Locked-Up Escape Room:…Did We Escape the Serial Killer?

I flippin’ LOVE Halloween. Yep- that includes all of the stuff that goes bump in the night and terrifies you. Beau? Eh, he gets nervous. But me? Bring it on!

So we’ve got some time left in the scare season. Perfect! Cause we have your spooky plans all ready for you this week. You’re going to be locked in a cell, stuck in a casket, and enclosed in a morgue freezer. We’re talking about Locked-Up Escape Rooms at the House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs.

I also flippin’ love escape rooms. It’s like all of those computer games from childhood come to life and you suddenly are like ‘Yea, dude, I’m gonna nail this game!’. Tim at Locked-Up invited us to ‘come play’ so I grabbed our cousin Brian and his gf Stephanie to solve the Serial Killer escape room this past Sunday. Locked-Up Escape Rooms is inside the House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs in Cheektowaga; a massive warehouse-sized space that contains three different one-hour escape rooms (with a 4th coming soon), 2 mini-escape rooms, a coffin simulator, and 5 different horror attractions.

It’s dark. This already sets the mood for panic. No cellphones. The rules are spoken. Then a black pillowcase goes over your head. You are being kidnapped by the serial killer and (very carefully) escorted to your locked cell. No, I’m not going to tell you all the secrets and answers- you’re going to have to figure that out on your own.

The escape room isn’t just a room- it’s 6 rooms you need to solve in order to make it out alive. You become part of the story with the gritty tangible details and dim lighting throughout each room. No corner is left empty and the set for each room is clearly executed with thought and artistry. So there we were- hustling to find clues and solve puzzles…crawling, getting locked in to things, and being separated time to time.

At one point, I was in this room BY MYSELF.
You’ll wonder who is alive and who isn’t…

We hustled so hard that WE MADE IT. One of the toughest escape rooms there and came out alive. After our celebratory high fives, we got to walk back through and take some shots to share (but nothing too revealing!).

Mike and Fran (our fearless leaders that morning) offered to take us through one of their main attractions at the House of Horrors: Killer Theater. A behind-the-scenes tour of the best Halloween scare site? Ok, twist my arm. Killer Theater is film-themed with all of the scary greats: Michael, Freddy, Jason…to name only a few since you need to see them all for yourself. The sets are life-sized and intricate in details. You really can see the level of craftsmanship and creativity in each set. Even without the live actors (oh, yes) it was creepy and caused you to put some hustle in to your step.

Ugh, go away Annabelle!
Michael Meyers house is literally built here. To scale.

Now in its third year, House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs is officially one of the Halloween must-dos. We had a blast at the Locked-Up Escape Room and have been telling everyone they MUST book a room. Gather up 4-10 peeps are GO. Booking online is super easy: do it here. You can get all different packages to the attractions online or you can head there yourself to purchase tickets.

You have time- do it now. Booked this week? Or not totally down with being scared? That’s ok- the escape rooms are all year round and are more mysterious and creepy rather than scary.  So muster up your courage and enter if you dare…see why House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs is the one place you need to be at this Halloween.

Locked-Up Escape Rooms // House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs

3637 Union Rd. Cheektowaga, NY 14225 (behind Sonic)

great for: friends, family, double date, team building, jumping, covering your eyes

Explore & More: Did We Survive the Scavenger Hunt?

The room was packed. The sound of fast-talking, anxious voices overpowered the lobby of 500 Seneca and you could barely hear the person next to you. All ages (18+, that is) and types (suits and sneakers) were huddled together, worshiping over a paper map. Playful banter and friendly (maybe?) competition ensued- gearing up to beat out the other in the game. By 5:45pm,  it became a room of salivating wolves.

