Weekend Getaway: Art Installations and Strangers Waving- Medina, NY

Remember that super adorable real life Hallmark movie village we showed you at the Farm to Table dinner this past summer? It was Medina, NY and now we are back to share all of the details with you like where to stay and what to do. We are noticing some of our small WNY towns are starting to invest in themselves once again and clean up a bit. And Medina is the first one we should start to watch.

After meeting Scott and Alix (owners of Shirt Factory Cafe and Medina boomerangs), we knew it would be a nice friendship filled with blogger-swapping stories and insights in to sharing stories on local surroundings. They invited us to stay in Medina and teamed with Andrew Meier (Village of Medina Mayor 2011-2016 who owns the Newell Building we were staying in) to invite us for an overnight at the beautiful Hart House Hotel in the village.

So there we were back in Medina– back ‘up north’ and once again appreciating what our small towns are doing. Our weekend was perfectly timed with PLAY/GROUND, a curated art installation inside the former Medina High School. The place was packed with all ages exploring rooms and getting hands-on with interactive exhibits and designs. Chloe loved the rooms filled with color and fun and exclaimed ‘Wow!’ at every single one she entered. Can we get more of this in WNY, please?

After taking in the art, we checked in to our room at Hart House Hotel. It’s a unique and very Airbnb- style way of getting to your room: you receive a text on your arrival day with your unit number and code to enter. A phone number to Andrew is at the ‘front desk’ in case of issues. The Hart House Hotel first opened as an inn back in 1876 and closed in 1918. High-end shirt designer Robert Newell snatched up the building to open his facility where shirts were created for people like Winston Churchill, Warren Harding, Bob Hope, and J. Willard Marriott (yea, like Marriott hotels). By 2004, the factory ended and sat vacant until Andrew bought the building which he turned the upper portion in to a boutique hotel and a place for Shirt Factory Cafe and 810 Meadworks to open.

Our room was fricken adorable. It reminded us of our stay in Vienna (25hours Hotel) with exposed brick walls, white on white, and cleverly themed rooms. We lucked out with the Astor room which had a painters theme (sawhorse endtables with rollertrays, a gorgeous painting in the corner lit by a Hollywood tripodlight). A jetted garden tub, walk-in tiled shower, space for all to hang out…it was quiet and peaceful…and did not feel like we were in Medina.

We walked down Main St. to Zambistro for dinner. I actually remember when Zambistro opened in 2006 and my girlfriends and I ate there after a day of bridesmaid shopping at Blissett’s so it was nice to come back for a date night and experience the culinary evolution.

The place was packed (we made reservations and we suggest you do as well) and they were accommodating with a high chair and Kid’s Menu for Chloe.  Beau and I shared a flatbread, woofed down the Meatball Minestrone, and Beau ordered the trout while I enjoyed the Hanger Steak. So so damn good. People around us were clinking wine glasses enjoying one another’s company. Chloe colored and read some books while Beau and I got to just relax and talk.

Back in our room, we gave Chloe a bath and brushed our teeth. We pack her KidCo. tent every time we travel and she sleeps perfectly in it. In the morning, Beau walked down to Village Spin for back-to-back spin classes which he booked the night before on the MindBody app. There was a mix of pop and hip-hop blasting through class (shout out to Pam) and Beau came back super sweaty (that’s a win!).

After cleaning up, we walked downstairs to Shirt Factory Cafe for a light breakfast and some serious coffee. The place was non-stop filled with people which was so great to see. Comments were made about the art installation being a big draw for crowds at establishments. This is why we think it’s so awesome when events happen outside our usual places, right in our small towns. It brings people to places they may not usually venture out to and get this- they explore the town and *gasp* spend money at local places. Huge for the small businesses.

Our last stop was at Ellen J. Goods, a Joanna Gaines-inspired home decor shop where all of your farmhouse dreams come true. We met the owners Lynne and JR who were all smiles and shared their familial history with the building (JR’s grandfather owned the former Brundage Hardware for decades in the same spot the shop is now). Beau spotted the perfect tray for our new coffee table as well as a vintage Family Scale that we plan on using somewhere in our house. We love finding fun things!

Medina is about 50 minutes from Orchard Park. How far is it from you? It really is a perfect day trip or overnight staycation. You also have Leonard Oakes, Mile 303, Becker Farms, and the Medina Railroad Museum nearby. Right now you can even book North Pole train rides which are fun and something different to do. We cannot thank our new friends enough for making sure we came back to town. A special thank you to Andrew Meier, owner of the Hart House Hotel, for providing such a beautiful room for us to stay in. When are you planning to head on over to Medina?

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

Canalside: The Ice Rink!

Oh, we are back! The beauty of a new computer! You can blog once more! Thank you to everyone who has been following along on our Instagram & Twitter accounts! You guys rock! We feel everything should end with an exclamation point right now! Our first post back? Our goosebump-inducing Canalside Ice Rink opener- what better than to get back in to things with Buffalo’s newest destination??

Canalside Ice Rink (photo by Insta user: @jordanschneider1
Canalside Ice Rink (photo by Insta user: @jordanschneider1

On Thursday 12/18/14, we were a handful of the lucky people who were able to experience the NEW Canalside Ice Rink in downtown Buffalo! You guys…you MUST go. Watching this once-Aud-then-grass-and-dirt site transform in the past 2 years has been quite the experience. Finally, Buffalo has another family, friends, and tourist destination to enjoy!

