Niagara Falls itinerary overview

Niagara Falls itinerary overview

Lauren Williams, Staff Writer


Eighth graders at MMS are bustling with anticipation as they move close to their annual trip.

Typically, students travel to New York City. Due to strict Covid policies, plans were changed and the location became Niagara Falls, another popular tourist destination.

The trip kicks off on Monday, May 23, at 6:00 am. After a 3–and-half-hour bus ride (likely with one restroom stop midway,) the students start their visit at the Buffalo Zoo.

The zoo is 23.5 acres and is the 3rd oldest in the U.S., established in 1875. According to the Buffalo Zoo website, the zoo “Houses some of the world’s most exotic, endangered, and even local wildlife.”

There are a few add-ons for students with spare cash. Kids can decide to pay for Hidden Treasures ($5) and Zoomer rides ($5 for 5 minutes). The Bone Zone is free. There is also a carousel and train for $3 per ride. Animal encounters like goat feeding is available as well ($10 for a group of up to 6 people).

Students are required to bring bagged lunches from home, but the zoo also offers the typical fare at their concessions: hot dogs, burgers, and chicken tenders.

After three hours at the zoo, students take the bus to the Buffalo Museum of Science. The science center has a planetarium that’s free for all. The Bug Works exhibit teaches you all about different bugs and their ecosystems. There are also exhibits on space, anatomy, and movement as well as full fossils of a mastodon and an Albertosaurus.

The science center is currently hosting a special exhibit called Antarctic Dinosaurs.  The exhibit, which is not included in the regular cost of admission, is $21.

At 4:00, everyone checks into the DoubleTree hotel (Double Tree is known as the hotel that serves free chocolate chip cookies.) Students will have a little time to settle into their rooms before dinner.

Dinner is at Casa Nova and Sammy’s. Casa Nova has salad, pizza, and Buffalo-style wings.

The next morning at 8:00 AM students eat breakfast at COMO. We then go to visit the Aquarium of Niagara. As stated on their website, their vision is, “To be a destination of choice where all are welcome and motivated to join as a driving force for aquatic life.” 

After an 11:30 lunch at Antonio’s, we head to Maid of the Mist, a boat ride that takes us to the foot of the US side of Niagara Falls. They’ve been taking visitors on trips since 1846 and are very focused on helping the environment. They even created two new zero-emission vessels to lower carbon emissions.

We’ll go from there to Cave of the Winds, where we can get up close to the falls. On Hurricane Deck, we’ll get soaked from the rushing water. (Don’t worry; ponchos are available.)

Returning to the hotel at 4:30 will allow students get dressed up for a dinner dance at COMO.

On Wednesday, we check out of the hotel and eat breakfast at COMO. From there, we go to Old Fort Niagara, a historical site that ties into the revolutionary war. It was restored in 1929 and 1934. It’s a non-profit organization that’s open for public visits.

From there we visit the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. According to the website, the outlet shopping mall includes stores like Adidas, Aerie, Bath & Body Works, Champion, Crocs, Forever 21, H&M, Nike Clearance Store, Old Navy, Pacsun, PINK, Sketchers, Under Armour, Vans, and more. There are also places to eat like Applebees, Auntie Anne’s, and Dunkin. 

At 3:00 we leave and arrive back at the school at around 7:00. 

Originally, this trip was supposed to be a Social Studies history visit connected to the Revolutionary War with a small group of kids for one day and night. When 8th-grade teachers Catullo, Trentanelli, and Strietman, went to scout out interesting places, a plan was also put in place to expand the trip into a fun end-of-the-year event for the entire 8th grade. Due to Covid. the current class of eighth graders had missed out on Chicago as well in seventh grade. Trentanelli commented, “Destino was adamant about giving this class something. He said, ‘these kids really deserve this trip’.” 

Trentanelli also went on to say, “Maybe in the future when we get our regular New York trip back, we’re trying to see if we can team up with a school there (in Niagara) to make a social studies trip.”

Near the area we’re staying, there’s an old wax museum that the teachers noticed on their scouting trip. Trentanelli mentioned, “it is so bad it’s good, and if any student wants to go to it I would be happy to take a small group.”

Packing Tips

Mrs. Saunders, who has taken many student groups on trips in both the United States and Europe, offered some packing advice.

The current forecast is for sun and a high of 63 degrees.  There is a chance of rain on Wednesday, so packing a light rain-resistant jacket with a hood may be a good idea for the outlets. (Student may also want this for the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds.) Students should keep in mind that shoes will likely get wet, so they may want to leave their favorite pairs at home.

Students will need three casual outfits as well as one dressier outfit for the dinner dance. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.  Sandals and flip flops are good for the hotel but not daily outings. Students should also bring something to sleep in and a toiletry bag.

Consider putting any toiletries that could leak in a Ziploc bag.  A plastic bag or empty pillow case can hold dirty clothes. The most commonly-forgotten items are chargers! (Portable chargers could also come in handy if you have one.)

It may be a good idea to bring at least one mask in case you or a roommate begin to feel ill on the trip.

For the bus ride, cozy pants and socks would be good  as well as personal technology and earbuds. A small bus bag with nut-free snacks, tissues, hand sanitizer, and other frequently-used would be helpful. Students may want hats, sunglasses, or a small sunscreen.  Water is the only liquid permitted on the bus–no Gatorades, iced coffees, etc.

It is also suggested that all students carry with them emergency numbers in case their phone dies or is lost.  This could include parent(s), a friend also traveling on the trip, and the number for the school.  This list could be carried close to the body along with spending money.