Science Class: Niagara Falls State Park
Science with a side of history, that is! Start your learning adventure in America’s oldest state park, using the walking tour app to explore the stories behind 17 park sites. One of these sites is a giant statue on Goat Island of Nikola Tesla, the first person to harness the hydroelectric power of the Falls and to turn its converted energy into electricity in 1896. As you continue through the park, up close and personal with the thundering Falls, you’ll witness this power firsthand.
Extra Credit: Sail to the base of the Falls on the new Maid of the Mist boat powered by — you guessed it — electricity. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last day of operation for the 2020 season is November 8, 2020.
Art Class: Kenan Art Center
This arts center, housed in a Victorian mansion in historic Lockport, is a regional destination for art and history lovers (and for those with green thumbs, too!). Plan to spend plenty of time exploring the house’s gallery (which exhibits work by Western New York artists) and the surrounding gardens and grounds.
Extra Credit: Head to Depot Avenue & Main Street near the Amtrak Station in Niagara Falls, New York, where you’ll find a series of murals created by local artists depicting “champions of change” like Harriet Tubman.
Zoology Class: Aquarium of Niagara
Ever wanted to have a close encounter with a Humboldt penguin? Want to learn more about sea animal rescue — and maybe even snag a socially distant selfie with a seal? The Aquarium of Niagara offers these experiences and more — just be sure check the schedule to reserve your family’s spot.
Extra Credit: Keep the learning going after returning home care of the Aquarium’s virtual education programs, like junior vet classes and animal story time.
Might as well make lunchtime a chance to keep learning! Encourage the kiddos to try some of the regional specialties — perhaps a beef-on-weck sandwich at the historic Red Coach Inn, or a slice of New York-style pizza (which we’re guessing they’ll be A-OK with). Or head over to the Hard Rock Café, where lunch comes with a side of rock history!
Extra Credit: You’ve probably earned an ice cream break — check out our favorite places to grab a cone.
Geology Class: Niagara Gorge Trail System
It was near the end of the last Ice Age — some 12,000 years ago — when the Niagara River began to tumble over a cliff known as the Niagara Escarpment, first forming the Falls. As the river receded, it formed what we now know as the Niagara Gorge — a geologic phenomenon that’s studied by scientists from around the world. Explore the gorge’s sedimentary rocks on a hike along one of the Niagara Gorge Trail System’s many trails.
Extra Credit: Continue your nature exploration by keeping an eye out for birds — the Gorge is known globally as an Important Bird Area, and eager birdwatchers might spy a peregrine falcon, a great blue heron or even a bald eagle, among others.
History Class: Old Fort Niagara
Go back to the founding of the region with a visit to Old Fort Niagara, which has been in use since the 1600s and changed hands between countries before becoming an important part of the Colonial defense in the Revolutionary War. Explore original artifacts (like the Fort’s original War of 1812 flag!), take a self-guided tour and witness hourly musket demonstrations.
Extra Credit: Visit the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, where you can learn about the pivotal role the city played and the modern connections to history, or learn about the 19th-century creation of the Erie Canal and its locks at the Erie Canal Discovery Center.
Agriculture Class: Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards
Exploring the Niagara Wine Trail, USA, can be an educational experience, too! Make a stop at the scenic, 340-acre Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards for u-pick apples and educational tours — and before you leave, visit the on-site bakery for homemade pies, donuts and fudge. A sweet ending to a great day!
Extra Credit: At Long Cliff Vineyard & Winery, kids can sign up for tours — offered seasonally— and learn about the grape-growing and wine-making process right on the family farm. Afterwards, participants will enjoy a juice tasting while parents can relax with a glass off the winery’s tasting menu.