Ever since European explorers stumbled across the majestic, tumbling waters in 1678, Niagara Falls has captured the imagination of visitors. Perched on the border between Canada and New York, America’s oldest state park has only gotten better with age and has enjoyed fame and prestige as a premier honeymoon destination. However, Niagara Falls isn’t just for newlyweds. In fact, the state park is most popular with a much younger set of tourists – students. Why? The Falls skillfully combine history, engineering and ecology to produce a unique experience that manages to be enthralling and educational all at once.
Eight Adventures at the Falls
- Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and Trailhead: Learn about the natural and local history of the Niagara through interactive displays, then embark on a hike of your choosing. Favorites include a scenic stroll past Devil’s Hole Rapids and a more challenging journey around Whirlpool Rapids.
- Maid of the Mist: Climb aboard this double-decker tour boat and set sail into the frothing waters of Horseshoe and American Falls. The Maid of the Mist will leave your students awestruck by the power of the whitewater and the grandeur of Niagara’s monstrous rock formations.
- Niagara Adventure Theatre: Sit back and relax during a 40-minute Oscar-winning film that delivers the captivating story of Niagara Falls and the daredevils, explorers and photographers who’ve made it famous over the centuries.
- Cave of the Winds: Take a walk on the wet and wild side during a Cave of the Winds Tour. Begin by plummeting 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge, then gear up in a rain poncho and prepare to brave the falls. Stroll through a stormy mist zone as you follow wooden walkways that wrap around the Niagara River and end at the Hurricane Deck.
- Goat Island: Get up close and personal with the creatures who live in and around Niagara Falls at uninhabited Goat Island. This spot offers views of both the American and Canadian sides of the park.
- Aquarium of Niagara: A few blocks away from the state park is a top-tier aquarium that showcases the ecosystems of everything from coral reefs to the Great Lakes. Here, your students can enjoy over 40 exhibits brimming with exciting creatures like sea lions, penguins and sturgeon.
- Illumination of the Falls: One of the few sights that rivals the drama of sunlight glinting off the crashing falls is seeing Niagara come to life at night. 365 days a year, the Falls are illuminated at dusk by dozens of colored spotlights, creating a breathtaking light show that simply can’t be missed.
- Observation Tower: This is the only spot in the entire park that offers a panoramic view of all three falls. After you’ve spent a few moments gazing down at the falls below, turn your eyes to the sky and try to catch a glimpse of the peregrine falcons and bald eagles who call the Falls home.
On-Site Dining at Niagara
After a full day of exploring the Falls, your students will no doubt have worked up an appetite. If you want to grab a quick snack and keep your adventure rolling, make a short stop for pizza at Cave of the Winds Snack Bar or grilled sandwiches at Prospect Point Grill. If your group would rather dine in, enjoy gorgeous views of the cascading falls and American classics like chicken wings, mac and cheese, burgers and more at Top of the Falls Restaurant. In the mood for dessert? Swing by Prospect Point Coffee and Ice Cream Shop for hand-dipped ice cream cones or gourmet coffee.
It’s easy to see why taking your students on an adventure to Niagara Falls is unforgettable and well worth the trip. Whether they’re being (figuratively) blown away by the thundering water or exploring the flora and fauna that surround the falls, your students will leave the park with a newfound appreciation for nature that they never would have discovered in the classroom. Need help planning your trip? Niagara Falls State Park Visitor Center is happy to field any questions you might have.