Niagara Falls may be famous for its epic winter chill, but there’s a wonderland of indoor attractions to discover when the temperature dips, too. From world-class shopping and museums to favorites for animal lovers and fitness fanatics, here are 10 top experiences for the whole family to enjoy, no matter the weather.
1. Niagara Climbing Center. Dreaming of the day when you’ll be ready to scale the Adirondacks? In the meantime, pay a visit to the Niagara Climbing Center to test your mettle. The popular facility boasts state-of-the-art climbing walls to test every age and ability, from low-level bouldering for rookies to dizzying heights for more daring adventurers.
2. Escape Niagara. Think of this — Western New York’s largest escape experience — as CSI: Niagara. By cracking codes, solving riddles and unravelling puzzles, you and yours will sleuth your way out to freedom. Your group has 60 minutes in total to escape, so bring your A-game: the clock is ticking!
3. Castellani Art Museum. For any budding Picassos in your family, the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University makes a great day out when the weather’s not optimal (or even when it is!). The gallery’s home to thousands of illustrious works from historical folk art to world-famous contemporary masterpieces, including the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Romare Bearden.
4. Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA. Whatever the time of year, it always seems to be sale season at this premier outlet shopping destination. The 200-store shopping paradise offers something for every bargain-hunter, from the latest kids’ trends to the best outdoor wear. A tip? Buy or download the outlets’ Savings Pass for $5 and access an extra trove of discounts and special offers.
5. Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. A new attraction in the Niagara region, this fascinating experiential museum throws a spotlight on the true-life stories behind the underground railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists who passed through Niagara Falls. Forming part of the New York Heritage Program, the museum aims to inspire visitors to recognize the modern injustices that stem from slavery — and to take action.
6. Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. Located in North Tonawanda, just 10 miles from Niagara Falls, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is a real-life fun factory and America’s last-standing carousel production house. Admission also includes a ride on a gorgeous carousel so the kids can saddle-up on a Herschell hand-carved wooden horse, too.
7. Aquarium of Niagara. Got a nature lover in the family? Allow the Aquarium of Niagara to come to the rescue on a rainy day — literally. This family-favorite indoor attraction is not only home to some amazing wildlife (Humboldt penguins and harbor seals, for example, as well as blacktip reef sharks and giant Pacific octopi), it also acts as a rescue facility for many injured marine animals. Budding marine biologists can even play trainer for a day, getting up close and personal with some of the animals calling the aquarium home.
8. Old Fort Niagara. Lording over Lake Ontario like a Game of Thrones location set, Old Fort Niagara was originally built to protect the territories of New France. Today, it moonlights as a fascinating historical attraction where visitors can step back into the 18th century and learn about life on the Niagara frontier.
9. The World Changed Here Pavilion. If it’s a little too wet or chilly to see the Falls, why not become an expert on them instead? At the interactive The World Changed Here Pavilion, you’ll learn all about the wonder’s natural history, and how Nikola Tesla harnessed its energy way back in 1895.
10. At the Niagara Power Vista in nearby Lewiston, you’ll delve even deeper into the Falls’ phenomenal energy through hair-raising multimedia experiences and experiments. Peruse the 50 interactive exhibits on hydroelectricity and then sneak outside for a bird’s-eye view from the observation deck, which is perched 350 feet above the Niagara Gorge.