Niagara Falls is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in both the United States and Canada, their natural beauty having turned the area into can't miss destination. But amid all the parks, high-end hotels, and award-winning restaurants, there's a weirder side to the falls. From bizarre museums, to flying saucers, to cursed caves, Niagara Falls has plenty of adventure off the beaten path.
Wax figures are usually reserved for only the most famous of public figures, but at Rock Legends Wax Museum, the metal gods get their due. Each of the figures, from David Bowie to Kurt Cobain, were hand-created by Pasquale Ramunno, a senior citizen who doesn't even like rock music. No joke.
Inside the museum you'll find wax likenesses of over seventy rock and roll icons, complete with appropriate music blaring in the background. It's an experience well-wroth the $10 admission.
Tip: Be sure to check out the gift shop, especially if you're a music fan. They stock loads of super hard-to-find rock memorabilia.
If you've never tried poutine, a time-honored Canadian treat, there's never better place to do it than at Smoke's Poutinerie in Niagara Falls. Simply put, the snack consists of hot fries covered in cheese curds that melt under a salty beef gravy. It's incredible, but Smoke's takes poutine even further than the traditional recipe by offering loads of wacky toppings like perogies, chicken chili, Philly cheese steak, corned beef, and more. They even offer vegetarian options, which is unheard of when it comes to poutine.
Ripley's is the last weird in weird museums, but their Niagara Falls location is particularly awesome. Fresh off a spring renovation, Niagara's Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum has reopened with three floors of crazy exhibits, a laser tag attraction, and interactive theater.
Tip: Tickets cost around $25 a person, but if you plan on visiting other attractions in the area, purchase a FunPass and you'll save anywhere from 20-40% on admission to Ripley's and others.
You won't find a better view of the Canadian Falls than the Marriot Gateway on the Falls. They offer special "Falls-View" rooms that peer out over the rushing waters that are easily an attraction in and of themselves, and the hotel's centralized area makes it a perfect home-base for those looking to park the car for a few days and explore on foot.
Tip: For an incredible light-show, book a Falls View room in the winter and watch the ice, lit up by colored beams, come crashing down the frozen falls after dark.
For several years, Nightmares Fear Factory, located on the Canadian side of the falls, has been running an automatic camera that photographs the reaction of spooked people at the split second a car comes crashing through the wall at them. The images have become internet legend, and they regularly post the best ones on their Facebook page.
Don't worry, it's not all gimmick. This is one of the scariest haunted houses in North America, so scary, in fact, that over 150,000 people haven't made it all the way through.
Tip: Tickets run $14 for adults, and you can expect to be in the dark attraction for around twenty minutes. You can bring kids under 12, but we wouldn't recommend it.
Ever had dinner inside a flying saucer? Check that item off your bucket list at the Flying Saucer Restaurant, a kitschy classic diner with an atmosphere straight out of the 60s. Fortunately, so are their prices. Seriously, this place is cheap, and the food is killer, especially for a diner.
Tip: The Flying Saucer Diner delivers to the local hotels, which is perfect for a lazy night after a day of adventuring.
When visiting the falls, it's kind of hard to miss the house that looks like it fell from the sky and landed upside down. Interestingly enough, everything on the inside of the house is upside down too, and you can see it for yourself on a bizarre tour that will leave you feeling dizzy and disoriented from walking on the ceiling.
Tip: At $20 for two people, the price of this attraction is pretty steep. You can walk the whole place in around five minutes, so if you're feeling thrifty, skip the tour and take a few photos from the outside.
Those looking to a little legend tripping while in Niagara need to look no further than the infamous Screaming Tunnel. Once a passageway for farmers to move their animals safely under the railroad tracks, the spooky tunnel is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who died under the thick limestone archway many years ago. To this day, legend says that those who light a single candle in the middle of the tunnel will hear the wails of the phantom girl echo from beyond.