Okay…we’re exaggerating- they were happy wolves! It was the Explore & More Children’s  Museum Scavenger Hunt! (now known as the Explore & More- the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children’s Museum) The adult day of play event focuses on raising money for Explore & More through a fun hunt around the city of Buffalo. With a team of 4-5 people in one car, you utilize an app that messages trivia and clues as to where you need to go throughout the neighborhoods. This is how you accumulate points to win. So there we were- only 90 minutes to get in as many activities as we could with our friends Tom and Jess: mimic a statue at Albright-Knox, take a selfie with the Chef’s sauce can, find the type of bird above City Hall…we strategized as best we could and sometimes found ourselves racing against another team on foot while grabbing pictures and eating food.

We were so pumped to be a sponsor again this year. There are a few reasons we believe in this event:

  1. The proceeds go to the new Explore & More which opens Spring 2019 at Canalside. (duh.) The new location is massive (43,000 sq. ft.) and will offer MORE activities, adventure, and education for kids in a centralized location that benefits children in the city and surrounding neighborhood rings. Giving our youth the opportunity to access the museum is beneficial to ALL types of kids and that is one way we can grow happy, healthy, and curious people.
  2. We are starting our own family. We want Chloe and any future kids to have a beautiful, well-supported children’s museum where they can play and discover new things.
  3. Our region grows by new and re-imagined spaces for local residents of the 716 and those coming in to the area for a visit. With both of us being Leadership Buffalo graduates, one top of mind thing we took away from the program was ‘Make Buffalo Better’. Isn’t that exactly what the museum is going to do? A better city, region, and education for our future?

Enough sappy talk. The point here is the Scavenger Hunt was a HOOT. We cannot wait for next year and to see it double again (which it did in 2018!). If you missed it, that’s okay. You’ll make it in 2019. For now, consider supporting Explore & More through their new crowdfund campaign to make sure the ‘Lighting Buffalo’s Imagination’ exhibit comes to fruition. (Donate here) Come on and ‘play it forward’.

Because no matter what our age, we ALL want to get out there and play.

Cruise Around the City in This Adult Scavenger Hunt!

Serious question. Have you done an adult scavenger hunt? We have! Last year we hopped in a car with two other friends and cruised through the city of Buffalo, answering trivia questions and completing fun dares at different businesses to rack up points. All for the Explore & More Children’s Museum!

It’s happening again this year on October 2nd and we are super proud to be one of the sponsors for this event. We are so excited for their new build down at Canalside and cannot wait to take Chloe! This year, the Incredible Hunt: Grownup’s Day of Play (the fun name of the game) begins at 500 Seneca where you can strategize with your team how you’re going to win the Scavenger Hunt! Then, pile in to your car to go from Point A to Point B in the neighborhoods to tally up your winning score.

We had so much dang fun last year- laughing, taking selfies, stuffing our faces with cupcakes…all of the proceeds go toward the new museum so how can you not want to take part?!

Registering is easy and can be done online! You can have up to five people in one car ($250 per car- so you can split the cost) and spots are filling fast. Get your car set up here!

We had our cousins join us in 2017!

Here are some pics from last year:

Staycation: Rooftop Fireworks

Rooftop fireworks. Martinis. 24/7 kitchen. Modern. Views.

There’s a new staycation in town and it may not be where you would first think of one. It’s the Hyatt Place in Niagara Falls, NY and it’s perfectly located within steps of the Seneca Casino, Old Falls St., and the Canadian border.

We packed up for an overnight stay, dropped Chloe off with the grandparents, and rushed on up to the new Hyatt. Already impressed with its location, we were surprised again once we stepped inside and noticed the modern décor: large sphere lights, wood panel walls, a hand-drawn map of downtown Niagara Falls, and wood with metal detail tables that made us wonder if we could sneak one in to the car and take it home.

Greeted by smiling people, we found our room filled with a charcuterie board, fruits, chocolate-covered strawberries, and Prosecco. (Ooo, who are we right now?!) Our room overlooked the mist of the Falls and peered in to Canada. It made us reminisce of our old Clifton Hill days (amiright?!). We spent time at the bar downstairs, noshing on tacos, sliders, and cheesecake while having a breather to finally just be together again. That’s the point of a staycation for two, after all.

