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Last week we ran through the first part of our summer trip in New York City. After we left NYC, we headed towards the Great White North to check out Niagara Falls. The drive took a little over 7 hours and was extremely scenic. I hadn’t been through the Poconos in such a long time that I had forgotten how gorgeous it is up there! Upon our arrival at Rainbow Bridge, to cross over Niagara Falls into Canada, the kids were amazed at how large Niagara Falls really is.
As soon as we crossed into Canada, we could see our hotel, Skyline Hotel and Waterpark. In the same fashion as our hotel in NYC, I let the children choose the hotel. So upon their search, of course, they sniffed out the ONLY hotel with an actual waterpark attached. Since the hotel was within the budgetary range that I wanted to stay in, and it included unlimited passes to the waterpark for 4, I agreed with their choice.
Niagara Falls Hotel
Upon arrival, the front desk staff was extremely welcoming and informative, which I greatly appreciate about them. Through our conversation, they found out that we were celebrating our birthday’s on this trip, as is the norm for our summer trips. By the time we had parked (at the tune of $19 per night) and found our room, they had worked some welcome magic. Not only was there a “Happy Birthday” banner on the door but there was a candy surprise and a card inside the room.
The kids thought that this was a really fun touch and I appreciated the gesture.
They also upgraded our room from two Queen beds to two Queen beds plus a separate kids room with a full loft bed and their own television. Now, we have stayed in a room like this at Great Wolf Lodge and I can say that we weren’t impressed. But this room, and the associated mattresses, were so much better!
The bathroom was clean, as was the room. The kids wished they had a better view, but since we don’t spend much time in our hotel rooms when we travel, I find this aspect to be fairly irrelevant. We were close to the skybridge to the waterpark though, so that was a big bonus.
Our only complaint, isn’t really one that anybody can do anything about. Since this hotel is geared towards families (hence the attached waterpark), it was inevitable that we would hear some sort of noise. There were quite a few times that we got to hear children screaming and crying and parents yelling at kids. But short of noise cancelling headphones, or a taser, it simply was what it was. The staff and rooms were fantastic though, so that overcame the random family drama.
After dropping our stuff and thoroughly checking our accommodations, we set off to explore the streets of Clifton Hill for food. We didn’t have to go very far before we ran across a few restaurant choices and had to make a decision. Reese had been bugging me for french fries since we were in NYC that morning. We hadn’t run across any before we left NYC and I hadn’t stopped anywhere along the drive except for a small gas station in the middle of nowhere in the Poconos. So, the cries for french fries were continuing with a whiny cadence.
Smack in the middle of the main drag was a restaurant called The Works. Reese’s eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store as soon as he saw it. Not only was it a burger and fry joint, but the exterior touted “gluten friendly,” which made the choice a no brainer.
Unfortunately, there was a pretty significant wait because it was prime dinner time. Not only that, but I found out through some locals the next day that it was a hot spot for locals because of the food and the pricing also. This just made it even more packed. However, it was totally worth the wait!
Gluten Free Food Bliss
After we were finally sat, it took a little while for our server to make an appearance. But it was so packed, that I completely understood why that was. Alicia, our server, was finally able to greet us and was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. I asked about gluten free beer options and was presented a Estrella Daura Damm. This is one of the deglutenized beers that I quite enjoy and it was the first one that I had ever found in the US.
I told Jessica that Reese and I have Celiac Disease and she actually knew what I was talking about. Thank you for proper restaurant education! It was pretty easy for us to make a choice and I decided to dig into the Portabella Mushroom burger with a gluten free bun and fries.
It took a little while to get our food, but that was because the kitchen was slammed and they had been getting killed by a large unexpected party taking over almost half of the restaurant. As somebody who has worked in the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years, I am an understanding person to their plight.
Once the food showed up though, it was freaking delicious! The kids ate everything on their plates, and Reese even tried to lick it. He did try his french fries with vinegar for the first time, because it is a standard practice in Canada. He loved it so much that he has been eating fries with vinegar since trying it there.
After we were fully satiated, we walked around a little bit longer to check out our surroundings at night. The whole area was lit up and full of activity, because apparently there is a big night life in this area. As we walked back to our hotel, we saw that even our hotel was lit up, as was the skywalk to the waterpark. This made the kids even more excited to check it out the next day.
