Niagara Falls is worldwide-famous for the amazing waterfalls the city is named after. While a visit to the awe-inspiring wonder may be on your bucket list, if you’re heading to Niagara Falls, there are a lot of other interesting and fun things to do on your trip once you’ve ticked off seeing the natural phenomenon. This list includes a haunted tunnel, abandoned neighborhoods, hidden caves and waterfalls (yes that’s right), mysterious monasteries, and more. Here are some unique unusual things to do in Niagara Falls for people in search of a different experience.
Visit Niagara Falls’ most haunted tunnel
If you’re one of those brave souls that like visiting haunted destinations while traveling, you should definitely check out the infamous Screaming Tunnel. Once upon a time, this small passage was used by farmers to transport their animals safely under the railway. However, no one visits this tunnel for years. The local legend says that everyone who goes inside the tunnel and lights up a candle can hear the screams of a girl who died in the tunnel echoing inside. If this sounds interesting, you’ll also surely like…
Not far away from the busy streets of Niagara Falls lies the so-called Cave of the Evil Spirit. According to local legends, this cave hides a dark secret that dates back to 300 years ago. The Seneca Indians that inhabited the area prior to the European colonization, believed the cave was cursed and anyone who would enter would suffer a terrible faith. Today, the legend still stands and locals and tourists alike avoid visiting this cave.
Knowing this, are you still brave enough to visit? Let us know in the comments.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an exciting adventure that doesn’t include going in scary, haunted tunnels…
If you want to get off the beaten track and venture somewhere where not a lot of others do, head to Short Hills; a nature park that spreads over 670 hectares and is a haven for birdwatchers and you can even see a deer or two if you’re lucky.
We all know most people visit Niagara Falls because of the iconic Horseshoe Waterfalls and the Bridal Veil. However, there are also some other beautiful waterfalls around that most tourists don’t end up visiting. They might not be as beautiful as the above-mentioned ones but they get a lot fewer visitors and are hence, a lot more peaceful. If you want to get off the beaten track and venture somewhere where not a lot of others do, head to Short Hills; a nature park that spreads over 670 hectares and is a haven for birdwatchers and you can even see a deer or two if you’re lucky. If you like hiking, you’ll definitely enjoy this preserve as there are a lot of hiking trails and a couple of them lead to a couple of beautiful waterfalls hidden deep in the forest.
Visit a fort that witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of 1812 War
Old Fort Erie is an old British fort that’s a must-visit for history lovers. This fort isn’t nearly as famous as the Niagara Old Fort and hence, it doesn’t get as many visitors even though it’s just as old and witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of the 1812 War. Hence, it’s no wonder that there are stories that connect this fort to paranormal activities, just like some other places on this list. However, unlike these places, the fort is open for visitors. If you can- visit around Halloween; there’s a special program that includes stories about the fort’s reputed hauntings.
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Check out the locals’ favorite picnic spot
If you’re visiting during the high season, you’ll probably want to get some peace and quiet because there will be a lot of tourists everywhere. One of the best places to do this is Heartland Forest. Most tourists don’t make it here because the place is located next to a marshland that doesn’t look very appealing. However, the people that do end up here, are in for a treat. A lot of locals come here with their families to have picnics during the hot summer months. If you want to enjoy Niagara Falls like a local, this is one of the places, you should definitely visit!
Dine in a flying saucer
Even though this restaurant kinda sounds like is a cliche tourist hotspot on first sight, we have to include this quirky restaurant in a list of unusual things to do in Niagara Falls. This UFO-like restaurant sure offers an authentic dining atmosphere like no other; the interior is very interesting, they serve some exquisite food and the prices are quite reasonable too. If you like dining in unique strange restaurants while you travel, don’t miss out on the Flying Saucer.
Follow Canada’s oldest and longest footpath
Many people don’t know this but the northern part of Niagara Falls hides the oldest and longest footpath in Canada. The Bruce Trail starts (or ends depending on how you look on it) in Niagara Falls and leads to the Bruce Peninsula, passing through Short Hills Provincial Park and Ontario and Toronto along the way. Bruce Trail is also the only way (at least with public access) that leads to the Niagara Escarpment and UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserve. The total distance the trail covers is around 900 kilometers, 130 of which cross through Niagara Falls. Nowadays, more enthusiasts that want to explore the best of Canada’s nature attempt the full trek, from Niagara Falls to the Bruce Peninsula. Would you try this?
