I'm so excited!  I can actually talk about planning a vacation!  We didn't think we would be going anywhere this year.  Paying for the new carpeting and laminate hardwood sort of killed the major vacation budget for this year (i.e another Caribbean cruise or Europe).  That's next May...

However, we have decided to take a road trip, meaning for the first time in our 14-year marriage we will be driving to our destination.  Since we are driving instead of flying, this gives us the opportunity to put the large cooler in the back seat and fill it with items that would cost much more to purchase on the road: soda, bottled water, chips, granola bars, nuts, brownies, etc.

What is our itinerary?

Day One:  We are driving to Detroit.  Since we are leaving on a weekday, we will getting up at the crack of dawn to beat some of the rush hour traffic we are bound to encounter driving south to Interstate 80/94 through Indiana into Michigan.  Yes, Detroit, Michigan...specifically the suburb of Highland Park.  Now I realize there is nothing to get excited about in Highland Park, Michigan.  We are only going to Highland Park to visit a family friend for the day.  We will spend the day with our friend, visiting and going out to dinner.

But since Detroit is only a few miles from Windsor, Canada we have decided to book a hotel room in Windsor...this will be our first visit to Canada!  I've chosen the Hampton Inn in Windsor, Canada.  I like staying at Hampton Inns.  The Hampton Inn hotels I've stayed in (Jacksonville, FL; Tampa, FL; St. Louis, MO) have all been clean, affordable hotels, plus you get a free hot breakfast.  An important value when you are budgeting for your vacation.  Our room price will be $123.00 for the night.

Day Two: We are going to begin the day with a visit to the Motown Historical Museum.  We both love the hits of the Motown generation and of course, Detroit is synonymous with Motown.  The museum was founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr.

From the Motown Museum we will drive through Ontario to Niagara Falls!  Neither of us have ever been to Niagara Falls so we are very excited.

We will be staying at the Hilton-Niagara Falls.  Our room will have fantastic views of both the American Falls and the Canadian Falls.  This hotel is a bit of a splurge, but I figure this is most likely going to be our only trip here.  Our room price will be $207.00 for the night.  Yes, I'm paying extra for the view this time.                                        
Photo courtesy: http://www.hilton.com/

Imagine having this view!                                                  
Photo courtesy: http://www.hilton.com/
We're not going to be spending much time at Niagara Falls.  We are also on a tight budget for this trip.  This is a vacation that we were not supposed to take this year.  Fortunately Niagara Falls is free.  And with views like below what else to you need?
Photo courtesy: www.niagarafallslive.com

But I have discovered there are lots of other FREE fun things to do at Niagara Falls:
  • The Niagara Parkway: This 34-mile drive on the Canadian side follows the Niagara River and is considered one of the prettiest drives in the world.
  • Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens: The gardens are located 6 miles north of the falls on the Niagara Parkway.  NOTE: Parking is $5.00.
  • Floral Clock: Located one and half miles north of the Botanical Gardens, the 40-foot diameter clock is the largest in the world.  Its "face" is changed twice a year.  The clock is almost as popular as the Falls.
                                        Photo courtesy: www.niagaraparks.com

  • Goat Island: This island located between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls is the oldest State Parkway in the U.S. and offers some of the most spectacular views of the falls.
On Goat Island is Cave of the Winds.  You ride an elevator 175 feet deep into the Niagara Gorge. Then, clad in a bright yellow poncho and wearing the special footwear provided, you follow a tour guide over a series of wooden walkways to the famous Hurricane Deck.  As you stand at the railing, you are a mere 20 feet from the billowing torrents of Bridal Veil Falls.  I think we will have to do this!  Check out this fantastic video posted on Youtube (courtesy of billjen3031) showing just what I mean:

Day Three: After a quick one night's stay in Niagara Falls, by late morning we'll be back on the road driving home.  After driving down the Niagara Parkway to Buffalo, we'll cross back over to the U.S. side and drive home through Pennsylvania and Ohio, two states I've never visited.  We plan to drive down Interstate 90 to Perrysburg, Ohio.  We'll stay at the local Hampton Inn (free breakfast!).

Day Four: After filling up on the complimentary breakfast offered at the Hampton Inn, we will spend the morning at the Toledo Art Museum, located just six miles north of our Hampton Inn location.  Anytime I can visit a world-class art museum I will take the opportunity, and the Toledo Art Museum is a world-class museum.  Its permanent collection contains works by many of the artists I love and have written about in this blog: van Gogh, Pissarro, Manet, Sisley, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Picasso, Modigliani, Hopper, Bellows, Beckmann, Bonnard and Monet.  Look at this masterpiece by Monet!

Water Lilies (1922) by Claude Monet                                                                  

And the best part is that admission is FREE!

By late morning we will be back on the road, heading back home.  Miss Kitty will hopefully have missed Mommy and Daddy...she is still getting used to us even though we've now had her six months.

I look forward to writing more extensively about this trip after I return.  Until then, thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.

NOTE: Unfortunately we did not make it into Canada but we did visit the Motown Museum in Detroit and the Toledo Art Museum.  Please check out my blog post on the Motown Museum  and look for my blog post on the Toledo Art Museum.

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