This is Part II of the Niagara Parks piece. We are so fortunate to be living in one of the most beautiful areas on earth. We hope you enjoy the photos and learn a bit more about Niagara and its parks and then come on over to inspect them for yourselves.
Queen Victoria Park
Queen Victoria Park is the park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, where people go to see the Falls – all three – The American Falls, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe. It is maintained by NPC – the Niagara Parks Commission, and is truly lovely, in itself.
This exquisite pond is located directly across from where one views the American Falls.
In the same vicinity, is the Oakes Garden Theatre. This is a great place to sit and have a picinic, take wedding photos, or to walk around and check out the gardens.
Nestled in behind the theater, and through a gate, lies a secret garden. Yes, really. Many visitors miss this gem.
And, here I am, (one of the two chicks) sitting at a restaurant right next door, called the Secret Garden. I honestly can’t give a review of the menu, as I’ve only had drinks on the terrace, but the link is here, http://www.secretgardenrestaurant.net/
Back over on the American side, one really must see Fort Niagara. The Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario at this juncture. There is a lighthouse, the Fort, the River, The Lake a swimming pool, picnic area, snack bar and more. It’s a great place to spend the day with the family.
The Fort Niagara Lighthouse offers tours and a gift shop.
There is an old road that follows the river and makes for a great walkway, with beautiful views along the way.
You can even stop and take a moment to reflect.
Public Dock – Youngstown, NY
Just down the way from Fort Niagara, are the Youngstown Public Docks. we like it there. When you’re at the Fort, you can see sailboats emerging from upriver, and coming out into the open waters of Lake Ontario. But going to the Docks, you can see these boats up close at waters edge. It’s also kind of handy if you happen to have a boat. 😉
Lewiston’s Waterfront Park
At the river’s edge, in Lewiston, downriver from Niagara Falls and upriver from Youngstown is a quaint little park. Lewiston has their docks down at the water below, but up some steps and at the end of Center Street is this park. The Silo Restaurant is there, picnic tables, a couple of bench swings to watch the sunset over Canada. One of our favorite things are the spectacular statues by sculptor, Susan Gessler.
Back up the hill, on Center Street lies a quiet little nook, behind the main buildings. It is a peaceful place with flowers and sculptures and a table to play chess on. A small oasis during a tour of the historic town of Lewiston.
Lockport Cave Entrance/Lockport Canal/Town of Lockport Nature Trail
Alright folks. You got me. Have you ever been someplace and don’t really know where it was? I googled until my eyes crossed and then called the Lockport Library where a very kind research librarian helped me. (Heck, they live there and don’t know what it’s called.)
The Erie Canal runs through the town of Lockport and there are trails meandering all around the canals, here and there. There are walkways and ruins, and woods and hiking and picnic tables, oh my! In the midst of that is an attraction called the Lockport Cave and Underground Boat ride. Near the entrance is a park-like area. We choose to call it a park!
There is the famous ‘upside down’ railroad bridge. It’s an interesting story:
There are all kinds of photo ops, with ruins and scenery and historical buildings. Such a fun place to go!
Hyde Park – Niagara Falls
Hyde park is New York State’s largest park aside from Central Park in Manhattan. It has a lake for fishing and boating, bocce ball, tennis courts, a golf course, a swimming pool and a baseball stadium. We take walks quite often through this park, and it’s one of our favorite ways to exercise. With the holiday weekend upon us, it is also good to mention that every year, they have an impressive fireworks show over the lake for the 4th of July.
Niagara has a treasure trove of parks and green spaces, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed touring it with us! Stay tuned for part three…
The Niagara region is rife with vegetation and life. It’s beaming with beauty and verdancy. So much is accessible to the public for viewing, some in a natural state and some in more manicured park lands.
Here is a quick overview of a few of the Parks Niagara has to offer, featuring Devil’s Hole, Whirlpool State Park and Niagara Reservation State Park.
Devil’s Hole State Park has been a great source of Inspiration for our family. With it’s changing moods, with the seasons, diverse paths and trails, it seems to always present something for each of our tastes. Mom likes the above trail and the creative opportunities a stroll affords. The rest of the family likes the hiking down the cliff to the water’s edge: destination ‘wild water’ and unique rock formations.
No pictures of the lower path. Sorry. Everyone was too busy having fun! You’ll just have to come and experience it for yourselves.
