September 13, 2019

Making Memories at the Detroit Zoo

If you’ve been around here long enough you know that I’m a big (ok, maybe a HUGE) animal lover. So, when visiting a city (new or old) and the opportunity to check out the local zoo or aquarium comes up, I’m all in. 

Zoos and aquariums are a fantastic way to learn about the variety of animals that call our planet home, and to build a connection with wildlife we may not ever have the chance to experience in the wild. Not to mention, they're also a fun way to spend the day with your family.

child watching penguins swim at polk penguin conservation centre Detroit zoo Michigan

I grew up approximately an hour from Detroit, Michigan, on the Canadian side. The times I’ve visited the city to go shopping, play soccer or even to visit my (then) boyfriend while he played junior hockey, are so many that I couldn't even take a guess. BUT, the number of times I’ve visited to go the Detroit Zoo? Sadly, I can count that on only a few fingers.

On a recent extended visit to my parents’, my dad suggested we take a day trip to the Zoo. When you throw out the words “Do you want to go to the zoo?” in front of a few animal lovers (including a 3 year old and her mama), the answer is YES. Always YES.

So, we packed in the car – my dad, my sister, the two little gals and I – and drove off over the border and down I95 to the Detroit Zoo.

family at Detroit Zoo in Michigan

Situated on 125 acres, the Detroit Zoo (run by the non-profit Detroit Zoological Society) is home to more than 2,000 different animals representing 230 species of amphibians, mammals, birds and reptiles.

The Zoo features many award-winning attractions including the National Amphibian Conservation Center, Great Apes of Harambee, Arctic Ring of Life, and my personal favourite, Polk Penguin Conservation Center.

I know, I was just as surprised as you that I favourited the penguin habitat over the polar bears. (Background story: For those of you that don’t know, I’ve had a thing AGAINST penguins, dating back to 2010. Living and working at azoo in Alaska that had polar bears, it was not uncommon for people to think polar bears and penguins were friends. The media portrayal didn’t help. But in fact, they live on opposite ends of the earth – polar bears in the Arctic, penguins in the Antarctic. So, hearing that on a regular basis became a bit of a pet peeve. But, I digress…)

Opening in 2016, Polk Penguin Conservation Center is the Zoo’s newest award-winning attraction. At 33,000 square feet - housing 75 king, rockhopper, macaroni and gentoo penguins - it is the largest penguin facility in the world. Its signature feature is a 326,000 gallon (1.2 million liter) 25 foot deep aquatic area where visitors can watch the birds swim and dive from two acrylic underwater tunnels. The $32 million facility received the 2017 Exhibit Aware from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for excellence in exhibit design. An award very much deserved. We could have spent hours watching the penguins fly through the water all around us. The facility is also filled with a variety of interactive educational exhibits to help better connect visitors to the Antarctic and the tuxedo-wearing birds.

*Please note: The Detroit Zoological Society will be temporarily closing the Polk Penguin Conservation Center between September 9, 2019 and mid-June 2020 to make repairs due to faulty waterproofing. The penguins will live in the former Penguinarium while their home is being repaired, but that facility will not be open to visitors.

And while the penguins may have been my favourite of the day, I cannot share about the zoo without mentioning my other favourite habitat, the Arctic Ring of Life – home to polar bears, seals and Arctic fox. This state-of-the-art interactive facility is one of North America’s largest polar bear habitats and encompasses more than 4 acres of outdoor and indoor spaces. My favourite feature? The spectacular 70 foot long Polar Passage, a clear tunnel that winds through a vast underwater marine environment. It reminded me very much of the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sadly, the polar bears were nowhere to be seen that warm August day (can you blame them?!), but it was still fun to watch their nextdoor neighbours, the seals, swim through the water.

Arctic Ring of Life Detroit Zoo
Arctic Ring of Life Detroit Zoo

For a Zoo that first opened their doors almost 100 years ago in 1928 (and saw 1.5 million visits in just their first 4 months of operation), I was extremely impressed with the many naturalistic habitats and modern-day zoo updates. The layout is extremely family- and stroller-friendly, and easy to navigate with the use of either a paper map or the interactive mobile map system called Detroit Zoo Treks. There are a few indoor exhibits where strollers are not permitted (including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center), however, there is ample stroller parking to accommodate.

