Planning a family day trip is sometimes just what you need for some quality family time to reconnect and enjoy each other. We planned a great one day family adventure from our home in Rochester to Niagara Falls. Check out what we did on this family day of surprises through Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls.
There are endless family activities in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We live close, under 90 miles, so we visit often but for this visit we wanted to pack in a fun mystery day of surprises for the kids.
Mystery Days are basically a full day of activities that are a surprise. We usually start early and end late. The itinerary is a surprise to the kids and we always have a blast! It’s like a day vacation. You can read more about our Mystery Days and how to plan your own here.
When planning our most recent Mystery Day I knew I wanted to do Buffalo and Niagara Falls. There is so much to do and I knew I could put together an amazing mystery day. We actually had way more than we could fit in one day and had to cut out a lot of amazing attractions. (Saving them for another day!) With 8 stops on our itinerary it was a full day!!
Family Day Trip: Rochester to Niagara Falls and Buffalo
Our Rochester Day Trip Itinerary:
- Paula’s Donuts
- Prophet Isaiah
- Dinosaur Golf
- Rainforest Cafe
- Undergrounds Coffee
- Buffalo Harbor Playground
- White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt
Our First Stop: Paula’s Donuts
If you have never been to Paula’s Donuts you need to stop what you are doing and plan a visit. It is amazing!!! I picked out the Red Velvet doughnut and it was delicious. It had just come out of the bakery and was still warm. Yum! We also bought a cinnamon roll for an afternoon snack. I did not get a picture of it because it was gone fast!
Next Stop: Prophet Isaiah, Niagara Falls, USA
I found this place when I was searching Roadside America. Prophet Isaiah said the world was going to end in 2014 and decorated his house to welcome the end of the world. It is a beautifully decorated house. We pulled over to take a look and point out all the neat things that ordained the house. It was only a few minute detour on our way to Canada and the kids really enjoyed it.
Next Stop: Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Niagara Falls, Canada
Dinosaur Adventure Golf is located on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Canada. We have walked by it many times but because we usually visit the Falls in the winter it was never open. Today was our day!! I had low expectations for this golf course because of the harsh winters. I figured it would be a little weathered but I was pleasantly surprised. This course was great.
They have two courses. We did the T-Rex Trek because it went through the erupting volcano. The parking was directly next door. Unfortunately, it was $20 for the day. We have never had to pay that much. I think because it was a Saturday in the summer parking was at a premium.
When we parked the parking attendant gave us a coupon book that had $1 off golf. This coupon was also online and could be printed. My husband and I did not golf and there was a fee for non-golfers. Kids were $7.99 and Adults were $9.99. Non-golfers were $3.99.(Canadian Funds.) The $1 off was good for up to 6 people.
Next Stop: Rainforest Café, Niagara Falls, Canada
Rainforest Cafe is a themed restaurant based around a Rainforest. The walls are covered with vines and animals are all around. The atmosphere is fun and every 30 minutes there is a thunder and lightning storm. This terrified my daughter when she was 4 years old. She had to sit on my lap most of the meal.
At this location they have animatronic gorillas and elephants. If you think your kid will be frightened by them ask for a table away from them. While waiting for our food we counted all the animals we could find hiding within the walls. Our guess was over 40 and we lost count!
In my opinion, you don’t go to the Rainforest Cafe for the food. We decided to go because we haven’t been there in over 4 years and thought we should give it another try. The food is okay but the atmosphere is really fun.
2 out of the 3 liked the jungle chicken nuggets but they all loved the french fries. I got a classic burger and it was fine. My husband got a Volcano Burger. It wasn’t the best but we wanted to go for the atmosphere rather than the food.
A little bit about the price…it’s expensive!! We knew this going in and you have to expect it at a themed restaurant. Currently the American Dollar is worth more in Canada. Keep this in mind when you are budgeting for your day.
From here we made our way back to the US. Overall it took us about 50 minutes of travel time between the countries. This included going through customs into Canada and back into the US.
Always allot for more time then you think you will need. The bridges can be backed up and really busy, especially weekends in the summer. Also you will need passports or enhanced license, and original birth certificates for the kids. Always check with USA Passport Service Guide to have the most updated information about travel.
Next Stop: Undergrounds Coffee, Buffalo, NY
My husband and I wanted coffee. Undergrounds Coffee has great reviews on Yelp. It was on the way to our next stop too. The place was really cool inside and the staff were super nice and helpful. I really liked how kind and understanding they were with the kids, who at this point were running all over the place.
We both got iced coffees and they were delicious! They did have some food and dessert options but we had our cinnamon roll from this mornings doughnut stop waiting for us in the car.
Next Stop: Buffalo Harbor State Park, Buffalo NY
Time for the playground!! The kids were restless and needed to use some of their energy. This playground was recently added to the Buffalo Harbor. It is located at 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd Buffalo, NY 14203. It is so awesome!
There are two climbing structures, swings, and spinning things. This playground has something for everyone. We could have stayed all afternoon. It was a great break and a great meeting place for our mystery guests. (Cousin time!) We also used the time to regroup and enjoy our coffee.
Next Stop: Canalside, Buffalo, NY
Canalside is a waterfront area in Buffalo that consists of shops, restaurants and open space. I was told there are lawn darts and other lawn games in the open space, but the day we were there was an Auto and Boat show and space was limited. This is also the place that has the infamous “Shark Girl”. Shark Girl was the highlight of our visit. The kids thought it was funny and we took a few pictures.
Then we spent the next hour walking around. I was a little disappointed that the shops at the Harborcenter were closed. Later I realized there were restaurants on the other side we could have checked out. I’m not sure if we were hungry, tired, hot, or a combination of all, but at this point we were kind of spent and the food offerings, a few food trucks, just didn’t do it for us.
After we ate we were ready to leave. Next time I think I would do Canalside and the Buffalo Naval Park in the morning. We were also hoping to see the grain elevator illuminations but with 1.5 hours left until dusk we just didn’t have the energy. Maybe next time!
Update: We spent a weekend exploring Buffalo and Canalside, including the new Explore & More Museum and the Buffalo Naval park. Read all about it -> Things to Do in Buffalo for a Family Weekend Getaway.
Next Stop: White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt, Buffalo, NY
White Rabbit was the last stop of our day. The frozen yogurt was good but the toppings were great!! My favorite was the chocolate covered mini-marshmallows. There are multiple locations and we went to the one on Elmwood. The layout was a little funny because the yogurt and toppings were down one hall and people were walking back and forth through. This caused a lot of congestion at the entrance. The seating area was nice and spacious, and we enjoyed our treat before the drive home. (White Rabbit has closed since our visit! Yotality Frozen Yogurt is another good option.)
It was a fun mystery day but I wanted to share what I would have done differently if I planned it again.
We really wanted to go the Buffalo Naval Park at Canalside but it closed at 5:00pm and we didn’t arrive to Canalside until after 5:00pm. I would have started at the Buffalo Naval Park, after doughnuts of course, walked Canalside, packed a picnic lunch for Buffalo Harbor State Park, and then made our way up to Canada. Live and learn!
We made our way back home from our Rochester to Niagara Falls and Buffalo mystery day. It was an busy day of family adventures but we loved it!