And on a practical note, there are picnic tables, so bring a lunch.
Whirlpool State Park and Devil’s Hole are ‘next door’ to one another and accessible via a trail that runs along the top of the gorge. It is not a difficult connection, but it is not easy either. If you are looking for an easy walk, the Devil’s Hole trail is the easiest. Whirlpool’s has a hill you need to navigate and the connection between the parks has a stony and hilly trail.
Whirlpool Park has a lovely view of the Whirlpool, below on the Niagara River and of the Aero car that crosses the gorge, over the Whirlpool, from Canada to Canada.
We would be remiss if we did not turn the spotlight toward Niagara Reservation State Park. A constant beauty, showcasing the Falls, renowned world over, this Park is the number one destination of all tourists visiting from across the globe. A four-season reservation, no room for any hesitation, this is the ultimate destination! 😉
When my daughter and I started this blog, a couple of years back, we promised several things as intentions. Obviously, we love featuring Niagara Falls, it’s beauty, seasons, ‘delectabilities’, restaurants, and things to see and do. But this is also a travel blog; for those of you who travel here, to Niagara, but also for our travels too! Far & near!
If you look back, one of the chicks shared her travels to Europe, Venice, Italy and Germany.
Another has shared about places closer, and often within a day’s journey of Niagara.
The Berkshire Mountains are one of these closer destinations. If you intend on a bit of a road trip, and you have some time on your hands, it is totally ‘doable’. The Northeastern USA, including any of the cities of Boston, New York City and Philadelphia can be reached by car, easily within a day’s drive.
The Berkshire’s are to the west (or northwest) of these cities and on the way towards Niagara.
Why I love the Berkshires so much, is not only their beauty, but the unlimited history made so accessible, simply by driving, or stopping at so many of the sites, homes and museums!
The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is simply a ‘must do’! It is a living museum, giving a peek into the past lives of the industrious and innovative Shakers. You know them as furniture makers, but there is more to the story!
The artist in me adored lollygagging along the paths and buildings of Rockwell’s Museum complex.
This is inspiring me to do a bit of painting of my own!
There are so many historic elegant, massive, and intriguing homes to choose to tour. We spent the better part of a day at Naumkeig. http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/berkshires/naumkeag.html We brought a picnic lunch and ate looking over the vast and beautiful landscape. A better location to build a home in the Berkshire’s, would be hard to find.
We loved the niches, corners, eclectic collections, and limitless personality Naumkeag presented.
A great place to have our lunch and take in the pristine gardens and breathtaking expanses.
Nope. Never have seen steps quite like this before…
Perhaps we should have brought egg rolls and chop suey for a snack?
Williamstown is a neat & tidy town, home to Williams College. It is a nice place to stop and see the mix of a college town, historic churches, buildings and B & B’s. We really loved the wide avenue leading to the college.
Pittsfield is the largest city in Berkshire County, offering a mix of old and new, with many amenities available.
If you want a relaxing vacation and you have some time to explore, if you enjoy history and lovely mountain views, then the Berkshires might be for you.
We love to eat well. Or should we say, well…we love to eat!
Western New York enjoys her food and many foodies agree that her everyday eats are really great! She doesn’t have to put on the dog and dress up to put on a good show.
The 2chicks will probably have another top ten favorite restaurants and eateries blog in the not too distant future… because there are so many darn good places to eat around here. We could do a top 100 and get it over with, but that would just be piggish. So we’ll take our time and savor it, and show you around…slowly…on simmer… at 325 degrees, because we’re not in a hurry and like things tender, flaky, and oh so juicy.
(These are not in any particular order, they all serve plain old good food).
1) Red Coach Inn
The Red Coach Inn, which was opened in 1923, is a fine dining establishment in Niagara Falls and right across from Reservation State Park, steps from the Falls. There is a lunch and dinner menu and a lovely veranda outside with quite a few tables. They have an innovative twist on some dishes as well as standard fare, nicely done. http://www.redcoach.com/
And don’t forget dessert!!
2) The Fuji Grill
The Fuji Grill is a chain Japanese style restaurant that has some very delicious food choices, entertaining presentations and lots of fun for the family. Some of the choices are pretty healthy, including vegetarian dishes, brown rice, fish (both cooked and raw) and a variety of other items. Sometimes it’s especially nice while on vacation to have the opportunity to eat healthy! They have a friendly staff and we’ve never left hungry or bored. They have two locations, one in Williamsville, and the other in Niagara Falls.
