A Short Tour Guide To Western New York
What is more fun than those snowy months, in Buffalo, New York? A lot.
We have a lot of what we call "Buffalove" here. Or, a lot of love for the city of Buffalo, New York, in other words.
Winter sounds like an underestimation of a season, when the snowflakes begin to fall. It even snows in the fall. We had the "October Storm" and more recently, the "November Storm". Here, we really have only two seasons, as it feels. And everyone has their own names for those two seasons. But, winter... When you think of it, to many it can be a short season that consists of mostly cold and little snow. Here, it's not like that at all.
In the "not-winter" months, we spend our time outdoors mostly. Beaches, parks, fairs, the zoo... Chicken wing festivals, bike rides, garden tours... There is so much to do in the "not-winter" months. But, there is one thing we all aim to get. Sunshine. That nice... Warm... Fresh air. Alright. I lied. The air is not that fresh. Sometimes, it smells like Cheerios. Other times, fish or Lake Erie water. And when it's mixed, it's a bit disgusting. And very rarely, while walking down the street (mostly the nighttime streets) in some places, it smells like deep fried foods. That is the air of Buffalo.
And, what is it like in the winter months? It's almost like death: cold and gloomy. People become stiff from cold exposure, hurrying to get inside to be warm again. There is very little sunshine. But, when it does shine, it feels like we won the lottery. Almost. As for the smell... It smells like nothing more than cold. I don't mean the "go sniff an ice cube or the freezer" kind. That kind of smell usually has that of an onion, or food smell to it. Except here in Buffalo New York, there is no onion, or food smell to the air here. Just... Cold.
Although, there is an evolution of stuff to do in the winter, slowly. And that evolution is making it a more magical, amazing place.
In the Winter...
Buffalo has a new outdoor ice skating rink at a place called Canalside. It really is the center of activities here, no matter the season, and the gem to our city.
Rentals for ice skates cost money, but it is worth it. Or, you can rent an ice bike, and ride around on the ice. As long as you don't try to run down the ice skaters, it's fun. Especially when you realize that it's a bike... With an ice skate blade instead of wheel! Really... It is quite fun, and worth the experience. Usually prices vary, each year. But they're not too expensive.
Or, if that is not your thing... You can also take time to go fishing in the canal, as well. Yes, ice fishing. It happens here, and a lot of people do it. They take their tents, and supplies, and take time, sometimes all day, to go fishing.
And if that also isn't a fun idea... There is always the sights to see, the tours, the specialized lights throughout the city, and a special feel, that can be spent with loved ones. Winter in Buffalo can be quite a magical, romantic time.
On some days here, they end up more crowded than others. But mostly, it's a happy time. When you're done, you can buy a nice, delicious hot cocoa in a sheltered tent. You may also find donuts, and other snacks and goodies there as well.
Or you can head to a local bar, and warm up with a drink there. Sadly, Buffalo is not all that child friendly (yet)... But that is a story best saved for another time. But they're working on it. We are a very adult orientated city. ...Beer and wings. Lots of beer and wings. And beef on weck. We're good for that stuff, here, too.
If you want anything to do in winter, and you have children... It's difficult, as they may drive you crazy and you will realize that activities are a bit sparse. And I hate to admit that. As a Mother of two, I've only found activities run as a small event, needing admission and with limited amount of space, that ends up being a holiday story time and/or read along, or it may be an arts and crafts related event.
Sure, you can take your kid(s) ice skating. But there really isn't that much to do. Some places have snowy winter hikes for spotting animals that don't hibernate, or for their tracks. Others have... More animal involved activities. Or you could just stay close to home, or where you may be staying, build snowmen, snowball fights, make snow walls and fences out of snow, shovel, sledding and whatever your imagination can create. Hurray for imagination! In Buffalo's snow season, you kind of really need it... It isn't like the not-snow season, where there is activities galore, for children.
If you don't mind travelling away from Buffalo, an activity that you can spend time doing is skiing at one of a few places, such as Holiday Valley, or Kissing Bridge. There is also tubing either on-site, or nearby, with each site.
At Holiday Valley, there are rooms you can rent, as it's a hotel, and has activities during all seasons. Including golf. It's family friendly, and quite fun. If you plan to come to this area mostly for skiing, this is the place you may want to stay at. It even has a pool in the summer, and bike paths!
