Escape to Niagara, USA Day 3
I told you previously that we purchased Discovery Passes for Niagara Falls State Park. At the gate the tickets are $45 for adults. If you buy on line you save about 5 dollars per person. You have to print out your ticket and bring it to the ticket booth. If you can’t print your voucher, wait and buy tickets at the gate.
The discovery pass includes:
- Maid of the Mist
- Cave of the Winds
- One day trolley use
- Niagara Aquarium
- Niagara Discovery Center
- Niagara Adventure Theater
For the things I would want to do again, I can purchase individual tickets and go cheaper. I would not do it though. You are given a booklet with your passes and several coupons when you get the discovery pass. Then you don’t have to stand in another line for tickets, once you have the discovery pass. It is a time saver when Niagara is busy. Saving me waiting in several long lines is worth the pass in my book.
Another thing to consider when the elevator operator gave us the tip to ride the Maid of the Mist on Friday evening we went straight to the dock. Had we not purchased the discovery pass we would have missed the ride because we would have had to trek back to buy the ticket.
Cell Phone Alert
We stayed on the USA side, but when you go to certain areas your provider may warn you that you are in Canada and additional charges apply.
Also, the area is wet. Take precautions with your phones and cameras.
Three months ago I injured my knee at work. I am also overweight and not in stellar physical shape. There are lots of steps and ramps at Niagara. Most of the walking is relatively easy. There are plenty of places to stop and rest. (Trust me, I found them all.) Most of the attractions have handicap accessibility, but I cannot confirm they are easily accessible, some areas have steep inclines. We did not explore those because the inclines bother my knee more than steps I can take slowly. The steps are not very steep at the park either. They are mostly designed with a short flight of stairs, a landing and more stairs. Once more, even with some physical limitations I could navigate the park. (FYI, my knee is achy, but so are my legs and feet. No swelling or new pain.) You will have to decide for yourself what you can handle. Just be warned, it is a lot of walking.
I have to reiterate my safety items.
- Hydrate – little headache this morning cause I didn’t take my own advice.
- Hold on to your kids
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Be patient. There are people from every culture and walk of life. A little kindness goes a long way.
Breakfast of Champions
We decided not to test the powers that be…we went to Dunkin’ Donuts. You cannot go wrong with coffee and the breakfast pastry of your choice.
Cave of the Winds
It’s raining today. Steady rain. This makes no impact on a trip to the Cave of the Winds. The lines are non-existent because people are waiting for the rain to subside. Perfect time to go.
Handicapped, people with strollers or limited Mobility can still enjoy the Cave of the Winds, though you may not be able to access all platforms. An elevator takes you down to the gorge and stairs wind through the bridal falls. At points you can reach out and touch the falls. The hurricane deck is a flight or two of stairs up. The water pelts you. You get sandals and a poncho for a reason. Even geared up my Capri pants were wet about 2 inches above the knee. It was an awe inspiring experience.
After the Cave of the Winds we rode the trolley full circle around the park. It was perfect to dry out some and see scenery. With the rain keeping people away it was a pleasant ride.
We all know tourist areas have outlandish prices. Look for the clearance area for seasonal shirts, hats and such. One of the State Park stores had items 2 for $17. I bought a t-shirt and hat for $19.99 and a photo/history book for $7.99. Sweatshirts range from $39.99 to $49.99, I wanted one but not at that price. Coffee cups, key chains and post cards are prices you would expect. If you go to the Cave of the Winds you keep the sandals you are issued.
More Sights around the State Park
There are few locations that you walk too just for the beauty of the view. The first was Luna Island. This is near the Cave of the Winds complex. It’s a gentle grade walking down, then a small bridge across the rapids to the Island. This is the viewing point between the Bridal Veil and American Falls.
From Luna Island you have a view straight down to the Cave of the Winds area. (Might make you a little dizzy.)
The second location is Three Sisters Island. The natural pools and vegetation make this a beautiful place for photos. This area can be reached by walking or there is a trolley pick-up point. The islands are in the midst of the rapids. Bring your camera to the three sisters.
