Father & Son Trip to the Northeast Part 1

This is a road trip starting in Buffalo NY to Niagara Falls and on toward Toronto, Canada's largest city.


Father & Son Trip to the Northeast Part 1

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by RoBoNC on March 3, 2008

Two thousand and six was the first year that my father and I decided to take annual trips with each other. Deciding on where to go is just as exciting as getting there. When I was growing up, we always expressed an interest of going to the Detroit Auto Show. The timing was perfect since our trip and the auto show coincided.

After pricing tickets to Detroit from Raleigh, the cheapest I was able to find was around $350. I began to browse nearby airports for cheaper tickets. After some searching, I settled on Buffalo, New York. With roundtrip tickets on Northwest Airlines for $99, it was a steal even if it is a three hour drive to Detroit. What made this flight interesting is that we had to connect in Detroit, then fly to Buffalo, then drive back.

When I started to map our route from Buffalo to Detroit, I noticed that Toronto was not that far away. So instead of spending our entire trip in Detroit, we decided to stay in a couple of different places.

After picking up the rental car, our first stop was Niagara Falls. Although it was cold in January, we missed the tourist season and we were able to enjoy the Falls with no crowds.

From Niagara Falls we proceeded up to Toronto. Whenever I thought of Canada, I imagined woodlands and barren areas. While Canada, for sure, has enough of those areas, the drive from the border to Toronto was anything but. The drive consisted of one major city after another. It seemed that where one town ended, another started. Canada posts the population of the city on its welcome signs. Most of the towns we passed through such as Hamilton and St. Catharine’s were each about 400-500 thousand leading to Toronto with a population of 2.5 million.

There definitely was not a shortage of things for us to do in Toronto. We did some shopping at the Eaton Centre, the third largest mall in Canada. We experienced the Toronto subway while en route to the CN Tower. Although baseball season had yet to begin, that didn’t stop us from touring the Skydome, home to the Toronto Blue Jays, located right next to the CN Tower.

We proceeded to Detroit after spending a few hours in Toronto rush hour traffic. Our first night was spent in Greektown, a section of Detroit full of casinos and the best Greek food in the country. The next day made us understand the reason why Detroit is known as the "Motor City." That morning we attended the North American Auto Show showcasing all the new models as well as concept vehicles from all of the major manufactures. Then it was onto the Henry Ford Museum where we toured Ford’s largest automobile plant which makes all the Ford trucks.

From there it was on back toward Buffalo for our last night. But we were not leaving until we had some famous Buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar. ${QuickSuggestions} Remember your PASSPORT! For a long time, US citizens could cross the border freely with just a driver’s license, but now a passport is needed to enter Canada.

The gas prices in Canada can be confusing. Just remember that gas prices are quoted in liters instead of gallons. There are 3.78 liters in a gallon.

The crime rate is very low making it one of the safest cities in all of North America. Toronto’s homicide rate is 1.3 per 100,000 compared to Washington DC which is 45.5.

If visiting Niagara Falls, most anyone will tell you, that the Canadian side offers the best views. There are two parts to the falls, one on either side of the border, but Canada has the best view as well as most of the tourists.

If you don’t mind battling the cold and occasionally getting wet by the mist, winter is the best time to see Niagara Falls since the tourist season is over and it is a lot less crowded. ${BestWay} You will definitely need a vehicle for getting to Toronto unless you happen to fly into Pearson International Airport. However, once you are in the city, the subway is a great way to get around as well as their other means of public transportation. If you are staying downtown, walking is another great option.

Anchor Bar

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RoBoNC on March 3, 2008

Chicken wings, once the leftovers of the bird, now have become a multi-million dollar business. There are restaurants that specifically serve wings while at almost any other restaurant, they can be found as appetizers. There are many restaurants around the country that claim to have the best wings or some go as far as to believe they created the wing. However, there is a reason why they are called Buffalo wings. That being said, one can gather that Buffalo wings were started in Buffalo, New York.

One restaurant in Buffalo is credited with the birthplace of chicken wings, the Anchor Bar. The restaurant, owned by Frank and Teresa Bellissimo, has been a fixture in Buffalo since 1935 but the wing was not born until 1964. The story, as told by the Anchor Bar, begins on a Friday night in 1964 when Frank and Teresa’s son Dominic was working as a bartender. Some of Dominic’s friends came into the restaurant starving. He asked his mother to prepare something for them. Until this time, chicken wings were put into the stock pot for soups or either thrown into the trash. There was a plate of chicken wings that was to be used for the soup, but instead she decided to deep fry them and baste them with a secret sauce. The wings became an overnight sensation.