During the winter, other than arts and crafts, they have lessons for children, and a snow fort for children to find. The activities are definitely plenty, at Holiday Valley, for children.
With Kissing Bridge, you can go skiing, and there is a lodge. They also have tubing at Colden Tubing, if that's your thing, as well. Although, this location is best if you plan on having day-trips, and are just out and about, trying to get a little bit of everything in, during your trip. Unlike Holiday Valley, where there is plenty for people to do, this place is just basic and simple.
If you're looking for something a bit more indoorsy in Buffalo, we have art museums, plant shows, car shows, historical sights and other places to go, and so much more.
One interesting indoor activity we have here is called "Trapped: A Buffalo Escape Room Experience". You pay to be put inside a room, and you have to solve a series of puzzles to get out. It's fun. Even if you're family isn't getting along,or you want to heal an injured friendship, it can serve as a great way to bond. (Even though it may sound like I'm suggesting you argue and not get along, this really is a great way to bond. Especially when you are on time limit, and are paying for this experience.)
For the children, we have a Bounce Magic, and other places for children that are a bit of the usual, typical pizza sort of places for children. Minus animated mechanical creatures that you may find in some places. Except... Bounce Magic is a building full of inflatable bounce houses and the sort. It definitely it one place children love, and can get their energy out at.
And for the adults? There is always Lasertron. It's a place for adults to play laser tag and have fun, without children. Sorry, but they really don't allow children here... And there is no way they let children in. It's mostly for their safety.
Or, if you are looking for something family orientated, something fun for everyone, there is Skyzone... A place where you can literally bounce off of the walls, on a trampoline! Skyzone is definitely a family favorite, and worth the experience. Especially because it's a bit frowned upon for an adult to be bouncing around at a place like Bounce Magic...
Although it varies between family friendly, and adult orientated, Buffalo is home to a place, a theater called Shea's. Some events at Shea's reoccur often there, be it yearly or several times a year. Other events seem to have a once in a lifetime, or more of a rare occurrence there. Even though there are other theaters, Shea's is the most famous in Buffalo, New York.
And as the outside contains a famous neon sign that says "Buffalo", the interior is a marvelous wonder in all of it's own. Currently, it is under restoration, to preserve it's beauty. It's one of the many preserve/restore projects happening, along with Buffalo Terminal (an old train station no longer in use), churches, historical homes, and more. Although this is happening, events are still being held.
In the "Not-Winter" Seasons...
In the summer, there is a lot to do. Many parents here in Buffalo, New York, feel as if they need a break after the winter, to recover. Children are so cooped up inside that parents usually feel as if they are about to lose their sanity. As if the snow related issues aren't enough! So the "not-winter" months usually provide many many child friendly events. It's relieving, and well worth the recovery, as well as memories, during these months.
From road trips, to camping... Or there are the usual options of letting the children play in the yard in sprinklers, going to the beach, or even picnics at the parks... Well, not many people have picnics anymore, at parks. There are quite a few places that ban grilling, so you will not see a picnic with grilling, a favorite, all too often. And some people don't believe too much of a classic picnic, with making sandwiches. Although if the idea arises along with opportunity, there are many places for a picnic. Or a snack, with a view.
There is much to do in the "not-winter" months, and the ideas are endless. Going to the beach is also another favorite. Unless the beaches are closed due to high bacteria levels and algae blooms, or dangerous currents, which can happen quite a bit at times, people still go to the beach for the sun, or attend other beach-going related activities.
We also have hiking trails, nature preserves, and long walks along the waterfront... Although, some end up close that you may hear the lovely sound of passing traffic nearby. But don't worry, it's not too close. We like our roads here, as much as we like our nature. The waterfront, to Canalside, is right by a traffic. But visiting the area is quite worth it for the experience, and an amazing area for a backdrop.
As you relax, there are children screaming full happiness, laughing, at play. There are people attending fun alcohol related events, or other adult orientated events. There are various different ones that happen, for adults. Guarantee, in Buffalo, most events you attend in the summer have a beer tent. So if that happens to be something you're looking for, then you're in luck!
If you are looking for something to do in the months of "Not-Winter" you can always head to Canalside for concerts, and events. At Canalside, there is always something going on.
If you like tours, you could always join Buffalo's "Paddle and Pedal Boat" tours. Yes... It's like what it sounds like. It's pretty much going out in to the canal, on a paddle boat. Or, you can choose to kayak, or go boating. These are child-friendly activities, as well.
