The Discover Niagara Shuttle takes visitors to 18 destinations along a 13-mile stretch between Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara—free of charge. It runs every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The round-trip journey takes around two 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 mindful of their schedule.
Discover Niagara Shuttle route, north to south:
- Old Fort Niagara
- Youngstown Center
- Stella Niagara Preserve
- Lewiston Waterfront
- Lewiston Center
- Lewiston Academy Park
- Niagara Power Project Power Vista
- Castellani Art Museum
- Whirlpool State Park
- Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
- Oakwood Cemetery
- Niagara Arts & Cultural Center
- Aquarium of Niagara
- Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
- 3rd Street Entertainment District
- 3rd & Old Falls Street
- Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center
1. Old Fort Niagara
One visit to Old Fort Niagara and you can see why this spot at the mouth of the Niagara River was strategic gold.
The fort was vital to military success, controlling access to the Great Lakes and resources in frontier. Fort Niagara was occupied by French, British and American forces during its complex 300 year history.
Old Fort Niagara hosts special events throughout the summer, featuring major battle reenactments.
There is a fee to enter.
2. Youngstown Center
Youngstown is a quiet village located at the mouth of the Niagara River where it meets Lake Ontario.
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.
3. Stella Niagara Preserve
Stella Niagara Preserve, managed by WNY Land Conservancy, is the largest privately-owned, undeveloped tract of land along the entire length of the Niagara River.
It’s the perfect spot to enjoy beautiful and rare wildlife along the walking trails.
4. Lewiston Waterfront
Enjoy a walk along the waterfront or to take a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour. There are a few riverside dining options, including The Silo, pictured above.
If you chose to walk from this Discover Niagara Shuttle stop to the next one at Lewsiton Center, know that there is a steep hill coming from the waterfront.
5. Artpark State Park
Artpark inhabits 150 acres overlooking the Niagara River Gorge.
This is the only state park dedicated to the arts. The park website says it all: “…dedicated to presenting the finest in performing and visual arts programs; including world-class amphitheater rock and pop concerts, interactive public art installations, outdoor festivals, gallery exhibits, art and theatre workshops, summer camps and more.”
Please note, both the Empire Pass and Golden Park Pass are not accepted at this location.
6. 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. with excellent options for shopping and dining. It’s why we chose Lewiston as one of our favorite 3-Day Getaways from Rochester, NY.
This stop is about a .5 miles east of (and uphill from) the Lewiston Waterfront stop.
7. Lewiston Academy Park
Academy Park hosts the annual Niagara County Peach Festival and summer farmers market. There is ample parking here, plus restaurants, making this a great starting and ending point for your trip.
8. Niagara Power Project Power Vista
The Power Vista, offering hands-on activities for all ages, has free admission, free parking, and is open year-round.
Look down over the powerful Niagara River from the observation deck.
9. Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University
Castellani Art Museum, the largest resource for the visual arts in Niagara County, offers free admission, and is open only on weekends.
From the museum’s website, “Armand Castellani, founder of the regional supermarket Tops Friendly Markets, and his wife Eleanor began collecting artworks by contemporary artists in the second half of the twentieth century. Grounded in their original private acquisitions, the collection has grown to include over 5,000 works of art including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs: dating from the 1850s to the present.
Check out the Niagara University campus map to find the museum (#22 on the map) if you’re starting your day here.
Niagara Falls, NY
10. 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 300+ stone steps and leads you along rivers-edge trails connecting near-by Devil’s Hole State Park via the Niagara Gorge Trail.
11. Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
The region’s Amtrak Station is the perfect starting point for those visiting without cars.
The center brings to life stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls.
There is an admission fee to visit. Freedom Conversation tours are included with the price of admission.
12. Oakwood Cemetery
Oakwood contains many outstanding examples of funerary art including obelisks, sarcophogi, and beautiful statuary.
The landscape is lush with mature plantings and trees, many dating from the earliest time of the cemetery.
13. Niagara Arts and Cultural Center
Housed in the former Niagara Falls High School, there are multiple galleries, and a mix of visual and performing arts programs and programming to enjoy.
14. Aquarium of Niagara
The only aquarium in Western New York!
Although relatively small, they do have a fun daily schedule. The aquarium specializes in rescuing sea lions and penguins.
There is an admission fee. There’s also a fee for parking which you can avoid by parking your car near one of the other Discover Niagara Shuttle stops. (hint hint)
15. Niagara Gorge Trails and Schoellkopf Elevator
The old Discovery Center is the trailhead for miles of hiking trails, with guided Niagara Gorge hiking tours offered mid-May through October. If hiking is on your must-do list, be sure to check ahead because the trails are closed periodically for maintenance.
Take the elevator down-down-down to the river’s edge at the bottom of the Schoellkopf Power Plant Ruins Site.
16. 3rd Street Entertainment District
This is your stop if you’re looking for restaurants, shopping and public art.
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.
17. 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.
18. Niagara-USA Visitor Center
Saving the actual waterfalls 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 Discover Niagara Shuttle 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.
They are incredibly helpful 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.
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 Waterfront and hike the Niagara Gorge Trail along the river to Horseshoe Falls. Take the Discover Niagara 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 fireworks part of your itinerary, you’ll definitely be parking closer to the Visitor Center. 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.
Which is your favorite Discover Niagara Shuttle stop?
Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.