Beside the penguins and Arctic animals, we especially loved checking out the rhinos, zebras, giraffes and camels. The pop-up windows in the prairie dog exhibit were not only a great photo opportunity, but also a good way to see their cute faces up close. The new red panda habitat, located in the Asian Forest, had us cross a rope bridge, through the actual habitat! It made us feel that much closer to the red pandas sleeping in the trees above our head. The brand new Devereauf Tiger Forest opens on September 13, and will be home to three Amur tigers. 

family friendly activities at the detroit zoo
family friendly activities at the detroit zoo
family friendly activities at the detroit zoo
family friendly activities at the detroit zoo

Besides viewing the animals, the littlest zoo visitors can ride the animal-themed carousel, take a trip on the Tauber Family railroad, visit the Korman Tadpole or Rissman PlayVenture playgrounds and more. And for the adults (whether kiddos in tow or not), there is also a 4D theatre and simulator ride to check out.

family friendly activities at the detroit zoo

If you find yourself in the Detroit area with your family, I definitely recommend spending a few hours visiting the animals of the Detroit Zoo. But, before you do, be sure to scroll down to read my tips for visiting the Detroit Zoo with your family.

family friendly activities at the detroit zoo
family friendly activities at the detroit zoo

Important tips for visiting with your family:
  • There are a few indoor spaces that do not allow strollers, including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center. If you have a little one that cannot yet walk, I recommend bringing a carrier to use when the stroller is not available.
  • Guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages into the Zoo. Several picnic areas are available throughout the Zoo. 
  • Bring your own reusable water bottle to refill at one of the 21 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds. Bottled water is not sold on site, something the Detroit Zoological Society had worked hard to achieve.
  • There are several concession stands throughout the zoo, some seasonally available. Items are reasonably priced for an attraction, and include burgers, hot dogs, fries, pizza, chips, soft drinks, frozen beverages, ice cream, coffee, etc. There is also a location with an all-vegan menu. 
  •  Zookeeper talks are held daily at various animal habitats, giving guests the opportunity to interact with animal care staff while learning about the individuals living at the Zoo. 
  • To save a bit of time during the busy months and money, pre-purchase your tickets and parking pass online in advance.
  • Hours vary depending on time of year - check the website prior to your arrival. I recommend at least 4 hours to check out everything the zoo has to offer. Our visit lasted from approximately 10:00am to 3:00pm. 

The Detroit Zoo can be found at 8450 W 10 Miles Road Royal Oak, MI 48067.

If you liked this post, you may also like:
Toronto Zoo 1, 2, 3 - Toronto, ON
Alaska Zoo - Anchorage, AK
Assiniboine Park Zoo - Winnipeg, MB
Riverbanks Zoo - Columbia SC

Did you visit a zoo or aquarium this summer? I'd love to hear which one AND your favourite animal!


family-friendly fun at the Detroit Zoo, Michigan


August 12, 2019

Annual Family Camping Trip: Awenda Provincial Park

We are so lucky to have many incredible provincial parks to explore here in Ontario. Everything from swimming, to hiking and camping, and even cross country skiing in the winter months - our provincial parks are what an outdoor lover’s dreams are made of.

For our family, camping is an annual summer tradition. It’s a way to break away from the every day, to slow down, disconnect and escape the city for a few days of relaxation and fun in nature.

Family friendly camping at Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario

Earlier this summer, our annual family camping trip took us to Awenda Provincial Park. A new park for us to explore, Awenda sits on over 2,900 hectares of forested land on the shores of Georgian Bay. I had been told by many that it was a very kid-friendly park. And just a short 2 hour (approximately 170 km) drive north of Toronto, we definitely agree.

Awenda offers camping in six campgrounds - Wolf, Snake, Hawk, Deer, Bear and Turtle. Sites are shaded beneath Sugar Maples and Red Oaks and are spaced further apart than many other provincial parks. We stayed in Wolf, a radio- and dog-friendly area with electrical hookups (for my parents’ trailer).

The site we stayed at (Wolf 247) was a large site, with two picnic tables. It had a high canopy, which was perfect for the trailer. However, it was also very shady which caused a few issues after it poured the morning of our second last day (more about that later).

