With Buffalo being about 150 clicks away from Mississauga and the GTA, most visitors from Southern Ontario show up for NHL/NBA games or to cruise the aisles of Target, who’s appearance and disappearance in Canada was as prompt as the plate of chicken wings I ate…more on that later.
You can be forgiven if you’ve previously miscategorized Buffalo as a “pass-through” city, one lined with Cellino and Barnes billboards and a low visitor appeal.
However, that’s yesterday’s Buffalo, dwindling quickly in the rear view mirror as the new Buffalo experiences a thorough resurgence.
Today’s Buffalo is vibrant, exciting and has plenty of reasons to stay for a day or few.
WHAT TO DO
Start your day with a tour of the famous and architecturally remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex. Fresh off a 25-year restoration this summer, the 100+ year old complex received National Historic Landmark status in 1986.
According to their website, “The house is considered by leading Frank Lloyd Wright scholars as one of Wright’s finest achievements of the Prairie period and, indeed, of his entire career.
The complex consists of six interconnected buildings designed as a unified composition, including; the main Martin House and a pergola that connects it to a conservatory and carriage house with chauffeur’s quarters and stables, the Barton House, a smaller residence for Martin’s sister and brother-in-law, and a gardener’s cottage added in 1909. The landscape design for the grounds of the complex is highly integrated with the overall composition of buildings.”
Whether you’re interested in architecture or not, experiencing this can be appreciated by nearly anyone.
Silo City is one of the favourite places I’ve been this year of the dozens of places I’ve been. Formerly a historic grain elevator complex, new life has been pumped in via friendly and charismatic owner Rick Smith. It now offers tours, is a stellar music venue, a terrific theater backdrop, poetry site, and industrial film location. This multi-purpose venue is being utilized by the community and having an encouraging owner at the helm certainly helps.
Additionally, pop in for a drink and food at the on-site DUENDE Bar & Restaurant, built entirely from reclaimed materials by Master Carpenter Robert Sturm.
The Buffalo RiverWorks is quite a versatile attraction.
Massive grain elevators painted to resemble a six-pack of beer will capture your eye first…keep looking and you’ll discover that the complex houses a brewery, restaurants and offers sports, leisure, adventure and entertainment as it’s become a unique destination along Buffalo’s waterfront. Other draws include ziplining, rock climbing, roller derby, ice skating and curling.
Canalside Buffalo has been rejuvenated through $300 million in new development. Their sparkling waterfront features a gorgeous boardwalk, quaint shops, plenty of green space and hosts thousands of events yearly. Yes, it took some time to get to this point but it’s a marathon opposed to a sprint when you’re creating a thriving waterfront for generations to come.
While you’re there, pop by the Explore & More Children’s Museum, which opened this summer!
According to their website, “Ground was first dug in 2017 for the new 43,000 square foot museum. Built as the first place-based children’s museum of its kind, the museum features seven educational play zones that offer hands-on exhibits that tell the unique story of Buffalo. The museum’s zones reveal stories of our region’s history, geography, culture, agriculture, architecture, athletics, industry and innovation through exhibits that celebrate the power and benefits of play.”
WHERE TO EAT
Before you start filling up the comments section with all of your (surely wonderful) additions, I was in Buffalo for 24 hours and well, there’s only so much one can eat in that time span.
One of the coveted dozen spots on the brilliant Buffalo Wing Trail, Gabriel’s Gate served up some stellar wings that were saucy, meaty and a fair size. There’s a good selection of flavours and a strong menu offering outside of wings. Service is top-notch and there’s a cool sculpture atop the restaurant.
(Full disclosure – I’m going back within six months to do the entire trail in 48 hours – wanna join me?)
The Kitchens at Hotel Henry, located at, well, Hotel Henry, relies heavily (and smartly) on regional products in their approachable and delicious menu. The hall-like setting still offers an intimate setting for small groups as well as caters well to larger parties.
WHERE TO SLEEP
The Hotel Henry was transformed beautifully from the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane into an elegant 88-room Urban Resort & Conference Center. There’s plenty of interesting nuances that you’ll stumble upon as you explore the building.
The rooms are spacious, inviting and offer spectacular views.
I’ll skip the long closing paragraph and end with this: Visit Buffalo sooner than later and often to see what a smartly revitalized city has to offer.