Niagara Falls, baby, the “Honeymoon Capitol” was where we headed from Geneva State Park in Ohio on Monday, August 21, 2023 for the 189-mile drive to Four Mile Creek State Park in Youngstown, New York. That was where we would be staying for seven fun-filled days and nights.
Lake Erie Wine Country Trail
We drove through the Lake Erie Wine Country Trail, a 50-mile stretch of several towns and 23 wineries in Western New York State comprising more than 30,000 vineyard acres. We enjoyed the slower pace compared to the Interstates we usually travel on and had a very scenic drive through small towns and countryside covered in grape vines. Growers here produce about 65% of New York State’s annual grape harvest.
But it’s not just wine. Welch’s original plant in Westfield dates back to 1897, and there is still a juice storage and processing facility in the town to this day.
While most of the grapes are of the Concord and Niagara varieties, there are French-American and European varietals that also thrive here and are perfect for fine wine connoisseurs. The local wine selection spans the taste palette from dry to sweet. It includes dessert and ice wine, Grigio and Pinot Noir, as well as Riesling, Port and more.
We didn’t realize where our “off the beaten path route” was going to take us, or we would made plans to visit some of the wineries along the way. Now that’s a trip for the next time we make our way through this part of the country.
Four Mile Creek State Park Campground
By the time we arrived at Four Mile Creek State Park it was around 3 pm in the afternoon. I think we both would agree that this is one of the nicest State Park campgrounds we have visited thus far. Our site was grass and level, as well as being spacious. The spaciousness was more than most of the other sites because Cindy picked a corner site for us when she made the reservation. I have a smart wife!
After setting up we took Bella on a walk around the campground to familiarize ourselves with it. Four Mile Creek State Park sits on the American shore of Lake Ontario. Like Lake Erie, it is very large but you CAN see across the water to the Canadian shore and the outline of Toronto’s skyline. There is a photo in the accompanying album of an informational sign showing how Four Mile Creek came by its name and its importance in history. Be sure to take a look at that.
Niagara Falls State Park
Tuesday, August 22nd we were up and out the door at 8am. Had to take our certificate for Bella’s rabies shot to the front office to be copied for their files, then we drove a few miles to Fort Niagara State Park to catch a free shuttle to Niagara State Park and Niagara Falls. Helped us not have to worry about finding or paying for parking, but it also took an hour for a normally 30 minute trip. Fort Niagara State Park is another place we wish we had built time in for. We’ll just have to come back here some day, lol!
Niagara Falls State Park holds the distinction of being the country’s oldest state park. Established in 1885 as the Niagara Reservation, it became the first cornerstone to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It encompasses more than 400 acres of land, with almost 140 acres of that under water. The man who designed Central Park in New York City, Frederick Law Olmstead, also had a hand in establishing Niagara Falls State Park.
Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
First up, we had tickets for the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour. I don’t think a trip to Niagara Falls would be complete without taking the boat tour close to the falls. We went to the Observation Deck beforehand to take photos of the falls and the Canada side, then took the elevator down 2000 feet to the boarding area for the boat tour. We were given “souvenir” blue ponchos to wear (the folks on the Canadian side wear red ponchos) before we boarded. Even though we had brought our own rain jackets we decided to try theirs. I wish we had used ours; theirs were pretty useless.
There’s nothing quite like sailing into the maelstrom created by 6 million cubic feet of water going over the crestline of the falls every minute. Even though the boats don’t get close to the actual water falling from almost 200 feet above, the resulting splash effects are felt far out from the point of where the water impacts the lower river, hitting the base of the falls with 280 tons of force at the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 2,509 tons of force at the Horseshoe Falls. The boat, which is the size of a ferry boat, pitches and rolls in the waves created by that force. The water impact creates huge droplets of water that fill the air and soak you, in spite of the ponchos. You can see the effects of those drops on some of our photos, but they couldn’t be helped.
Luckily we had bought a waterproof bag a few days earlier to use during the boat ride, so our wallets, keys, phone battery and a couple of hand towels all stayed dry.
After the boat returned and we disembarked, we took the massively steep and difficult steps (at least for two seniors like us) up to the Crow’s Nest. From there you are pretty close to the edge of the American Falls and we got some good shots, despite the masses of people trying to do the same.
Then we grabbed some lunch and afterward got on the Goat Island Green Trolley. Goat Island is right next to Niagara Falls and is only a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. We probably could have walked, but we were tired and knew we’d be even more tired after walking to various places on the trolley stops. We started with Luna Island, which allowed us to see the American Falls from the opposite side we had seen from the Crow’s Nest. Then we went to Terrapin which gets you right over the Horshoe Falls. From the tops of both of those we saw some beautiful rainbows created by the sun shining down on the misty air and water. Pretty spectacular!
The next stops were the Three Sisters Island and a parking lot. We were tired and knew we had an hour ride back on the other shuttle, so we skipped those and got off at the end of the route, where we started, and walked across the street from Niagara State Park to the Hard Rock Cafe where we caught out shuttle back to Fort Niagara State Park. Your intrepid travelers were exhausted when we got back to Nomad, but we have another day/evening of fun scheduled for Wednesday so we needed to get some rest. And that day we walked 3.1 miles, though it felt like much, much more, lol
Oh! I tried to talk Cindy into us getting married again there at Niagara Falls, but she said once was enough. I’ll attempt to convince her again next year when we’re in Las Vegas!
Next up: Dinner at the Skylon Tower on the Canada side of the falls.
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