The Discover Niagara Shuttle takes visitors to 15 destinations along a 13-mile stretch between Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara, free of charge!
The round-trip journey takes around 2 hours if you’d like to simply enjoy the ride. Otherwise, you can hop-on and -off at any stop, no ticket required. Just be aware of their schedule! You can see exactly where each of the 4 shuttles are on the app or website.
Pick a place to start
Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility or to park. The Niagara Falls Aquarium charges for both parking and admission. Depending on your activities here are a few possibilities to start your journey where parking is free:
- For a leisurely experience, start at Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University, head south to Niagara Falls Visitor Center and catch the Scenic Trolley (small fee) around Goat Island, stopping for a picnic near Three Sisters Islands. Take the shuttle north with a stop in Lewiston for dinner.
- For more of an adventure, start at Lewiston near Artpark and hike the Niagara Gorge Trail along the river to Horseshoe Falls. Take the shuttle north, grab a shower and swim (small fee) at Fort Niagara State Park. Enjoy dinner in Youngstown before looping back to Lewiston.
- With kids in tow, start at the Power Vista for a high-energy experience. Take the shuttle south to Aquarium of Niagara. Head south to Old Falls St, then north and let them nap-it-out before hopping off at Lewiston Waterfront for dinner at The Silo. Looping back to your car, I bet there’s a great view of the river at sunset from the Power Vista observation deck!
- If you are making the Monday-Friday 10pm Fireworks part of your itinerary, you’ll definitely be parking closer to the Visitor Center, though Friday night may be an exception. The Discover Niagara Shuttle picks up visitors at each location roughly every 30 mins from 9am-6pm, and on weekends, roughly every 45 minutes from 6pm-midnight. Start your day there wandering around Goat Island and Luna Island. Jump on the shuttle for a 2-hour loop around, with dinner in Niagara Falls before the show.
Here are the 15 stops along the Discover Niagara Shuttle route, from North to South:
1. Old Fort Niagara
Learn about the fort’s history, the significance of its position, and the many times it has changed hands over centuries of epic battles. Old Fort Niagara hosts special events throughout the summer, featuring major battle reenactments. On any given day, there will be small-scale demonstrations, tours, military music, and other living history activities. Park admission fee.
2. Youngstown Center
Enjoy walking along Main St. and Water St. featuring locally owned shops and restaurants, and Niagara River access. Youngstown is also home to Niagara Jet Adventures. Falkner Park is a beautiful pocket-park on Main St. with a splash-pad for the little ones, and is the center of activities for food and music festivals and summer recreation.
3. Lewiston Waterfront
Enjoy a walk along the waterfront or to take a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour. In Artpark State Park, enjoy a major concert, temporary art installations, or an easy stroll along several walking trails that head toward the river.
4. Lewiston Center
Lewiston is home to some of the best, nationally-recognized food and musical festivals in the region. Enjoy a stroll through the village along Center St. and discover why Lewiston is one the of ten best small towns in America! This stop is about a .5 miles (12 minute walk) east of the Waterfront stop.
5. Niagara Power Project Power Vista
Engage with fascinating history, science and operations of hydroelectric power using giant screens, hands-on activities and a seat-gripping virtual reality ride. Look down over the powerful Niagara River from an observation deck. The Power Vista is free and open year-round and is a great experience for all ages!
6. Castellani Art Museum (Niagara University)
Experience over 5,500 pieces of mostly modern and contemporary art while enjoying a quiet respite from the heat and the crowds. Free admission.
7. Whirlpool State Park
There are 2 levels: rim and gorge. The rim/street level offers views of the whirlpool and rapids from high above. The gorge is accessible by climbing down a staircase of stone steps and leads you along rivers-edge trails connecting near-by Devil’s Hole State Park via the Niagara Gorge Trail. Regarding the stairs, rumor has it they are much safer now that they were redone in 2016. There may not be rails, and it may take about 5 minutes to climb down them, but I’ve not yet verified this myself. Park admission fee.
8. Niagara Falls Train Station and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (opening 2018)
The region’s Amtrak Station is the perfect starting point for those visiting without cars.
9. Oakwood Cemetery
Like most older cemeteries (est. 1852), Oakwood is set among 100-year old trees in a park-like setting with over 22,000 residents. Free admission.
10. Niagara Arts and Cultural Center
The former Niagara Falls High School classrooms have been converted into art studios and community-use facilities. Three galleries, three theaters, outdoor venues, a sound stage, and a radio station allow for a mix of visual and performing arts programs and programming.
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11. Aquarium of Niagara
The kids will love this aquarium, especially since it is the only one in WNY! Although relatively small, they do have a great daily schedule. They specialize in rescuing sea lions and penguins. Plus they have a touch-tank, for an additional fee of course.
12. Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
The Discovery Center is the trailhead for miles of hiking trails, with guided Niagara Gorge hiking tours offered mid-May through October. Inside the center are interactive displays, a theater and a rock climbing wall. Fees are bundled in with the Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass, but last check indicates it’s about $3 to enter without one.
13. 3rd Street Entertainment District (3rd & Ferry)
This area is an emerging hub of local restaurants, boutiques and public art. Walking south on 3rd, Art Alley features 19 murals from area artists; the perfect backdrop for selfies or fun family photos. The alley is located between Zaika Indian Cuisine & Bar and Delhi Darbar Indian Cuisine.
14. 3rd & Old Falls St
This stop is .3 miles (5 minute walk) from the 3rd St Entertainment District stop above. The area is a 3-block family-friendly space for games, performances, seasonal concerts, outdoor movies, festivals and special events.
15. Niagara-USA Visitor Center
Saving the falls for last seems strange, but this is the reason most people come to the area and needs little introduction! The Visitor Center is the hub for anything relating to the falls. You can connect here with the other trolleys that run through the town of Niagara Falls, NY and Goat Island. This stop gets you right next to the American Falls at Prospect Point, Niagara Adventure Theater, Niagara Falls Observation Tower and Maid of the Mist. It’s also located next to the pedestrian bridge connecting to Goat Island, Three Sisters Islands, Luna Island, Cave of the Winds, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
I will say this—the Visitor Center is a super-crazy convergence of tourists! If you can avoid the visitor center and do your research and ticket purchases online, you will be able to enjoy the falls for all their serenity. Alas, they are there if you need them with brochures (download or request an official brochure), itinerary planning (like Explorer, Adventurer, and Thrillseeker), hotel and restaurant recommendations, public restrooms, wi-fi, and air conditioning! If you plan to do a few of the major activities, like Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist, go for the Discovery Pass to save a few pennies.