• Menu
  • Menu
Niagara river
Checking out the boats along the Niagara River.

8 Reasons Buffalo NY is Gonna Get You

Like most people, we originally trekked to this corner of upstate New York to feel the thunderous power of the Niagara Falls. But during 3 days over the Fourth of July weekend, we found a goldmine of amazing experiences in the greater Buffalo area worth a trip for any family.

1. Get soaked at Niagara Falls

Beckoning visitors with mist from miles away, Niagara Falls has awe inspiring experiences for any adventure level. Spanning the Niagara River, the United States’ oldest state park offers views of the “American” falls from Prospect Point and Luna Island. Goat Island provides a walk into the Cave of the Winds as well as views of the Canadian “Horseshoe” falls from Terrapin point. We sailed the Maid of the Mist from the Niagara State Park into the belly of the falls, which was a highlight of our 2022 Summer Road Trip!

Kids dancing in the mist of Niagara Falls
The kids loved dancing in their inflated ponchos surrounded by the Niagara mist.

2. Marvel at the gigantic Fort Niagara

Located where the Niagara River fills Lake Ontario, this strategic point was originally occupied by the French in 1679. After completing the enormously fortified Castle in 1726, the French lost the fort to the British in 1759 who then surrendered it to the US in the War of 1812. While its amazing preservation would have put it atop our historical building list, a full French & Indian re-enactment on July 4th made the place simply unforgettable! Travel tip: Take a picnic and catch some rays on the shore of Lake Ontario or in the huge public pool at Fort Niagara State Park.

fort niagara
The French Castle at Fort Niagara surrounded by re-enactment on the 4th of July.

3. Stop by Lewiston for a taste of history

Once home to coal that fueled rail tourism in the 1930s, the Silo Restaurant is a delicious stop between the Falls and the Fort. A panoramic patio provides a view of the Underground Railroad crossing point along the Niagara River. This place is the perfect stop to watch boats cruise by over a tasty sandwich. And ice cream from the restored Caboose provides a bit of cool on a hot summer day.

Silo Lewiston NY
Burger with the best view along the Niagara River at the Silo in Lewiston, NY.

4. Pay homage at the Freedom Crossing Monument

Prior to 1865, Lewiston, NY provided one of final stops for enslaved Americans seeking freedom in Canada. Locals sheltered “passengers” until they could safely cross the Niagara River under the cover of darkness. Town tailor Josiah Tryon not only opened his home on the river, but gifted brightly colored jackets to slave catchers so they could easily be identified and avoided. An appropriate centerpiece to the town’s park along the Niagara River, the Freedom Crossing Monument inspires reflection on town’s role in the Underground Railroad.

freedom crossing monument
Lifesize bronze Freedom Crossing Monument looking across the Niagara River to Canada.

5. Stand at Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration site

Too hard-nosed as the Governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt was pushed as VP to McKinley’s 1900 Presidential Ticket to reduce his resistance to the goals of prominent political and business figures. But while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in on September 6, 1901, McKinley was shot. Teddy was encouraged to boost public confidence by going camping, only to be recalled to Buffalo when the president died 8 days later. Hastily inaugurated at his friend Ansley Wilcox’s House, Roosevelt is the 4th of only six Presidents inaugurated outside of Washington D.C.! Now managed by the National Park Service he fortified; the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site is a unique slice of US History!

Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site
In this house, Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 30th President.

6. Nosh wings at an old Universal warehouse

Like other famous namesake foods (think Chicago Deep Dish or Nashville Hot Chicken) there’s lack of clarity about the “original Buffalo wing”. So after an internet deep dive and several chats with locals, we decided to stop by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Made with thick concrete walls, this place once stored all the Universal Studios film reels for the region! The pit master is on point too, with amazing smoked meats and to die for sides like BBQ fried rice!

Dino BBQ Buffalo NY
Not sure what was more impressive, the food or the fantastic old Universal Warehouse at Dino-BBQ in Buffalo, NY.

7. Splash in History at Canalside

With roads difficult to maintain and railroads decades away, canals were the logical choice to connect coastal and growing inland cities after the American Revolution. Only able to carry 250lbs overland, mules tow up to 60,000lbs on a barge! When chosen as the terminus for the Erie Canal, Buffalo accelerated to national prominence as the connection between the Great Lakes and Atlantic. Years later, the railroad and interstates followed suit enshrining Buffalo as the 2nd largest city in New York.

erie canal 1908
Mules pulling barge on Erie Canal circa 1908. (eriecanal.org)

After the 1918 completion of the New York Barge Canal relocated the terminus north to Tonawanda, the Buffalo portion went quiet. Refurbished into Canalside, the historic waterway’s end is now an outdoor venue with activities and dining. Nautical enthusiasts can also explore the USS Little Rock and Sullivans at the Buffalo Military Park.

erie canal
Former Erie Canal terminus provides aquatic fun year-round with small watercraft in summer and ice skating in winter.

8. Fourth of July Fun on Grand Island

Surrounded by the Niagara River, Grand Island and its sprawling KOA were the shining gem of our Buffalo experience. Centrally located between Niagara and Buffalo, the island allowed us to casually explore the area. After a small-town 4th of July parade in the morning, we checked out the re-enactment at Fort Niagara in the afternoon. But the best part… all of the fireworks displays from the surrounding towns glimmering off the river. Not sure if we can top Independence Day 2022, or if we just need to come back every year:)

Grand Island KOA
With activities, playground, pools and central location, the Grand Island KOA was the perfect place to spend Independence Weekend.

Missed Opportunities

With only 3 days in such a historically relevent spot, things will be missed. Next time we come, we’ll make sure to check out:

Have you been to Buffalo/Niagara NY?

Tell us about your experiences in the comments!


Eternally on the hunt for the science in every adventure.

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *