Written by Backpackingrl on 20 Jan, 2005
Yes, it snows in Buffalo. Some years it has snowed more than others, some less. My first year living here, there was a storm where we got 7 feet of snow in 24 hours in the city. There have also been years,…Read More
Yes, it snows in Buffalo. Some years it has snowed more than others, some less. My first year living here, there was a storm where we got 7 feet of snow in 24 hours in the city. There have also been years, such as this one, where we have barely gotten any snow worth talking about. Why? Buffalo gets what is called "lake-effect snow". It is hit or miss. The air comes across Lake Erie from Canada, picks up lots of moisture, then cools as it heads towards Buffalo, dumping all that moisture on poor Buffalo in the form of snow. The truth is, most of the snow falls onto "the south towns" of Buffalo, not the city. This chain of towns just south of us really gets the brunt of winter. That's not to say we don’t get any snow, but to put things in perspective, our neighbor to the east, Syracuse, beats us every year in annual snowfall.
Having said that, Buffalo knows how to deal with snow. Before you know it, all of that snow will be plowed, the roads will be salted, and your drive will go as smoothly as on a summer day (well, almost). We also know how to enjoy the weather. From skiing (many places in the area) to ice skating to sledding (try Chestnut Ridge Park for a great hill) to a free afternoon of It’s a Wonderful Life at Shea’s theater, followed by hot chocolate at Spot Coffee on Elmwood Avenue, Buffalonians have fun in the winter. Most of us are also happy to welcome spring and summer at winter’s end. Summer in Buffalo is gorgeous. My husband and I, having lived in and traveled to many places, feel that summers here are the most beautiful we have come across. Summers are mostly sunny, with less rain than your average city and warm, but not-too-hot temperatures (mostly in the mid-70s to mid-80s). We live without air-conditioning, and there have only been a few days we regretted it. There are many things to do outside in the warmer months, from festivals to hiking to a day in the park. You will enjoy Buffalo no matter what the season.
There are plenty of opportunities for great theater in Buffalo. Probably the most popular theater is Shea’s Performing Arts Center. It is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places and offers tours of its architecture and history, in addition to great theater.…Read More
There are plenty of opportunities for great theater in Buffalo. Probably the most popular theater is Shea’s Performing Arts Center. It is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places and offers tours of its architecture and history, in addition to great theater. Shea’s routinely hosts well-known touring Broadway plays such as Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King. As a native Long Island New Yorker, I have been to many Broadway plays in NYC and have found plays at Shea’s to be just as good--and definitely more reasonably priced. Apart from plays, Shea’s also holds a number of other fun events.
In winter months, Shea’s has a free Classic Films series. Films are shown on the big screen in Shea’s historic theater. Past films have been Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Ghostbusters (a classic for any child of the ‘80s). Free tickets can be picked up in advance at the Shea’s box office or at local grocery store chains. Another popular Shea’s event is Curtain Up! This celebration marks the beginning of the fall production series and features elegant dining, pre- and post-dinner parties. It is a formal affair and is pricey. I have not been to Curtain Up! myself, but I know others who have gone and enjoyed it very much. For more information on shows, plays, and events, visit: http://www.sheas.org/site/live/home_flash.html
I have also enjoyed the Irish Classical Theater in downtown Buffalo. It is a small theater specializing in Irish dramas and international classics. The theater is very intimate, seating only 200, and seats are set up circling the stage. For more information, visit: http://www.irishclassicaltheatre.com/.
A true university town, with University at Buffalo, Buffalo State, Canisius College, and several others, there are many worthwhile and affordable university-sponsored theater events in Buffalo. Try the UB Center for the Arts for a full range of plays, concerts, and speakers. Visit http://www.ubcfa.org/ for details.
A little bit of a drive, but worth it, the Lancaster Opera House offers plays, concerts, and other events. Visit http://www.lancopera.org/.
For a night of independent films, try the Screening Room Cinema Café. This dinner theater in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst shows movies on its big screen while serving up food in its restaurant-style setting. Visit http://www.screeningroom.net/page14.html for show times and details.
