Anyone else a huge fan of “staycations”?!? With my hubby’s crazy work schedule, it can be tough to go off on a spontaneous vacation as a whole family. Thankfully, living in WNY, we are so close to so many fabulous travel destinations. My favorite? Niagara Falls! A few weeks ago we decided to head up to the falls and take my daughter on the Maid of the Mist. She had never been and we felt like she was finally old enough where she would remember her first experience.
When I spammed my Insta with Niagara Falls pics, I was shocked when I was flooded with questions. I swear everyone wanted details on the Maid of the Mist!! So today I’m doing exactly that! Giving you all the tips you can possibly need to make your trip on the Maid of the Mist as epic as possible!
1. Wear Sunglasses ~ yes, you are provided with a free poncho, but if you’re a girly girl like me and caked your makeup on for those insta-worthy pics, pack a pair of shades and toss them on when the boat takes off. I didn’t even need to touch my makeup up afterwards thanks to my handy dandy poncho and my shades!
2. Bring Your Camera ~ This was the one question I was asked over and over. Is it safe to bring your fancy camera? The answer is yes! While you do get wet, you do not get soaked. Mist is the key word here! Just tuck that camera under your poncho when you’re not using it and it will be fine!
3. Go On A Weekday ~ We headed up to the falls on a bright, sunny 85 degree summer day. It was a Monday and there were zero lines!!! I was pretty excited about this because in the past, I had waited quite a while to board. Apparently Monday’s are the day to head to the falls!
4. Wait To Put Poncho On ~ when you first board the boat, you will see everyone put their ponchos on in a hurry. I was one of those people. It gets really hot with that poncho on! I would wait until the boat is about to take off and then put it on. You will literally be standing around for about 5-10 minutes while people board feeling like you’re in a sauna on a hot summer day with that thing on!! Just wait!!!!
5. Top and Bottom Decks ~ There is a huge difference! If you’re like me and just wanting to get misted with water to cool off from all that walking you have been doing, head to the bottom deck. I didn’t really get that wet at all and like I mentioned above, didn’t have to fix my makeup! If you’re wanting to get wet, the top deck is for you. Depending on where you stand on the top deck, you can apparently get as soaked as you want. You won’t be finding me there that’s for sure lol.
6. Observation Deck ~ If you want the best insta pics you can possibly get on the American side of the falls, head to the observation deck! You will have the best views of the falls. I would suggest even doing this before you do the excursion if you want family pics in front of the falls. That way you don’t have to worry about anyone being wet afterwards. Everyone will be dry and photo ready!
Have you been on the Maid of the Mist?
Literally my new favorite spot on Chautauqua Lake! Harbor Hotel Carousel Bar! It’s so pretty!!! I just can’t get over how Insta-worthy this spot is. Definitely not the norm here in WNY that’s for sure. The best part?! Chautauqua Harbor Hotel Carousel Bar is just a few minutes away from my house. If I ever get bit by the wanderlust bug and I don’t have a fabulous trip planned for awhile, all I need to do is drive down the road and pretend I’m on vacation all I want!!!
A lakeside Carousel Bar, paying tribute to the grand carousels of yesteryear. The Carousel Bar promises a one-of-kind experience whether for lunch, dinner or sipping cocktails while taking in the spectacular sunsets for which Chautauqua Lake has become famous.
Carousel Bar Summer Hours (July 1-Labor Day weekend):
I thought this would be a fabulous spot to really give you the reasons why I love this spot so much!
1. Champagne Lakeside ~ I didn’t have to purchase a bottle and I wasn’t handed a mini-bottle to pour myself. Legit glasses by the glass!
2. Atmosphere ~ Just look at that view?!? I can just stare off into the lake for hours. I almost feel bad for those drinking with me. I daze off into those water views.
3. Food ~ You can dine at Harbor Hotel without paying for the 5 star dining experience inside. Enjoy pizzas(very flatbread like), wings, and other yummy smaller plates for half the cost of inside!
4. Fire Pits ~ When it starts to get dark, take your beverage fireside!!!
5. Insta-Worthy Photo Opts ~ Nothing better than snapping those pics and having your backdrop look inst-worthy!
6. Not Too Crowded ~ we have yet to experience large crowds, which is super nice. We were just there Friday and while yes, there are people everywhere, you can still snag a seat with ease!
7. Dock Your Boat ~ Have a boat?! Lucky you and we should totally be besties. I am lacking a boat bestie lol.... anyway, you can dock your boat for free and walk right in for a drink.
