Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is America’s oldest state park. But it’s far from the only outdoor space visitors and locals alike can enjoy on either side of the border. Niagara Falls and the surrounding villages offer a variety of lush, beautiful parks where you can get some fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of the falls themselves.
When you book a hotel room in Niagara Falls, you’ll be a stone’s throw away from Queen Victoria Park, the beating heart of the Niagara Park system. Don’t miss the Centennial Lilac Garden, Dufferin Islands or the Niagara River Recreation Trail. At Queenston Heights Park you can find the terminus of the Bruce Trail, which passes over the Niagara Escarpment.
Queen Victoria Park
With the Niagara Gorge on one side and the Fallsview moraine on the other, Queen Victoria Park is a long, thin strip of carefully cultivated gardens in the center of it all. Here you can see unique flowers and plants from the Niagara region as well as around the world. Don’t miss the gardens in springtime, when half a million daffodils greet visitors cheerfully. No matter what time of the year you visit, you’ll find delightful hanging baskets, a hybrid tea rose garden and attractive displays of fuchsia, cannas, lantana, coleus and more. Even in the winter, the frozen mist of the falls clings to the trees and shrubs, for a stunning show of nature’s majesty.
Centennial Lilac Garden
If you’re visiting the Floral Clock, you’ll find the lilac garden waiting invitingly on its north side. The Centennial Lilac Garden, which was established in 1967 to honor Canada’s centennial, features more than 1,200 individual plants of more than 200 varieties. Visit the garden in May or early June to get the full experience of fragrance and color.
Dufferin Islands is an excellent location if you’re looking to take a relaxing afternoon picnic. This 10-acre park consists of several islands connected by quaint footbridges and paths. Catch and release fishing is allowed here. During the winter, animated light displays liven up this free park.
Niagara River Recreation Trail
This 35-mile, paved path on the Canadian side of the Niagara River brings you to some of the world’s most scenic countryside between Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The trail is divided into four segments, each of which takes one to two hours to talk at a comfortable pace. More than 100 plaques and monuments relate the extensive history of the trail, which was strategically important to British troops during the War of 1812.
Queenston Heights Park
In nearby Queenston Heights at the top of the Niagara Escarpment, you’ll find Queenston Heights Park. Generations of nature lovers and hikers have enjoyed this historic outdoor space. Queenston Heights Park is also a terminus of the Bruce Trail, a 550-mile hiking trail that follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
If you love the great outdoors, the countryside around Niagara Falls is some of the world’s most beautiful. You won’t regret taking the time to unwind in the area’s beautiful cultivated gardens and parks, or on the Niagara River Recreation Trail.
Queen Victoria Park image by Dirk Ingo Franke at Wikimedia Commons.
Decew Falls image by Suvit Sivanand at Wikimedia Commons.