Located right next to the SkyWheel, classic competition can be had between friends, family or colleagues at Strike Rock N'Bowl, a 14-lane, 10-pin bowling facility. Features include high-definition audio-visual systems, LED lighting, touch screens, and adjustable bumper rails to set game levels for kids and novices. You can also play pool, pinball and other arcade games, and even ride a racing simulator.
If wax museums are your thing (and let’s face it, they aren’t everyone’s…), Niagara Falls is your place. Since 1983, the Ramunno family has been running a rock music souvenir store, while patriarch Pasquale perfected his sculpting technique. The resulting Rock Legends are not to be missed. You’ll discover a one-of-a-kind collection showcasing over 70 excessively famous and lesser-known rock stars, from Buddy Holly through Ozzy Osborne to Slipknot.
So too, on the outskirts of what is less a town than a motley collection of mismatched streets, you cannot help but be struck by the number of abandoned homes and businesses (700+ in fact), often standing alone in vacant lots against a backdrop of monster hotels. The cause is a 50% population drop since the 1960s, and the lack of a realistic recovery plan. You may wonder where the residents of the remaining shacks have gone. You won’t see them, and the people left over seem somewhat tired and worn, as if dependent on the next wave of seasonal visitors to wind them up again.
Niagara is an enigma, a place of paradox. She has dual citizenship, and on either side of the Canadian-American border the chasm between tourists and locals is about as deep as the gorge itself.
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At any given moment you can find all kinds of weird exhibits and activities to pass the time on Clifton Hill, from the famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum to the Moving Theater to limited engagements such as Wigan's Micro-miniatures, a display you can only see through a 400x microscope. How long each attraction holds your kids’ attention is subjective, so you may want to consider discounted flex combo packages. Wizards’ Golf is a climate-controlled, wheelchair-accessible miniature golf course – one of the largest in North America and one of the newest attractions in Niagara Falls. It’s also one of the best. A mystical, intriguing, glow-in-the-dark world of fantasy will enchant you, and no two holes are alike. If you enjoy a great challenge among good company (wizards, trolls, fairies, and dragons), you’ll get your money’s worth here.
In warm weather, both the Canadian and American towns are over-run with sightseers and impossibly crowded. On the off-season, the streets are somewhat bleak, and despite the bright lights and gaudy painted frontage of popular attractions, there is a kind of faded grey emptiness to the in-between spaces. You get the impression that everyone who works at this great pantomime is either unnaturally young or significantly old: the absence of lifeblood in the middle range is striking.
Nevertheless, whatever the weather, there’s always action within the walls of the town’s two casinos. Casino Niagara is slotted into the Crowne Plaza-Sheraton hotel complex, while Fallsview sprawls the length of the downtown mall. With 150 tables and 4,500 slot machines between them, these vast adult arcades excite the senses, day and night. Clearly, cash runs through this town like water, but there is no reservoir. Rather, it rushes over the city like the cataract, and away again, down the river.
There is no shortage of metaphors to describe Niagara – she’s a puzzle constructed of riddles, fashioned from legend, built on hearsay, fuelled by invention, marred by broken dreams. She’s a showgirl without her makeup – natural and artificial, mysterious and obvious, handsome and tiresome. But if melancholy and nostalgia is a mix you enjoy, then drive on down to the waterfall and take a good, long drink.
The author is an artist, writer, and instructional designer with an overactive imagination and too little time. Ceci en est un exemple...
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