The day after we spent hours eating buffalo wings and walking around Buffalo, NY, my family decided to do something different to end our weekend trip.
We started our day by heading over to Lake Effect Diner. Most of the reviews that I read said over and over how it was one of the best in Buffalo. So you know we had to head over and try it out for ourselves.
Lake Effect Diner is a small, kind of a retro diner set for a small crowd. It was difficult to find seating together for our family of 5, and actually, our oldest ended up sitting at the counter because we didn’t all comfortably fit in a booth. But the server was nice and the food came out fast. I ordered an omelet which was good, not too dry and had tons of flavor. My husband ordered the corn beef hash, which normally I think is one of the most disgusting looking dishes, but in this case, the corn beef didn’t look like something that had been chewed up and spit out. Instead it was a dish of delicious pieces of corn beef and other ingredients, combination of which my husband really enjoyed.
One of the other things that was repeatedly mentioned in the reviews we read was how many favored their potato pancakes. It’s another meal in itself, but I ordered them anyone (you know, taking one for the team). Unfortunately, I am not sure if it was a bad day or what, but I thought they were awful. Flavorless, and incredibly greasy. I was glad that I had enjoyed my primary meal and the huge servings of coffee they have there. I think the place is worth trying if you’re ever in Buffalo, NY. Not sure what Guy Fieri tried out when he was there, but I guess the potato pancakes are hit or miss, but everything else was great. The prices aren’t diner prices though, more like restaurant prices, but the servings are pretty big as well.
After a nice big breakfast, we made our way 20 minutes North to Niagara Falls State Park. Everyone kept telling me how I should try going to the Canada side, how the Canadian side was so much better. In looking across the border, Canada looked like Neverland. I could see tons of hotels, and rides, and cars galore. But the New York side looked pretty. It seemed there was more park area and though not as many rides, we didn’t care. Because the truth is when you have an almost 3 and a 4 year old, standing on line for rides is not something we do well anyway…at least not for more than one ride. And if you can only do one thing while at the Niagara Falls, than it must be riding the Maid of the Mist.
If you get there later or earlier in the day, not only will you find parking closer to the falls, but you will also not have to stand on the unbearably long lines to get on the boat. Luckily, they allow groups to break up, so that one person can stand online (me), while the others wait at the end (with the kids). This worked well for the first 45 minute wait, but afterwards we had to stand online together, in the beating sun, for about another hour.
By the time we got to the boat, were handed our blue plastic rain covers, we were all hot. Sweating and hot. The kids were pretty miserable too.
But we were first on line to enter the boat and managed to get a spot on the second level on the front. If you have little kids, this is the spot you want to be. The fence is tall enough that they can’t climb over, but high enough that it allows them to see through the openings. If we were to go to the lower level, the wouldn’t have been able to see anything unless we carried them, which would’ve been impossible to do.
The falls from a distance are an impressive sight. It was hard to not want to keep taking pictures. But once the boat started moving, all prior photos seemed irrelevant. There is nothing like being there, close to this amazing force of nature just crashing in front of you. We got closer and closer and as we did the mist grew thicker and thicker, till finally we were so close it seemed that we were under a massive rainstorm, huge, hard drops falling on us, soaking through our flimsy, plastic jackets, the wind blowing it up and sideways, off our heads and up, exposing our pants and shirts, allowing for them to get soaked.
The entire time my kids were half scared, half thrilled. My 11 year old had a huge grin on his face (this is the same one that only an hour earlier had questioned what the big deal was. “It’s just water and rocks, Mom. What’s the big deal?”). Yeah, well, that kid was laughing with excitement the entire time.
After it was over, we were all wet and cooled off. It was worth the close to two hour wait for sure. I’m sure Canada is lovely, and we talked about trying it from there next time, but I have to say that our experience in New York was amazing and we really enjoyed it. The sites are gorgeous, really breath taking, a wonderful long weekend retreat. Not something we will forget any time soon and can’t wait to experience again. I hope to come back and see the falls lighted at night. That just seems like it would be too beautiful for words.