Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls, Eh
The Falls were just breath taking. Even if you only walk up next to them and don’t do any other attractions. The strength of all of that water rushing by and tumbling to the ground is just powerful.
Timing is everything but we didn’t really put any effort to finding the perfect time to visit the Falls. However, choosing to go after school starts seems to be a no brainer, if it’s by accident. Our first visit to the falls was right about five o’clock and we were able to park with ease and walk around. Many of our return visits were the same and sometimes, we did not have a line to visit any of the attractions.
We chose to purchase the Discovery Pass even for both adults. The kids were FREE (five and under)! It is cheaper to do this plus you get one day of trolley rides for free. Not that you need this, most of everything is in walking distance. But it was nice to get a ride to Goat Island when it was just me and the boys.
Aquarium of Niagara is really small. It’s perfect for kids who like to take their time and look at things. This is the best place for parking because it’s free and there is an elevated bridge for pedestrians. And there is outside seating for having a lunch.
Niagara Adventure Theater and the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center are wonderful for their history and information. You will learn the history of harnessing the power of the falls for electricity and about attempts to go over the falls in barrels. If you were visiting the falls in one day, it would certainly help to pace the time in between waiting for the other attractions.
The Maid of the Mist is a boat ride close to the falls. And it is breathtaking. Both sides of the falls are in view, regardless of which side you are on, you will get to see them. And, lovely rainbows are being refracted through the mist (knowing the science behind it doesn’t make it any less wonderful). You will get wet but luckily they provide you with lovely ponchos. Before heading out, I googled how to make a waterproof cover for our SLR and found that you can put a zippered plastic baggy over it to help keep it protected. This worked fairly well for our use but I did have a bit of worry in the back of my mind.
Our boys loved the Cave of the Winds Trip the most. Our only line was waiting for the elevator and after that, we were able to visit the waterfall three times. And we got drenched despite having a poncho and lovely free sandals. It was a blast to be silly and wet.
While you are in Buffalo you should visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. General admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for kids 2-16. The day we went it was free. So check out their calendar for any special events. You can purchase tickets to ride the carrousel and other rides. These are only .50.
The museum explains what went into making the carrousel from the start until the modern age. We also learned about the music sheets and how they are punched out. Visiting shouldn’t take too long but it is definitely worth the drive to see the old carousels that are still running.
Cinderella Motel and RV Park
This is a no frills park. We barely had enough space to put our dolly and shared an electric hookup with a neighbor. There is room for a playground for kids, a pool, or anything entertaining but this park doesn’t have these amenities. Its cost is way less than other places of course, so you get what you pay for.
Too close not to take a visit. Just a quick overnight to see what it is like over on the other side. While we didn’t redo any of the Falls attractions, we did get to see the fireworks at night and the falls lit up in different colors. We also walked around the gardens and had real poutine from the brewery Taps on Queen. Our stay wasn’t nearly as long as we would have liked and we didn’t bring the RV because we weren’t prepared for it but maybe next year.
Olde Stone Inn Boutique Motel
We shopped a few websites and this hotel kept coming up. We weren’t really sure if it would make a good place for us to stay. We wound up with hotel by using Priceline.com. While, they weren’t flexible in terms of early check in, the stay was very nice. And the location is not too far from all of the Falls activities. Don’t let the photos fool you when you are choosing your hotel. The price is far less expensive than all of the ‘obstructed’ view hotels.
We know that rural places exist in New York but it’s not in the front of our minds. Instead, we just imagine New York being the city; tall, expansive buildings and little greenery between homes instead of the acres of land and livestock that we encounter in upstate NY.
Cheerful Valley Campground
Twice we visited Cheerful Valley Campground. The first time was intentional but the second was necessary because we had to come back to the area for RV repairs. Both times we were thoroughly satisfied with the stay. All spots are on grass but a lot of them are pretty level. The spaces are large enough to accommodate a large RV and still have room to breathe. There’s fishing, swimming (during the season), a nice playground with a large sandpit and jump pad, and events. We were able to spread out and enjoy our stay.
Women’s Rights Museum
By now, you realize we don’t have a plan. We just go where the RV takes us and hopefully it will work out. Luckily, it took us near the Women’s Rights Museum in Seneca Falls. Cost is FREE and we were able to learn about the Women’s Rights movement and how long it actually took to gain the right to vote. While, it makes sense that Fredrick Douglas would want everyone to have the same inalienable rights, it was good to learn that some abolitionists were also fighting for the rights of women. That fact wasn’t true of all.
Our oldest was inducted at a Junior Ranger here. It’s also a free program but the children are required to answer or complete a few tasks. And there are different difficulties in the questions. Our last visit to a National Park did not leave the impression that a five year old could handle it but with the encouragement of the WRM staff, B was able to complete some questions and be sworn in.
