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It seems only appropriate on the Fourth of July to talk about the historic sites in Buffalo.
- Presidents – There are several presidents who have connections to Buffalo. Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland lived in the Buffalo area. The Millard Fillmore House is located at 24 Shearer Ave, East Aurora, NY. And William McKinley was assassinated when he was in Buffalo to attend the Pan-American Exposition and subsequently Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated in Buffalo (one of the few presidents to be inaugurated outside of Washington, D.C.). The inauguration site is located at the Ansley Wilcox House at 641 Delaware Ave.
- Old Fort Niagara and Old Fort Erie – Located at 2 Scott Avenue, Youngstown, NY, Old Fort Niagara is the oldest continuous operated military site in North America. It played a significant role in the French and Indian war and as a loyalist base in the American Revolutionary War. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids (6 – 12) and kids under 6 are free. Old Fort Erie is located 350 Lakeshore Rd, Ontario, Canada. Fort Erie was the first fort built by the British during the French and Indian war. It is located directly across the Niagara River from Old Fort Niagara. Admission is $12.25 for adults, $7.95 for kids (6-12) and kids under 6 are free (prices are in Canadian dollars).
- Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park – This site is located at One Naval Park Cove and is the home to the USS Little Rock (cruiser), USS Sullivans (destroyer) and USS Croaker (submarine). Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for kids (6 – 16) and kids under 6 are free.
- Lockport Locks – If you want to learn about the Erie Canal, you should visit the Lockport Locks. It is located at 210 Market St, Lockport, NY. You can take a cruise down the Erie Canal as you learn about the history of the Canal. The cruise costs $16 for adults, $8.50 for kids (4 – 10) and kids under 4 are free.
- Genesee Country Village and Museum – I loved visiting this museum as a kid. We went to it on a field trip when I was in elementary school. It is a living history museum with demonstrations of how people lived in the 19th century. It is located 45 east of Buffalo at 1410 Flint Hill Rd, Mumford, NY.
Who doesn’t love Buffalo wings or as I like to call them…wings? Buffalo was settled by a range of ethnic groups, including German, Irish, Italian, Polish, and English which has resulted in a wide variety of food. Here are a few you shouldn’t miss:
- Wings – This is the food that is probably best associated with Buffalo since it was first prepared in Buffalo at the Anchor Bar located at 1047 Main St. Another place that is popular for wings is Duff’s Famous Wings. Duff’s has several locations, so check out the web site to find the one closest to you.
- Beef on Weck – My mouth is watering just thinking about Beef on Weck – a roast beef sandwich on a salted kaiser roll. You have to try it when you visit Buffalo. And one of the best place to get Beef on Weck is Schwabl’s. This restaurant has been in operation since 1837!
- Hot dogs – Yes, you heard me right – hot dogs. There are 2 places that are outstanding for hot dogs – George’s Hot Dogs Stand and Ted’s Hot Dogs. Every kid in my family worked at George’s (some only for one day). My first year working at George’s was George’s last year of running the operation himself. His kids now run it. George was quite a character. I can still hear him saying “Hi-ya, hi-ya, hi-ya” as people walked in the door. George’s is located at 5808 Herman Hill Road, Boston, NY. I have to mention Ted’s, even though it pains me to do so since they are competition for George’s. Ted’s has several locations in the area and I hear they have good hot dogs although I didn’t eat there.
- Ice cream – If you like ice cream, you should try Nick Charlap’s ice cream. Charlap’s has been making ice cream since 1965. Nick Charlap is grandson of one of the original owner of Charlap’s. Nick Charlap’s has 3 locations, the most recent is with Antoinette’s on the Hill in West Seneca (1203 Union St). Antoinette’s makes candy so it’s a fantastic combination. The original Charlap’s is located in Boston, NY (7264 Boston State Rd) and is decorated like a 1950s diner. In full disclosure, Charlap’s were always very kind to our huge family. Several of my siblings worked there. And they allowed us to purchase milk at discounted prices. They also gave us the change over ice cream for free. You may wonder what I mean by that. Well, when they are changing the flavor of ice cream that they are packing, there are about 3 tubs that are a mix of the 2 flavors. They knew that we had a lot of kids and not a lot of money and they were kind to us. The Charlap family is a very kind and generous family who made our summers more enjoyable with their delicious ice cream.
- Sponge candy – Sponge candy is mostly made around the Great Lakes. Think of it like hardened cotton candy covered in chocolate. You can find it in almost every candy shop and many grocery stores.
Oh man, all of a sudden I’m really hungry…
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.