Chasing sunshine in historic Lewiston, Youngstown & surrounding neighborhoods
The Niagara River Region is known worldwide for its beauty, majesty, and tourism. What comes to mind for most when they think of Niagara is its namesake falls. However, insiders know that Niagara Falls is only a part of what makes the Niagara River Region great. Nestled within the communities along the Niagara River are towns and villages filled with charm, history, culture, and an abundance of hometown pride.
Located approximately seven miles north of Niagara Falls, the Town and Village of Lewiston welcomes visitors year-round. Organized in 1818, the Town of Lewiston was controlled by France and Britain before becoming part of the United States. With its prime location on the Niagara River, Lewiston served an important role in our country’s expansion and development. During the mid-1800s, it is believed Lewiston often served as the last stop on the Underground Railroad, providing refuge for escaped slaves seeking freedom across the Niagara River in Canada.
Today, Lewiston’s storied history can be viewed in monuments honoring its past, including the Freedom Crossing Monument on N. Water Street, the Tuscarora Heroes Monument on Portage Road, and Lewiston Veterans Memorial Circle of Honor in Memorial Park. Frontier House holds the stories of its honored guests, which include 19th-century presidents and historical figures.
In addition to its historical significance, Lewiston is a gateway to the Niagara Wine Trail and is a vibrant social center for the Niagara River Region.
Special thank you to UpWard Niagara Chamber of Commerce for helping us feature our local towns! www.upwardniagara.com.
Lewiston is a hub for many of the Niagara River Region’s festivals. The spring and summer months hum with activity with the Smelt Festival in May and the Lewiston Artisan Farmers Market opening for the season in June. In July, GardenFest draws crowds to historic Center Street, the heart of the Village of Lewiston. The fun continues in August with the Lewiston Jazz Festival and Lewiston Art Festival.
In September, the Niagara County Peach Festival sets up shop in Academy Park for three days of peach-filled desserts, fair food, entertainment, and carnival rides. The Harvest & Hops Festival is a fall favorite. In late November/early December, the Lewiston Christmas Walk welcomes families for a festive holiday celebration with old-town charm.
Lewiston resident, Lewiston Love co-owner (@LewistonLoveNY on Instagram), and Historical Association Secretary, Leandra Collesano describes holidays in Lewiston as a sight to behold. “A drive down the twinkling lights on Center Street on a December night is nothing short of magical,” Leandra says.
No matter the time of year, Lewiston is a prime shopping destination. Trendsetters head to Research and Design on Center Street for the latest women’s fashion and beauty products. Take a short walk down to Cheri Amour for jewelry and gifts. Round out your shopping spree with The Rose Hanger Shop. For spice lovers, Sgt. Pepper’s Hot Sauces, Etc. has a wide selection of sauces, spices, cheeses, snacks, pickled items, and more. Find that rare home treasure at Antique to Chic or add a little color to your life at The Plant Shack. When you’re done pounding the pavement, find more unique wares at LewistonLove.com, the online home of the former Center Street brick & mortar shop.
Restaurants to visit include The Silo on N Water Street, open May through September. An old coal silo famously featured on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, The Silo is known for its steak sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, and more. Be sure to try The Original Haystack, a ribeye hoagie loaded with melted cheese and toasted hashbrowns, or try it as The Footlong Haystack. When you’re finished, walk over to The Silo’s Caboose for ice cream.
The Brickyard Pub & BBQ on Center Street is a favorite for its beer, bourbon, and smoked meats. For Italian fare, Casa Antica is an excellent choice. In the mood for tacos? Hit up Taquito Lindo, a family-owned taco shop with a traditional Mexican vibe. Apple Granny whips up classic American fare and is the perfect spot to enjoy a patty melt. Griffon Brewery and Gastropub on S Water Street offers expansive views of the Niagara River, an extensive drinks menu, elevated pub fare, and live music on the patio. To indulge your sweet tooth, delight in a cupcake at The Village Bake Shoppe or pastries at Di Camillo Bakery.