3) The Royal Family Restaurant
The Royal Family Restaurant has not only authentic Greek style food, but also American, including daily specials. We absolutely love their Open Souvlaki Salad, and the tzatziki sauce is to die for! http://www.letseat.at/royalfamilyrestaurant
Third Street, Niagara Falls, has a nifty little place called the Pizza Bistro. It has authentic brick oven pizza with several interesting choices, salads, soups and daily specials. The Bistro is a cute niche, next door to Wine on Third, which isn’t shabby either! They have a nice outdoor eating space and indoors is stylish and comfortable. It isn’t a tacky pizza joint, but has a bit of panache, and the food is just really yummy!
6) Chu’s Dining Lounge
There’s a Chinese food restaurant, Chu’s on Main Street, Niagara Falls, which is just a little different than the others. For those in the ‘know’, this is a ‘Canadian Chinese’ place. Many Western New Yorkers have been appreciative of the small differences and nuances that the other side of the border has produced in its Aisian Cuisine. A couple of examples would be the hand made egg rolls, which are amazing. They also have homemade “little pillows”in their won ton soup. So, if you don’t want to cross the bridge, but want a taste of this excellent food, save the trip and visit Chu’s. We’ve been fans for many years now. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chus-Dining-Lounge/111669492203391
7) Viola’s Subs
So, we went to the Niagara Falls Italian Festival on Pine Avenue in the summer and decided to do our own little taste-test. We ordered several items from several vendors in order to find which had the best tasting dish, in our humble opinions, and came up with a decidedly number one winner. It was Viola’s Sub’s! This well known sub shop is popular and reknowned for a reason…the subs are delicious! We had the steak and cheese, and they beat out any others we’ve tried, thus far. You really should try one out for yourself and then give us your opinion! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Violas-Submarine-Shop/157132101003133
8) The Lewiston Stone House
The Lewiston Stone House is more like a “wine house’. It isn’t actually even a restaurant, but it’s a fun night out! They have a wide variety of wines, entertainment, even painting nights. They also have a food truck that stops by on certain nights. It’s an outdoor space, so weather needs to be considered and you should always check their Facebook page for the latest “goings on”.
So, grouped with this place, we’ve added the Foodini Food Truck!
The Foodini fare tickles our tastebuds. The Bang Bang Shrimp Po Boy is a flavor festival. The above quesadilla is really nice too! There are different choices written on that board of their’s and there’s always a line-up no matter the festival, concert, event or Wine Bar they happen to park their little wheels. https://www.facebook.com/greatfoodinifoodtruck
9) Mullberry Italian Ristorante
Mulberry Ristorante in Lackawanna New York, (the Southern end of Buffalo) is a restaurant worthy of the ride. Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives featured it, and no wonder! They have a meatball the size of my fist, homemade noodles, and ridiculous layers of lusciousness in their original lasagna. There wasn’t a bite that passed our lips that wasn’t welcome! http://www.mulberryitalianristorante.com/menu.html
Western New York isn’t necessarily known for barbecue, but you wouldn’t know that if you went to Lewiston’s Brickyard. Their slow cooked meats have the “smoke ring” which is an indicator of an authentic smoking process. We particularly love their Brunswick Stew, and the beef brisket is tender and juicy. Their sides are plentiful; you could even choose a shot of Evan Williams Bourbon with their platters (if you dare!)
So with all the delicious choices, what are you waiting for? Come for the sights but let your taste buds have a holiday too!
Western New York has five seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and the season of festivals. Most of the festivals take place from May through October, but there are a smattering during the off season as well. If you come for a vacation, you really should find out which festivals are occurring during the time you’re visiting, and plan to attend at least one, if not more. And you might even want to plan your vacation around the festival(s) of your choosing.
Canal Fest, which takes place in July, is a time-honored gatherings in North Tonawanda, and it has really grown over the years, be sure to check it out! http://www.canalfest.org/
Lockport has an outdoor arts and crafts show in June. They have many vendors, food, and even some displays.
