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With the everyday entertainment taking place at Buffalo River Fest Park and Mutual Riverfront Park, the massive and lively excitement of Buffalo RiverWorks, and two new luxury apartment buildings, the Buffalo River is booming like it hasn’t been in decades. While many think to go to Canalside and head out onto Lake Erie by water bike or kayak, I chose to head the other direction down the river on a narrated boat cruise offered by Buffalo River History Tours. And on this particular warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, I was not alone – the boat was sold out with people wanting to venture 90 minutes down the river’s path. Now with a new boat in the Buffalo harbor boasting a capacity of 145 people, Buffalo River History Tours’ Harbor Queen can accommodate a group of any size. The touring company offers several 90 minute rides up the river each daily, as well as a lengthier ride that stops for a walking tour of the grain elevator collection known as Silo City.
Photo by Mike Ciancio courtesy of Buffalo River History Tours
I loved the leisurely ride, feeling the breeze against my face and listening to the history of the river before me. History buff or not, this ride is enjoyable for all ages to learn about Buffalo’s industrial heritage and recent progress; the tour provides spectacular views of Buffalo’s towering grain elevators and new waterfront developments. Here are the top 6 interesting facts I learned on this tour:
1. The Buffalo River is actually not a river – it’s a creek (the Buffalo Creek to be exact). To accommodate for the booming industry along its shores, the creek was expanded on both sides and deepened to 35 feet.
2. The grain elevators are the strongest they’ve ever been. Turns out, concrete doesn’t completely cure until about 100 years after it’s poured. Now 100 years old, Buffalo’s grain elevators (one of the largest such collections in the world) are now stronger and sturdier than ever!
3. The largest grain elevator on the Buffalo River used to store 4.5 million bushels of grain per year. That’s enough to make a loaf of bread for every person in the United States!
4. The Edward M. Cotter (the world’s oldest working fireboat that docks along the Buffalo River) can fill an Olympic pool with water in 11 seconds (a random factoid, but one of my favorites.) The famed fireboat is as impressive in practice as it is in sight.
5. Cheerios, produced at the General Mills plant along the Buffalo River, weren’t originally called Cheerios. The iconic cereal was originally called Cheery Oats by General Mills. Quaker Oats didn’t like this too much, so General Mills changed the name to Cheerios.
6. Thanks to the cleanup efforts of many local organizations including Buffalo Riverkeeper, the native vegetation of the land—such as birch trees—is being restored. This restoration is helping to rebuild the the formerly industrial river’s ecosystem.
Alex Delany, host of the Bon Appetit Youtube series “Alex Eats It All,” has traveled the country in search of the best foods in the cities that made them famous. He’s eaten through Chicago’s hot dog culture, Philadelphia’s cheesesteaks, New York’s pizzas and Austin’s tacos.
So it was only a matter of time before he made his way to Buffalo to seek out the best wings here. Alex traveled to all 12 stops on the new Visit Buffalo Niagara Buffalo Wing Trail, which launched this spring. From the Anchor Bar’s original recipe to the painted wings of Bar- Bill Tavern and the special sauce of Mammoser’s , Alex traversed the county to find the wings with the perfect amount of crisp, spice and sauce.
Watch below to see his saucy exploration of our city, and the wing trail stop he enjoyed the most. And plan your own wing trail adventure here.
12 Types of Buffalo Wings in 12 Hours. Which is the Best? | Bon Appétit - YouTube
Summertime and the jazz is easy. Really easy. We may not have the rep of a New York or New Orleans, but Buffalo proves it has some serious chops every summer when our streets, parks and clubs are filled with the music that made America great. There are enough festivals and special concerts in the coming weeks to make even the most music obsessed fan deliriously happy.
