As a kid growing up, Grand Island meant one thing to me: Fantasy Island. And while the iconic amusement park continues to thrill youngsters, there is a lot more to the island than a theme park and the quickest route to Niagara Falls.
Here’s eight fun places to explore on Grand Island.
What better way to see the Niagara River than a guided kayaking tour? Blue Water Marina delivers just that. Led by experts on the history and ecology of the Niagara River, tour-goers will paddle around marshes, see Motor Island and its array of herons and egrets and check out Strawberry Island. It costs about $60 per person for the tour. The larger the group, the less the tour costs.
Cast a line
Almost at the base of the south Grand Island Bridge off of East River Road, Fisherman’s Landing offers a great spot for anglers to cast a line. The space is handicap accessible, and offers beautiful views of the bridge and the river.
Walk where a president walked
Did you know that Grover Cleveland frequented the River Lea House on Grand Island? Located within Beaver Island State Park, River Lea is a farmhouse built around 1873 by Lewis F. Allen. Now run by the Grand Island Historical Society, the home is full of relics and mementos of the island’s past. It offers a great opportunity to learn about the island’s extensive history. Public and private tours are available at no cost. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Go back in time
Walking into Kelly’s Country Store is like stepping into the past. Loaded with antiques, homemade chocolate and candies, the store is also a great place to pick up unique food items or a gift for loved ones. Be sure to check out the beer stein collection (not for sale). It’s really cool.
Take a hike
Natural beauty is on full display at Buckhorn Island State Park. Hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the river and Woods Creek, and opportunities are available for kayaking and fishing. It’s a great place to get away from it all for a few hours. Admission to the park is free.
After Hurricane Katrina wiped out their home in New Orleans, Dick and Jenny Benz relocated to Grand Island, bringing their brand of Cajun cooking to Dick and Jenny’s. Their former restaurant in New Orleans was sold to employees.
Chill on the beach
Whether you’re looking to go swimming at the beach, golf, picnic, or hike, Beaver Island State Park is the place. The park also offers an extensive disc golf course, as well as nature trails and a beautiful lagoon. Admission costs $7 per vehicle over the summer.
Theme park fun
It’s hard to talk about Grand Island, without mentioning Fantasy Island. The Wild West shoot-out was a favorite of mine as a child, and it’s still going. That’s in addition to all the rides and other attractions. Admission is $29.99, with discounts available for seniors and children under 48 inches tall. Children 2 and under are free.