Niagara Falls Day 2
Since I had packed so much food to help with the food costs on the trip, we still had a lot of breakfast options. I did agree to take the kids to breakfast one morning while we were there and they chose this one. So we headed next door to the Perkins restaurant that was pretty much attached to the hotel. This was serendipitous because the kids had seen a Perkins on one of our excursions a few weeks before and that had started a conversation about how they used to be all over the place in Raleigh but now none could be found. Needless to say, they were excited to try this.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were pleased to see that it wasn’t that busy and were quickly sat. Our server, Jessica, was extremely prompt and friendly. This are both great traits to have first thing in the morning! They didn’t have a dedicated gluten free menu, but they did have things listed on their menu as gluten free or with gluten free alternatives.
Both Reese and myself were pretty happy about this and it made it so much easier to make our breakfast choices. Jessica told me that they had gluten free bread that could be served with any dish, which was awesome.
I chose a make your own omelette, which is one of my standard go-to’s, with the gluten free toast and coffee, obviously. Presley was excited about the giant pancake on the kids menu with sprinkles. Reese is my least picky eater and really just wanted some eggs, hash browns, toast and corn. I have no idea why he was craving corn for breakfast but I was much happier with that food choice than Presley’s sprinkled pancakes with syrup!
The food came out quickly and was extremely plentiful. We all thoroughly enjoyed the food and the conversation with Jessica.
Maid of the Mist
After leaving our delicious breakfast, we headed back over to the US side of Niagara Falls to jump on the Maid of the Mist for our wet Niagara Falls tour.
The walk over the bridge was a pretty great view and it made me thankful for the Canadian Border Officer who advised me to walk back over for this as opposed to driving because it would be a faster re-entry. He was correct as the line of cars was LONG!
The day was hot and there were a ton of people but getting though the line onto the boat was both efficient and quick. Presley surprised me and asked if we could stand up on top of the boat for the ride, so of course I said yes. A couple standing near us asked if they could take our picture, which was a great gesture because selfies are not my area of expertise at all. Overall, we all loved the trip and the sheer power of the falls. We came off the boat a little damp but overjoyed.
After we left the boat, we headed back over the Rainbow Bridge back through customs so that we could enjoy the rest of our afternoon at the waterpark. The waterpark was a lot of fun and we FINALLY got Presley to go down a water slide by herself, which was significant progress.
Once we had played ourselves out at the waterpark and taken showers, we went off in search of dinner. I connected with a few locals while we were playing at the waterpark and was told that the two best places around were The Works (which we had already partaken in) and Kelsey’s. This was the other restaurant we were debating about the night before, so it sounded like a winner to me.
Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse was located caddy corner to The Works, so we knew exactly where to go. The place was pretty busy when we got there but we did get sat right away. Unfortunately, we ended up sitting for quite a while before our server, Jenna, showed up. She was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and I loved her sense of humor!
The hostess did tell me that she was going to sit us with the best waitress they had, and I can agree with her assessment. She was pretty great. They didn’t have any gluten free beer though, so I was disappointed about that. However, Jenna brought me over a great margarita, so they were forgiven.
More Gluten Free Goodness
I loved the fact that they had gluten free buns listed on their menu for the burger options. This would have been Reese’s choice except that he had a burger the night before and was really wanting something different. Therefore, he went more simplistic with just a grilled chicken breast and some veggies, which he loves. At least I have one child that is big into veggies. The other one is a continual challenge!
Presley had eaten some leftovers from the night before in our hotel room and was being surly, so she chose not to make any food decisions until after our food was brought. She eventually got mashed potatoes to eat with a side of frustrated sighs from me.
As for myself, I had a great time checking out their gluten free pasta options and eventually settled on the Tomato Basil Penne. Unfortunately, it showed up covered with grilled chicken in pesto sauce, so it had to be made again. I was brought another drink from Jenna while I waited for the line to remake my food, so I was okay with that scenario.
The food was completely worth the wait though because I loved it! The biggest downfall was that I couldn’t bring the leftovers with me since I couldn’t eat it all.
At the end of the meal, I told Jenna that I appreciated what a wonderful server she was and the only complaint was that they should really consider bringing in some gluten free beer options. Glutenberg would be a great choice seeing as it is a Canadian Brewery to begin with, plus the price point is decent. Hopefully, they will take my suggestion at some point!
Niagara Falls Day 3
We didn’t end up getting any food this day since we had to head out of town after we ate breakfast in our hotel room. Overall, we had a great time in Niagara Falls and I was happy with our gluten free food options. The choices were so much better than the last time I was in Canada, which bodes well for the future of gluten free.
With the second part of our trip over, we were embarking upon the last leg of our trip and headed towards Baltimore. So stay tuned next week to hear how that part of the trip shook out.
Have you made it up to Niagara Falls on the Canada side? If so, what were some of your favorite places?