Gushing waterfalls and winding rivers welcome visitors to Niagara Falls, New York, home to the oldest state park in the United States. The city’s four main regions—falls, river, lake, canal—all offer a mix of arts and entertainment as well as their own natural beauty, as implied in their names.
Across the border from Niagara Falls, Ontario, the city differs from its Canadian neighbor in its dedication to nature preservation and the little emphasis it places on casinos. The Falls helped build the city, as industrial builders took advantage of the power provided by the waterfall, but now its strength lies in protecting natural resources rather than using them.
Start in the falls region, home to Niagara Falls State Park, where world-famous waterfalls reside; then take a helium balloon ride and spot Buffalo, New York, and Toronto from 400 feet in the air; also in the neighborhood is a casino and half a dozen other parks. The lake region contains the 30 Mile Point Lighthouse, packed with historical and educational sites and a rentable 3-bedroom suite. Hike, bike or ski alongside the Erie Canal in the canal region, then end your journey with a trip to the Underground Railroad Regional Interpretive Center, in the river region.