There are good reasons why Niagara County can lay claim to being Western New York's
playground, particularly on a summer holiday weekend.
If you haven't already firmed up plans, here are some ideas I recommend:
Go to a free concert
Those of us of a certain age have a rare chance tonight to see the odd man out when Styx
performs these days. Dennis DeYoung left the band several years ago, but will perform in a
free concert tonight at Ulrich City Center in Lockport. He's expected to hit the stage about
DeYoung did lead vocals on "Lady," "Babe," "Grand Illusion," "Suite Madame Blue" and the
band's rock anthem, "Come Sail Away." He split with the band in 1999 over musical and personal
difference, but a performance last year at the Seneca Niagara Casino shows he still has the
power to belt out tunes and command an audience.
On Saturday, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run DMC will open for Our Lady Peace for the Hard Rock
Cafe's Saturdays at the Falls concert Series.
The free show starts at 6 p.m. on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls, adjacent to the Hard
Rock. The Seneca Niagara Casino will host a fireworks display in the neighborhood about 9:40
Why fight the international bridges this weekend when you don't have to, particularly when it
comes to taking a wine tour?
I recommend one of two clusters of wineries on the trial, but not both in the same day.
Moderation is a good thing anytime, but particularly on busy holiday weekends.
The first is the collection of wineries along and near Lower Mountain Road in Cambria. They
include two spots that focus on dry reds and whites: Arrowhead Spring Vineyard and Freedom Run
Winery. I'd suggest starting with them. Try the Dry Niagara at Freedom Run and the Meritage at
Arrowhead Spring. Then you may want to hit Eveningside Vineyards nearby, but make it a point
to end at Niagara Landing Wine Cellars on Van Dusen Road, the oldest winery on the Niagara
Wine Trail, with a large, eclectic selection. Those with a sweet tooth will love the place,
particularly the port and Chocolate Dream wines.
Another group of wineries includes some new spots in Newfane. Start with Schulze (try the ice
wine), Black Widow and Chateau Niagara, and plan to end your trip at the Winery at Marjim
Manor on Lake Road, just east of Olcott, which specializes in fruit wine, including a high-end
apricot that's worth the trip for a tasting all by itself.
There are 14 wineries up and running on the trail. For a map, hours and more info, visit
Again, why fight the international bridges? Unless...
If you've never crossed the Rainbow Bridge on foot, this is a great weekend to do so. It only
costs 50 cents to walk or ride a bike across the span, you tend to avoid the ginormous lines
of motorists, and, if you plan a nightfall crossing, you can take in a fireworks show, any
night this weekend, with the waterfalls themselves and a glittering skyline as a backdrop.
I did this last year on July 4. Just after nightfall, you could take in fireworks displays as
far north as Lewiston and as far east as Hyde Park in the Falls. It was spectacular.
If you cross the the Canadian side two or three hours before nightfall, you can easily hit
Clifton Hill, including the Hard Rock Cafe, where you can have a beer on the patio, and the
Hershey's store, where it's almost impossible to leave without a chocolate-covered strawberry.
You can spend an hour or two and fight what should amount to a reasonable amount of foot
traffic in Customs. You'll need a passport or enhanced driver's license to cross, even on
Before you set out for the Falls, however, a word of warning. You may need to hunt a bit for a
place to park, it'll be really busy, and the lines likely will be outrageous at the Maid of
the Mist and Cave of the Winds attractions. Save those for another time, preferably a weekday
just before or after the summer tourist season.
One spot worth the walk on the U.S. side is Luna Island, a small spit of land that splits the
American and Bridal Veil falls behind the Cave of the Wind entrance in Niagara Falls State
Park. Another is Three Sisters Islands, on the southeast corner of Goat Island.
Wilson Harbor, Lockport canal cruises and a walk along the canal in North Tonawanda are other
fine choices this weekend.
Any other suggestions or recommendations?
-- News Niagara Editor Scott Scanlon