Niagara Falls is home to the iconic Rainbow Bridge and a thoroughfare called Rainbow Boulevard, so it’s little wonder that the region flies the rainbow flag when it comes to gay-friendliness, too. Niagara County is emerging as a destination for LGBTQ travelers, thanks to its awe-inspiring outdoor pursuits, burgeoning food and wine scene, and welcoming spirit.
With WorldPride NYC and Stonewall50 events drawing millions to the state this summer, the region is gearing up for a host of LGBTQ celebrations. Whether it’s a romantic couple’s getaway, a “brosecco” weekend with the boys or some rainbow-hunting with the gals, here’s some inspiration for a Niagara Falls trip to remember.
Inn & Out
Let’s start with the perfect vacation haven. Niagara Falls USA offers a dream catalog of gay-friendly accommodations, from boutique hotels to charming inns and B&Bs. Design lovers will delight in the Art-Deco splendor of The Giacomo in Niagara Falls while wellness seekers will find bliss at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (think private hot tubs and a stunning spa). The city also plays host to a number of TAG approved properties which are proudly inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ community.
From food trucks to fine dining, third-wave roasteries to artisan breweries, Niagara County’s food scene is almost worth the trip alone. And thanks to the local bounty offered up by Niagara’s farmlands and waterways, slow-food lovers and locavores will feel right at home here, too. Want a taste? Imagine wild-caught red snapper at The Griffon Gastropub, creative lunches at the Culinary Institute of Niagara Falls or romantic date nights at the historic Red Coach Inn.
All that delectable food deserves a wine pairing to match. Good thing, then, that the Niagara region is home to one of the most vibrant viticulture scenes in the Empire State, where almost two dozen postcard-perfect wineries produce world-class wines, from zesty sauvignon blancs to fruity pinots. To really embrace the bon vivant lifestyle, take a road trip along the Niagara Wine Trail, USA where you can taste-test the region’s finest vintages — and maybe bring a case for back home.
With its Instagram-gold waterfalls and screensaver scenery throughout, you’re going to want to hit the great outdoors in Niagara County. From a stroll through scenic Whirlpool State Park to mountain biking along the Niagara Gorge Trail, there are myriad adventures to be had. Need an adrenaline rush? Buckle up for a jet-boat tour on the Niagara River, where you’ll barrel into the Class V rapids, white-knuckling all the way. Prefer something a bit more subdued? Enjoy a peaceful paddle on one of the region’s many waterways.
If you’re after entertainment of a more indoor variety, plan a stop at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, where you can browse Saks Fifth Avenue’s OFF Fifth for discount designer labels, or Zwilling J. A. Henckels for high-end cookware. Thinking of something more one-of-a-kind? Niagara County is home to a thriving antiquing scene, with salvaged treasures aplenty at the Shawnee Antique Co-Op, housed in a restored barn, and at the Lewiston Antique Mall, which features a quirky summer flea market.
A Dose of Culture
Niagara’s natural beauty has long been a draw for artists and creatives. Today, there’s a vibrant pastiche of culture from world-class galleries to pop-up art houses. The Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University is a must-visit for art lovers, with an impressive collection spanning European greats (Modigliani, Picasso) to modern masters (Andy Warhol, Keith Haring). If its performing arts you’re after, the Riviera Theatre & Performing Arts Center offers a roster of concerts and musical revues. In the summer, be sure to check out the lineup at Lewiston’s Artpark, an innovative event venue that stages concerts, theater productions and features a variety of outdoor art installations.
This year gives big cause to celebrate in New York state; it’s the 50th anniversary of the history-making Stonewall Uprising, which coincides with the WorldPride festival in New York City this June (it’s tipped to be the largest in history!). You can share the love in Niagara Falls, too, where the Falls will be festooned in rainbow hues for Pride at the Falls on July 5, along with fireworks and a free concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Make a weekend of it by continuing the celebration in nearby Buffalo (aka Queen City), where the Allentown gayborhood is the pride of the city.