Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York is just a little over a 2 hour drive and $4.50 in toll fees from where I live in Erie, PA, and it's one of my favorite places to visit. There's plenty of parking at Niagara Falls State Park, but it costs $10 to park at one of the State Park parking lots, and only $5 to park about a block away. On the day before Easter, the weather at Niagara Falls State Park was a beautiful 84 degrees and hazy sunshine, unusually warm for April in these parts. We still needed our spring jackets though because the water was still about 40 degrees and it felt like the air conditioning was running on high whenever we walked close to the Niagara River.
We planned to walk over the whitewater rapids of the Niagara River to the Top of the Falls restaurant for our dinner, which is located at the topmost end of Goat Island, directly between the Canadian Horseshoe Falls on the left and the American Falls on the right. On the way to the restaurant, we stopped at Luna Island, a tiny island on the very edge of the 1, 100 foot cliff that sits between the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. Unfortunately, although all of the snack bars and picnic areas were open on Goat Island, the Top of the Falls restaurant was still closed for the season. The Cave of the Winds tour was open, but people get soaked on the Hurricane Deck at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls, and the water is still about 40 degrees even if the air is 85, so I decided to wait until summer for that tour. And it was still too early in the season for the Maid of the Mist boat tour to the base of the Falls. So we decided to walk the long way around Goat Island on our way to the Hard Rock Cafe on the mainland and explore the Three Sisters Islands before dinner.
After dinner, we walked to Prospect Point on the mainland where the Observation Tower is located. I was disappointed to discover that the Observation Tower closed at 4:30 during the off-season because I get the very best view of the American Falls from there. And I was hoping to hike to the Crow's Nest at the base of the American Falls to shoot some video, which can only be reached by taking the elevator down from the Observation Tower. The next time I go to Niagara Falls State Park, I'll be sure to arrive early and plan for lunch instead of dinner.