We booked a week in Cooperstown Koa. It was the end of the season and we were able to get a corner spot that overlooked the corn fields. The campground is under new ownership and the pool wasn’t open because they were updating it. But to compensate, they did provide free passes to Glimmerglass State Park. Our boys loved the bounce house and playground, albeit small. And the new owners, they personified customer service at its best. Our boys were collected sticks and they let us know where there was poison ivy. One night, they even gave us fresh corn.
The beauty of this KOA is the location. We had beautiful night views of the sky, which included seeing the Milky Way. It gave me time to use a longer shutter speed and remote control. Our oldest was also able to use his telescope to view the stars. The neighboring farm had a loose chicken that we all were trying to coax out of the brush. And a few mornings we were able to see groundhogs, at least we think they were groundhogs.
Picture life in the 19th century, before electricity, phones or any of the modern amenities or visit the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. The museum has reenactments of what life would have been like including a broom maker, farm animals, and even a carousel. Story time included the book Weaving the Rainbow by George Ella Lyon. The premise is about a weaver who shears, processes, and dye wool for weaving. After the book, the kids were able to dye yarn using Kool-Aid and the heat from the sun. The Kool-Aid wasn’t period accurate of course, but the activity was perfect for little hands. And safe.
Hands on activities and workshops vary so calling ahead or even visiting farmersmuseum.org.
Glimmerglass State Park
Glimmerglass State Park is beautiful. The weather at the time was just getting cooler but there were still people enjoying the beach. Our visit included walking around and geocaching. We didn’t gain access to the historical buildings but there are tours available.
Susquehanna Balloon Festival
Susquehanna Balloon Festival happens each year over the Labor Day weekend. We chose to go to the Balloon Glow on Saturday night. It was amazing to see all of the balloons fill up with air and get to see it at night. It lit up the sky with so many vibrant colors. We did arrive earlier and were able to see balloons take off. Foolishly, we thought they were going to take off at night not realizing that it wouldn’t be all that safe to do so.
Brennan Beach RV Resort
Brennan Beach RV Resort was not one of our favorite places to be. It was clean and large but we didn’t realize that all of the amenities including the pool and trolley to the beach would not be available during our stay. This wasn’t noted on their website or in the communication with the office staff when we booked our reservations. We also found out that there is a reunion every year, for the past 25 years and they put us right in the middle of the group. Luckily, some members of the group came by to tell us hi and apologize for their noise in advance. We weren’t the first non-reunion members smack dab in the middle of the festivities. Good thing they brought kids for our littles to play with. And this reunion basically fills up the whole RV park. It’s amazing and unreal for sure!
Apple picking at Behling Orchards was fun. It’s something that we’ve never done before but it was a quick morning outing. The people here are very friendly and encouraged our boys to just try an apple while we were picking. You didn’t have to tell them twice. They bit down like they didn’t have four bowls of cereal that morning. Pro-tip- bring cash. The website said they had an ATM but it wasn’t delivered for the day. So we had to drive to a nearby bank.
This town is in our top 5 places we’ve loved since being in the RV. Maybe it’s the time of year, the weather was just getting cooler and we didn’t need to run the a/c. Or maybe it has the perfect blend of being rural and still having a city center. I don’t know but we extended our stay because it was so nice.
This campground was still pretty busy even though it was just getting colder. The spots are pretty spacious and our site backed up to a large meadow area where our boys were able to chase butterflies and launch stomp rockets. The pool was closed and the playground nearest to us was a bit outdated. But since we were able to let the kids out back, it wasn’t missed at all.
We had really good tree and bush coverage. So much that our lovely birdfeeder was visited everyday by the locals and made it worth the purchase. It gave the kids and cats something to stare at.
Ithaca Children’s Garden
This is a muddy loving child heaven. Kids rule, despite my gut instinct to tell them not to do this or that. They are allowed to be kids, stomp in the mud and run around. The gardens are quite calming and there are nooks and crannies everywhere. While you are visiting, you are encouraged to try some of the plants. We were able to taste fresh dill and husk tomatoes. We loved it so much, we visited twice.
Ithaca Brew Company
The beer here is delicious. Their sour beer hit the spot without being overly tongue numbing. And even their IPAs have the perfect balance of hops. But the food, man, the food was a home run. The major love was the Poppers. These are deconstructed sweet peppers with cheddar grits, confit garlic tomatillo, chili oil and sprinkled scallion. They are perfectly balanced and one of those items that you wish you had more of.
So this is probably a major reason why we fell in love with Ithaca. There is this weekly event during the warmer months. The streets are blocked off and there different activities to do. We were able to see live circus performers doing amazing acrobatics. Our oldest was able to double dutch for the first time and fulfilled his little Berenstein Bear-loving heart. And a big draw was the Physics Bus. A school bus converted to a mobile physics lab. Many hands on activities on the way things work in a small little area.