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Visit the only bogland in the Niagara Peninsula
Wainfleet Bog happens to be the only bogland in the Niagara Peninsula but also a place with rich history. The bogland was used during WWII as a prison to German prisoners of war but it was also a bootleggers stronghold during the Prohibition. The bog covers an area of 50,000 acres and stretches from the Niagara Falls Border all the way to Ontario. This bogland is home to a lot of different species of butterflies and turtles and it’s one of the least frequented places in the region. There are also a lot of hiking trails but most of them aren’t well-maintained and marked because there aren’t a lot of visitors around.
Visit the site of one of Canada’s most famous historic battles
The Battle of Queenston Heights is one of the most famous battles of the 1812 War. This was the first battle of the war that practically shaped North America’s territory we know of today. It was here that Major General Brock lead the Redcoats army in defending the upper Canadian territories. Today, the battleground is turned into a historic park located near the beginning of the Bruce Trail. Since it’s in the outdoors, the park is also a great picnic spot and there are several farmers markets around from where you can get some locally-grown crops.
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Even though man-made, Dufferin Islands is one of the most beautiful hidden treasures in Niagara Falls. The islands are popular among locals for their quiet seclusion and the abundance of hiking trails. Other than the numerous man-made islands, you can expect to see a lot of birds, toads, ducks, an occasional beaver or two and hear the soothing sound of water cascades and crickets in the distance. If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway from Niagara Falls’ busy streets, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Visit a 19th-century Carmelite monastery
In case you didn’t know, the Carmelites are a Roman Catholic mendicant religious order founded in the 12th century and the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre has served as home and a place of worship for the local Carmelites since the 19th century. The monastery is located on a very peaceful property away from the city and has gorgeous medieval architecture. Additionally, the property has a garden and several other green surfaces and an amazing view of the Niagara Falls; in other words, everything you might need if you’re looking for some peace and serenity.
Take a hike that leads to another secret waterfall
Photo by Sujit CC by 3.0
In St.Catharines, on the Canadian side of the border, you can find the two not-so-famous but absolutely gorgeous DeCew Falls. The Falls consist of the Upper DeCew Falls (22-meters-tall) and the Lower DeCew Falls (8-meters-tall). If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll definitely love the challenge of trekking to the falls from St. Catherine. The route is relatively unfrequented and hence, not so maintained but great for people that want to reconnect with nature. Near the falls you can also find the rural industrial heritage site, Morningstar Mill, a small grist mill that has been operating since 1872.
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Explore the largest independent bookstore in New York
Book Corner has been around since the 1920s and today, it’s more than a bookstore; it’s a museum of the city’s past. Here, you can find a lot of second-hand collections, books written by local authors, and a lot of other facets from the city’s past. The impressive book collection spans over three floors where you can find anything from old high school yearbooks and telephone directories to local poetry, books containing historic information about Nikola Tesla, the Native Americans and the Italian Mafia (among others), and novels dating back as early as the 19th century. If you’re a book lover, this is one place you really shouldn’t miss. And if you’re looking to buy some second-hand books online, check out some of these ridiculous deals on Better World Books.
Are you planning to visit New York on your way to Niagara Falls? Check out our list of things you can only find in New York.
Visit Niagara Falls’ mysterious abandoned neighborhood
If you didn’t know, Love Canal is where one of the largest environmental catastrophes in the history of the US. This caused an unprecedented natural disaster; plants were turning black and dying, water sources were floating in a small sea of chemicals, and there was a horrible choking smell in the atmosphere. A 1978 survey discovered an abnormally high number of birth defects among local residents and this was the tipping point. An investigation was started that showed Hooker-Chemical has been illegally dumping thousands of tones of toxic chemicals under the neighborhood.
This left permanent damage on the people living in the area and, needless to say, most of them moved out. The local authorities needed more than 20 years to completely clear the area of the effects of the toxic elements. However, despite this, except for a few houses on 13th and 21st street, the Love Canal remains abandoned.
Try some local wines
Apart from glorious waterfalls, the Niagara area is also well-known for being a winemaking region. In particular, this is where you’ll find the famous Canadian Icewine. Icewine is a dessert variety made from grapes picked after having frozen on the vines. One of the best suburbs to travel to for winetasting and education is Niagara-on-the-Lake. This pretty suburb located about 20 minutes’ drive from the Falls is home to over 25 vineyards. One to put on top of your list is Inniskillin Winery. It’s well-regarded worldwide for its special Icewine.
If you’re planning a vacation or work trip to Niagara Falls, try to give yourself more time in the area so you can explore all the interesting sites it has to offer. As you can see, there are a lot of unique, unusual things to do in Niagara Falls that most tourists skip for one reason or another.
Helpful resources for traveling to Niagara Falls
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Did you like this list? What are some of your favorite unusual things to do in Niagara Falls? Do you think there are some places we didn’t mention on this list but we should have? Let us know in the comments!
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