The Wolf campground also had centrally located washroom with showers and children’s play structure, which was always filled with kids. 

beach on Georgian Bay at Awenda Provincial Park

We were surprised at how quiet the campground was. Coming from other provincial parks, like the Pinery (which has sites closer together), it was a welcomed surprise.

>> You May Also Like: Camping Reflections

The park has numerous activities, including biking, birding, canoeing (rentals available), fishing, hiking, swimming and more. They also offer a wide variety of staff-led educational programming, for all ages. Regularly scheduled guided hikes, children’s programs, special events and evening programs occur from late June to early fall featuring the unique cultural history and the biology of the park. While we didn’t make it to any of these programs, there was at least one or two scheduled every day, including a Friday night bonfire on the beach. 

white admiral butterfly at Awenda Provincial Park
White Admiral Butterfly
Speaking of the beach… Sadly, this year it was virtually non-existent. To be expected I guess, as the park sits on Georgian Bay which is a part of Lake Huron. Considering how high the water is at my parents’ house along Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario and our family cottage up near Tobermory, it should have been expected.

One of the negatives of the park (if it can even be considered a negative?!) is that the campsites at Awenda are located far from the beach, so a car or bike is required to get around. You could walk, however, from where we were in Wolf, it would have taken approximately an hour on the Bluff Trail which is not necessarily stroller- or clumsy/slow toddler walking-friendly.

beach on Georgian Bay at Awenda Provincial Park
dad and daughter at beach at Awenda Provincial Park

When it comes to hiking, Awenda offers a nice variety of looped and linear, easy to moderate trails that range from 1 to 13 km in length. One trail provides barrier-free access - the Beaver Pond Trail, perfect for those with limited mobility or, like us, pushing a stroller. With a double stroller in tow, this is one of the trails we chose to hike. Located in a nature reserve zone, most of this trail is a boardwalk that takes you through an area altered by past and present beaver activity. The 30 minute hike is full of history, and along the way you will see the remains of both a building and a bridge from the early logging days.

beaver pond trail at Awenda Provincial Park
Beaver Pond Trail
If you are looking to go for a paddle, skip Georgian Bay (it can get pretty rough) and head to Kettle’s Lake. This lake is thought to be a kettle lake formed by the gradual melting of a large buried piece of ice left by retreating glaciers. The quiet and scenic lake is an excellent location for having a picnic and then putting in your canoe or kayak for a relaxing post-lunch paddle. This small, motorboat free lake is ideally suited for the novice paddler or nature enthusiast. It apparently also has good bass fishing. Canoes and PFDs are available to rent through the park.

>> Check out our other annual camping trips, here: 2014  //  2015  //  2017  //  2018

While we didn’t get the chance to get out on the water with our new kayak, we did take a short walk along the Wendat Trail (5km, 2 hour loop) to the boardwalk through Kettle Lake’s marsh. Despite having our littlest (and chattiest) daughter with us on the walk, it was extremely peaceful sitting on the board walk, watching the birds and listening to the breeze roll through the reeds. Ah, nature. Sometimes living in the city, I forget what that sounds like...

Family friendly camping at Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario
kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park
kettle's lake at awenda provincial park
Kettle's Lake
Unfortunately, our time at Awenda was cut a bit short and we took off a day sooner than planned. We woke up Saturday morning to an unwelcome down pour and a soggy camp site. Because the site was so shaded (as previously mentioned), we knew it wouldn’t dry out and we’d likely be forced inside the trailer with the girls for the day. So instead, we decided to pack up and take off. In the end, it was probably for the best. We had bought a new house just a few days before and time was ticking to get ours staged and on the market. Leaving early gave us an extra day of cleaning and packing. But more on the move later…

kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park
kettle's lake boardwalk trail at awenda provincial park

We had a great time with family at Awenda Provincial Park. If you are looking for a family-friendly campground within a short distance from Toronto, we highly recommend Awenda. 

And with this summer’s family adventure behind us, we’ve already started thinking about next… Looking forward to checking another of Ontario's provincial parks off of our list!