Every Saturday they have live music up on their rooftop that overlooks Niagara Falls State Park. Being a little rainy, it was moved to the lower level where people gathered to just chill and enjoy the music. 90s tunes while we had some drinks? Living our best live in our thirties. At 9:45pm, we went up to the rooftop to get cozy for the fireworks. Each Friday and Saturday night, fireworks roar over the Falls and the Hyatt rooftop is the perfect location to watch! The fire lit up the sky and with the city lights as the backdrop and a wave of new appreciation for this part of WNY rushed over us. Low-key, modern, fun…this was everything the Hyatt was bringing to this night.

We took advantage of the location and stopped by the Casino where we ran in to people we knew, had some drinks, danced in the aisles, downed some coffee, and basically broke even on what we spent at Blackjack. Beau is decent at it and I am like a little old lady hitting up the old-school penny slots. Heading back to the Hyatt, we were once again greeted by smiling faces who asked if we were hungry and if there was anything they could get us. Heck ya! A quesadilla and flatbread were ready in under 20 minutes and we relaxed back in our room, this time enjoying the lights across the way.

There we were, 1:30am and way past our bedtime. Parents night out. Oh, it’s a real thing and we thought our friends made it up. Nope. Somewhere between Planet of the Apes, chugging water, and the last flatbread- we fell asleep and slept in until 8am. Oh em gee, 8 fricken in the morning. Is that as late as our bodies would let us? We’ll take it.

Breakfast was light and fresh- French toast, greek yogurt and granola bar, eggs, juice, coffee…the hotel was bumpin’ and we were glad to see it filled with all types of people visiting the area. We got in a workout at the on-site gym and went for swim at the pool which made for a nice morning.

As we packed up, we said goodbye to the GM Stacey at the Hyatt who was so glad to hear our stay was above and beyond our expectations. The service we encountered was wonderful and the view from the roof was what changed our thoughts on having Niagara Falls as a staycation. While we missed Chloe, it was so awesome getting away together for a night and pretending we were boyfriend and girlfriend again. We all need that…us married folk, that is. Think outside the box…go somewhere you normally wouldn’t…uncover new adventures…eat a quesadilla in bed at 2am…reminisce…watch the fireworks from the rooftop. See what happens.

Hyatt Place Niagara Falls // 310 Rainbow Blvd. S Niagara Falls, NY 14303

716.285.5000 // Facebook page // Instagram

Location: minutes to the Seneca Casino, around the corner from Old Falls St., walking distance to Niagara Falls State Park, right at the Canadian border

Breakfast included, contemporary rooms, rooftop

Perfect for: staycations, telling your family and friends where to stay while visiting the falls, event space

Welcome to the Grit….House

What’s up, WNY? Guy bird here- showing you where I like to take a [workout’] beatin’ these days. If you live or venture out to the Southtowns and enjoy pushing your body to the limits, Grit House is where it’s at. This place is pumping out beats that run through your veins while you watch the sweat drip from your brow. The fitness family here welcomed me with open arms…which quickly turned in to kicking my a** and keeping me focused.

Grit House offers a range of classes 7 days a week from 5:15am to 7:30pm and all are designed to have you crawling to the door. It’s a true experience and their style of workout is unique to them. I have popped in to many gyms and have to say, ya gotta experience the Grit to understand what goes on behind that garage door…but if that garage door is open- prepare yourself. They offer classes like ‘Camp Grit’ and ‘Athlete 2.0’ where you will find familiar terms like spin, cardio, pilates, tabata, ropes, yoga, and boxing.