Hidden inside the IMAX pyramid at Niagara Falls is one of the coolest museum exhibits that no one knows about: the world's largest Niagara Daredevil exhibit. The display is full of original barrels, tubes, boats, and other contraptions that carried sixteen daredevils over the falls, and you can even touch them as they learn about their death-defying feats.
Tip: This museum is small, but its one of the best in the area, and it's totally free!
Maintained by Niagara Parks horticulture staff in conjuction with Ontario Hydro, the giant Floral Clock in Niagara Falls is made up of over 16,000 plants and dates all the way back to 1950. The floral design is changed twice each year, in Spring and Fall, and the clock even has custom Westminster Chimes that ring every quarter hour.
Tips: Admission to the park is totally free, and if you walk around to the read of the giant clock, you can get a peek of its internal mechanisms!
Want to see Niagara Falls in the scariest way possible? Do it in a century-old cable car. In operation since 1913, the Aero Car hangs from six thick cables that glide 35 guests safety across the entire gorge, all while the water crashes around underneath their feet. Yeah, it's not scary or anything.
Tip: Be sure you call ahead before you go, as the cars only run seasonally.
Site of one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812, Old Fort Erie is a restored British fort that's a must-see for anyone into history. They offer regular tours and re-enactments, but you're also free to wander the grounds and explore on your own. If you're visiting in the fall, particularly in during Halloween, you're in for a real treat, especially due to the Fort's reputed hauntings. They play it up the spooky tales, offer spiced cider around a bonfire, and even do their own Guy Fawkes burning.
Tip: Tours cost $15 and last around 40 minutes, but keep your eyes open for coupons and you'll be able to gain admission for a little over $10.
Just down the road from the hustle and bustle of happy tourists lies the Cave of the Evil Spirit, a hidden cave with a dark secret that dates back well over three centuries. The Seneca Indians believed that the cave was cursed, and that anyone who entered it was doomed to suffer terrible consequences. Some say that the curse endures to this day.
Feeling brave? You can check it out for yourself, but watch your step, the path leading down to the Cave of the Evil Spirit is treacherous.
If you're staying on the United States side of the Falls, book a room at the classic Giancomo Hotel. They've kept their vintage art-deco look, but updated all their rooms for modern amenities. The best part of the Giancomo, though, is the Sky View Room on the 19th floor. Available to all guests at any time of the day, offers a stunning view of the Falls you won't find anywhere else.
Tip: For dinner, walk next door to Savor, a restaurant run by the students at the Niagara Culinary Institute. You'll get insanely great meals for a fraction of what they'll cost once the students graduate.
Founding Fathers might be one of the weirdest themed pubs in America. Established by former social studies teacher Mike Driscoll, Founding Fathers is stacked floor-to-ceiling with presidential memorabilia. The popular dive offers free nachos and popcorn, a killer selection of local beer, and a great blue cheese burger.
Tip: Trivia on Tuesday nights is the rage, but otherwise, you'll probably find the atmosphere to be nice and quiet, with very few people under 25.
Mississippi Mudds is one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the area, known for serving the best chicken breast sandwich in the state of New York and house-made Louisiana Sweet Fries served with warm honey and butter.
Tip: This is a great place to bring the kiddos, because they've got a fenced-in playground and ice-cream cones.
Several years ago, a man named Isaiah Henry Robertson began some serious renovations on his home. Apparently, God himself told Isaiah that the world was ending and Niagara Falls was where it was all going down, so Robertson got to work turning his house in kaleidoscope of colors, a beacon that might call upon the wandering souls and bring them to salvation. Then, in 2014, the apocalypse came and went. Prophet Isaiah hasn't lost faith, though, and has turned his creation into a tourist attraction that won't cost you a penny.
Tip: If you manage to swing by when Isaiah is home, he'll even "sanctify" your vehicle, which he says will give you safer travels. Hey, it never hurts.
Whether you're visiting the rock gods of wax, investigating ancient curses, or having a beer with the Founding Fathers, there's no reason not to add a little weirdness to your trip to Niagara Falls.