Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Trip to Niagara

Well we survived!  The Griswolds, I mean the Bretons, took our first real road trip and it was a true success!

This post is going to take me quite some time between the downloading and editing of pics and videos and keeping everything in the right order, while trying to remember every detail so I can write it hear and have it forever.


We took off at 6:30 on Friday morning and made a quick pit stop at Heavenly Donuts for Daddy and Mama's coffees.  We left town at about 6:45am.  Rob started playing "Holiday Road" by Fleetwood Mac.  That is the theme song for the Vacation movies and although I enjoyed singing along, I got a lump in  my throat.

We decided on this trip because I had such a great time when I was a child and did this road trip with my family.  Sometimes it just hits you.  We are the next generation and it made me sad- call me crazy.

Right before leaving, I had to get my brief Friday Favorites post up and while I was writing, I  had to capture a picture or two of Pidge with her "case suit" (that is what she calls her suitcase).  I apologize for the blurry photos but I wanted you to see how excited she gets that she has her own suitcase and she knows when she is all packed up that it means we are getting ready for some fun.


Our first stop was at a rest area along the NY Thruway in Update NY.  Diana had been bugging us to stop at a Starbucks for one of the new Unicorn Frappucinos and guess what?  They had them!  She got Eva all revved up and before we knew it, we were buying them for both of them.  They were SO excited!



I tried a sip and it tasted like a combination of cotton candy and cherry to me- very sweet- okay but the perfect flavor for kids I guess!

We then drove all the way to the Utica NY area and hopped off the Thruway to try and find a place for lunch.  (Breakfast all weekend was on the fly- I packed up plenty of options and it saved us both time and money)

We kept driving and driving through Utica, trying to find a cute sandwich shop or pub.  We were coming up with nothing.  As we turned around to get closer to the Thruway, we happened upon a little Vietnamese hole in the wall.  I know it could've been a disaster but in our case, it was a hidden jewel.
We had lunch at The Lotus Garden.
Check them out HERE
Though they don't have a traditional website, they update Facebook and the reviews online are incredible!  We can see why
The service was outstanding- our waitress- one of the owners was so friendly with the kids and so helpful.
It was our first time eating in a Vietnamese restaurant and it was an awesome experience.
The soup was outstanding- that is their signature- we also enjoyed splitting some noodles and the prices were incredible too!  We consider this one a hidden gem for sure!  We had to snap a selfie outside before hopping on the Thruway again :)

The wonderful soup


Driving through Upstate NY, we couldn't help but notice how green the grass was everywhere.  We enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful farms too.  These few pics do not do them justice but I needed to snap all the green-ness!

After a few more bathroom breaks at various rest stops, we arrived in Niagara around 4pm.  It wasn't too bad getting over the boarder and it was so fun to drive around the falls!

We checked into our hotel- 4 Points by Sheraton right on Fallsview Blvd.  Though the staff could've been more knowledgeable about the area, we found everyone to be very friendly and the location was very convenient.

Not one person of the hotel staff could tell us where the restaurant was where we were eating that night- it was odd.  So after we checked in and changed, I set my trusty GPS on my phone and we walked on over to Canyon Creek which is inside Casino Niagara.
The building with all of its shops and restaurants and casino happenings, reminded me so much of either Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun both in Connecticut.

Dinner at Canyon Creek was awesome!
We really enjoyed the funky pub fare and of course, our view of the falls!
Check them out HERE 

Rob and I shared the lobster guacamole, the avacado bacon salad and the beef sliders- all so delicious and awesome price point!  The girls enjoyed their chicken fingers and fries :)









I enjoyed their the views, the selfies with my little fam and the wine list of course :)






I always like to try something that is known in the area I am in.  This wine was a local wine made in Niagara.  It is Vineland Estates' Un-oaked Chardonnay and it was delicious!

Rob has the same theory...with beer



 After dinner, we walked down to one of the observatory areas and then headed to a fro yo shop before calling it a night!  We had to take some selfies in the elevator- Diana said she wanted me to prove to everyone that I actually rode the elevator all weekend- big step for anxious me!




Once we were back in our hotel room, Pidge insisted on sleeping in the bed with Diana and NOT in her pack n play- this was a big step!  She actually slept in the bed each night we were away and she loved it...crossing another bridge.

 and this picture you probably won't be able to make out but I snapped it because we were laughing so hard.  Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE the Hallmark Romance movies at Christmastime.  One of the new ones this past year was actually on when we went to bed so we kept it on and watched it.  Here is a pic of the screen because I needed to capture this memory of course!  Too funny!

We were up bright and early but not our usual early!  It was actually nice to sleep in until 8am.  We fed the girls breakfast and walked across the way for coffee at Tim Horton's. Rob insisted on drinking this coffee while we were away as it is one of Canada's most popular brands (like Dunks is here).
and then we walked down to the falls.  It was just breathtaking.  We took a few shots while we were looking at all of the beauty.







We found the weather to be very spring-like with a chill each morning so dressing in layers was key.  We started each morning in jackets/vests and were in our tee shirts by each afternoon!





 We then walked down to Hornblower Cruises.  This is the company that runs the boat cruises into the falls!
Check them out HERE

When I was a child visiting with my family, we took the Maid of the Mist ship.  This one still runs too but it is on the Buffalo NY side and more of a hassle to cross back into the U.S and then cross back into Canada later.  So we stuck with Hornblower this time around. 
We were all excited except for Eva- I think she was pretty scared and she did not dig the cute rain ponchos- she thought we were all crazy ;)
We snapped a selfie (or tried to)
and then the Hornblower company got such a great shot that we had to buy it.  Yes the background is fake but it works right?

 and on the boat, we experienced beautiful views, lots of spray (so Mama kept that hood on of course!) and lots of pushing (no joke!) There were several rude tourists who pushed us out of the way multiple times- it was shocking and still a great experience but just bizarre!
We got some beautiful shots...



