Apple Harvest Festival & Gnome and Fairy Festival
This is a huge deal. Apple Harvest Festival time, yall! Streets are filled with apple slinging vendors selling donuts, cider, apples, and many more delectable treats. Jewelry, art, and other crafts are also available. Plus live weaving demonstrations and goats, that’s right goats. Laughing Goat farm was there with their beautiful yarns and hand knits. They also had goats and if you’ve never petted a goat, you’ve not lived life. There’s something soothing about looking into big amber colored eyes and scratching the back of their ears. Plus, they are really soft.
We ran into the Gnome and Fairy Festival by taking some turn. Don’t even remember which street but here, like by magical fairy dust, was this small festival. There were little felted toadstools for sale amongst children and adults hula hooping. A collaborative fairy house was being constructed for new, miniature residents. The pace was less hustle and more enjoyable. There was more space to move about and time to talk to the vendors.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
This is a beautiful way to spend the morning or the day. The trails here are groomed enough for easy access but still have enough coverage for the birds to feel hidden. When you enter the building, the first thing you will notice is the floor to ceiling windows and many telescopes for use. Bird feeders near the windows bring in the different species as well as the well-fed squirrels and chipmunks. We learned the birds that have been visiting our feeder nearby have been warblers.
It’s not just a pretty place to visit. There’s been a lot of research and conservation by the school. We were able to see a documentary about capturing the mating calls of rare species. If we wanted to, we could have listened to audio of bird calls.
If you have trouble identifying the bird where you are, you can download the: Merlin Bird ID App . It’s pretty easy to use. Just plug in a few features and it should help you figure that birdie out.
Okay, truly, this entry shouldn’t be called Rhinebeck. It really should be called Saugerties since this is where we spent most of our time. But Rhinebeck is the location of the Sheep and Wool Festival and the major reason we were staying in the area. If you are a fiber fanatic, then you totally understand why this nomenclature is important.
Everything you expect a Koa to be. Clean family oriented and spacious; this KOA has it all. As well as a jump house and a nice playground. The leaves were changing during our stay and this KOA is surrounded by trees. There are lovely trails to walk and explore and even a geocache to keep the kids busy.
Situated in Kingston, NY, this park has a wonderful playground and nature center. The nature center is small and volunteer lead. It’s perfect to visit animals and get the kids moving. When you visit, make sure that you bring some fruits, vegetables and even some popcorn. Each animal has a favorite and will come to the gates to be fed and petted.
Ulster County Italian American Festival
We love stumbling upon festivals on our travels. It’s nice to see what the area has to offer and the different people that it brings out. We were treated to some traditional Italian music, including accordions and of course, some not so traditional cover bands playing Beatles songs. My only expectation was that there would be more traditional Italian food being offered, not that cheese filled meatballs weren’t delicious.
Sheep and Wool Festival
This festival is something to write home about. Seriously! And there is something for everyone, not just the people who like fiber though that does help. The boys with the help of dad, make some lovely butterfly mobiles. We saw sheep competing and being sheared. And tons of yarn, roving, spinning wheels and various other equipment.
Food is everywhere. Giant pastry puffs filled with delicious looking cream were being devoured en masse. We bucked the system and didn’t get the fried artichokes, instead we chose the clam strip dinner from one of the outdoor vendors. I think it was the Clam Shack or something like it. These were fried to PERFECTION. The oil wasn’t oil and the batter was light. Plus, the line was non-existent so quick food for small children almost always wins out.
My oldest saw the infamous Stephen West. You really can’t miss him. He towers above everyone and was wearing knits from head to toe. Well, at least from the shoulders, his hat wasn’t knitted. Stephen uses bright colors to make his designs stand out. Of course, my son who loves anything colorful wanted to tell him hello. And when he decided to be shy, Stephen got on his level and talked to him. It’s good for my son to see other men who enjoy and proudly wear whatever the heck they want. Many thanks to Stephen for humoring us and again, being so kind. I’m still not going to make my 5 year old the awesome knit pants but I think we’ve come to a compromise and I’ll be knitting him some rainbow leg warmers instead.
The biggest draw for me and my family to visit this year was to meet up with a very special group of ladies. I’ve know these women since I was pregnant for my first son. We’ve shared lots of laughter, some sadness and the love of all things fibery. I’m not sure if it’s because our group has this common love or if it’s just an exceptional group of women, but we are still talking and still sharing. And that is a lot for a group that is majorly online (there are a few people who live near and I’m super happy for them and a wee bit envious). These gals are kind, way more intelligent that I could ever be and bring so much joy in my life.