The Buffalo Parks System has a long history. In the 1800s, Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned Buffalo to become a "City of Trees" and planned a system of six parks, today know as the Olmsted Parks. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is involved in maintaining…Read More
The Buffalo Parks System has a long history. In the 1800s, Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned Buffalo to become a "City of Trees" and planned a system of six parks, today know as the Olmsted Parks. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is involved in maintaining and preserving this network of parks. Probably the most visited of these is Delaware Park. It consists of 350 acres of trees, museums, the Buffalo Zoo, public tennis courts, walking/biking paths, lakes, and more. It is a great place to go for a day of walking and picnicking. Other park activities include Shakespeare in the Park, a free summertime event from late June until late August. You can bring a picnic and relax on the hill while enjoying a performance. For more information, visit: http://www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org/.
The Buffalo Zoo is located in Delaware Park. I have never been here personally, but I have heard it is a nice place to take kids. A popular zoo event is "Polar Bear Days at the Zoo". If the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below, admission to the zoo is just $2. Visit http://www.buffalozoo.org for more information.
Delaware Park is also a great spot for an architectural tour. Frank Lloyd Wright had a lot of influence in Buffalo, and many Wright buildings are here in the park. (Note: some under restoration). Delaware Avenue is home to "Millionaire Row", a street lined with turn-of-the-century mansions.
The Albright Knox Art Gallery is located in Delaware Park, as well. It houses works by artists such as Monet, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, and many others. Exhibitions are scheduled throughout the year. Gusto at the Gallery is a free event on Fridays from 3 to 10pm, featuring free museum admission, cocktails, talks, and more. For more information, visit: http://www.albrightknox.org/index.html.
The Buffalo History Museum, across from the Albright Knox, is a great place for exploring Buffalo’s rich history. Buffalo was a booming town at the turn of the century. It was home to the Pan-American Exposition, many millionaires, and was at the center of industrialization. The museum also explores the lives of three presidents linked to Buffalo’s past: Fillmore, McKinley, and Clevland. Free admission on Fridays from 3 to 10pm. For more information, visit: http://www.bechs.org/index.htm. On the topic of history, Buffalo is also known for the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site www.nps.gov/thri/index.htm. This is covered in entries by other writers.
Chestnut Ridge Park is another area park. It is located in a suburb outside the city of Buffalo. It has nice areas for walking trails, biking, a great hill famous for sledding (and no, you don’t have to be a kid to participate), playgrounds, and picnic areas. A nice-sized stream runs through this park along the walking trails. Chestnut Ridge is also home to the Olmsted Winter Carnival, where you can participate in winter sports tournaments, go sledding, ice skate, and watch fireworks with a hot cup of cocoa. www.erie.gov/parks
Buffalo is a wonderful place for festivals. There are many events scheduled- the best thing to do is to check out the Buffalo News Discover Guide or the weekly edition of Art Voice (see my entry on Local Listings). A few festival highlights…Read More
Buffalo is a wonderful place for festivals. There are many events scheduled- the best thing to do is to check out the Buffalo News Discover Guide or the weekly edition of Art Voice (see my entry on Local Listings). A few festival highlights are the Taste of Buffalo, the Italian Heritage Festival, and the Allentown Art Festival. The Taste of Buffalo is held every July (slated for July 9th and 10th, 2005) and features many local restaurants. Restaurant vendors set up booths in downtown Buffalo and offer sample-sized tastings of three of their most popular menu items. Tickets are purchased at the entryway (50 cents a piece), and these tickets are used to sample food from vendors (items range in price from one to six tickets). This is a very popular event and a great way to try some local dishes.
For more information visit: http://www.tasteofbuffalo.com/. The Italian Heritage Festival takes place each summer in Buffalo (scheduled for July 14, 2005, to July 17, 2005) spanning almost the entire length of Hertel Avenue. It features music, activities, cultural events, and of course, lots of food. The Allentown Art Festival is one-of-a-kind. As an art lover myself, this festival truly impresses me. You could walk around all day and not see everything. Artists from all over the U.S. participate. This year, it is scheduled for Saturday, June 11 to Sunday, June 12, 2005. For more information, visit http://www.allentownartfestival.com/.
