I went to Buffalo for work last week (the glitz and glamour of business travel), and during a wee bit of downtime I decided to wander around and see if there was more to the city than wings and many, many Targets.
It’s not the most walkable city I’ve been to, nor the most vehicle-friendly thanks to the giant potholes that outnumber actual pavement at some points. And there were definitely moments where I retreated quickly and found an alternate route due to…sketchiness. However, there is more than discounted shopping and meat (although there is a LOT of meat). Here’s seven things to check out in Buffalo:
Wandering around Buffalo, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be spotted, with works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson, among others. So, uh, thanks recession for preserving these little pieces of history. Check out this helpful map from Buffalo Niagara Tourism for some architectural treasures, and be sure to visit the City Hall for a great example of art deco.
Obviously this would be on here, but there’s more to check out than outlet malls and the massive Walden Galleria (although do check these out. And Target. Glorious, glorious Target). Elmwood Village was recently named one of the “10 Great Neighbourhoods in America” by the American Planning Association, and is bordered by museums on one end and Allentown on the other. You’ll find a variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Including Spot Coffee, which made me real happy for reasons listed in number 4. If you’re into antiques, you’ll find a variety of shops to tickle your fancy along Hertel Avenue, which is also the city’s “Little Italy”. And Allentown has small bookstores, antique stores and knick knacks.
If you like meat, you’ll be a happy camper here (it is the home of Buffalo Wings, after all). If you’re vegetarian…good luck. After spotting plate after plate of wings and sliders pass by at a work social, I asked if there were any vegetarian options. “There’s turkey burgers coming soon, and some salmon.” I hear salmon/fish quite a bit (technically they are not vegetarian), but turkey is a new one. Luckily I had trail mix in my purse. Bless you, purse snacks.
It wasn’t all bad – a wander up Delaware led me to stumble across Chris’ NY Sandwich Co, a delightful family-run place with warm service and delicious sammies (and side pickles without even asking for them – amazing). They have a massive menu (both veggie and really non-veggie) and are only open for lunch. I had really hoped to make it to Chocolate Bar, which boasts a menu filled with chocolate-laced items. Chocolate in salad and pasta? See you next time I’m in town.
Bars abound in Buffalo, and there is a whole lotta nightlife going on, particularly with a 4 a.m. last call. 4 a.m. seems like an impossible milestone for me to reach. You people are nuts. At any rate, you have a lot of time to bar hop, so a good place to start is the Chip Strip downtown. There’s an eclectic variety of entertainment options to choose from – bars, clubs, restaurants, and coffee shops if you need a late-night (or perhaps early morning) perk-up. I checked out SoHo, a burger bar by day and club by night. Efficient. If you’re up for a challenge, check out Buckin’ Buffalo Saloon, home of the only mechanical buffalo in the US. And the craft brewery scene is huge in Buffalo and definitely worth checking out for some local brews.
If coffee is more your thing, you won’t be disappointed. If giant serving sizes are your thing, you also won’t be disappointed. Bless you, America, for making everything extra large including my morning almond milk and fruit protein smoothie from Spot Coffee. Imagine my joy at discovering almond milk in a city that declares turkey a vegetarian option. I was pretty happy, but never able to finish the smoothie. 26 ounces is just too much for one gal!
3. Take in a Show
If steep ticket prices in Toronto have you feeling blue, cross the border to Buffalo and check out what’s playing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Tickets for upcoming performances of South Pacific range from $35-65, and Billy Elliot and The Book of Mormon will be coming soon. Buffalo is also a great spot to see some NHL or NFL action for prices you can actually comprehend.
2. Fall for the Falls
Rather than dumping out the contents of your wallet for a hotel in Niagara Falls, stay in Buffalo and make the short drive north to check out the goods.
1. Forget Running of the Bulls – They Have Chickens
I thought this was a joke, and then I thought it used actual chickens, but to my relief it’s just people. As part of the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival, there’s a 0.5 km Chicken Wing Run. Held each September, finishing times are projected to be “several minutes to three-quarters of an hour”, although I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that good times would be had by all who watch. Don a chicken costume and take a break from all the wing-eating (there’s also Bobbing for Wings if you’re interested in something truly messy). Only in Buffalo.
So, have you been to Buffalo? What do you like to do when in town? Leave a comment below!