We were part of a sponsor team which means we were fortunate to get there and ‘Rush the Ice’ before the public could. As you know, we make our city life at the Hotel Lafayette and we love to walk or use the subway whenever we can in order to promote the city and its offerings. So we walked to Canalside in the early evening and met up with a few sponsor colleagues. Upon arrival, we beamed with excitement to see the massive transformation. You watch it unfold for months, but seeing the finished project at the end is always a surprise and incredibly rewarding.

The Ice at Canalside is huge and it is BEAUTIFUL. Being the former Erie Canal and old Aud- the bridges are up, the ice is down, and the waterfront has open a new chapter on Buffalo development. Decorated with lit pine swags along the bridges, a Christmas tree (sponsored by First Niagara), a Winter Cafe stocked with hot chocolate, popcorn, and warm pretzels…a skate rental ‘crate’ with fresh out-of-the-box skates (same building idea of reused shipping containers at Dog E Style), the summer Canalside Adirondack chairs sprawled through out so you can prep yourself, modern tables and chairs adorn one bridge, food trucks lined up, and Larkinville’s Market Stalls loaded with local vendors sprinkled the entire ice rink area. Heated stone walkways, a rubbery surface along the perimeter (so you can walk in your skates), heaters, and speakers pumping out holiday music filled the space. This being opening night, the crowd was trickling in for a couple hours before the big countdown!

The Zamboni clearing way in prep for the evening
The Zamboni clearing way in prep for the evening

With brief speeches, a holiday set performance by Neon Trees atop the Commerical St. Bridge, and demos by speed skaters, the Ice Bikes, and figure skaters- the time came! We ice-skate-stomped on to the rink among the first small crowd allowed on the ice as part of the lead sponsors. EVERYONE was smiling and laughing, hooting and hollering! Little hockey kids zipping by, couples holding hands trying not to fall, Mom’s with their cameras on the rails, old-school men skating with swagger, and hundreds watching on the sidelines- waiting to let loose in the rink. There was a wild rush we felt once we stepped on the ice- here we were- the original Erie Canal once stood here…the Aud (demolished in 2009) was once here <<and you can see the exact spot on the ice rink where an emblem is placed>>…to see so many people from all over WNY (and further!) here to enjoy DOWNTOWN left us with tons of cheesy warm & fuzzy feelings.

With being on the ice for only 10 minutes, a wild and gorgeous fireworks display shot off to the north of the rink. It was literally a constant ‘finale’ for minutes on end- hey, someone hire this guy for the 4th. People stopped mid-skate to watch. It was probably one of the best fireworks displays we have seen- ever. We kid you not. It was the perfect opening to the new rink and yet another surge of the city.

Thursday was an open skate- and free!- and anyone from age 2 to 102 could be found on the rink. Scattered among the skaters were some ice-bikers (the same fellas that bring you water bikes are now bringing you ice bikes to rent on the rink). We congratulated guy birds’ colleague (part owner of the water & ice bikes) on his new endeavor.

Ice bikes for rent at Canalside
Ice bikes for rent at Canalside

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After skating for a good half hour, we hopped off the rink and walked across the street to the new Tim Hortons (located on the corner of the new Harborcenter), which was packed with people of all ages. Knowing (716) would be totally nuts (we were right), we hopped on the subway and got of to walk on to Chippewa and grab a a bite at The Lodge (gimme that Fish Taco). <<and here is to hoping the Liberty Hound will coincide more winter hours now?>> We didn’t stop talking about the evening and how excited we were to see OTHER PEOPLE excited about the city. The only thing is- the city has been revitalizing over the past two years. The rink isn’t the beginning- it’s another milestone of awesomeness and excitement for downtown. Congratulations to Canalside, its sponsors, and all of the workers to make this rink happen! (And thanks to Bass Pro Shops who ditched us a few years ago muahaha!)

waiting to get ice skates
waiting to get ice skates

With a surface LARGER than Rockefeller Center in NYC, the new Ice at Canalside is huge and you don’t have to wait long to get on (if there is a line). With music filling the air, there is something magical you feel while gliding around and seeing new development everywhere in downtown. We can’t wait to bring our families and friends to show it off (and to keep changing their minds about downtown!!). If there is ANYTHING you must do this winter in Buffalo- make sure you head to Canalside to skate your cares away!

DETAILS:

Canalside Buffalo // Ice at Canalside

44 Prime St. Buffalo, NY 14202

canalsidebuffalo.com

(click above for the ice rink times & details!)

TICKETS: 13 & up: $5 // ages 6-12: $3 // 5 & under: free!

SKATE RENTALS: $3

HOW TO GET HERE:

you can drive in and park in surrounding streets and lots (check Canalside website!)

OR we suggest if you’re a northtowner or above, park at UB on Main St. and take the subway in! The last stop drops you off at Canalside- no hassels!

OK, I’M DONE AND NOW I’M HUNGRY:

(716): 7 Scott St. —> right across the street from the Ice 716.855.4716

Tim Horton’s: 100 Washington St. —> right across from the Ice

Liberty Hound: 1 Naval Park Cove —> literally right behind the rink; only seasonal hours in winter 716.845.9173

Lagerhaus 95: 95 Perry St. —> walkable from the rink; awesome African Peanut soup & beer 716.200.1798

Iron Works: 49 Illinois St. —> walkable from the rink; often has live music 716.200.1893

The Archer: 268 Main St. —> get on the FREE subway and get off at Seneca, it’s right in front of you 716.768.4661

coming soon in 2015 : Pizza Plant

anxious ^ pumped up- people wait to get on the ice (scene from Winterfest, Jan. 2015)
anxious ^ pumped up- people wait to get on the ice (scene from Winterfest, Jan. 2015)
get on it!!
get on it!!
you & your buds can reserve slots to go curling! check out the website for details
you & your buds can reserve slots to go curling! check out the website for details