Thank you for giving me the week "off" last week as I shared just one post and not our usual Frugal Friday post.
This week I'm sharing how we saved money/spent money wisely on our 10th Anniversary Trip to the Niagara Falls area.
We decided on this vacation and booked our rental house a year ago through VRBO. We had a week in Lewiston, NY in a three bed/one bath house with full kitchen and fenced in yard for just $700. We love staying in houses vs hotels as our kids are young, noisy, and need room to play. They did end up sharing the bunk room and we just used the third bedroom as a dressing room so we could have rented a smaller house/condo BUT we found this to be the most affordable deal by far in the Niagara Falls area. We wanted to be gone over our actual anniversary which happened to fall between Victoria Day (Canada) and Memorial Day Weekend (US) which upped hotel prices by a great deal.
Before leaving for our trip, we made a quick trip to Under the Sun Market and filled a $20 box with most of the breakfast, lunch, and snack options that we would need for our trip. We also made a small Walmart stop once in New York. We ate two meals at the house, or packed from the house, each day.
Day One - Travel Day
- We paid for the first tank of gas with anniversary money (thank you Brian and Kristi!)
- We packed PB&J/fruit/chips for lunch and ate at a quick gas stop in the car
- We ordered pizza in for dinner (NY pizza was high on Annabeth's wishlist of items to have) and we lucked out with an order that took 3 hours to deliver which resulted in us earning 3 FREE pizzas during our stay!
Brother Sister Snuggles.
They LOVE to be together!
Day Two - Lewiston and Niagara Falls
- Annabeth and I explored Lewiston, NY. The village is quite cute and had lots of historical buildings and a peace garden to explore (all free!)
- We had lunch at the house before going out for the day. We packed snacks for the afternoon
- We spent 5+ hours at Niagara Falls State Park (NY) We did have to pay $10 to park but it covered parking until midnight that night.
- Since we were there before tourist season really began the Overlook was free (saved $8) and we did not pay to get into the State Park
- The kids each got their souvenir from the trip here - a t-shirt and we paid around $15 for both of them
- We had dinner out at the Silo Restaurant.
My first, his fifth, time seeing the falls
They are absolutely amazing!
Day Three - Aquarium of Niagara, Artpark, and more Lewiston
- We used our AZA reciprocal pass to save 50% on our admission to the Aquarium of Niagara
- Since they offer free parking, we parked there and walked over to the Nature Center. My information was wrong and they were not open for the season which saved us the $8 admission.
- We had a picnic lunch at the Artpark (free!) in Lewiston. We enjoyed playing in the Percussion Garden and walking around the park
- We had pizza dinner out at Favorite's. I felt a bit guilty just stopping by for our free pizza so we did order a "small" dessert and with the tip it was just $10
It was the kids first time having fried dough.
It was a way bigger order than we thought and they LOVED it!
Day Four - Our 10th Anniversary, Old Fort Niagara, and Rainforest Cafe
- We visited Old Fort Niagara. This was just a short fifteen minute stay from our house. It was the priciest adventure of our trip ($35 for the family) but well worth it. Owen was free as they give free admission to children under 5.
- We packed our lunch since they only have a little snack bar. We were fortunate enough to be at the fort during a huge thunderstorm and when Owen got hungry while waiting out the storm in the French Castle the staff allowed us to eat lunch inside! They offered us several rooms to eat lunch in and we chose the kitchen. It was amazing to eat our lunch inside a 300 year old castle that has been occupied by the French, British, and Americans.
A lunch to remember!
A French Soldier "okayed" our eating here
- We drove home through Youngstown and Lewiston via back roads. The road we chose followed the river and the houses were just beautiful!
- We had dinner out for our anniversary at the Rainforest Cafe. It was Kid's Night so the kids' meals were FREE! They also each got a Rainforest Cafe cup to bring home as a souvenir from their meal.
We didn't tell the kids where we were having dinner.
We just said it was for our anniversary so Annabeth had guessed
"some adult place" They were SO happy to find out it was fun for all of us
Day Five - Buffalo, Anchor Bar, exploring Buffalo, and Hotel Henry
- We made the drive into Buffalo via back roads. It is such a neat area that we hated to take the clogged toll bridge on a Friday morning.
- We had lunch at the Anchor Bar (using a gift card that we had gotten Mark for his birthday) This is where the Buffalo Wing was invented. Mark said it was truly the best wings he has ever had!
- We drove through beautiful Delaware Park (designed by Olmstead - designer of NYC's Central Park), explored the Japanese Gardens (free!), and visited the Buffalo Museum of History ($22 as Owen was free)
- We stayed at Hotel Henry as the second part of Mark's birthday surprise. Hotel Henry is formerly the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. It has recently begun undergoing a transformation and 80 rooms are now available to rent for the night. There is so much work to be done but it was incredible to stay in. There are so many amazing architectural features and there was nothing like turning onto the Richardson Olmstead Campus and seeing the family's faces as they realized "THAT?!" is where we would be staying. Since it is under construction it is still very affordable, I found it just $11 more per night than the chain hotels in the area.
Please click the link to read about it
and to see pictures that do it justice. It's just incredible!
We had such a wonderful trip!
We spent the week just the four of us, taking life as it came, moving slowly through places to see, and soaking in all of the sweet moments of being a family of four. It's our last trip with a toddler, Owen will be four this weekend, and the whole week was filled with precious time together.