The Anchor Bar is world renown which is evident from just looking inside the restaurant. The walls are decorated with license plates from all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and as far as Guam. The menu includes many other items besides chicken wings, such as popular Italian dishes from eggplant parmigiana to chicken cacciatore. They also serve sandwiches, steaks, and seafood. While all their food dishes are excellent, the wings keep people coming back. At some restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, there is a laundry list of different sauces such as Teriyaki, Parmesan Garlic, and Asian Zing. You won’t find those at the Anchor Bar. The only sauces here are Mild, Medium, Hot and Spicy Barbeque. For those who like it really hot, try the Suicidal, but only “if you dare.”

Anchor Bar’s wings have become legendary and they continue to receive awards for their secret sauce which many people have tried to duplicate but with no success. The wings have meant so much to Buffalo that in 1977, the mayor, Stanley Makowski, proclaimed July 29 “Chicken Wing Day.”

If you can’t go to Buffalo or you can’t go often enough, don’t worry, because Anchor Bar delivers. All of their famous wings can be shipped anywhere and the taste of Buffalo can be enjoyed in your home especially on those all important days such as Super Bowl Sunday or during the Daytona 500.

Until the Anchor Bar, a chicken wing was just that, but now it is perhaps the most glorified part of the entire bird.
Anchor Bar
1047 Main St
Buffalo, New York, 14209
+1 716 886 8920

CN Tower

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RoBoNC on March 3, 2008

The tallest structure in Canada and the world until recently is the CN Tower in Toronto. It is a communication and tourist tower which rises 1,815 feet and was the tallest free standing structure until September 12, 2007 when the Burj Dubai, in the UAE, still under construction, eclipsed it. The CN Tower is a fixture on the Toronto skyline and a favorite for tourists to admire the panoramic views of the city.

A visit to the CN Tower begins at the ticket booth where you can customize your package to include one or all of the different attractions. You can choose the Look Out and Skypod at $26 or just the Look Out for $21. Thirty-three dollars gets you the whole package which includes the Look Out, Skypod, Movie, and a Motion Theater Ride.

After purchasing your ticket, you board the high speed elevators that take you to the top. At a speed of 15 mph, it takes only 58 seconds to reach the top. The first stop is the Look Out, at a height of 1,136 feet; it offers great views of downtown Toronto as well as the Horizons Café when the altitude makes you hungry. For those with Skypod tickets, board the special elevators which takes you another 33 stories high or 1,465 feet. At this height, you can see unobstructed views of Toronto and Lake Ontario and on clear days, Niagara Falls and Rochester, New York.

Whether you only go to the Look Out or decide to do both, the Glass Floor is included. The Glass Floor is just that, a section of the floor laid in glass that allows visitors to look directly down at the ground below. From the Look Out, take the stairs down one level where at 1,122 feet, you can straight down. Walking across it and looking down at the same time is easier said than done. My father walked across it but only stepped on the frame of the glass and didn’t even look down. It is a unique sensation to look straight down from that height and words cannot adequately describe the experience.

The 360 Restaurant is as exactly as it sounds. It is a restaurant with a 360 degree view of Toronto from a height of 1,151 feet. Although I did not eat here, the restaurant continuously receives high culinary awards. It is a fine dining restaurant, which is my major turn-off. It isn’t that the food is not good, but the price. A dinner entrée is between $30-45 with the highest menu item being steak and lobster for $110. The restaurant also boasts a huge wine selection which they call its “cellar in the sky” featuring over 550 different wines. If price is not a concern and you want to experience Toronto on a different scale, then this is the place to go. And your dinner includes a free ride to the top.
CN Tower
301 Front St West
Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2T6
(416) 868-6937

Niagara Falls

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RoBoNC on March 3, 2008

Who hasn’t heard of Niagara Falls? It is a natural wonder that should be one of the great ones ranking up there with the Grand Canyon. They are massive waterfalls which are known for their beauty as well as an excellent source of hydroelectric power. Niagara Falls, largest waterfall in North America, is usually compared to that of Victoria Falls in Africa, the largest waterfall in the world.

