, Europe, Florida, or National Parks.  I’d like to suggest that maybe you should think about places around the Great Lakes, typically referred to as Rust Belt cities. 

As I’ve mentioned, I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY and was at times one of its harshest critics.  Bethlehem Steel was shutting down when I was a kid and I remember what it did to the people and the area.  Nearly all of my siblings (and myself) have moved away from Buffalo because the economy was hit so hard.  That said, Buffalo does have so much to offer, much more than just Niagara Falls.  I think you’d be hard pressed to find another place where the people are as friendly.  The nickname of the City of Good Neighbors is not just an expression.  I like to saw that Buffalo is the most eastern mid-western city in the U.S.  So think about making a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.  I’ll spend several posts talking about places to visit in Western New York which I hope will tempt you to visit.

Today I’ll talk about the reason that most people travel to Western New York – Niagara Falls.  Niagara Falls is located about 25 miles north of Buffalo.  If you’re traveling by air, you’ll want to fly into either the Buffalo/Niagara Airport (BUF) or Toronto (YYZ).  Toronto is a further drive to the Falls, about 80 miles.  You also will need a passport to travel both by air or by land to the Canadian side of the Falls.  Because of that fact, the American side of the Falls is becoming more popular.  In 2004, the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel was built and adds another location for people to visit when in the area.

The main activities to do on the American side of the Falls are: the Maid of the Mist, the Cave of the Winds, and Prospect Point Park Observation Tower. 

The Maid of the Mist is an absolute must do when visiting Niagara Falls.  It costs $13.50 for adults, $7.85 for kids (6 – 12) and kids under 6 are free.  The Maid of the Mist is a boat ride that takes you past the American and Bridal Viel Falls and right up near the base of the Horseshoe Falls.  It is truly spectacular.

The Cave of the Winds is a walking tour at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls.  You are able to get as close as less than 20 feet from the torrents.  You are provided rain ponchos and sandals to help keep you dry.  It costs $11 for adults, $8 for kids 6 – 12 and kids under 6 are free.

Prospect Point Observation Tower gives you an impressive view of the American Falls.  It is located over the Niagara Gorge and allows you to travel down to the base of the Falls.  It costs only $1 per person.

One of my dad’s favorite locations in Niagara Falls is Goat Island.  It’s a park located on the American side and is a great picnic spot.  You can view the Niagara River rapids as they head down towards Niagara Falls.  Be careful when viewing the river.  It can be mesmerizing and you don’t want to fall in.

For a comprehensive listing of the differences between the American and Canadian Falls, visit this site.

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