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Category Archives: New York
There are few if any places in the U.S. with more dedicated sports fans than Buffalo, NY. The Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl almost all of my high school years. I remember every Sunday during the football season was spent at a football party to watch the Bills game. (It was a great time for anyone who wasn’t into sports to go shopping because almost no one was out shopping.)
Do you remember the Giants game in the movie When Harry Met Sally? Well, guess what, it wasn’t filmed at Giants Stadium. It was filmed at the Bills’ stadium because they wanted a great crowd. Here are the major sports teams in Buffalo:
- Buffalo Bills – So close so many times. It’s a hard team to love, but the team has the best fans. Even though I’ve moved away from Buffalo, I still root for them. If you want to catch their training camp, it’s now at St. John Fisher College near Rochester, NY. Definitely try to go to a game in Buffalo if you can, but dress warmly. Since the field is below street level, the wind whips around the stadium.
- Buffalo Sabres – I wasn’t much into hockey when I lived in Buffalo so I can’t really tell you much about the Sabres. Their new stadium opened in 1996 so it’s a relatively near facility.
- Buffalo Bisons – The Buffalo Bisons are a minor league Triple-A team that is a feeder team for the New York Mets. You can get ticket for as little as $8.50.
Buffalo is located on Lake Erie and has many beautiful outdoor and nature locations. Since I grew up in the Southtowns, I will be focusing on locations either in Buffalo or south of Buffalo.
- Niagara Falls and Lake Erie: The most obvious outdoor location to visit is Niagara Falls, which I covered in a previous post, and Lake Erie. There are many walking paths along the shoreline for enjoying Lake Erie. You can even go to Woodlawn Beach if you want to take a swim. You can also take a ride on the Spirit of Buffalo if you want to enjoy the lake from on the water.
- Buffalo Zoo: (300 Parkside Ave, Buffalo, NY) Located in downtown Buffalo, the Buffalo Zoo has many different types of animals, including polar bears, tigers, elephants, monkeys, alligators, and birds. It costs $10 for adults, $8 for students (up to 22), $7 for kids (2-14) and kids under 2 are free. There is also a parking fee of $3.50 per car.
- Botantical Gardens: (2655 S Park Ave, Buffalo, NY) I remember going to the Botantical Gardens as a kid. It was such a nice place to go especially over the cold winters. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, $3 for kids (3-12) and kids under 3 are free.
- Tifft Nature Preserve - (1200 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo, NY) This was a staple for school field trips when I was growing up. “Tifft Nature Preserve is a 264-acre nature refuge dedicated to conservation and environmental education.”
- Chestnut Ridge Park – (6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, NY) This park is located on approximately 1213 acres of land. The park is free to visit. There are many activities you can do in the park including hiking, biking, baseball, tennis, cross country skiing, sledding, and picnicking. There are charges if you want to rent one of the shelters. If you find yourself in Buffalo during the winter, this is about the best place you can find to go sledding. They are also constructing tobogan chutes.
There are a few parks that are more than a half hour outside of Buffalo that are definitely worth going to.
- Allegany State Park – (located about an hour and half south of Buffalo) This park is on approximately 65,000 acres of land. People go mountain biking, swimming, hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing here. Vehicle fees to get into the park are $6 if you’re not swimming and $7 if you are swimming. You can camp (cabin or site) at this park as well. Base rate for tent sites are $15 per night. Cabins cost between $41.25 and $102.50 per night. Cottages cost $143.75 per night.
- Letchworth State Park – (1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY – located about an hour and 15 minutes east of Buffalo) Letchworth State Park is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. There are so many activities you can do in this park including hiking (over 66 miles of trails), white water rafting, horseback riding, kayaking, swimming, hot air balloon rides, cross country skiing, biking, picnicking, and camping. Camping includes tent camping, cabins, and trailer camping. It costs $8 per vehicle to get into the park. If you want access to the swimming pool, it’s another $2 per adult and $1 per child. Camping site run between $21 and $27 per night. Cabins run between $41.25 and $115 per night. And lodges run between $150 and $450 per night.
For a city of its size, it is surprising how many art venues exist in and around Buffalo. There is a world class art gallery, a philharmonic, concerts in parks, plays in parks, museums, and many programs at the area universities. Yesterday I talked about the architecture in Buffalo and today I’ll talk about the other forms of art around Buffalo.
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery – (1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY) Founded in 1862, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is on the oldest art institutions in the United States. Known for its collection of modern and contemporary art, the collection includes works from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Paul Gauguin to name a few. The gallery is free to the public on the first Friday of every month or $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students (13 and up), $5 for kids (6-12) and free for kids 5 and under. Admission is also free for active duty service members and their families.
- Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kleinhan’s Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY), and Art Park (450 South Fourth St, Lewiston, NY) – The home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is Kleinhan’s Music Hall. But they also perform at many parks, including Art Park during the summer. Many of the summer performances are free to attend. Both Kleinhan’s and Art Park also host many other artists and programs. I’ll never forget seeing James Galway perform at Kleinhan’s when I was in high school. He ended the show with The Flight of the Bumblebee. It was absolutely amazing!
- Shakespeare in the Park – Located in Delaware Park, Shakespeare in the Park is a Buffalo staple in the summer. Shows run Tuesday through Sunday and are free! Many people bring a picnic to enjoy while watching the show.
- Concerts in the Park – As I mentioned above the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs for free at park locations throughout the summer. Many towns run a series of concerts in the park over the summer. Check the local newspaper for locations and times or the link I provided at the beginning of this bullet.
- Allentown Art Festival – Every second weekend in June, the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo hosts the Allentown Art Festival. It includes art from approximately 450 artists from nearly every state, as well as Canada and Europe.
- Griffis Sculpture Park – (6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto, NY) I love Griffis Sculpture Park! I don’t think that you will find anything like it anywhere else in the U.S. It is the oldest and largest outdoor sculpture park in the U.S. It’s located approximately 45 miles outside of Buffalo on 400 acres of country land. There are hiking trails that take you past over 250 sculptures. You are allowed to touch and even climb on the sculptures. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and kids under 12 are free.
At the turn of the 20th century, Buffalo was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. The immense wealth led to the construction of beautiful buildings. Major architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan designed buildings in Buffalo. There are grand mansions built along Delaware Avenue known as Millionaire’s Row. And you can’t miss the art deco style of Buffalo City Hall. You could easily spend a day or more touring these masterpieces.
Here are a few examples of some of Buffalo’s finest buildings:
City Hall (George Dietel):
The Martin House Complex (Frank Lloyd Wright):
Guaranty Building (Louis Sullivan):
Buffalo State Hospital (Henry Hobson Richardson):
Our Lady of Victory Basilica (architect: Emile Ulrich; located in Lackawanna, NY):
When thinking of vacation destinations, most people probably think of Caribbean islands, Europe, Florida, or National Parks. I’d like to suggest that maybe you should think about places around the Great Lakes, typically referred to as Rust Belt cities.
As I’ve mentioned, I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY and was at times one of its harshest critics. Bethlehem Steel was shutting down when I was a kid and I remember what it did to the people and the area. Nearly all of my siblings (and myself) have moved away from Buffalo because the economy was hit so hard. That said, Buffalo does have so much to offer, much more than just Niagara Falls. I think you’d be hard pressed to find another place where the people are as friendly. The nickname of the City of Good Neighbors is not just an expression. I like to saw that Buffalo is the most eastern mid-western city in the U.S. So think about making a visit. You won’t be disappointed. I’ll spend several posts talking about places to visit in Western New York which I hope will tempt you to visit.
Today I’ll talk about the reason that most people travel to Western New York – Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is located about 25 miles north of Buffalo. If you’re traveling by air, you’ll want to fly into either the Buffalo/Niagara Airport (BUF) or Toronto (YYZ). Toronto is a further drive to the Falls, about 80 miles. You also will need a passport to travel both by air or by land to the Canadian side of the Falls. Because of that fact, the American side of the Falls is becoming more popular. In 2004, the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel was built and adds another location for people to visit when in the area.
The main activities to do on the American side of the Falls are: the Maid of the Mist, the Cave of the Winds, and Prospect Point Park Observation Tower.
The Maid of the Mist is an absolute must do when visiting Niagara Falls. It costs $13.50 for adults, $7.85 for kids (6 – 12) and kids under 6 are free. The Maid of the Mist is a boat ride that takes you past the American and Bridal Viel Falls and right up near the base of the Horseshoe Falls. It is truly spectacular.
The Cave of the Winds is a walking tour at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls. You are able to get as close as less than 20 feet from the torrents. You are provided rain ponchos and sandals to help keep you dry. It costs $11 for adults, $8 for kids 6 – 12 and kids under 6 are free.
Prospect Point Observation Tower gives you an impressive view of the American Falls. It is located over the Niagara Gorge and allows you to travel down to the base of the Falls. It costs only $1 per person.
One of my dad’s favorite locations in Niagara Falls is Goat Island. It’s a park located on the American side and is a great picnic spot. You can view the Niagara River rapids as they head down towards Niagara Falls. Be careful when viewing the river. It can be mesmerizing and you don’t want to fall in.
For a comprehensive listing of the differences between the American and Canadian Falls, visit this site.