You can find Awenda Provincial Park, here: 670 Awenda Park Rd Tiny, ON L9M 2J2

Have you been to Awenda? What other Ontario Provincial Parks do you recommend for families? I’d love to hear!


Family Friendly Camping at Ontario's Awenda Provincial Park


July 25, 2019

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75

For us Torontonians, no trip to Buffalo, New York is complete with a stop at a select few retailers. One such location is Trader Joe’s. Today, I’m sharing our recent Trader Joe’s grocery haul - what we bought for under $75!

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75

Before leaving for our trip to Buffalo, I took to the wonderful world wide web and googled, “what to buy at Trader Joe’s”. I was instantly inundated with hundreds of product recommendations. Turns out, there are entire blogs, Instagram accounts, etc. dedicated to this store. It’s insane. And also, insanely helpful!

From these sites, and my question put out to you on my Instagram stories, I compiled my list. Here is what we actually came home with.

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75

Unexpected Cheddar Cheese - $3.99
This inexpensive cheddar cheese popped up on all of the “must buy at Trader Joe’s” lists. It is the perfect addition to a charcuterie board, or just eaten on its own or with crackers. Think cheddar meets parmesan. At first bite, it tastes like an aged Cheddar. Then, the smooth creaminess gives way to a tangy flavour and slightly crumbly texture, a subtle hint of salt crystallization, like an aged Parmesan. 

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip - $2.99
Raise your hands if you love dips! Trader Joe’s had a variety of signature dips in the refrigerated section, but we opted for just these two. They were eaten with tortilla chips and TJ’s ridge cut salt and pepper chips (below). 

Caramelized Onion Dip - $2.99
Of the two dips we bought, this was definitely my favourite! Also eaten with tortilla chips and TJ’s ridge cut salt and pepper chips (below). 

Trader Joe's Caramelized Onion Dip

Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce - $2.49
If you look in our fridge, it’s filled with condiments. What’s one more?! We have yet to try this, but I imagine it would be good on sausages, sandwiches and even in a homemade salad dressing.

Chili Onion Crunch - $3.99
We have yet to try this new condiment, but I bet it would be good on pasta, in a salad dressing or as a marinade for meat.

Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers - $2.29
While I was hesitant at first when Steve picked these off the shelf, I now wish we had of bought more than one box! For all of you blue cheese lovers, these taste exactly like the name suggests and are just as tasty to eat on their own as they are paired with cheese or meat. Would be a great addition to a charcuterie board.

Ridge Cut Salt & Pepper Potato Chips - $2.99
No explanation needed.

Chile Lime Blend Spice - $1.99
Trader Joe’s has some really unique products in the spice aisle, and this is one that I bought on my very first trip to TJ in Chicago. I put it on watermelon, but have also heard it’s good on pineapple and for rimming margarita and Caesar glasses. The perfect combo of salt and sweet, with a touch of smokey spice.

Everything But the Bagel Spice - $1.99 (x2 = $3.98)
Another good find in the spice aisle, this tastes exactly how it sounds. This seasoning is good on avocado toast, sandwiches and BBQ chicken. 

Trader Joe's Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Batter

Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Batter - $3.69
This one was for my mother-in-law, so we didn’t actually get to try it. But, like other speculoos, is probably delicious!

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (6 pack) - $11.49
This beer is not a Trader Joe’s brand, but it is one of our favourite IPAs. Whenever we’re in the States, we always pick up a 6-pack. It doesn’t last long in the fridge. 

Boatswain American IPA (6 pack) - $4.99
As IPA lovers, we’re always up for trying new ones. Unlike Dogfish Head, this is a Trader Joe’s brand beer. Also, not my favourite. The price was right though, so we’re glad we tried it.

Trader Joe's Boatswain American IPA

Popcorn in a Pickle - $1.99
I’m a salty person, so this popcorn was right up my alley. Very addictive!

Scandinavian Swimmers Gummy Candy - $2.99
Morley is a big fan of gummy candies, and because of that, they are the perfect bribe treat (#momtruth). Each unique shape has it’s own distinct and delicious flavour - the orange rockfish are orange-flavoured, the blue dolphins taste like huckleberry, the yellow sea horses are mango-peach and the red lobsters are berry. And if you’re curious, Trader Joe’s recently posted a video on their IG about how they are made.