Dave McKenna was one of the vendors at the show. He makes wine cork birdhouses and feeders, which are hand crafted from reclaimed lumber, cedar shingles, and wine corks. His website is www.mckbirdhouses.com
The next festival is one we just love: the Lewiston Art Festival. This would be our pick for one of the best that Niagara County has to offer.
Thomas Paul Asklar is quite a well known artist in the area, and his work is beautifully executed. One of his favorite subjects is of Niagara Falls (and we can understand why!) He does not have a website, but you can reach him at 716-531-2668. Also, his studio is in Lewiston, if you’d like to take a look at his work. (433 Cherry Lane, Lewiston, NY 14092.)
Shawn Kosmala is an incredibly talented photographer, and he takes the coolest close-up photos. He photographs ordinary objects and turns them into works of art. You can visit his website at www.newbeginningsstudio.com and his email address is nontoxicartist@hotmail,com.
The second half of my Baltimore vacation continued along the waterfront. Not far from the National Aquarium is the coolest Barnes and Noble bookstore. It was constructed in a completely re-vamped factory (the above photo shows a building with four smokestacks, which actually houses the bookstore).
These are a couple of pics of the awesome interior! You’ll be sure to want to allocate some time to exploring this place.
Heading towards the Baltimore Science Center and the Welcome Center you will pass the USS Constellation and its museum.
Everybody knows Forest Gump and the famous shrimping duo; and lucky you if you decide to stop in for the view and a delightful berry mixed green salad topped with shrimp!
There are plenty of restaurants and bars and a few shops. I really liked it that there were some ethnic places where I could get my urge for a Middle Eastern shawarma satiated. It was one of those family owned places where they take extra care and make everything from scratch, including the flat bread. The price was reasonable though the atmosphere lacking. There are several of these kind of stops available on the main drag, just down the road from the Cross Street Market.
Many of the older homes of the district are row houses, lots of brick, yet trying for their snippet of individuality. Others are the ‘painted doors and shutters and gates and flowers and everything charming’ kinda places. It does seem that some streets succeed more on the charm level than others.
The next part of the adventure needs be the Federal Hill Historic District. Don’t you love it when cities have quaint pockets of an historic area, still brimming with life and oozing personality? I loved the Cross Street Market where you can get everything from flowers, to chocolate to live steamed crabs or clams (not my cup-o-tea, but every crowd has one). It’s neat and clean and a one-stop-shop for all foods Baltimore.
The end of this trip needed a bird’s eye view to take it all in and absorb the skyline. So up to the top of Federal Hill it was. This is a wonderful place to take photos.
I happened upon a magazine bridal photo shoot and asked if I could take this shot. Too bad I didn’t have the right camera with me…but it’s still beautiful! The bottom of her dress is covered in feathers. Goodness!
After descending the hill and walking back around the harbor, I passed by the World Trade Center where these structural pieces from the NYC tragedy were recovered. It gave pause to reflect on the then upcoming 13th anniversary of September 11th. It also brought to mind the great privilege of freedom we hold dear.
All in all this was a memorable and highly recommended trip.
Back in June, one of the ‘Chicks’ went to Washington DC and visited Baltimore, Maryland as well. You can scroll back and see the blog we did on both. Well, the second ‘Chick’, not wanting to be outdone, re-read that blog and decided to spend some more time in Baltimore, and explore some of the sights she’d heard about.
It just so happens that there is a huge celebration coming up this month of September. It’s the bi-centennial of America’s National Anthem, written in September 13–14, 1814. It was during the attack of the fort that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which became the national anthem of the United States.
I spent most of my time exploring the harbor front area, beginning with the historic district of Harbor East. In the previous blog, the Oyster House was mentioned and attended with some great food pics, this time Kooper’s Tavern was the target and the crab cakes did not disappoint. Unfortunately hunger won and there are no food pics this time!
The National Aquarium is a big draw to the harbor area, which was previously covered, but I explored the surrounding area. There is a lighthouse and an outdoor concert venue, as well as several ships at port, including a ship’s museum. There are also some stores, the best Barnes and Nobel ever, and a four story mall to indulge in. The Maryland Science Center, Baltimore Inner Harbor Visitor’s Center, and an incredible number of places to eat. Many of these are recognizable chains, but some local restaurants, such as Philip’s, stuck it out. When the weather is nice, there’s plenty of opportunity to eat outside, with a terrific view.