Collesano’s insider take: On a Friday night, linger over mahi-mahi at The Spicey Pickle. Afterward, enjoy drinks with friends at Brewed & Bottled Craft Beer Shop or Battle Flag Tavern. On Wednesday through Saturday nights, Carmelo’s Coat of Arms is a must-visit. Try the soft-shell crab in late spring or the pan-seared filet mignon with blueberry gastrique. On a Saturday morning, listen to birds chirp as you stroll down Center Street and grab a bite for breakfast at Orange Cat Coffee Co (order the corned beef hash!).
Looking for an outdoor adventure? Artpark State Park is home to award-winning concerts overlooking the Niagara Gorge, unique festivals, and family-friendly camps and events. Take a walk at Stella Niagara Preserve. Devil’s Hole State Park provides adventure with hiking, fishing, and exploring. Kiwanis Park and Toohey Park offer fun, modern playgrounds for kids.
Before you leave, take a guided boat tour of the Niagara River with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, then make your way north to Youngstown for another day of learning and fun.
Located seven miles north of the Village of Lewiston, the Village of Youngstown bears an equally rich history and awe-inspiring topography. Positioned at the intersection of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, Youngstown played a prominent role in our nation’s history. Keeping that history alive, Old Fort Niagara is a historical gem that welcomes visitors year-round.
The awe-inspiring French Castle dates to the 1700s. Built by the French to guard its interests in North America, Old Fort Niagara played a prominent role during the colonial wars. Its position at the mouth of the Niagara River was crucial for access to the Great Lakes and westward expansion. Today, the Old Fort offers daily tours where visitors can stand within its great walls and feel the weight of its history.
In addition to historical significance, Youngstown serves as a hub for shopping, dining, and recreation in the Niagara River Region. The Youngstown Yacht Club holds many events throughout the summer. Every July, the Club hosts the CanAm Challenge & Great Lakes PHRF Fest, a sailing contest between American and Canadian boats. During the summer, the Youngstown docks on the Niagara River are the place to watch sailboats and sunsets. Youngstown is also home to Porter on the Lake Summerfest in July.
The riverside village has several retail shops, a small grocery store, dining options, and farmers markets. Youngstown Marketside offers fresh produce, meats, and products from farms throughout New York State. Stop at the Youngstown Village Diner for breakfast. Enjoy a slice at Grandma D’s Pizzeria or Main Street Pizzeria, or grab a late-night bite at The Ontario House aka Stone Jug, an historic inn and tavern serving the Niagara Frontier since 1942. Somewhere on Blairville Road draws in diners with comfort food and live performances. Bandana’s Bar & Grill on Lake Road is a must-try for its casual ambiance and innovative menu. Dine inside or order food to go. Try the Jamaican jerk chicken—served with sweet potato fries and banana aioli—and have a picnic lunch on the grassy knoll at Fort Niagara State Park. On a clear day, you can see the Toronto skyline, and if you listen closely, you may even hear musket fire from a demonstration.
Fort Niagara State Park boasts exquisite natural beauty along with family-friendly amenities. Take a walk along the sandy shoreline or enjoy a secluded hike on its nature trails. Kids enjoy the playground, pool, and waterslide. Nearby Joseph Davis State Park is perfect for fishing, beautiful river views, picnics, and disc golf. Surrounded by trees, a visit as fall leaves change color is unforgettable.
Take in one of our spectacular sunsets we have year-round that paint our waterfront and skies from fiery red and deep purple to soft pastels.
Finally, every fall, the streets of Lewiston and Youngstown serve as the course for the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon, which welcomes athletes from across the globe. During the event, Youngstown is also the starting place for the Hospice Dash 5K.
For those visiting the Niagara River Region, Youngstown has several drop-off and pick-up stops on the Discover Niagara Shuttle, a free shuttle service offered May-October, providing transportation from Youngstown and Lewiston to Niagara Falls. No matter when you go, your visit to the Niagara River Region is sure to make an impression that will last a lifetime.