My husband and I love to walk. For us, a wonderful way to spend a weekend morning is with a walk down a boutique-lined street, a stop at a farmer’s market, and a cup of coffee and a newspaper at a local café. Welcome…Read More
My husband and I love to walk. For us, a wonderful way to spend a weekend morning is with a walk down a boutique-lined street, a stop at a farmer’s market, and a cup of coffee and a newspaper at a local café. Welcome to Elmwood Avenue. Elmwood Avenue is pure Buffalo. Locally owned shops, restaurants, cathedrals, and cafés line the streets in this quaint neighborhood. For a very relaxing morning, begin your walk at the Elmwood farmer’s market (Saturday from 8am to 1pm from late May until early November). Then continue your stroll to visit many locally owned clothing boutiques, gift shops, gardening shops, organic food markets, and bookstores (Talking Leaves Bookstore is locally owned and a personal favorite). If you are looking for a great restaurant for dinner, try Cecilia’s. My friends and I love this location for reasonably priced Italian food with great service, a martini bar, appetizer specials on Tuesday evenings, live music during the week, and outdoor seating in summer months. Don’t miss a stop at Spot Coffee. This café is a favorite place for sitting back and enjoying a weekend morning (comfy couches, great people-watching, outdoor seating in nice weather, and very tasty sandwiches). For more information about the Elmwood area, visit http://www.foreverelmwood.org/.
Another nice place to walk is Allen Street. Lined with shops and an array of wonderful places to eat, you could easily spend an afternoon browsing and then enjoy an evening meal at a number of popular restaurants. We enjoy Gabriel’s Gate (716/886-0602), with a casual setting and many food choices, including great burgers and pasta entrées. For more information on the Allen District, visit http://www.allenstreet.com/. The Allentown Art Festival (see Festival Entry) also takes place here.
Full of culture, Hertel Avenue is another great choice. Hertel is the Italian-American district, the result of many years of Italian immigration to the area at the turn of the century. Get ready for some great Italian food, bakeries, cafés, antique shops, and Italian-style grocery stores. While there are many great options for dining out in this area, we have two favorites. The first is Romeo and Juliet’s Bakery Café (1292 Hertel Ave.), which serves pizza, a variety of sandwiches, appetizers, wine, cheese, and delicious desserts at affordable prices. There are two sections to Romeo’s - the first is done in a pizza parlor style, the other half is for sit-down dining. Outdoor seating is available in warmer months. There is often a wait, so it is best to go at off-hours on the weekends or on a weekday. Our other favorite is Lombardo’s (1198 Hertel Ave.). This is more upscale, but the food is outstanding and it is a wonderful place to spend a special occasion. Reservations are important, especially on a weekend evening. The Italian American Festival on Hertel Avenue is a favorite of Buffalonians. Read more in my festival entry.
Since I live here and when guests visit they stay with us, I cannot give great recommendations on hotel. I can say that if you want to be close to nightlife, you will want a hotel close to Chippewa Street so that you can…Read More
Since I live here and when guests visit they stay with us, I cannot give great recommendations on hotel. I can say that if you want to be close to nightlife, you will want a hotel close to Chippewa Street so that you can walk to the bars and back at the end of the night. The Hampton Inn (220 Delaware Ave.) is very centrally located for Chippewa Street entertainment. Beyond that, as long as you are renting a car, you can choose from lots of locations. Avoid the far east side and far west side of downtown Buffalo.
For hotel deals, try www.hotels.com, www.orbitz.com, www.expedia.com, and www.travelocity.com. Compared to other cities, hotels are inexpensive. As a rough estimate, you should be able to find a comfortable room (nothing fancy) for around $50 to $70 per night. You will spend closer to $40 a night for an economy chain like Travelodge, Super 8, or Red Roof Inn.
This is the main drawback to Buffalo: lack of a good public transportation system. We have a subway--it runs in a straight line, and only a straight line--from the south campus of the University at Buffalo to downtown Buffalo. It does not reach…Read More
This is the main drawback to Buffalo: lack of a good public transportation system. We have a subway--it runs in a straight line, and only a straight line--from the south campus of the University at Buffalo to downtown Buffalo. It does not reach the suburbs or many of the areas discussed in my entries, such as Elmwood Avenue. It stops running around 11pm, so if you are going out for a late evening, you will have to take a cab on your way back. Having said that, for many of the festivals in the downtown area, as well as theater, the subway can be a great way to avoid fighting for a parking space. We also have a large network of buses. They run fairly frequently. Both subway and buses are run by the NFTA. Visit http://www.nfta.com/ for details.
