– Lori over at A Little Slice of Special!
I find most people have some expectation of what a honeymoon should be. If you ask relatives (aka the 40-80 crowd) I’ve found most stayed within the US but flew somewhere and that was considered a big deal. Jump ahead to those who got married in the 90’s they all took a romantic tropical vacation (cue Beaches commercial) and now a day what people do when they get married is to contact Twiddy rentals as soon as possible. Now it seems like there are three primary honeymoon routes my friends have been taking: Cruise, Island, or International trip. To be fair, I have several friends who also chose to just take a few nights away in a hotel nearby or take a trip a year later.
Randy and I decided pretty early on in the wedding planning process that our honeymoon was really important to us. We made sure to set aside a reasonable amount of our budget for the honeymoon but still had trouble trying to find something affordable. At the time, Randy had just finished undergrad and I was in the middle of my master’s degree. We were living on one income (I eventually got a low paying summer internship the summer of our wedding) and paying for a large chunk of the wedding ourselves.
After trying to crunch the numbers a million different ways we decided we needed to stay in the US, bonus points for not flying. So given our paid time off restraints we had to find somewhere we could drive to and from in 9 days. We did our best to try to plan a road trip on the Dinosaur Trail in Montana but there just wasn’t enough time. That’s when we realized neither of us had ever been to Niagara Falls. As a bonus, we could drive there and still be out of the US, so Canada became our destination. Deciding to take a road trip was quite possibly the best thing we could have done. It was a 1 day drive up to Canada, 11 hours total from Milwaukee. Because of the money we were saving by driving (we took randy’s car which gets 40+ MPG-it’s an ’88 Honda CRX) we decided to spend our wedding night at one of the nicest hotels in Milwaukee The Pfister. It was a fairytale room, with champagne, chocolates and a view of Lake Michigan. In the morning our closest family and friends met us at the hotel to have brunch and open gifts. It was perfect. Then we hopped in the car and headed off for Canada.
One of the reasons I say that a road trip was one of the best things we could have done is because we literally spent the whole drive talking about the wedding, what we did at our bachelor/bachelorette parties, about the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and of course the wedding, our favorite parts and funny memories (we laughed A LOT). We arrived in Niagara late on Sunday night, we checked into the hotel where we had booked for our first night a falls view suite. We weren’t sure how cool it would be and since it was more expensive we only booked 1 night. Well we got up there and it was breathtaking, we immediately called down and they cut us a deal to upgrade our room for the rest of the week since it was our honeymoon, best decision ever! We spent 5 days in Niagara, which, despite its reputation, is actually quite beautiful and not at all cheesy/touristy as I thought, at least not on the Canadian side! Our hotel, The Radisson by the Falls, was right across from the Horseshoe Falls and next to a beautiful park. We could walk almost everywhere we went for the week and it was next to, in our opinion, the best parts of the Canadian side of the falls. We spent the week sightseeing, both the expected and more obscure.
We did the behind the falls walk, went on the maid of the mist, went to a butterfly garden, and ate at the cheesy casino buffett, we also read a value betting guide to do some betting at the casino that same day. We took a short drive to a winery and did a tasting/tour and did a rapids walk which was breathtaking. We walked around downtown (lots of gardens), ate lots of yummy foods the whole week and we also made a trip out to the botanical gardens. Finally, proabablyone of the highlights of our trip, we decided to go have one really snazzy dinner so we reserved an early bird dinner table in Skylon tower our first full day/night in Niagara. (The Skylon is a revolving restaurant shaped much like the space needle in Seattle) While the bill was higher than our weekly grocery bill it was some of the best food I’ve ever had, we had spectacular views and got to try ice wine for the first time! It was an evening I will never forget and there’s no one I would have rathered share the experience with.
We left late on Friday and drove straight through to Macinaw Michigan where we had booked a campsite for the night so we could spend Saturday out on Macinaw Island. Our campsite was gorgeous and we were able to go to the campstore and find goodies for a quick camp dinner. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise and then drove over the macniaw bridge, as we skipped going out to the island ($40 to ride the ferry-I think not!) and headed home through the UP of Wisconsin.
Tips for an Awesomesauce Road Trip Honeymoon:
1. Sample the local cuisine as you roll through different places
2. Be Prepared for hiccups in the trip, they make for some of the best memories, just laugh about it, it’s your honeymoon. We got stuck for over an hour in a car with no A/C in early September waiting in line to go through customs. It was insane but we still managed to laugh about it!
3. Do the things that make you happy, no matter how silly they might seem to other people. Play skeeball in an arcade and take silly pictures in touristy areas!
4. Take your time getting from A to B, you never know what you’ll find along the way:
5. Focus on you and your new partner, the time goes by so quick, just like your wedding day, take lots of photos, and just breathe and enjoy!