Here are a few of the high notes:
Photo by Albright-Knox Art Gallery
The 37th Annual Buffalo News Albright-Knox Jazz Concert Series takes over the rear portico of the AK every Sunday afternoon through August 5th. Bring a chair and sit on the lawn surrounding this gorgeous neo-classical building while local and visiting musicians fill Delaware Park with beautiful music. Upcoming concerts include J.D. Allen performing with Buffalo’s George Caldwell Quartet on July 22nd; Don Rice with the Bobby Jones Trio on July 29th; and Buffalo legend Don “Red” Menza performing with Bob Sneider, Dan Hull and Sabu Adeyola on August 5th. albrightknox.org
The Pappy Martin Legacy Masten Jazz Festival honors the memory of a legendary Buffalo musician, teacher and community leader, Pappy Martin. Produced by his daughter, Dawn Berry-Walker, the festival is free and open to the public and takes place on the grounds of the Buffalo Museum of Science in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. This year’s festival runs on two consecutive Sundays beginning on July 22nd with the amazing vocal talent of Buffalo’s own Drea d’Nur and Downbeat Rising Star Theo Croker. When the music stops at the Albright-Knox, grab your chair and head ten minutes across town. jazzbuffalo.org
Buffalo is a hotbed of cool treats. Off-the-wall concoctions created by Buffalo’s newest ice cream entrepreneurs can be found around the corner from classic shops that evoke the golden age of banana splits and roadside stands featuring the freshest frozen custard. And today, we’re getting the scoop on the places that still consider ice cream an art. Here are 9 places to get delicious, creamy homemade ice cream in Buffalo:
Named after the wives of the two original owners, Frances & Celia, the Southtown tradition of Fran-Ceil was born in the 1950s. Using the same frozen custard and sherbet recipe that’s been passed down for generations, guests can enjoy traditional flavors as well as unique custards like pistachio, blueberry, tangerine and cotton candy.
After opening four successful food trucks and a brick and mortar restaurant, the creative minds behind Lloyd concocted Churn. Smooth custard flavors (including vegan coconut) are the main ingredient in sundaes that work in children’s breakfast cereal, spicy brownies and churros. Lots of churros!
Started by two teachers, Lake Effect Ice Cream is a seasonal ice cream maker that whips up Buffalo-style flavors like sponge candy (with real chunks of Platter’s sponge candy), Paula’s red velvet donut and Public Espresso coffee.
Photo by Nick Charlap’s
Nick Charlap’s Ice Cream, 7264 Boston State Rd, Hamburg; 1203 Union Rd, West Seneca; 2800 Elmwood Ave, Kenmore; 9049 Erie Rd, Angola; 10 Euclid Rd, Hamburg
A local mainstay for homemade hard serve ice cream featuring over 40 flavors. One Nick Charlap’s flavor not to miss? The peanut butter royal: vanilla ice cream mixed in with chunks of real peanut butter.
After you’re done fogging up the chocolate case filled with sponge candy, chocolate turtles and other sweet goodies on the far side of the store, step up to the counter or take a seat in one of the wooden booths to order a sundae with ice cream made right on site. Even the syrups and whipped creams are homemade, too!
Once you’ve had your fill of classic beef on weck sandwiches at this Buffalo favorite institution (with 7 locations open all year), wash it down with a scoop or a twist. You can choose as Anderson’s makes both frozen custard and hard ice cream featuring seasonal flavors like key lime pie, pumpkin cheesecake and more.
The pride of Lewiston, Hibbard’s has somewhat of a cult following. Made fresh throughout the day, Hibbard’s contributes the richness and creaminess of their flavors to their custom ice cream machine. After four generations and almost 80 years, they must be doing something right!
This full-service ice cream parlor is a rare treat. Not only does Condrell’s keep a hefty amount of homemade chocolates and candy care packages at their store, the menu reads more like a novel. They have everything including the “Kitchen Sink” – a massive sundae served in a sink. You’re going to need help eating that one!
Within a span of just 36 miles, the Niagara River treats visitors to a show like nowhere else on the continent.
The river begins without fanfare at the end of Lake Erie, quietly drawing water in from its freshwater neighbor against the backdrop of the Buffalo skyline. The current escalates in intensity as the river flows on, eventually frothing over as it approaches the falls. Then in a crescendo of mist, sound and fury, 150,000 gallons of Niagara flow over the falls per second and crash and churn in the rapids below. The river mellows before reaching its Lake Ontario endpoint that’s as serene as its Buffalo origins.
The falls grabs the lion’s share of visitors to the mighty Niagara, but intrepid visitors know the entire river is worth exploring. Here are 7 of the top ways to enjoy Niagara beyond the falls, where some of the region’s most unique hikes, parks, walking paths and trails can be found:
A View From the Water The 1.5 mile-long Bird Island Pier takes you on a journey underneath the Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo with Canada, out to a viewing area for sweeping vistas of the city skyline and Lake Erie. As you walk along from the starting point at Broderick Park (reachable at the foot of West Ferry Street), the sounds of the city melt away, replaced by the cawing of birds and the bubbling of the river as it draws water from Lake Erie. Pro tip: it’s also the perfect spot to see the sun rise over the city.
