I was born and raised in the Buffalo/Niagara region of New York State and was never really proud of it. The truth is, I couldn’t WAIT to leave New York. We’ve been living in Tennessee now for the past 5 years now and I have to say there are finally things I miss about the area (other than my family of course)! Does that mean I’m planning on moving back? No. But, I am finally proud to be from a pretty cool place. Keep reading for some suggestions of pretty awesome places to check out if you are planning a visit to Buffalo and Niagara Falls!
We went to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NOT New York City!
I don’t know how many times since I’ve moved south that people just assume I’m from NYC when I say that I’m from New York. I’ve actually never even BEEN to New York City! Where I’m from in New York there are a lot of tractors and cows, not subways and bright city lights. There are actually a lot of differences between the two areas, but that’s not a post for this blog. I just want to share with you some of the fun things we did on our last trip back “home.”
Southwest is the best.
Southwest has always been my favorite airline to book through. I find their booking is easy to do, prices seem to be fairly decent, and I love the fact that I don’t have to pay for my bags. We never check more than 1 bag per person, so it’s always free for us! Ashtyn hadn’t flown since he was 3 years old so he was excited and nervous. Luckily his Nintendo Switch kept him busy because we were on the plane for over 3.5 hours (we had a stop on the way but didn’t change planes).
I used my Plum Paper A5 planner while we were on the plane. It was nice to use this little planner to keep track of how much we spent while we were traveling, and what days we were planning on doing what! You know how much I like to stay organized!
The Buffalo Museum of Science is one of our favorite museums!
So who would think that one of the best museums I’ve been to would be the Buffalo Museum of Science? This little science museum has been around for a long time and keeps changing with the times. This actually made me a bit sad. I understand how they are trying to stay modern, but some of the charm has been lost in their updates. With that being said it’s still an amazing value! We paid a little over $35 for the three of us to tour the museum at our own pace. There are 4 floors and they are FULL of great learning opportunities (that are also hands on and fun)! We have a lot of memories at this place, which is maybe why we love it so much. But as an educator I also feel like this museum is AMAZING for kids of all ages!
Buffalo is on one of the Great Lakes… Lake Erie to be exact.
Have you heard of the Great Lakes? I sure hope you have! Lake Erie is the only beach I knew of growing up. I had never gone to any Florida beaches with white soft sand… it was dark grey sand with lots of rocks in it for me! But you know what? I loved it! I actually missed the sound of seagulls when I moved to Tennessee and didn’t realize why! It’s not unheard of to have seagulls buzzing around your head at McDonald’s where I used to live and who knew I’d MISS that?! Ashtyn wanted to go see this “famous” beach and him and his cousin had a lot of fun in the murky water. At least you don’t have to worry about sharks (although his cousins think you do)!
Niagara Falls is one of my favorite places on the Earth.
My husband and I started a tradition of going to Niagara Falls every year when we were dating. He even proposed to me in front of the Falls! When Ashtyn was old enough we took him there and continued the tradition. So, it was only fitting that this trip we go to see the Falls again. My husband is “over it” at this point, but I could look at those Falls forever. The sound of the water is so relaxing to me. I do have to say that the area has gotten a little shady since we first started going, but it looks like they are doing a lot of construction and building as well. The Canadian side is always the side that gets the credit, but I love Niagara Falls, NY!
Fun things to do near the Falls
If you are looking to spend some money quickly, you can always head on over to the Seneca Niagara Casino. There are tables and slots there for any budget. They also have some cute little shops in there as well and the hotel side is beautiful. They also have live shows on occasion, such as concerts, comedy acts, WWE shows, & more!
One of our favorites places to go used to be the Niagara Aquarium. It was around $45 for the three of us to tour the 1 1/2 floor Aquarium. I felt like there used to be so much more there, but maybe it just felt that way. I was a little disappointed in the exhibits because many of them seemed to be the same thing just in different tanks. The penguin exhibit is very entertaining, but for the most part it just seems a little high for what you get to see. My husband made a great point that it must cost a lot to feed all the penguins, seals, & sea lions though.
Fun things to do at the Falls
The main attraction at the Falls though… is THE FALLS. I mean you can really spend a whole day just walking around the area and the parks. The Old Falls District has a lot of shops, places to grab a bite to eat, and fun things to do. We really enjoyed playing all of the free games on Old Falls Street. They had Ping Pong, Connect 4, Shuffleboard, and Corn Hole. There were also LEGO Boards and chalkboards along the walls as well.
If you are looking for MORE to do there is always the Maid of the Mist boat tour & the Cave of the Winds walking tour. We chose to do the Maid of the Mist this time since Ashtyn was so little and didn’t remember the last time we did it together. I think it’s a must do and totally worth the money! It was near $50 for the three of us, but so worth it in my opinion. The boat gets you up close and personal with the Falls and you really get to feel that mist!
Places to eat
There are SO many places to eat. There are lots of carts, little shops, and also many chain restaurants as well. Of course I’m always drawn to the places that remind me of Disney or Universal and sure enough there are BOTH there! They have a Rainforest Cafe (Disney) and a Hard Rock Cafe (Universal). We went to the Hard Rock Cafe since they had a gluten free menu and it was delicious.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton Niagara Falls while we were visiting. The location was great, but I have to say it wasn’t the best Hilton property I’ve ever stayed at. When we entered the lobby it seemed really fancy, but looks can be deceiving. The pool was not up to my cleanliness standards (the hot tub was cleaner), and the air conditioning didn’t work properly in the room. But the WORST part was the SUPER squeaky bed. It was so loud that it kept waking everyone up. They came to fix it the next day, but the front desk seemed irritated by our complaint. After we left the general manager credited our Honors account with points as an apology, so I guess we’ll have to book another trip somewhere!
Buffalo and Niagara Falls are so much more than what I just wrote!
There is really so much more to Buffalo and Niagara Falls then what I just wrote in this blog post. There are SO many things to see and do… who would have thought right? I mean New York City gets all the credit for being a top tourist destination, but these two smaller cities are better (in my opinion). I guess that’s not fair since I’ve never been to the Big Apple, but I’ve never really wanted to go there either. I think that when you live in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls region that you take all of those things for credit or think that they aren’t that big of a deal. But, you’ve got a good thing going for you. Get out and enjoy it! And if you don’t live there… well, you should totally plan a trip and let me help you plan it!