Your best bet is renting a car. This will allow you to see the whole city quickly and conveniently. There are many good deals. I have found Enterprise Rent-A-Car to be the cheapest (they do have a pickup location in the Buffalo Airport). If you sign up for GEICO Privileges (www.geicoprivileges.com) you can get a further 25% discount at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Registration is free. There are also several other rental car agencies in Buffalo; www.orbitz.com, www.expedia.com, and www.travelocity.com can be good starting points for finding a deal.
Another great advantage to the city of Buffalo is the cheap and convenient airfare. The discount airlines--Southwest (www.southwest.com), Jetblue (www.jetblue.com), and newcomer Independence (www.flyi.com)--all fly into Buffalo. One of the all-time great deals loved by Buffalonians is the Jetblue flight from JFK (New…Read More
Another great advantage to the city of Buffalo is the cheap and convenient airfare. The discount airlines--Southwest (www.southwest.com), Jetblue (www.jetblue.com), and newcomer Independence (www.flyi.com)--all fly into Buffalo. One of the all-time great deals loved by Buffalonians is the Jetblue flight from JFK (New York City) to Buffalo. There are several flights every day, the flights last just over an hour, there are TVs at every seat, and you get great prices. During the year (especially fall and winter), Jetblue often has fare sales. A friend recently visited and paid $35 each way for this flight. Visit www.jetblue.com. The Buffalo-Niagara International Airport (code BUF) is where you will fly into. Visit http://www.nfta.com/airport/ for airport information. Of course, all the major airlines are here too--American, US Airways, United, Delta, and Continental. Try www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com, or www.orbitz.com for deals. For students, try www.studentuniverse.com.
For those driving, Interstate 90 runs directly into Buffalo.
Amtrak (train, visit www.amtrak.com) goes to Buffalo and has 2 stations here. The service is often inconvenient, however, and tickets can be expensive. For example, to take Amtrak from New York City to Buffalo takes 8 hours and costs $130 roundtrip plus tax. A Jetblue flight to and from the same cities can cost as low as $70 plus tax and takes only 1 hour. Most people fly.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can pick up your rental car (recommend for getting around the city- see my entry), catch a cab (lined up and waiting outside of baggage claim), or give the public bus system a try. Some hotels will also offer free shuttle service to their location.
There are many exciting places to go within easy driving distance of Buffalo. Niagara Falls is probably the most popular, with the main attraction of the Falls, many casinos, and nighttime light shows with fireworks. Try the Maid of the Mist boat ride…Read More
There are many exciting places to go within easy driving distance of Buffalo. Niagara Falls is probably the most popular, with the main attraction of the Falls, many casinos, and nighttime light shows with fireworks. Try the Maid of the Mist boat ride underneath the falls. Be warned that Niagara Falls gets more and more touristy every day. Niagara on the Lake is a peaceful town nearby Niagara Falls and well worth a visit.
We are hikers. Allegany State Park and Letchworth State Park are two of our favorites. Allegany has beautiful hiking trails and gorgeous lakes. Letchworth is a perfect spot for day hiking alongside spectacular waterfalls. Note that a drawback is expensive camping compared to most other parks we have camped at in the USA.
For anyone who likes adventure, Six Flags Darien Lake is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo in Darien Center. It features rides, events, and concerts.
Toronto is a 1.5-hour drive from Buffalo. This city has a European feel. There is a lot to do here. Between the theater, museums, walking tours, and sightseeing, definitely don’t miss it.
Football fans will enjoy a Buffalo Bills game (the stadium is actually in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park). Buffalo also has a minor league baseball team–-the Buffalo Bisons--with a park located in the downtown area. We really have a lot of fun…Read More
Football fans will enjoy a Buffalo Bills game (the stadium is actually in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park). Buffalo also has a minor league baseball team–-the Buffalo Bisons--with a park located in the downtown area. We really have a lot of fun at these games. Prices are much more affordable than major league, and it is also good for families. For major league baseball, Toronto is a 1½-hour drive away. The Blue Jays play the Yankees often, and tickets are much cheaper than a day at Yankee Stadium. Toronto is also a great city for a day trip. Close