While this is legit my new summer spot, I will add that drink prices are high. This is a resort after all, so expect to pay resort prices for things like a beer. This is always the one drawback when I bring newbies. Totally worth the extra cost for the views alone if you ask me! Can’t wait for another chance to sip a cocktail at the Carousel Bar.
Do you have any local spots in your neck of the woods that make you feel like you’re on vacation?
Another Mother’s Day has officially come and gone!!! For the last several years we have attended the Mother’s Day Brunch at the Chautauqua Athenaeum Hotel. However, last year, I thought it would be fun to try something new. Total fail since we missed what had become a tradition of ours! Our lunch at a Buffalo steakhouse was delicious, but it just wasn’t the over the top fabulousness that we have grown to love at the Athenaeum Hotel!!!
This year, even if it was 40 degrees so we had to bundle up and not wear the most colorful, spring looks in our closets and it may have been raining as well. Boo!! I made it a point to document our experience so those of you googling away next year know that the Mother’s Day Brunch at the Athenaeum is a not miss event!!!
The Athenaeum Hotel is located inside the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY. Since it is the Chautauqua off season, you do not need to purchase a day pass to enter the grounds. Just drive right in and head to the Athenaeum. Once at the hotel, enter and look for the Heirloom Dining Room. Since it is off season, when Mother’s Day happens to fall on a sunny day, the grounds of Chautauqua do make for fabulous photo opportunities!! We always take advantage since it’s one of the few times you can enter the grounds without paying for a day pass! So make sure your phone is fully charged for those photos!!!!
I’m not even going to deny it! This Mother’s Day Brunch is definitely on the pricy side. $45.95 for Adults and $14.95 for children. You do get what you pay for though. If the mom in your life loves to feel pampered and loves all thing elegant and fancy, this is the brunch for you. Worth every penny if mom is one who loves to dress up and see hubby in that tie!
The good news is, mom does get a complementary mimosa! You get to choose from Apple, Grapefruit & Traditional Orange. The Athenaeum Hotel does have a full bar, so if a Bloody Mary is more your thing or even a mixed drink or beer, they have it!!! Cheers to mom!!!
This is what everyone always asks me in the comments when I spam my personal Facebook page with my annual Mother’s Day photos! Is the food good?! What do they serve?
The food is definitely phenomenal. We wouldn’t be repeat guests if the food wasn’t out of this world. I’m a proclaimed wannabe chef, so good food is my thing & the Athenaeum delivers every year!!!!
As for what is served? They offer carving stations featuring prime rib, Turkey & ham! I’m not usually a turkey fan, but their turkey really is out of this world. You get to choose from a variety of sides like asparagus, salads, mashed potatoes, stuffing! The Athenaeum also has breakfast stations for those of you wanting to make your own omelets and enjoy a waffles, bacon and sausage. A cheese display, soups and desserts along with breads are also available. So much food it’s sort of overwhelming. Always a good thing when that happens!!
Y’all already know I love the Athenaeum Hotel Mother’s Day Brunch!!! I recommend it to anyone that loves to feel like a princess or enjoys history, old fashioned type of things. The Athenaeum is a historic hotel that has hosted everyone from celebrities to presidents!!! Just being in this hotel gives me this feeling of wow!!!!So many amazing people have walked the hallways of this fabulous establishment and I get to sit and eat brunch there!!!!
The food is also out of this world. If 4-5 star restaurants are your thing, this brunch is for you.
My my only complaint is the fact it’s not exactly kid friendly food wise. My daughter is a picky eater and she ends up eating toast and cupcakes every year. Since it is Mother’s Day, you would think maybe some chicken fingers, pizza slices or maybe hot dogs would be offered, but they aren’t. Thankfully, the child price is only $14.95, so it’s not a total waste. My daughter probably eats that in cupcakes and drinks that in milk alone lol.
How Did You Spend Mother’s Day?
Ahhhhhhh nothing better than fun, family friendly activities popping up during the winter. During the summer? It’s easy peasy to find good olé entertainment. In the winter however, ughhhh! I will admit, things are getting better in the winter entertainment department, but it’s nothing like glorious summertime!!!! So when we heard about Peek’n Peak Linar Lights Tubing? You best believe we hit it up opening weekend to get the full scoop on the latest winter fun here in Western New York!!
The all-new Lunar Lights Tubing will transform nighttime snow tubing into a thrilling and mesmerizing atmosphere, featuring an ever-changing light show produced by thousands of LED lights and projection lights. The lights will pulse, fade and change in coordination with an immersive sound system. On select dates, the massive sound and light program will be operated by a live DJ.
In between runs, tubers are carried to the top of the hill by a Magic Carpet Lift, which is similar to a conveyor belt. No need to struggle with hooking to a moving cable or hauling your tube to the top of the hill!
