Set against the backdrop of the stunning Niagara Gorge, the Village of Lewiston is a historic community of one square mile on the Niagara River that prides itself on its walkability.
Center Street is the hub of the picturesque village and a great place to spend the entire day or just a few hours before or after an event. During the popular Lewiston Art and Jazz festivals, part of Center Street is shut down and packed with festivalgoers, artists, musicians and family-friendly activities.
Whether it’s edgy art, popular music, unique dining and shopping choices or a boisterous nightlife, this village has it, as well as New York’s only state park devoted to art and nature – Earl W. Brydges Artpark.
So put on some comfortable shoes, and take a walk around the village – beautiful in any season, but particularly vibrant in the summer months.
This beautiful state park has become well-known in recent years as a hot spot for a full slate of outdoor summer concerts, which will soon feature such acts as Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (June 27), Ziggy Marley (July 19), Blink-182 and PVRIS (July 31) and Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson Aug. 22.
Concert carry-ins? One 2-by-4-foot blanket or one chair; small purse, but no backpack; binoculars, but no cameras; and “yes” to an umbrella. Water? No – buy it inside, same with beer and wine. Food? Must buy it at a booth inside, with plentiful choices.
Advice: Gates open at 4:45 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. shows, but get there early or be prepared to stand in long lines at security checks.
Parking: Artpark has two lots, an Upper Lot off of Portage Road or Lower Lot off of Fourth Street. A $5 parking charge for Tuesday or Wednesday night concerts; $10 for main stage theater events. Find a spot in the village to avoid the bottleneck in or out of the park – just watch for plentiful “No Parking” signs.
Don’t forget the art: Plenty of opportunities to witness – and participate – in the creative process abound, whether it’s the free Sunday music series, “Music in the Woods,” (July 9-30); an array of semi-permanent art installations; or free Family Saturdays (July 8-29).
Not to be missed? “Big Bang” by Plasticiens Volants, and William Close and the Earth Harp Collective from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 2. ($15; $10 for 12 and under).
Food and drink
A wide variety of drinking establishments and eateries await whether you need a quick bite before an event or have time for a leisurely dinner.
In a hurry?
Lewiston doesn’t have fast food but some restaurants are designed to deliver quicker than others. Hit the Spicey Pickle (463 Center St., 754-2044), where your burritos are made to order in front of you.
Visit the Silo (115 N. Water St.), home of the “Haystack” ribeye steak sandwich. Pizza? Favorite’s (781 Cayuga St.) is quick and tasty; Vincenzo’s (742 Center St.) conveniently sells by the slice, as well; and Gallo (800 Center St.) is the new kid on the block with a coal-fired kitchen.
If you can linger
Hungry for some fine barbecue with ample portions or house-rub wings? Try the Brickyard BBQ and Pub (432 Center St.). Stroll next door to the new Brickyard Brewing Company, serving a variety of tasty selections made on the premises.
How about Italian? Casa Antica (490 Center St.) makes a delicious “rice ball” – get it with white sauce. Greek? There’s Syros (869 Cayuga St.). Staples such as beef on weck or turkey club? Head to Apple Granny’s (433 Center St.).
Unique experiences: If you really have time (and a little more money) visit Carmelo’s (425 Water St.) for fresh, creative dining; Water Street Landing (115 S. Water St.), for its spectacular view; or Center Cut (451 Center St.), a premier steakhouse.
To cap off any meal – especially when you’re walking off those calories – a visit to a premier bakery or ice cream shop is a must.
For ice cream or custard, head to the caboose at the Silo on the waterfront, or to Hibbard’s Custard (105 Portage Road), a staple since 1939.
DiCamillo’s Bakery (535 Center St.) has been in the business since 1920 and boasts cookies, cakes, pies and marvelous donuts. The Village Bake Shoppe (417 Center St.) offers cases of sweet indulgence, from cakes and pies to cookie bars.
The Brickyard Pub and adjoining Brewing Company, as well as the Water Street Landing are popular spots to stop before and after events for cocktails, wine or beer, all featuring outdoor patios.
And, speaking of patios, a visit to Lewiston wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Stone House (755 Center St.), a rescued 1820 building with a swanky side patio that features live music, cocktails, wine slushies and an outdoor kitchen.
If cozy, unique and sometimes quirky shops are what you seek, look no further.
A small collection of shops at the corner of Center and Fourth streets offers an eclectic shopping experience, serving up everything from divine grilled cheese sandwiches at Scott’s Art Bistro to something that’ll knock your socks off at Sgt. Pepper’s Hot Sauces.
Four-legged friends are welcome in Grandpaw’s, a mecca for pet items. Pop into Spiritually Rooted for a salt lamp; and Brewed and Bottled Craft Beer Shop for friendly advice and a sip or two.
Stop at Canterbury Place (547 Center St.) for a taste of New England, and Country Doctor next-door for antiques and collectibles, as well as Antique to Chic (536 Center St.). Find spices at the new Spice Harbor (467 Center St.) and trendy women’s clothes at You and Me (467 Center St.) and Soully Created (744 Center St).
Festivals and events
Niagara Wine Trail Wine and Culinary Festival, July 29-30 in Academy Park. Sample Niagara County’s varied bounty at the festival where the trail’s 21 establishments offer tastes and sales. Tickets $25 pre-sale, $30 at door.
Lewiston Art Festival, Aug. 12-13, Center Street. The annual festival boasts hundreds of juried entries, a high-school chalk walk competition and College Alley for aspiring pros. Free.
Northwest Jazz Festival, Aug. 25-26, along Center Street. The music soars from three stages, the lights twinkle as dusk descends, the wine and beer flows. Truly magical. Free.
Ghost Walks: Marble Orchard Ghost Walks, 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sept. 2-Oct. 27, meet in the Peace Garden (476 Center St.). Mason Winfield Ghost Walks, meet at Niagara Crossing Hotel, 7 p.m. Fridays, mid-September through October. There is admission for both events.
Peach Festival, Sept. 8-10, Academy Park. Carnival rides and games, and yes, peach shortcake.
Harvest Festival and Craft Show, Sept. 23-24, Center Street. Holiday shopping.
Christmas Walk, Dec. 2-3. It’s an old-fashioned treat to follow Santa in a horse-drawn carriage down Center Street.
Blue Mondays at Hennepin Park, 7 p.m. corner of Center and Fourth streets. Bring a cooler, snacks and a lawnchair, July 10-31. Free.
Blue Grass Mondays at Hennepin Park, 7 p.m. Aug. 7-28, same as above.
Notable happenings outside the village
The Tuscarora National Picnic is held on the Tuscarora Nation July 8-9 and it’s a chance to learn more about our Haudenosaunee neighbors with music, dance and food.
Chainsaw art at Olde Sanborn Days Arts and Crafts Show, July 8-9 at the Sanborn Fire Company Grounds.
Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 1023 Swann Road, (Barnabite Fathers) features more than 100 life-sized marble statues. Festival of Lights, Nov. 18-Jan. 6, is a delight.