Bamba Peanut Snacks - $0.99
This popped up on many different lists when I googled “what to buy at Trader Joe’s”, and for good reason. One, this snack is a great price and two, they’re both adult and kiddo-friendly. Think a peanut butter-flavoured cheesy (minus the cheese) that melts in your mouth. There’s no wonder our littlest loves them so much. 

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - $4.29
On my one other trip to Trader Joe’s in Chicago, this was in my haul. They are a bite-sized piece of delicious. So, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab them again on this trip. 

Enrich Facial Moisturizer (4 oz.) - $3.99
This moisturizer (with SPF 15) was on many of the must-buy lists I came across. And at under $5, I had to give it a try. I’ve only been using it for a few days, but do like the way it feels on my skin after putting it on. It’s light-weight and fragrance-free. While it can’t be a substitute for a normal facial sunscreen because of the low SPF, it will do a good job at keeping your face moisturized. 

Trader Joe's Enrich Facial Moisturizer

Dark Roast Ground Joe Coffee (14 oz.) - $3.99
When it comes to coffee products, Trader Joe’s has a large selection. From cold brew to ground coffee, there are quite a few options to choose from to get your caffeine boost. We were running low on coffee at home, so we picked up a bag of the dark roast (the darker, the better in our house). It was comparable to other grocery store brands, and at $4 a bag, I would definitely buy it again.

Organic Apple Strawberry Fruit Wrap - $0.49 (x2 = $0.98)
This fruit wrap is like fruit leather found in the grocery store, and full of flavour. The perfect toddler snack. Also comes in Apple Blueberry, Apple Raspberry, Apple Banana and Apple Wild Berry.

Apple + Mango Fruit Bar - $0.99
The fruit bars are similar to fruit wraps, but thicker. Another perfect toddler snack. They are full of flavour, and also gluten free. Also comes in Apple Coconut, Apple Strawberry and Apple Banana.

Trader Joe's Fruit Bars

Just a Handful of Olives - $0.99 (x2 = $1.98)
Our resident olive monster Morley was tasked with picking out her own snack. When she saw these individual bags of olives, she thought they were “so cute” (her words, not mine). They contain about 15 small pitted buttery green olives, and are the perfect addition to a lunch bag. Again, I wish we had of bought more.

Trader Joe's Just a Handful of Olives

Beef Jerky Strips Dog Treats - $1.99
Morley is always thinking of her furry friends Lola and Titus (my parents’ chihuahuas). She picked up a bag of these treats for our camping trip, and they loved them. Since they are senior dogs, they have a hard time eating the harder jerky treats. These ones were just soft enough for them to mow down.

Green Tea Matcha - $0.99
I’m not a fan of matcha, but my sister is, so this one was for her. Her feedback was that it was really good. It comes in a grab-n-go 245mL can.

Total Spend (before tax): $73.04 

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75

Since we made the trip at the start of our recent visit to Buffalo, we strayed from the refrigerated and freezer items. If we had of stopped on our way home, I’m sure our list would have been a lot longer (and closer to $100). But, we’ll save that for the next visit.

Morley was also a big fan. Guys, they have mini grocery carts! While it was kind of dangerous because she started shopping for herself, it did make the experience fun for her. Now if only other grocery stores would get mini shopping carts…

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75

All I can say is that I’m glad the nearest Trader Joe’s is almost 2 hours away, or our grocery bills would probably be a lot higher. And that grocery budgeting we’ve been trying so hard to stick to, would be right out the window.

Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? What are your favourite items? I’d love to hear!

*Disclaimer: Prices may change based on location, time of year, etc. 


Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping Haul: How We Spent $75


July 22, 2019

48 Hours of Family-Friendly Fun in Buffalo, New York

When you think of Buffalo, New York, what comes to mind?

I’ll admit, for the longest time I associated it with two things - the airport and shopping.

Only 2 hours from Toronto, Buffalo is often the destination for just that - cheaper flights out of the Buffalo airport and shopping and dining that you can’t find in Canada (Target, Trader Joe’s, Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, to name a few).

BUT, let me tell you - as we discovered on our recent 48 hours in the city, there is SO MUCH MORE to see and do!