As with any larger city there are both good and bad areas, so best know where you are going and a bit about it before you venture out. The Inner Harbor is certainly where many tourists spend a lot of their time, and there’s tons to do there in a well-lit and inviting atmosphere.
I found it interesting that this major celebration was taking place within a few days of my own visit. Tall ships, fireworks, a visit to Fort McHenry and much fanfare would add a new dimension to any already pleasant vacation to Baltimore. The celebration takes place from September 10th to the 16th, 2014.
The Gorge View is a notable landmark in the City of Niagara Falls, offering hostel and hotel accommodations, perfect for the budget-conscious traveler. It came to our attention that the Gorge View recently opened its doors (once again) in the form of accommodations. It was originally an apartment complex, probably built in the late 1800’s. We were given a tour of the building, and found it to be bright, clean, friendly, and intriguing from a historic perspective. There is nothing like a bit of mystery and subtle secrecy to grab ones attention. First we’ll show you a few photos of the building, and then we’ll get into more of the details.
Near the entrance way there is a lounge, adjoining their newly remodeled kitchen and eating area.
Here is a shot of their newly remodeled kitchen area. Very nice!
One of the rooms available for a night, a week, or longer. Simple, but comfortable and clean.
We just love the craftsmanship of the banister and the woodwork throughout the building.
This part of our journey becomes rather interesting. The owner took us into the basement, eager to tell us a little secret. We couldn’t imagine what he had up his sleeve. We downed the stairs and rounded the corner, and were told to look at several features that are not included in your average basement. For one thing, there was crown molding, for another, there was aluminium ceiling tiles. He also pointed out wainscoting around the room. This got our attention, and we speculated as to why these things were there. We wondered if perhaps there had been a business of some kind in the basement. That’s when he pointed out the door with the odd number, including “1/2”- this lead to an “ah-ha” moment for us. “could this have been a Speakeasy?” He gave us a knowing nod, and a grin – it seemed that this was his conclusion as well.
He led us to a separate room, with what appeared to be an eye-level peek-hole. Could this have been the room where they kept their stash of liquor during prohibition? We can just imagine being on the lookout for the “dry agents” that could pop in at any time, and then the bum’s rush, when they actually did come. And how!
After our prohibition escapades, we took a hike up to the roof-terrace to see a spectacular one-of-a-kind view. This was certainly one of the high points of our visit (literally!) and we truly enjoyed the panoramic view before us.
Niagara Falls, USA as seen from the rooftop.
Niagara Falls, Canada.
It was difficult to capture the beauty of the view in our photos, as the sun was setting and the mist was heavy – it hung in the air over the Falls and the city, on this very humid summer evening.
We were able to capture a golden glow as the sun set for the night. It was spectacular! There are firework displays every Friday and Saturday night at the Falls in the summer, and if you’re a guest of the Gorge View, you’ll definitely want to be there to indulge.
So you may just want to check this place out for your next visit to Niagara Falls. #liveNF
Some people have a pre-disposition for the hunt. They love lurking in dark corners, looking under rocks and tree trunks for that elusive find. If you are among the chosen, the few, who consider yourself to be an antique hunter, part of an elite squad who comb the country-side to snatch up that one-of-a-kind doohickey, you will be pleased to know that Niagara is awash with whoozie-whats-its and whatchamacallits.
So whether you are visiting Western New York and desire to make this a part of your vacation plan, stopping over from Ontario for the night, or lucky enough to live here and want to just make an afternoon of it, you will be pleased with the many discoveries waiting here for you.
The Hilltop Country Antiques & Gift Emporium was down the road a bit, and a completely different experience. The store is much smaller, and packed to the brim.
This is a “Mom and Pop” shop, and the purveyors/owners are more than helpful, and very knowledgeable about the goods in their store (and antiques in general). They took a lot of time to help us with particulars. We felt very comfortable and welcome, but not pressured to buy.
Shawnee Country Barns Antique Co-op is another place that we’ve visited on previous excursions. It is a huge setup, with individual vendor stalls. http://www.scbantiques.com/
After a long day of antiquing and gathering our goods, our favorite part of the hunt had to be our number one choice for Greek food in the North Towns – The Olympia Family Restaurant. They have a large and varied menu, but our favorite dish is the Greek Open Souvlaki Salad. The chicken is marinated and tender, and the portion is ample, with plenty to take home.