We were craving a good burger. We hopped off the Trolley at the Visitor’s Center. We had seen ads and heard great reviews for a place called Flip burger. (http://www.flipburgerinc.net). The menu is limited. Burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers. They also have hand cut fries. Prices for menu items run from $4 to $9. Toppings for burgers and dogs are free and plentiful in selection. Sodas and water are bottled and about $3.
This was a great meal. The burgers are fresh meat. Service is quick but not instant as your food is prepared fresh to order. See my hubby’s burger below.
We shared a large Cajun fry. This photo is after we ate quite a few. The shop also has an ice cream parlor if you want something sweet.
Ending the State Park Visit
After walking so much the last few days we were exhausted. We had seen everything at the Falls so we happily departed back to the hotel. We originally planned on going on a jet boat tour of the rapids, but we will wait till next time. We are both a little sore and we have been wet from rain and the Cave of the Winds since this morning.
Ways to Save Some Cash
Next time, we are packing a cooler with sandwich meat and snacks for the State Park. Restaurants are expensive close to the falls. Water is $3 per bottle around the park. We could have saved some had we thought of this earlier, but with our family this will be a must.
We could save money by just purchasing Maid of the Mist and Cave of The Winds tickets, but as I mentioned earlier the convenience of the discovery pass was worth it to me. (I also like the seals and sea lions at the Aquarium.)
I like the hotel we are staying at; however, I would love to be in a pool or hot tub right now. I may have to evaluate other options for that reason alone. Other state parks have pay for use swimming pools but the are 20 miles away. I also found an amusement park with a water park on Grand Island, the cost there was $28 per day. (http://www.martinsfantasyisland.com) We were too tired for an amusement park but by boys would love this added to the trip. (There is a $1 toll for the bridge to Grand Island.)
Time for Dinner
You cannot come to the Buffalo, NY area and not eat some wings.Do not come to Niagara without going to Griffon Gastropub.(http://www.griffongastropub.com) We wanted wings before we left the area, but I also wanted some seafood of some sort. This place is well rated on Yelp! We had Boom Boom wings and the Blue Crab Dip to start. For our meal we both chose other appetizer items but added the Smoke Gouda Shells and Cheese. I had the lobster crab cakes. They are served over a simple grilled pineapple salad. The cakes were creamy and full of meat and the spice on the pineapple left me wanting that as a side dish. Joe had the Ahi Tuna Tostadas. Because he is a good husband he shared. This was amazing. The tuna was perfect and fresh. The salad served under it had Asian flavors and balanced perfectly. The smoked Gouda Shells and Cheese is in a class by itself. It was rich and creamy. You can tell whomever devised the menu took great care. If I lived in the area this would be a weekly stop. Prices are moderate. You can get meals for $10- $28 dollars. Appetizer items run $6-12 and the pub menu is very budget friendly.
The Griffon has 50 beers on tap. If you like beer or want to try local and regional favorites this is the place for you. You can get a flight (6 ounce) for $2 and up depending on the type of beer. Pints and 22 ounce offerings range from $5 to $9. My only criticism is there no local wines are on the menu. Most all the beers are regional and local, that is what they take their pride in.
At the last minute we splurged on dessert. I got the Blondie dessert. This is not your grandmother’s blondie…
If you have ever had dirt cake, it reminds me of that but elevated to a mountain top. This is a good way to end my night.
Service here made up for yesterday’s disasters. Jordan took care of us. He was funny, personable and in general made dinner entertaining. The place is small so call ahead and make a reservation. Another kudos…my husbands beer was a little short of a full glass, they sent out additional to top him off, it was not much short because my husband did not notice it. Again, the staff and chefs obviously take great pride in this place. DO NOT MISS THIS. Wonderful service, laid back atmosphere and food that will leave your mouth watering.
Wrapping Up The Trip
This is our last night. Tomorrow we will be on the road home. It’s been a great getaway with my husband. We needed the time away. We are tired but it is the good kind of tired.
Three nights was a perfect time frame. We were not hurried and could do everything we wanted. If you are going to both sides, Canadian and American, be advised of delays crossing from country to country.
On our way home tomorrow we plan to stop in Eighty-four, PA. We are going to look at the Tiny House models. Our goal is to be tiny in 3 to 5 years, this will be our first opportunity to see tiny upclose and personal. This should be interesting.
Good night and come to Niagara…it’s beautiful.