Bison statue Canalside Buffalo New York

Earlier this summer, Visit Buffalo Niagara reached out and invited our little family for a two night stay to explore all of the family fun the city has to offer. Of course, we couldn’t wait to go!

So, what did we get up to?

Check out our itinerary below to plan your own family adventure in Buffalo, New York!


We left Toronto around 11:00am, after the morning rush. With a bit of traffic at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge in Niagara Falls, the drive took us just over 2 hours. Before our first stop, we did have to make a token pitstop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on some yummy snacks for the whole family. (Toddlers run on snacks.)

Our first stop was to the Buffalo Zoo, for a self-guided tour. This Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility (meaning it maintains the highest standards in animal care, education and conservation), is the only place in town to observe a wide variety of exotic and domestic animals year-round in naturalistic habitats. Think polar bears, lions, giraffes, rhinos, gorillas and more! The Zoo is situated in Delaware Park, which is located in a residential neighbourhood. Slightly jealous that these people can look out their front window every morning and see giraffes and rhinos. 

My favourite part of the Zoo was easily Arctic Edge, which opened in 2015 and is home to the polar bears, lynx, bald eagle and Arctic fox. I could sit and watch the polar bears for hours. (Fun fact, when I worked at the Alaska Zoo, we cared for an orphaned polar bear cub named Kali that left us to be a partner for Luna at the Buffalo Zoo. He now lives at the St Louis Zoo.) If you were to ask Morley, her favourite animal to see was the zebra because "it was walking in the sun". And Berkley got to practice her new word, calling every animal that walked on all fours a "dog dog". 

Location: 300 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214

Buffalo Zoo map
feeding the birds at the Buffalo Zoo
sea lion underwater viewing at Buffalo Zoo
kids looking at gorillas at Buffalo Zoo

After our visit to the Zoo, it was time to check in to our hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Buffalo Downtown, located (as the name suggests), downtown Buffalo just minutes from great restaurants and attractions. 

The hotel is a short walk to the Buffalo Metro Rail. This public transit system consists of a single, 6.4-mile (10.3 km) long light rail line that runs for most of the length of Main Street from the KeyBank Centre at the waterfront, north to the University of Buffalo. The great thing about this transit system is that travel is free on the above ground portion of the system.

Location: 220 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202

After checking in and resting our feet for a few minutes, it was off to dinner at Big Ditch Brewing Company, just a few blocks from the hotel. This craft beer microbrewery is dedicated to providing quality, delicious, innovative and drinkable craft beer for the Buffalo area. Their beer is so good they won New York State’s Best Craft Brewery aware at TAP Festival in 2016. If you love beers on the hoppier side (which we do), than you’ll love Big Ditch. My favourite was the FC (Fantastically Crushable), a Session Wheat IPA (ABV 4.1%) brewed in collaboration with FC Buffalo, Buffalo's professional soccer team. Steve’s favourite was Deep Cut, a Double IPA (ABV 8.2%). This beer won a gold medal in the Strong IPA category at the TAP NY craft beer festival in 2017. Besides their tasty beer and great atmosphere, they also have a delicious food menu with a variety of American-style, pub-inspired food. 

Location: 55 East Huron Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

Buffalo's Big Ditch Brewing Company beer flight


We were up bright and early, and filled our bellies with a delicious complimentary breakfast at the hotel before heading out for another fun-filled day. Their breakfast was one of the better complimentary hotel breakfasts I’ve had - make your own waffles, smoothies, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal and a hot bar with eggs and sausage. A big shout out to Connie, the employee working the breakfast bar. She went above and beyond, offering to watch the girls so that Steve and I could get everyone something to eat (and a hot coffee for ourselves). 

Our first stop of the day was the NEW Explore & More - The Ralph C Wilson, Jr Children’s Museum, located on the Buffalo waterfront. From the hotel, we were able to get there (for FREE) by riding the Metro Rail just a few stops south. All four of us were in awe over this place, and could have easily spent the majority of the day there (if time allowed). Unlike a traditional museum, Explore & More has built an environment for creative play and learning that’s one-of-a-kind as every child who walks through the door. They aim to provide the best-in-class play experiences where all children, families and the community can explore, learn and develop together. The different child-led play stations encourage kids to use their imaginations - Morley had the chance to be a doctor and a (construction) “worker”. But her favourite part was Sketch Town - where she had the chance to draw a car and see it come to life on a big screen. Such a cool technology!

