Jake’s job is so glamourous, taking him to places like Utica, Jamestown, and New Rochelle, even Niagara Falls. I know, you’re super jealous. Nothing like a Hampton Inn next to the highway in an area with no sidewalks to really make business travel exciting. Niagara Falls is only two hours away but the days are long, so he stays in town and this time Adam and I joined him for a night.
The state park work is finally finished; the walkways and guardrails look great, even attractive and more in line with what one might see on the Canadian side. I’m so pleased that the architects decided form was as important as function as I feel like this is often missing from our modern tax funded projects. I think of the really beautiful building that is Detroit’s pumping station compared to many concrete utilitarian public works buildings of today. Adam made the short-for-adults/long-for-kids walk from the Sheraton to the falls and Goat Island, all the way to Luna Island, where he leaned against the railing and was, for the first time, really impressed by the water.
As four year old legs are wont to do, Adam’s were tired and we headed back to the hotel for dinner. The newly opened Rainforest Cafe is certainly a draw for children. Adam really likes Red Eyed Tree Frogs, and Cha-Cha, the RC’s mascot was instantly a hit (see our instagram feed @onafullstomach for shots of his enjoyment with that Cha-Cha headband!).
So here’s the list of Do and Don’t:
1. Pay attention to the kids menu: It’s a picture menu that leaves off pictures of french fries and coke products! Adam would choose french fries morning, noon, and night if allowed and this menu made it easy to make other choices. I’m not saying that all the options are healthy, but it’s better than every other kids menu out there. We looked at the cartoon images of each main dish, side and drink and he was able to choose for himself chicken, corn and apple juice and then point and tell the waitress himself as well. For a preschooler this was a great tool to force some better choices, work on manners in a restaurant, and feel a bit empowered. I know, all from a kids menu. They put the light up kid cups on a supplemental menu you can hide from your kid, but he’s going to see other get them and he’s going to ask. Note that they have a smaller version for little guys and consider NOT getting the Icee (I should have asked for juice…).
2. Suck up the prices. My salad at Rainforest was $17. A pretty average salad, while fresh and large, was a little expensive for what it was. But good freakin’ God, the Starbucks is insane. $25 for two egg sandwiches, one coffee, one chocolate milk and a granola bar. We had the same meal a few days later at home for $12. Consider the Sheraton buffet breakfast instead, at least you get more choices and a table.
3. You can get big wine, but not really very good wine. It’s not awful, Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, I drink it on the porch sometimes when quantity needs to win out over quality, and they will sell you 6, 9 and 12 ounce glasses of it.
4. Get a suite at the Sheraton, it’s not a suite with a lock off living room, but there is a dividing wall and the bathroom is located in the bedroom section. You can put a couple kids to sleep in the living room area, and still watch TV, use the bathroom, and make coffee without bothering them. If you have one in a packnplay it will fit in the walk-in closet, allow for a nap or early bed time while the rest of the family hangs out in the living room.
5. Don’t forget quarters for the viewing machines. Just don’t. You really don’t want to listen to that complaint for days.
6. Stay tuned for some new development of the old Rainbow Mall area. Word is hotel and indoor water park will be part of the repurposing of that eyesore. And a Wyndam property is on the list as well. Old Falls Street is beginning to feel family and pedestrian friendly, but the vestages of shabby, old NF are still there (empty storefronts, vacant Rainbow Mall, weird Haunted House, tourist trap stores). It’s changing and while it’s slow, it’s been steady. With an upcoming Blues Festival, Taste of Niagara Falls, and it’s family fun nights I think we’ll see a very family friendly version of Niagara Falls as part of this rebirth.