By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The “small towns” of Niagara County — and more specifically the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum right here in North Tonawanda — are making some waves in the tourism industry after being named one of the top seven U.S. family destinations for 2013 by the ABC Travel Guides for Kids.
ABC has been publishing travel guides geared toward children for approximately eight years as a way to get youngsters interested in family vacations and to point out kid-friendly stops along the way, founder Matthew Rosenberger said.
“The idea was for there to be children to have their own guide. It helps them learn the alphabet and gives them fun activities to help keep them occupied and get them excited about the trip,” he said.
While there’s no ABC travel guide for Niagara County, Rosenberger said he still wanted to highlight the region as a top family destination ... and not just because of the falls.
“We really try to identify and promote areas that people wouldn’t normally think of so a lot of people may recognize Niagara Falls as a tourist attraction or a spot to visit but they wouldn’t necessarily identify Niagara County’s attractions and activities,” Rosenberger said.
“We have to get the word out. These places are dependent on people making them a destination and not rushing over to the flashier and more built-up Canadian side (of the falls). (People should recognize) the history and culture we have surrounding us on the U.S. side.”
Michelle Blackley, communications manager at Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, showed Rosenberger and his crew around the county to promote it as a family-friendly destination.
Being included on the list “shows that this is a world-class destination and that we’re certainly more than the falls,” she said. “From adventure to history, to things like the aquarium and the carrousel museum, there’s so much for families.
“I think so many people have Niagara Falls on their bucket list and they come from all over the world. A lot of people may not know there are actually four regions to the county,” Blackley added.
Rosenberger’s list mentions some specific towns in the county and the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum as one of the highlights.
“There’s so much more to do than just Niagara Falls,” Rosenberger’s listing for Niagara County read. “Visit small towns like Lewiston, Lockport and North Tonawanda (home of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum) and create unique and memorable experiences for your family. Visit Old Fort Niagara and the Niagara Power Project Power Vista Visitor Center to understand the power and importance of the region. Pick your own fruit at Becker Farms but be sure to save some to top your frozen custard from Hibbards. The Barton Hill Hotel and Spa is a great lodging choice when visiting the region.”
Rae Proefrock, executive director of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, said she was delighted and surprised the location was included. She hopes the mention will bring more visitors to the museum when they’re in town visiting the falls.
“I think it’s a very unique site that you can’t find in most of the rest of the country, especially because it’s a site of interest to children and families where they can learn and play together. It’s an authentic site that hopefully young people will appreciate,” she said.
The fact that children can learn about the lumber city’s influence on the amusement ride and but also take a spin on the horses themselves is what makes it so kid-friendly, Proefock said.
“When you have a good time somewhere, when you can play and enjoy yourself especially as a family and also learn something at the same time it becomes a complete experience,” she added.
Niagara County came in sixth place on the list of seven locations, which also includes Washington, San Diego, Boston, New Orleans, Miami and Hershey, Pa.
For more information, visit www.kidstravel
guides.com.• Washington • San Diego • Boston • New Orleans • Miami • Niagara County • Hershey, Pa. Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.