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Need help planning LA to Buffalo trip in July.

Need help planning LA to Buffalo trip in July.

Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 06:44 PM
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Mizrahi
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Need help planning LA to Buffalo trip in July.

I need help from all you east coast experts out there.
We (myself, husband and two kids 5 and 15)are planning a trip to the east from Orange County, CA to go to a family reunion in Scranton area for the weekend of the 4th of July. We'd like to fly into Buffalo or another airport besides NYC and plan a vacation around the area. I originally thought about Philly with all the museums etc, but my son has this obsession with Canada and is dying to go to either Montreal or Toronto, so then I thought of Niagara Falls. I'd love suggestions on what the kids might enjoy- (what your kids have enjoyed)and hotel rooms. The Marriott Fallsview has come up alot. Is there enough there to keep a family entertained for a few days? Anyone know of an interesting places in between?
Thanks in advance for you help. I'm a California kid who hasn't spent much time in the east, so I feel a little lost.
 
Old Mar 24th, 2005, 10:27 AM
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Hi Mizrahi! There are so many things to keep your family entertained. Buffalo/Niagara airport is the closest to Niagara Falls. It's only a 20 minute drive. Depending on the traffic and time of day, you can get to Toronto in 90 minutes from NF.

I love Buffalo and think it's greatly underrated; however, with two kids I think Toronto is a much better choice. However, if you do want to spend time in Buffalo, I'll be glad to give you recommendations.

Keep in mind that Niagara Falls in July will be VERY crowded, but what isn't around July 4th? You'll want to stay on the Canadian side. I can't give you a hotel recommendation because I never stay there. (I'm actually going to be staying in NF overnight for the 1st time next month)! You'll find a wealth of info. about hotels on the Canadian boards. Niagara Falls itself is very honky tonk with t-shirt shops and hokey museums and an Imax theater. It's all stuff your kids will probably love. There's the Maid of the Mist boat ride, Journey Behind the Falls, etc. I also recommend the White Water Walk down in the lower Niagara gorge. You can walk along the rapids - the strongest in the world. It's awesome to stand next to the rapids looking up at the gorge walls!

http://www.niagaraparks.com/nfgg/whitewater.php

You may also like the Niagara Jet Boat ride (open and closed) - a jet boat that skims over the rapids.

Make sure to walk over the Rainbow Bridge and view the falls from the American side. It's a whole different perspective. You'll want to check out the many vantage points on Goat Island - I like the view from the bottom of the steep hill (there are steps). There are several spots where you can stand at the very brink. It's amazing!

I can't say enough about Old Fort Niagara. It's a very beautiful, historical, and in fabulous condition fort in Youngstown, NY - a very short ride up the parkway from the American side of the falls. It was built around the time of the French & Indian war. The main building, called "the castle" is the oldest building on the Great Lakes. There is a great museum on the grounds. The fort sits within a state park, and the park boasts a couple of really nice swimming pools - one with slides. It would be a really nice break from the craziness of the falls. You can bring a picnic lunch and after touring the fort, take a swim. There is a sweeping grass beach (no swimming) that leads down to Lake Ontario and you can see Toronto's skyline on a clear day.

A lot of people will recommend Niagara on the Lake, which is a short ride along the parkway on the Canadian side. It is a lovely ride, and the small historic town is lovely; however, I think the kids will be bored. The shops and restaurants are geared toward adult tourists who are willing to part with a lot of $$$. I'm not a huge fan of NOTL, but many will disagree with me.

Toronto is a destination in itself, and I will let you do the homework on that leg of the trip. It's a fantastic city for both adults and children.

I hope this helps....have a great time!
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 10:29 AM
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Oh, here's the website for Old Fort Niagara:

www.oldfortniagara.org
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 11:47 AM
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Buffalogirl has given you tons of great info. Here is a bit more on family things to do in Ontario:
- African Lion Safari - located in Cambridge, Ont which is about 1/2 way between NF & Toronto
www.lionsafari.com
- Paramount Canada's Wonderland - just outside Toronto
www.canadas-wonderland.com
- Butterfly Conservatory - Niagara Falls

I also strongly recommend the Jetboat - it leaves from Lewiston on the US side and Niagara on the Lake on the Canadian side. The Cave of the Winds is also spectacular which is a tour on the US side that takes you down to the base of the Bridal Falls (US version's is better than the Canadian version called Journey Behind the Falls).

Finally, perhaps on your way to Scranton you could stop in East Aurora, NY which is about 20 miles SE of Buffalo. It's the HQ's for Fisher Price and the toys are much cheaper than in other stores. You could have a nice lunch there at the Roycroft Inn or at Tantalus, then visit the Roycroft campus. Roycroft is a craft community founded in the late 1800's and there are some nice shops to explore.

