What to See and What to Skip in Niagara Falls

For thousands of visitors, action on the casino floor can rival the drama of the Falls. But if you're traveling with the kids, casinos won't be on your itinerary, so you'll be glad these creature-friendly destinations are close by. At the Aquarium of Niagara, watch penguin and shark feedings throughout the day and, for a nominal fee, feed Pacific and Atlantic harbor seals yourself; the sea lions get plenty of attention during their daily shows inside the 100,000-gallon pool. And at the Butterfly Conservatory inside the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, "ooh" and "ahh" as more than 2,000 exotic butterflies flap daintily through a tropical rainforest setting.

Revisit History, Appreciate the Falls

A greater appreciation for the significance of the Niagara Falls area in America's timeline can be found by visiting some of its many historical outposts. Take Lewiston, N.Y., where the Falls started about 12,000 years ago, before their sheer power eroded southward through solid rock. This is also where the cocktail was purportedly invented (by a pub owner who used the tail feather of a male bird, or cockerel, to stir a gin-based blend) and where, in the mid-1800s, many freedom-seeking slaves found the very last stop on the famous Underground Railroad.

History buffs will also want to travel the 13 miles from the Falls to Old Fort Niagara, in Youngstown, N.Y. This fort played a key role in the attempts by French, British and U.S. forces to take control of the Great Lakes area in the 1700s and 1800s; today, it features historical fortifications and archaeological collections. Just like parts of Lewiston, Old Fort Niagara has been designated a National Historical Landmark.

Gabe Saglie is senior editor for Travelzoo, which selected Niagara Falls as one of its Top 5 WOW deal Destinations for 2013. For deals on Niagara Falls hotels, vacations and activities, check this out.

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