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2011 City Guide: Niagara County

kc kratt

You can have an outstanding time touring the northernmost reaches of WNY, especially if you decide to leave Niagara Falls for another time.
Here’s an abbreviated list of Niagara County alternatives to the famed cataract:

• De Veaux Woods State Park: Niagara Falls State Park still has Goat Island and the Falls, but much of it has suffered extensive (if necessary) incursions from tourism-related entities like parking, concessions, and visitors’ services. Established in 2001, the small but fascinating DeVeaux is one of the area’s newest parks. Just south of Whirlpool State Park, it has wooded trails, great views of the gorge, ten acres of old-growth forest, and several historic stone buildings left over from a nineteenth century school for orphans located on the site. It’s also easy to make a day of it by proceeding directly to Whirlpool State Park after touring De Veaux.

• Fort Niagara State Park: Located right next to Old Fort Niagara—in fact, it offers a fine view of the historic buildings—this park has it all, with one refreshing omission: no golf course. There is a pool, a narrow beach, picnic facilities, a boat launch, a playground, and more. Most important, the park offers breathtakingly beautiful scenery and minimal crowds.

• Country roads: Lake Road (18), Ridge Road (104), and Lockport-Olcott Road (78) are three of the most scenic ways to take a country drive in Niagara County. You’ll pass farm stands, waterways, old barns, cobblestone structures, and plenty of interesting places to eat and shop. Destinations, if you need them, include Youngstown, Olcott, Burt, Wilson, and many other charming enclaves.

• North Tonawanda: Niagara County’s southernmost community has big-time personality. Highlights here only begin with unique attractions like the Carrousel Museum, Gateway Park, and the Carnegie Art Center. There is also the city market, open year-round; fun restaurants like Crazy Jake’s and the Hideaway Grille; and the challenge of testing Oliver Street’s no-doubt apocryphal status of possessing more bars per capita than anywhere else in the country.

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