As for a hotel in Niagara Falls, most have great views of the falls. The Marriott is nice, as is the Sheraton Fallsview and the Sheraton on the Falls.
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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Marriott Fallsview is excellent - make sure your room overlooks the falls even if it costs more $$ it is worth it. Maid of the Mist boat ride is not to be missed. We ate at a Brazilian churrasco style steakhouse called Copacabana across the street - - it was really good too. Ultimately a day or two is enough at Niagara Falls, or was for us.

In Buffalo, do not miss the Anchor Bar, where the dish now known as "Buffalo Wings" was invented. It is a sort of a shrine at this point, or it was for our family of wing-eaters.

We had a great time in Toronto too; it's about 2 hours away.
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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Great advice coming your way. The Buffalo Zoo is nice, and the Albright Knox musuem is a great art musuem. You have your choice of Great Lakes, Erie or Ontario and both offer great boating, fishing & swimming.
Buffalo also has a fabulous array of festivals all summer long so you might want to plan around one of them. We have an enormous Taste of Buffalo-usually the weekend after 4th of July, and since we have an abundance of great restaurants, Taste of buffalo is always fun.
Anchor Bar invented the wings, but you'll have a grand debate on whose are the best. Aside from our neighborhood favorites, Duff's ( in Amherst & near many hotels) is really popular.
buffalo also has a nice AAA baseball stadium. Its a very affordable way to take your family to see minor league baseball. Our team is the farm team for the Cleveland Indians.
On your way to Scranton (not exaclty on fastest route, but do-able), you might want to stop in Corning and see the Corning Glass works. Its pretty neat.
enjoy your trip.
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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Just want to second Buffalogirl's recommendations of Old Fort Niagara and the American side (for viewing). OFN is a place that our whole family loved. The kids still repeat facts that they learned at the fort and the grounds are a perfect way to spend a day. The drive from Niagara is nice also. While there is not much going on on the American side of the Falls, the gardens are beautiful, the walking trails are extensive, and it is not as crowded as the Canadian side. Hope you have a great trip!
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Old Mar 24th, 2005, 08:54 PM
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Mizrahi
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You guys never cease to amaze me! Thanks so much for all the great advice.

I have a few questions. What is the corning glass works? and...

What do you mean by really crowded. Are we talkin' Disneyland crowded?

Would you all pick Niagara over Philly?

Any particular hotel with a "falls view" seem better for families?

Thanks so much!
 
Old Mar 25th, 2005, 04:27 AM
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Nothing is any crowded as Disneyland! Yes it will be crowded but not so that it will hinder your experience. If you buy your tickets for the attractions in advance, you'll be fine.

For a hotel in the area, I forgot to mention the Embassy Suites. The rooms may be more spacious than other fallsview hotels. There is also a Doubletree that looks like it was designed to resemble an Adirondack Lodge (and it has a spa if you feel the need to escape for a few hours).

I have only been to Philly a few times, but I think that Niagara has a lot more to offer for families. Your 5 yr old may get more out of it than your 15 yr old though. There are tons of virtual reality games, a WWE dropzone ride and a huge Hershey's store.
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Old Mar 25th, 2005, 05:24 AM
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I've never been to Philly, but it's on my list! Only you know if your kids will enjoy more, but if you combine Niagara with Toronto it will make for one awesome vacation.

The kids, especially your teenager, will probably like Planet Hollywood for lunch or dinner.

And yes, around 4th of July, Niagara Falls will be crowded. But don't let that scare you. I can't think of any tourist destination that won't be crowded at that time. Leave the car at the hotel and walk or take the people mover.

Have fun.
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Old Mar 25th, 2005, 05:32 AM
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I don't have time at the to look up their website, but Corning glass works is a famous glass maker. They have an very interesting museum, and you can watch them work blowing glass.

I believe they make Steuben glass!

If you decide on Niagara Falls and want to visit Old Fort Niagara, I'll be happy to send you some buy 1 admission/get one free coupons from the Entertainment Book. Let me know!
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Old Mar 25th, 2005, 06:45 AM
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I'd recommend Niagra/Toronto over Philly, too. Philly is great, but hot and sticky in the summer time. Niagra has cooler breezes and more nature in the scenery.

Toronto has a great science museum, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a pretty nice amusement park. You can watch a Blue Jays game for lots less than U.S. games, too (well, lots less than Boston, anyway). There are some neat-looking boat excursons on the waterfront, although we didn't have time to take one.
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