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When we visited Buffalo, New York this year we faced an abundance of choices for things to see. We already wrote about 11 things to do in Buffalo, well here are 10 more.
1) 40,000 city planning fans can’t be wrong
The heart of downtown Buffalo is a neighborhood called Elmwood Village. It’s a funky neighborhood of boutiques, bars, restaurants and artist’s havens. Dating back to 1804, the American Planning Association has called it one of “10 Great Neighborhoods in America.”
Queen Anne-style homes within walking distance of retail and public transportation dominate the residential architecture. Adding to this mix, how many neighborhoods can boast architectural gems designed by H. H. Richardson, Frank Lloyd Wright and the father-and-son duo of Eliel and Eero Saarinen? My fave shops are Allentown Music to check out cigar box guitars and Poster Art USA for Buffalo-centric objects like “Pegulaville” t-shirts. (Ask a local to explain.)
2) Get Righteous at Babeville
Buffalo native singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco saved a 19th-century Gothic Revival church from destruction to create a multi-use arts facility called Babeville. Several venues provide intimate settings for concerts and art galleries plus the offices of Ani’s Righteous Babe Records. There’s no better place to see hip indie bands like Velvet Elvis.
3) Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site
At the turn of the last century Buffalo was booming. It was the 8th largest city in America and hosted the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Unfortunately for history, when President William McKinley visited the fair he was assassinated by an anarchist. Teddy Roosevelt rushed off to Buffalo and was sworn in as President where he was staying at a friend’s house.
That house is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. It’s one of the few places where an American president was inaugurated outside Washington, D.C. The house is set up with furnishings of the period while the upstairs has been given over to interactive exhibits.
4) Truly honest historic markers
Most areas cover up their warts and focus on historic signs that usually mention when George Washington slept in the area. So it was quite refreshing to come across this signpost outside an idyllic farmhouse. It mentions a notorious murder that once happened here. Just up the road another sign notes a water well that started a cholera outbreak. Seriously, you have to appreciate that honesty.
5) Go take a bike
Buffalo ranks 14th in the nation in bike commuter rate and was judged a Bronze Level Biking Community by the League of American Cyclists in terms of bicycle friendliness. From trails along the Buffalo River to city loops, Buffalo provides a range of bike rides. Plus we liked their funky bike racks. For more go to: Go Bike Buffalo.
6) Don’t miss a beet at the Bistro Europa
Any restaurant that serves house-made pierogi, salmon pastrami and locally sourced ingredients is A-OK in my book. But my favorite at Elmwood Village’s Bistro Europa is the “Local Beets 5 ways – Carpaccio, Tartare, Pickled, Roasted, Mousse and Goat Cheese with a Pistachio Truffle,” a bargain at $10; but learn from me and don’t wear a white shirt for this dish.
Update 2016 ~ Bistro Europa has closed while owners Steve and Ellen Gedra renovated larger quarters at the former Golden Key Tavern at 367 Connecticut Street. It is now the Black Sheep Restaurant and Bar.
7) Down on Main Street
Only 20 minutes south of Buffalo, East Aurora could have been a model for Norman Rockwell’s idyllic villages. It houses the circa 1925 Aurora Theatre, President Millard Fillmore’s home, the sprawling Vidler’s 5 & 10, which could be a trip in itself, and the Roycroft Campus; founded at the turn of the 20th-century, it grew into a diverse community housing artisans from the Arts & Crafts movement.
8) The other baseball Hall-of-Fame in upstate New York
Yeah, you’ve already been to the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but there’s also a baseball Hall-of-Fame tucked into Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons, the AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Buffalo boasts a long and distinguished baseball history that dates to 1877. The team used to play at War Memorial Stadium. Film buffs will recognize it as the setting for Robert Redford’s baseball heroics in The Natural.
The Bisons Hall-of-Fame honors a surprising roster of All-Stars who passed through Buffalo on the way to the majors including: Warren Spahn, Johnny Bench and Ferguson Jenkins. The knowledgeable guide stationed in the museum during game time is an energetic font of information about all things Buffalo baseball related.
9) View the lake effect
Follow the Great Lakes Seaway Trail about 10 miles southwest of Buffalo to the town of Evans where you’ll find the Sturgeon Point Marina. A stone causeway jutting into Lake Erie offers one of the finest waterfront views of downtown Buffalo with the mists from Niagara Falls rising in the distance. On the way back stop off at Graycliff, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home whose restoration is ongoing.
10) Oh yeah, you can see Niagara Falls too
With over 12,000,000 visitors each year, Niagara Falls is one of the most popular tourist sights in the world. We were so busy in Buffalo we almost didn’t make the 20-mile drive to the Falls. It’s a fun day trip from Buffalo that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. At least now you know there is so much more to do in the Buffalo Niagara region when you make your pilgrimage to Niagara Falls.
11) Mazurek’s Bakery is growing
As this post went to print we learned that our favorite bakery, Mazurek’s, is adding a downtown location so office workers can get their fill of Mazurek’s famous seeded NY rye bread and fresh donuts. Calorie counters, you’ve been warned. Watch for the Grand Opening of their second location at: Mazurek’s Bakery.
What do you recommend we try on our return trip to Buffalo?
For more check out Part 1 of this post: Unique things to do in Buffalo.
And if you’re hungry check out our guide to Buffalo hot dogs.
For more information about Buffalo go to Visit Buffalo Niagara.