Cycle Along The Shoreline
Rent a Reddy Bike and head to the western edge of the city to pick up the “Riverwalk” portion of the Shoreline Trail – a 6.5 mile long path along the river that connects downtown Buffalo with the riverfront and Erie Canal in Tonawanda. A series of upgrades to the bike trail near the Peace Bridge — including a new bicycle bridge designed to look like our international span – was completed just last year.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Mudds
Grab a Bite A series of restaurants dot the river as it winds its way north. The patio at Acqua has stunning vistas, while the River Grill in Tonawanda offers live music every night of the week from May to September. One of my favorite spots is Mississippi Mudd’s in the city of Tonawanda, where diners enjoy char-grilled hot dogs, sweet potato fries and Perry’s ice cream from a second-floor patio overlooking Isle View Park and the river across the street. Further downstream, The Silo in Lewiston serves steak subs from a converted coal silo and ice cream from a train caboose overlooking the river.
Park It Grand Island is the only town in Erie County with two New York State Parks, both of which face the Niagara River. Beaver Island is the more developed of the two, with amenities like a golf course, picnic shelters and a seasonal beach along the river. Buckhorn Island offers nature lovers great opportunities to see birds and other wild life offer a prime opportunity to get away from it all for an afternoon – and be less than 15 minutes from both Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Hike The Day Away
Niagara’s other wonder is the gorge carved out by the falls over thousands of years. Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole State Parks offer incredible opportunities to see river up close as it crashes and churns its way through the Niagara Gorge following its trip over the falls just a couple miles upstream. A set of stairs in Whirlpool State Park and Devil’s Hole State Park take you to the base of the gorge as the river roars and splashes nearby.
Hiking isn’t the only way to experience the class five rapids of the Niagara. Whirlpool Jet Tours, which launches from Lewiston, takes adventure seekers on a once-in-a-lifetime ride careening atop the powerful river on a roofless, high-speed boat that provides a thoroughly thrilling – and soaking – experience. Tours continue on weekends through Oct. 1.
Photo by Rhea Anna
Step Back in Time
As the river approaches its terminus in Youngstown, it calms down again much like its initial origins in Buffalo. This strategic location – the confluence of the Niagara and Lake Ontario – made the perfect location for a fort centuries ago. Old Fort Niagara’s incredibly preserved 18th and 19th century buildings have incredibly stories to tell – and a passionate, engaged staff who enjoy narrating the transition of the property from French to British and ultimately American control.
Buffalo is one of the great garden destinations in the United States. Our green scene can go hoe to hoe with any city in the United States, thanks in large part to a cadre of freakishly friendly gardeners who are pleased to post an “Open Gardens” sign at the end of their driveway inviting one and all to step through the garden gate for a look around on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the month of July. For free.
Gardens Buffalo Niagara - YouTube
Organized by Gardens Buffalo Niagara, Open Gardens feature more than 75 private and public gardens of all shapes and sizes from modest sized city yards that punch way above their weight class to verdant country landscapes featuring ponds, creeks and meadows. Just show up at the garden gate during the public hours and you’ll have the run of some of Buffalo’s greatest gardens and access to the rock star gardeners who created them. A copy of the Open Gardens Guide — available for a $5 donation at garden centers throughout the region — will help steer you to Buffalo’s gardens of earthly delights. You can also find more information here.
Here’s a highly personal list of some of my favorite Open Gardens. But don’t take my word get out there and check out some of the finest private gardens in these United States.
Smug Creek Gardens (Hamburg):
Set on magnificent piece of property in the Boston Hills south of Buffalo, the garden of Mike and Kathy Shadrack is highlighted by a huge collection of hostas. Open Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m – 5 p.m.
Gordon Ballard/Brian Olinski Garden (Buffalo):
If plants could talk, Gordon’s and Brian’s would have quite a story to tell. This lush city garden has hosted more than its share of garden parties over the years. Follow the meandering stream to the legendary Tiki bar. Open Thursdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Charlier Garden (Buffalo):
This small city plot is packed with pizzazz, including a recently added shed that was featured in This Old House magazine. But this is no ordinary shed, it’s the Taj Ma-Shed, one fit for gardening royalty. Open Thursdays 2-6 p.m.
Song ’n’ Bird Garden (Tonawanda):
While it may be located in suburban Tonawanda, this gem of a garden feels more like a day in the country. Located on almost an acre of land, the Song ‘n’ Bird garden combines agriculture with horticulture and the results are spectacular. Open Thursday 2-7 p.m.