Motown, First View of Canada and Niagara Falls Highlight Day 32 of PapiBlogger Road Trip

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This two-story house is where so many hit Motown records were recorded. Seven other houses in this same neighborhood later comprised what would become Motown Records until 1972.

On the 32nd Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip we discovered Detroit’s Motown roots, crossed into Canada and spent a wonderful evening visiting Niagara Falls.

MOTOWN HISTORICAL MUSEUM

If you love music, you can’t miss Detroit’s small but nostalgic Motown Historical Museum.  Being that that my two older kids are big fans of Michael Jackson, this was one museum visit they were especially looking forward to.

From the outside the museum itself would not seem like much because it is very small by any “museum” standard.  The museum is located within two legendary two-story Detroit homes that are linked together by a short walkway.  Motown Records founder Berry Gordy lived and worked in one of the two homes he nicknamed “Hitsville U.S.A.”

The top part of the house was Gordy’s family home and the bottom was Motown Records’ 24/7 headquarters and studio from 1959 to 1972.  Music groups like The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson Five all trace their roots to that little studio.  As Motown continued to grow, Gordy bought and then grouped six additional homes in the same neighborhood and used each of them to develop artists’ dancing talent, marketing and more.  The Hitsville U.S.A. home even has an old school phone operator switchboard for calls between the homes.

As any good museum would, there are tons of records, photos and other memorabilia from the artists themselves.  My kids were pleased to see full, original 1960s wardrobe from the Jackson Five.  The original “Beat It” music video jacket and even an original Moonwalk glove and hat that Michael Jackson used to perform at Motown’s 25th anniversary are exhibited behind glass.

The museum tour ends with a guided singing session inside the original Motown studio where all the classic hits were recorded.  (By the way, Gordy named Motown after Detroit’s nickname as the “Motor City”).  When you go, budget about two hours for your visit.

The Toronto skyline

SKIPPING THROUGH CANADA FOR NIAGARA FALLS

The Maid of the Mist tour only rides until 7:45 p.m.

Between the oil change we gave the Chevrolet Traverse in Detroit because it was approaching the 10,000-mile interval it’s set up to be changed at and the Motown Museum, we were forced to make some adjustments.  In order to save time, we improvised to go to the Niagara Falls quicker through a shortcut from Detroit to Canada.

Upon crossing into Canada you get this instant reaction from the kids: “Daddy, this looks just like the U.S.”  Of course that’s true except for the occasional French-language signs and the use of kilometers instead of miles.  If you decide to drive to Niagara Falls through Detroit, note that it is quicker than through the U.S. but it is dull driving.  With the exception of Toronto, which we only drove through, this is not the picturesque Canada you see in tour photos.

NIAGARA FALLS AT NIGHT

We barely made it to the Niagara Falls just minutes before sundown so we’ll devote today’s post to Niagara Falls in the evening.

First of all, the waterfalls are incredible anytime of the day.  In the evening, the Canada side of the falls shines colorful spotlights on the waterfalls and they look beautiful.

Don't go out of your way to view the ultra short fireworks display.

Even though seeing the falls is something that happens instantly, truly experiencing the falls is a full day affair.  If you are spending at least 24 hours in the Canada side of the falls be sure to buy the Adventure Pass which gives you priority access to four attractions and represents a 40% savings.

On our only night in the falls we all took the Niagara’s Fury ride.  This ride is more like an interactive film that shows the cataclysmic event that shaped the waterfalls.  You will get a little wet on this attraction but the kids will love it.

If you are going to be at the waterfalls on a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday evening, at 10 p.m. they have a fireworks display.  It lasts a whopping 10 minutes or so and is not even set directly above the waterfalls.  Don’t go out of your way to see it.

We had dinner at the Elements of the Falls restaurant that is in the main visitors’ center and enjoyed our meal.  It’s was a little on the pricey side but worth it.

SPRINT NEXTEL ROAD TRIP TIP OF THE DAY

Take an ice chest on your trip so you can store drinks, snacks and/or sandwiches.  We favor the collapsible ice chest because the configuration of what we have on the car and where we store it sometimes changes from day to day.  The collapsible ones are just as good as the larger ones but don’t take up as much space.

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