Location: 130 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

outside of Explore & More, Buffalo New York
Explore & More Buffalo New York
Explore & More Buffalo New York

After dragging the girls out of the museum (literally, it was a struggle), we took a walk along Canalside before lunch. Canalside is the jewel in Queen City’s crown. The result of over $300 million in new development, the area hosts over 1,000 annual events. I would love to go back in the winter to check out Ice at Canalside, a 35,000 square foot rink on the recreated Erie Canal that features skating, curling, ice hockey and ice bikes. The waterfront is also home to America’s largest inland Naval park, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. Also a place we have added to our list for next time.

Location: 44 Prime Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

Buffalo Metro Rail light rail transit

After hopping back on the Metro Rail, and then walking a few blocks north, we made our way to Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar for lunch - home of the original Buffalo wings. This is where the chicken wing reportedly started thanks to a combination of left over chicken, hot sauce and a group of kids who wanted some late night eats. It’s been over 50 years, and this restaurant hasn’t slowed down. It is also one of the 12 stops on the “Buffalo Wing Trail”. We walked out of there with satisfied bellies after sampling the mild (kid-approved), medium and hot wings, as well as their famous chicken wing soup. So good!

Location: 1047 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209

Frank and Terresa's Anchor Bar Buffalo New York

Before an afternoon siesta, we took a trip down to the lake shore to work off some of the girl’s energy. We stopped at the state-of-the-art playground in Buffalo Harbor State Park. Boasting beautiful views of Lake Erie, the park is home to a 1,000 slip marina, a restaurant, boat launches, a beach and more. The park is also adjacent to Tifft Nature Preserve, a great place to go for a hike and view local wildlife. 

Location: 1111 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo, NY 14203

After running around at the playground, we decided to go back to the hotel to take a break from the heat before dinner.

Every Tuesday night from May to October, Larkin Square plays host to over 30 area food trucks, live music and more. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay long as the girls were getting a bit squarely (and we were still quite full from our wings at lunch), but could easily tell Food Truck Tuesday is definitely our type of scene. With Morley in charge of picking dinner, we settled on a delicious Mac & Cheese, followed by beers at Flying Bison Brewing Company, just down the street. Steve tried their Rusty Chain, a medium bodied Vienna-style amber beer (ABV 5.2%), and the #1 best selling local craft beer in Buffalo. I went for a pint of the Beer Garden Party, a citrus wheat ale (ABV 5.4%). Before we called it a night, we also stopped at Buffalo Distilling Company, makers of One Foot Cock(TM) Spirits (Bourbon, Vodka, Brandy, Moonshine and Krupnik), for a delicious cocktail. They are a true New York State Farm Distillery - 100% local grain to glass!

Larkin Square Location: 745 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14210
Flying Bison Brewing Company Location: 840 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14210
Buffalo Distilling Company Location: 860 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14210

Larkin Square Food Truck Tuesday, Buffalo New York


After packing up and eating a quick breakfast, the last stop on our adventure in Buffalo was the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The tri-domed glass, wood and steel building was built in the late 1890s, and at the time, was one of the largest public greenhouses in the country. Today, they are on a mission to inspire curiosity and connect people to the natural world through its historic living museum. And as a nature nerd myself, I could definitely appreciate wandering through the beautiful indoor gardens filled with flora from around the world. 

Location: 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14218

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens building
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens koi pond

And with that, our time in Buffalo had come to an end and it was time to head back across the border and home to Toronto. 

Our 48 hours in the Queen City definitely opened our eyes to the family-friendly fun that upstate New York has to offer. However, I know we only scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in Buffalo. Guess we'll just have to plan a trip back!

Want to see more? Check out my Story Hightlight --> #intheBUF on Instagram

Have you been to Buffalo, New York? What was your favourite part? I’d love to hear!

*Disclaimer: This trip was in partnership with Visit Buffalo Niagara and their wonderful partners. All opinions are 100% that of To & Fro.


What to see and do in 48 hours in Buffalo, New York

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