Cost ~ $20 Per Person 2hr Pass
Honestly? It was a fun evening!!! I went into this with zero expectations since I know this is Westeen New York, and boy was I blown away! Fun tunes we’re playing on a speaker the whole time! Think top 100 type songs that you would hear on the radio. The place was also ridiculously packed, yet the line moved really fast so we had minimal wait times. I couldn’t believe that! I’m guessing they really do only sell a certain amount of tickets to make wait times not a thing! You can also link your tubes together, so if you have little ones not quite ready to tube on their own. Yet link your tube to theirs before heading down!
The only disappointment I had was the fact that the rainbow LED lights didn’t shine the whole time. They would flash for about 5 minutes & then the regular lights would pop on for 5 minutes. We did go opening weekend, so this might have been a one time thing lights-wise. It made it hard for a blogger like me to snap those blog photos since I had to time things out perfectly to get those rainbow shots lol....
If you have been considering going? I totally recommend it! Totally worth the price and everyone young and old will have a fabulous time!!!
Have you ever been tubing?
I finally had the chance to see “Hamilton” Thursday!!! The battle to score two tickets was ridiculous! I had to enter a lotto system through the host theater and keep my fingers crossed my email address was even drawn to ATTEMPT to purchase tickets the day tickets were released. That’s right, the lotto didn’t guarantee anything, but the chance to be on the ticket site when tickets went on sale. Apparently having a lotto system and a 4 ticket purchase limit minimizes the chance of scalpers scoring tickets.
Since I’m obsessed with musicals & try to not miss a show at Shea’s, I obviously entered multiple emails and lucky enough, one of the three emails was drawn! After the ticket site crashing multiple times, and having to wait about 15-20 minutes to even check out once my tickets were in my cart, I was lucky enough to score two balcony tickets for the December 6th show at Shea’s in Buffalo,NY.
After all the drama to land tickets, I’m sure you are all wondering, was it worth it? Did It Live Up To The Hype? Or did all that political nonsense really lead to the ticket sales and the show was just “ok”? Keep on reading to find out!
Like every other city, Buffalo played its part in the frenzy surrounding “Hamilton.” Legacy is the central theme of Hamilton which has landed this smashing hit 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize!
Basically, the musical chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Treasury Secretary, set to a hip-hop backdrop. It sounds crazy, but it works because the show’s arsenal of effects is simply overwhelming. The lyrics drive the narrative, the rap gives energy to the lyrics, and the dancers double the effect by adding a visual complement to the pulsing soundscape.
“Hamilton" has everything: Love triangles, political intrigue, deadly duels and a petulant King George, played as a red-faced toddler on the verge of a tantrum.
Perhaps the greatest gift is how touchingly familiar and human “Hamilton” makes the men and women who helped shape America seem! So unlike the cold faces under powdered wigs in portrait galleries & our dollar bills.They were ordinary people who, against all odds, fought against the whims of a king to achieve not only a legacy, but greatness together! That's history worth remembering.
I get it!
The hype, the reviews that include words like "phenomenon," "revolutionary" and "thrilling." The crazy ticket sales and the lotto systems for a chance to score them. After seeing Thursday night's performance at Shea’s,I get it!
The show is a non-stop, electric spectacle that hits the gas immediately and doesn't take its foot off the pedal until the final curtain call. There's no dialogue, only song-after-song, rap battle after rap battle. You find yourself desperately trying to process every word before it speeds on to the next, while being captivated by the choreography that turns a simple stage with a rotating center into a front-row seat to history. The incredible structure of the show makes it feel effortless, even though I couldn't stop thinking about how much effort has to be made in order for it to have that effect.
You also find yourself forgetting you're watching the story of one of the country's founding fathers and become fixated on the story of a man battling the weight of his own pressure for greatness, while trying to fight the demons and temptations waiting to derail him along the way.
What Lin-Manuel Miranda did to a fascinating chapter in our history books is truly awe-inspiring. Taking the complexities of war, a developing nation and the interesting characters who inspired it all and telling their story through hip-hop, rap and yes, 21st century humor and lingo, takes "Hamilton" from a musical to a full-blown experience. If you have the chance to see “Hamilton”, do it! I promise it’s worth all the ticket hassle! I would do it all over in a heartbeat.
Have you had the chance to see Hamilton? What’s your favorite musical?
CourtneyLynne is former model turned mommy & wifey! When not blogging all things foodie, fashion, travel, mom life & straight up fabulousness to the masses, she can be found chasing her toddler around in 6in stilettos & laughing at her own jokes her glass of wine told her to tell.