Niagara Falls straddles the US/Canadian border and it has become a tourist attraction for millions of people annually. On either side of the Falls are the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York. While there is two sides to Niagara Falls, most anyone who has visited them, will say that the Canadian side offers the best experience and view.

Niagara Falls is divided into two sections, Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and American Falls. Horseshoe Falls drop 173 feet compared to the American Falls which drop 70 feet. Horseshoe Falls is also 2600 feet wide compared to 1,060 feet on the American side.

The spectacular views from the Canadian side also explain why the twin cities look so different. On the American side, the city looks like any average city. However, the Canadian side, and more specifically the neighborhood of Clifton Hill, is a tourist mecca. It is a bustling tourist area packed with restaurants, wax museums, haunted houses, as well as Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Guinness Book of World Record museum. Along with the many hotels in the area, all of the shops are in easy walking distance, not to mention the Falls.

We found ourselves visiting Niagara Falls at the beginning of January. With the weather at 20 degrees, it was no wonder that the tourists had fled. We literally could not have picked a better time to visit. There were no crowds, traffic moved smoothly, and we were able to experience the Falls for what they were, a display of nature’s energy. The Falls drop so high that the mist is constantly coming down like a never-ending rainstorm. As we were leaving, I noticed a rainbow which I hear is not uncommon for this area. But there was something about it. I had never seen a more clearly defined rainbow with a beginning and an end. The rainbow stretched from one side of the falls to the other. That rainbow with the falls crashing behind it only added to the beauty of this natural wonder.
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Ontario

SkyDome

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by RoBoNC on March 3, 2008

Canadians have a love affair with hockey, which is understandable since the coveted trophy is named after Lord Stanley. Gradually, other sports have sneaked into Canada but almost all situated in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. In 1969, Montreal acquired a Major League baseball team, the Expos, and a decade later, Toronto received their team, the Blue Jays. With the sale of the Expos to Washington D.C., Toronto has now become the capital of Canadian sports. Toronto is also home to the Raptors, Canada’s only NBA team after the Vancouver Grizzlies folded and moved to Memphis. Now the city is trying to have the first NFL franchise and it begins with the Buffalo Bills playing one game a season there for the next five years. All of these teams, with the exception of the Raptors after 1999, play in one stadium, the Rogers Centre, or more commonly referred to as the Skydome.

The Skydome renamed the Rogers Centre, after Rogers Communications bought the naming rights in 2005. The Skydome is unique because it is the first stadium with a fully-retractable roof. The roof is composed of four panels which cover 345,000 square feet. In twenty minutes, the panels slide open, fully exposing the stadium. Therefore, in inclement weather, the roof is closed and opened when weather permits.

The stadium is truly a work of art when one thinks about the many different venues that are held here. The Blue Jays have been the longest tenants, but when the Raptors were formed in 1995, the turf had to be traded in for a hardwood court until the Raptors got their own stadium, the Air Canada Centre.

Although baseball season had yet to begin, the stadium remains open for tours. After purchasing our tickets at the box office ($13.25), we were led on a one hour guided tour. We started the tour by going through locker rooms where the Blue Jays and visitors get dressed before the game. From there it was on to the dugouts where you get to see the field as the players see it. On this particular day, the field looking nothing like a baseball field. That was because a Monster Truck rally was being set up and truckloads of dirt and beat up old cars were being hauled in. It made it that much more impressive to know that the field can be taken up to make way for a concert, basketball game, or Monster Truck rally, and in no time be put back ready for the Blue Jays to take the field.

The tour takes up to the VIP suites where some of the Blue Jays have their own suites. Roy Halladay, a pitcher, has his own suite at the stadium. The suite come equipped with a kitchen with granite countertops, a living room with flat panel TV’s on the wall and there is even a TV in the bathroom so you don’t miss any of the action. The suite even has its own stadium seating for his guests. But these seats come in the form of leather couches. This is truly watching a game in the lap of luxury.

Perhaps the most unique aspect about this stadium is that it is the only one with a hotel. The Marriott Renaissance is built into the stadium with rooms that face the field. The price fluctuates based on if it is a game day and who they are playing. If the Yankees or Red Sox are in town, expect to pay out of the roof. We were told by our tour guide that Roberto Alomar, when he played for Toronto, that instead of getting an apartment or house, he chose to stay at the hotel for his residence.

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