The Oregon Trail

One of the most famous sights in the world, the Niagara Falls are a quick trip upriver from Buffalo. They’re not the biggest or most powerful waterfall in the world, but they’re easy to reach and very easy to get up close and personal with. Once you venture underneath the falls on the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride (716/284-8897, $18), or even stand on the brink at Prospect Park or Goat Island, you won’t soon forget the awesome force of the water tumbling in twin torrents. One is 167 feet; the other is 176 feet.

Much to the despair of the tourism authorities on the U.S. side, where the surprisingly postindustrial town has long suffered from economic decline, the best views are across a bridge on the Canadian side, where all the major hotels join the Las Vegas-scale Fallsview Casino Resort (888/325-5788, $165 and up) among a barrage of wax museums, water parks, and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, fronted by a 25-foot statue of King Kong.