After our boat ride, Pidge seemed to be happier again.  We snapped a few pics along the flowers and on our way up to Clifton Hill.







Once we climbed the hill of Murray St and turned onto Clifton Hill, we decided to stop for a snack at Hard Rock Cafe- and it might have been an excuse for Daddy to check out some music memorabilia.  It was fun!

Well this one may have been for me ;)







and the coolest picture from this spot...
After Hard Rock, it was time to give into the demands of the littles, and hit the Hershey Store where they both indulged in delectable cupcakes :)


After that, we continued up Clifton Hill.  We planned on hitting the famous Sky Wheel (Ferris Wheel) but it was being repaired :(
There were really no other rides, so we let Diana pick which attraction we would take in and she picked the 
Movieland Wax Museum of the Stars.
Check them out HERE 
We really enjoyed seeing the wax figures of various movie stars, singers and even President and First Lady Michelle Obama :)
























and Eva's new favorite star, "Tom Hank", as she calls him :) Precious!
After the wax museum, we ventured back to our hotel.  We walked over 5 miles this day!  Awesome exercise!
The girls were begging us to go to the pool so we obliged and they had a ball.



After swimming, we showered up and got dressed for dinner.  This night, we had our special dinner planned at Watermark.
It sits on the 33rd floor of the Hilton Hotel and overlooks the falls and the entire city.  The best part of this experience, in addition to the food and service, is getting to see the falls all lit up at night.  We couldn't take great pics through the glass but the girls really enjoyed seeing all of the colors.
We had an excellent dining experience here too!
Check them out HERE 
I was proud of our girls- they were really well behaved and I might add that two different couples at two different restaurants complemented them...proud Mama here!
A few shots....

















and a quick video!

After dinner, we were ready to crash!
I took a picture of the t.v screen because Diana thought it was so hysterical.  Do you have a crackling fire channel where you live?  We do here but usually only around Christmastime.  In Ontario Canada, it was a daily option and every time I turned the channel to the picture below, Diana would howl...hysterical!





This was the day Mama was really excited for!  We were on our way!


We were heading over to Niagara On The Lake.  It is known as Ontario's Wine Country.  I didn't know what to expect and was only hoping to hit one winery but I was able to see FOUR different ones and do brief tastings at each.

1st was Inniskillin
Check them out  HERE
They make some amazing wines and some of their ice wines are award winning!












Next was Reif Estate Winery
Check them out HERE
I really enjoyed their Rose and a Cab that I tried





and next was Peller Estates Winery- incredible!
Check them out HERE




 I loved everything I tried here!  The bonus of this stop was that the girls got to run around on the ground here with Daddy.  They picked dandelions and Diana did a bunch of tumbling.  Some tourists thought she was part of the entertainment and started taking her picture and video'ing her...hysterical!





The next and final winery stop was Two Sisters Vineyards- probably my favorite.
Check them out HERE 




Diana INSISTED on coming in with me during this stop and it was amazing.  The wonderful hostess let her do a grape juice tasting while I did my wine tasting...priceless

and I love this picture

I felt so fortunate that I got to make these little pit stops during our adventure.  After Two Sisters, we headed into downtown and hit up a sandwich shop I had read about!
It is called Old Town Goodies and they are known for their awesome sandwiches as well as their unbelievable collection of games and puzzles!

Check them out  HERE
They did not disappoint.  Rob had the Reuben, the girls each had a grilled cheese and I had the "Clock Tower Club" which consisted of Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese and Raspberry Chipolte Jelly- SO GOOD!
We took our sandwiches and walked two blocks to the park- a beautiful park that sits right on Lake Ontario- it was gorgeous!  We camped out and enjoyed our lunch...and yes snapped a few pics of course!








After relaxing for a bit, we walked back to the down town area and looked in the shops, picked the girls up a souvenir stuffed animal and grabbed an ice cream cone at the famous "Cow's"

Then we headed back to the hotel for a "quick nap" and each day we did this only Mama and Eva napped while Daddy and Diana stayed awake- classic!
Daddy then took the girls for one last quick swim before we headed out to look at the falls at night one last time.
We took a tram to the bottom viewing area which was fun.  The falls are just as beautiful at night too!



On our way back to our hotel, we bumped into another family from town- so fun!  We stopped to talk and of course had to take a group picture!



Yesterday morning, we packed up and hit the road by 6am!  It was our travel day and other than a few stops at rest areas, we drove straight through and made even better time on the way back.  It took us only 8 hours even with our stops.


 We agreed it was an awesome family vacation full of memories and laughs and such good QT!

3 comments :

Cara@HomespunKitchen said...

Looks like an amazing trip, such wonderful memories made... I love the side eye pic of Eva, too cute!

Tara @ Mommy In A Nutshell said...

Thanks for the recs! It looks like you guys had a great time. I'm glad to see that your girls enjoyed it. My boys are 3 and 2 and it's hard to find outings that suit kids that young. The restaurants you picked look fabulous!

A Gal Named Al said...

How fun! This is giving me all sorts of feels - I have pictures that my Popo took of me with my Nana standing in front of that lookout point on the falls! I love your pink top at your first night's dinner- such a pretty color- and the picture of the 2 sisters at Two Sisters- priceless!

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