There are so many wonderful layers to all there is to see, do and experience in and around Buffalo, as we’ve seen in the previous two parts of this feature series. Among them is a wealth of arts, entertainment and culinary delights that speak to both denizens and visitors alike.
Art enthusiasts and fans of famed American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield will thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the Burchfield Penney Art Center, its exhibits noted as the world’s largest collection of Burchfield’s work and the only museum exclusively dedicated to the art and artists of western New York. At the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, you’ll find a wide array of Impressionism, post-Impressionism, post-war American and European, modern and contemporary pop and other artistic works.
One of the biggest artistic attractions in town is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex. Situated in the beautiful Parkside residential neighborhood, the property encompasses seven buildings totaling just over a littel more than emplify the “Prairie House” ideal of Wright. The complex was named after wealthy Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin, who commissioned it for his family in 1903.
The structures include the main 14,978-square-foot Darwin D. Martin House, the Pergola, Conservatory, Carriage House and Stable, George Barton House, Gardener’s Cottage and Greatbatch Pavilion. The complex is in its last two years of an historic $55 million, 10-year restoration project—the most extensive and expensive of any of Wright’s projects.
Other Frank Lloyd Wright projects in town include the Graycliff Estate, designed by Wright between 1926 and 1931; the Fontana Boathouse, one of his most prized designs; and the Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum. The museum is a city treasure featuring an extensive and impressive collection of antique automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, artifacts, memorabilia and more relative to Buffalo and western New York’s rich automotive history.
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
Just about every night of the week year-round you can find numerous intimate and large-scale entertainment options dotted around town that feed into Buffalo’s close-knit, small town ambiance. One of the newest districts is Larkin Square. Situated in the heart of the burgeoning Larkinville neighborhood, it is a major draw for folks for live music, “Food Truck Tuesdays,” a farmers market, author series and vintage and specialty gift shopping.
Downtown in Buffalo Place, you’ll find a bevy of bars and live music venues highlighting great local, regional and national blues, pop, rock, jazz and other acts. During the summer, be sure to visit the trendy rooftop of Sky Bar, featuring hip-hop, house and dance music and dancing, as well as ArtPark, presenting a full spectrum of summer festivals from performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to rock and pop, Broadway musicals and more, all set in a spectacular park setting above the Niagara River Gorge.
Aaaah! My favorite part of any travel adventure—the food! And in Buffalo, they’ve got it going on with some 400 independent restaurants dotted around Erie County, which speaks to the strength of the ethnic communities here.
Don’t know where to start? Then how about at the Taste of Buffalo, recognized as the largest two-day food festival in the country. Held every July, the event, which attracts almost 450,000 culinary diehards to sample more than 200 culinary specialties from some of the best restaurants in western New York, coupled with dancing, live entertainment and a beer tent. And there’s Buffalo Bites Food Tours, offering epicurean adventures combined with Buffalo history, architecture and stories.
There are so many great places that it was hard to decide what to include here. Nevertheless, honorable mentions from the many Buffalonians I encountered during my trip include Betty’s (for their amazing breakfast plates); Hutch’s (fresh, locally-sourced award-winning dishes); Kostas Family Restaurant (authentic Greek fare); Chef’s (voted Buffalo’s best Italian); and Gene McCarthy’s Brewing & Kitchen (locally crafted beer and innovative cuisine).
I have my personal favs too, including La Tee Da Cafe, serving excellent, multigenerational family pasta, meat and other Italian recipes. The most wonderfully unique meal I had was at the Seabar. Although known as western New York’s premier sushi experience, its fresh fusion dishes, highlighted by complex intricate flavors, offer something for every culinary palate. The sushi was out of this world, including their take on a Buffalo specialty, the Beef on Weck, a roast beef sandwich on a salty Kaiser roll topped with pretzel salt and caraway seeds, then slathered with horseradish sauce. As a sushi roll, the beef was cocooned inside rice with a few seeds and placed on a bed of piquant horseradish. Yee ow! But you just can’t miss trying a few other things, such as the 24-hour beef short ribs, pork enchiladas, meatballs and volcano noodles.
And, of course, you can’t come to Buffalo and not have Buffalo wings, invented here 50 years ago this year, at the city’s most famous wing restaurant, the Anchor Bar, one of many establishments that vie for Buffalonian top chicken wing honors.
“I CAN SEE CANADA FROM MY HOUSE!”
Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist having fun with this little phrase my travel buddies and I shared as we embarked upon one of the great wonders of the world, Niagara Falls, as it straddles the border between the U.S. and Canada. One of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, it is a must for any traveler.
First discovered by French explorer Father Louis Hennepin in 1678, Niagara Falls was the birthplace of commercial hydroelectric power, and today encompasses three dramatic waterfalls: the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
Although there are American and Canadian sides of the falls, the former offers a great deal more, including the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you right to the base of two of the falls, and the Cave of the Winds, where, after taking a short 175-foot elevator ride into Niagara Gorge, you can traverse over wooden walkways and feel and see close-up—including on a “Hurricane Deck”—the force and beauty of the Bridal Veil Falls.
The experience here goes beyond just the falls itself in the surrounding Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the country. Featuring more than 400 acres of protected wildlife and lush landscape, it also has a wealth of events, festivals, free outdoor concerts, shopping, dining and accommodation options.
Man oh man is there a lot that’s great about Buffalo! The only thing left for me to do is go back!
Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of “Amazing Escapades: Adventures for the Mind, Bod and Belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).