Or you can rent a bike, to ride around Canalside on, if you prefer to stay on land. Or you can take a waterbike out on the water!
Buffalo also has ferry tours, and tour boats, if that peaks your interest, as well. And there is also the Naval Park, where you can take a tour of an old Navy boat. Some say it's haunted, but it really is just that it feels gloomy, eerie.
If you're looking for land activities, we have concerts at various locations, parks for children to play in that contain a unique playground, or sculptures, or we just have a ton of art here. One of the more famous pieces being "Shark Girl".
As for food, there are many places to eat outdoors, such as food trucks of many different varieties, and different places to eat indoors. Buffalo is known for all it's different ethnic foods, so if you can come up with it, that you want something unique, something different, then Buffalo has it. When it comes to food, we have just about everything.
And that is a good thing about Buffalo, no matter the season, is that there is food you can try, just about anywhere you go. There are some pretty amazing places that make amazing beef on weck sandwiches, or chicken wings. And I don't mean the beef on weck with the thick beef gravy straight from a can, or wings from Pizza Hut or some restaurant, where it's chicken with a slimy sauce thrown on, that tastes fresh from a microwave.
The wings here are famous, as they are deep fried, and full of variety from different sauces. The mild sauce from one location, can be quite different from another.
Especially when we have the famous "Chicken Wing Festival", where you can try a variety of different chicken wings. Which, if you do plan on attending, the first day is usually the best because as it is not as crowded as the second day. Evening on the first day can start becoming very insane, though. Buffalo doesn't sleep normally like most of the world, because they sleep all day and are up all night, depending on the upcoming events. It is a city who loves to have fun!
And as for the Beef on weck? It's best with a beefy au jus from a pub, and wings are best when from a pizzeria. Places that combine both usually seem conflicting, and do not do a great job of making both taste amazing. Although, few argue differently, that there are places that do so. It really is a matter of "to each, their own", but for the experience, it's fun to visit places separately.
Some may recommend you to Duff's. Others, to Anchor Bar. There is always Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, or Shannon's Pub, and Buffalo Brew Pub... There are many locations that our local specialties.
The knock-offs of chicken wings, and beef on weck, are nothing like the real thing. Neither are the sauces from chicken wings, when they are that thick, slimy hot sauce. It's a lot different here, and worth trying, or asking around what people recommend.
In addition to food, we also have here are loganberry drinks, and local breweries, and vineyards. We also have lemon iced tea and sometimes there is sweet tea. Buffalo also has Mighty Taco, a unique kind of taco.
The only events we have dedicated to drinks are alcoholic, like a beer or wine tasting. So I guess Buffalo isn't too special there, on that one. Although we do have vineyards. But no matter the season, there is always an event dedicated to an alcoholic beverage of some choice. Unless you count sporting events (not childrens sports)... Then it's like an alcoholic event, each game. I'm not sure if it's worth seeing local teams, but I hear that it's good to go to a sporting event to get drunk and rowdy since our teams are so good at losing. But that's okay. There is still fun to be had, right?
Come and Visit!
So no matter the season, the choice is yours. Come for the snow, or come for end-of-summer chicken wings. It's not as bad as it seems, although the middle of snow season (winter) is risking it for those not used to the snowy weather. We are that city that travels while 5 feet or more of snow is falling around us. And although our sanity is at it's last few drops come end of snow season, we make it out alive like we've exited out of a cave and are seeing that sun filled sky and warmth for the first time, excited to live the summer season to the fullest.
Buffalo is definitely it's own world, and words are not ever enough to describe what it's like during either season. Come and stay for a while. You just might like it. There is so much to experience, that you just may want to come back, and experience more! Or, even to repeat, to relive an experience.
And about being snowed in? It won't happen. But I can't promise.
When you hear of Buffalo, what do you think of?
A Bit More About Buffalo...
- Gusto- Ultimate guide to everything Buffalo
Buffalo.com – Searching for a restaurant in your neighborhood or an upcoming music festival? The Home of Gusto is your ultimate guide to everything Buffalo.
- Canalside Buffalo
Welcome to Canalside – on Lake Erie in downtown Buffalo! With over 1,000 activities, like cultural events, festivals and more, we’ve got fun for everyone.
© 2015 Kryssy Bruckheimer