As someone who has been to tons of workout classes, I know that a place is only as good as their instructors. At Grit, you won’t find anything but intense in-your-face and ready-to-roll instructors. *drum roll, please* You’ve got Ashlee ‘No Joke’ Lonergan, owner. Something about someone smiling as they yell at you has always confused me. Next up- Jay ‘I Run 16 Miles at 2am Then Instruct Back-to-Back Classes’ McFadden. Jay will test you constantly while he admires his sweet beard. Then we have Matt ‘Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop’ Bermingham. This sexy beast of a man is about to be 50. I almost hurled taking his boxing class. Win. Last but not least- Jenea ‘Twinkle Toes’ Castanza-Smith. Her pilates class is unique to her and if my wife won’t say it, I will- my a** is lookin’ pretty good.

The atmosphere and environment at Grit House is genuinely cool. They have accomplished setting themselves apart and creating a style of working out that can only be understood by showing up. Side note…did I mention they have showers? HUGE PERK and I think I may be the only one that uses it and that’s fine with me.

What you need to know: they’re located at 97 Main St. in Hamburg. Download the MindBody App to sign up for classes. They are one of the few that offer a monthly unlimited rate (a no-brainer in my world). Classes fill up quickly and signing up a week in advance is recommended.

To Ashlee and Jay- thank you for welcoming me in to your fitness family down here in the Southtowns and for opening up roughly a year ago. Let the pain, sweat, tears, and smiles continue. December Challenge is in full swing and I’m getting my a** handed to me…but that’s the point.

-Beau

Grit House// 97 Main St. Hamburg, NY 14075 // www.grithousebuffalo.com

Holiday Looks from the Fashion Outlets Of Niagara Falls

We have a secret: all of our great finds happen at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. Seriously. Beau gets all of his workout gear from Puma, Chloe gets her fancy pants from Janie and Jack, and I get tons of business attire from J. Crew and Banana Republic. Just to name a few.

We teamed up with the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls- they dared us to find a holiday look without breaking our bank. BRING IT. We were so in. There are tons of stores that have incredible deals, especially in December- each day there is up to 75% off pricing and then on top of those deals you can find the holiday pricing too! It’s so easy to find a handful of different party looks…because you can’t be rockin’ the same outfit at every event.

Don’t believe us? That’s ok- this list here shows you all the deals happening in December. See for yourself. The best part of the Outlets is that they are not that far away. REPEAT: they’re dang close. When we lived in downtown Buffalo, it took us 20 minutes and in Orchard Park it takes us 35 minutes. It’s a nice drive with coffee in hand. Take the 190N for a pretty view of the water if you come from the south. And once you get there, you’ll have plenty of shops in and around the outlets plus a lot of options for refueling with food.

Bring the kiddos because Santa is visiting through 12/24 and the fur babies can hang out with him for photos through 12/21. Check here for details. Chloe held on pretty well for her first shot!

Ok ok, so on to our finds for our next casual holiday party!

Chloe: Janie and Jackhat, shorts, tights
Beau: J.Crew- sweater // Express- pants // Michael Kors- watch
Beau: Puma- sneakers // Chloe: Gap- sweatshirt
Chloe: Janie and Jack- hat, top, jacket
Lindsay: J. Crew- top, skirt // Express- earrings // Banana Republic- tights // bare + BEAUTY- bareMinerals lipstick

Check out the most updated list of stores at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. We think you’ll be surprised. Challenge yourself to check out some unique stores like Sarar for men’s suits, Beef Jerky Outlet for the carnivore in your family, Helly Hansen for outdoor ski wear, Le Creuset for cast iron cookware, Just Cozy has all the holiday leggings for Christmas morning, and DAVIDsTEA has the tea-lover needs. The online site has an easy-to-read map so you can plan out where to park (we like coming in through Saks) and which way you’re headed. Oh and our biggest must-do? You MUST check out the Donut Ninja, a little kiosk in the center of the mall. They’re fryin’ up donuts, they’re local, and we’re obsessed.

Thank you, Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, for always helping us find what we need! We’ll see you again real soon.