It was a Hayden family tradition growing up to spend some of the best evenings of the summer along the Niagara River in Tonawanda.
My two sisters and I would pile into the backseat of the ol’ 1991 Mercury Sable station wagon, with our bicycles and roller blades in tow. The aroma of char-grilled hot dogs at Mississippi Mudd’s and Old Man River, the two mainstay summer restaurants along Niagara Street in Tonawanda, would be wafting through the neighborhood upon our arrival.
Occasionally, we’d start off the trip with hot dogs (with the works – pass the Weber’s please). But more often that not, these outings were precisely timed around 7:30 or 8 p.m. – just in time for a twist cone and a sunset across the street along the Niagara River.
I recently returned to Tonawanda for an ice cream and a sunset and was delighted that the experience really hasn’t changed much over the years. Old Man River and Mississippi Mudds are still firing up the grill and the soft serve machines. There are some differences between the two spots: Mudd’s has a great second-floor patio, while OMR sells seafood on its back patio. I chose a twist cone with sprinkles from Mudd’s this time around, but you can’t go wrong with either restaurant.
Then I wandered across the street to Niawanda and Isle View Parks, two adjacent public green spaces that straddle the Niagara River. At this point, the river is calm and wide and provides the perfect foreground for a summer sunset. Isle View and Niawanda have miles of uninterrupted walking and bicycle paths and provide sweeping vistas of the river, Grand Island and the south grand Island bridges.
The sunset walk is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable in the area; an ice cream cone and a sunset along the Niagara River in Tonawanda have stood the test of time.