Head 25 minutes east of Niagara Falls via Route 31/270 to the Erie Canal town of Lockport, hometown of volleyball. As the story goes, the townspeople used a basketball for the game at first, but broken fingers soon led to the development of a lighter ball. Also said to be a Lockport invention is the fire hydrant—developed by a man whose factory later burned to the ground.
Two-hour cruises of the Erie Canal, highlighted by a trip through Locks 34 and 35, are offered by Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Tours (210 Market St., off Main St., 716/693-3260, May–Oct., adults $14.50, children 5–12 $10). Nearby, the Lockport Canal Museum (80 Richmond Ave., at Locks 34 and 35, 716/635-6250, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily May–Oct.) documents the area’s canal history, with photos from 1812 to the present.
Down the street, the Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride (21 Main St., 716/438-0174, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–Sept., adults $8.50, children $6.50) takes visitors through five flights of locks, industrial ruins, and a 2,430-foot-long tunnel that was blasted out of solid rock in the late 1850s.
Towpath Trolley (www.lockport-ny.com/Tourism/trolley.htm) offers narrated tours to other area sites of interest, such as, The Kenan Arts Center (433 Locust St., 716/433-2617, www.kenancenter.org, free admission) and the Erie Canal Discovery Center (24 Church St., 716/439-0431, adults $6, children under 13 $4) which highlights the role Lockport played in opening the canal through interactive exhibits.
Erie Canal Cruise
Macedon’s Mid-Lakes Erie Macedon Landing is the home marina to Mid-Lakes Navigation (315/685-8500, www.midlakesnav.com) where you can learn to drive one of the gleaming wooden canal boats that await visitors to come relive a bit of history. These simple to pilot boats can be driven by anyone with a few lessons. Guided multi-day tours are also available for those leery of taking the helm.
Accommodations and Camping
Several small campgrounds and a long, long line of motels extend to the immediate east of downtown Niagara Falls along Niagara Falls Boulevard. Among the campgrounds are the 80-site Niagara Falls Campground (2405 Niagara Falls Blvd., 716/731-3434). Among the motels is a 70-room Quality Inn (7708 Niagara Falls Blvd., 716/283-0621, $79–139 d July–Aug., $50–75 d off-season).
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition