11 Unique Things To Do in Buffalo with Out-of-Town Guests

It’s fun getting visitors in Buffalo. We are always pretty dang pumped to show people around and give them ideas for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay so they will have the ultimate WNY experience. 

Besides the usual suspect stops in and around town, here is a list of our fav 11 unique things to do when you have fam and friends in town:

Shark Girl Selfie / Canalside

You’ll learn fast that Buffalo is getting bigger and bigger on public art (thanks to many initiatives of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery). One such famous public resident is Shark Girl, located at Canalside near the upcoming Explore & More Children’s Museum. Getting a selfie with this girl is a must! Who is Shark Girl??

Forest Lawn Trolley

We have famous dead people. Presidents, musicians, artists, pioneers…look up the tour schedule and book one through the cemetery. It’s manicured landscape adds to the awe of who you see in there and you’ll be surprised by the history you’ll learn. Book a Forest Lawn Tour

Hatchets + Hops

photo: Megan Ann Photography

Axes and beer. Guaranteed your friends and family haven’t done anything like this before! Throw some axes and see if you can bullseye it. Hang out at Misuta Chows after (nearby). Yep, sign me up!

McKinley Assassination Site

A small piece of history is over on Fordham Dr. where McKinley was shot in 1901 at the PanAm Expo. An underdog spot to visit where you feel like you’re back in time. Take me there!

Mural tour (on your own)

Us, Niagara Falls, NY

Murals pop up all over the city every couple of months. We’re are becoming a destination to see these, so why not map out some sites you want to see and get some great pics? Use Nickel City Pretty as a good reference point on where to find some.

The real wings at Nine-Eleven Tavern and Bar Bill

wings at Bar Bill

Take it from a local: we know where the best wings are. Take the off-beaten path and take a ride to East Aurora for Bar Bill wings (and beef on weck!) and the South Buffalo underdog Nine-Eleven Tavern.

Explore Buffalo Tours

Historic Shea’s in downtown Buffalo

Nothing better than hearing the history from the best. Check out their site to see what kind of tours they have going on. Architecture…food…crime history…something for everyone. Explore Buffalo

West Side Bazaar

An expo of some of our best international dishes in Buffalo. Get a little bit of everything including Thai, Indian, and Ethiopian. It doesn’t get more authentic than here. You’ll find beautiful artisan work here, too. Take me to the West side

Pedal Tours

pic from Buffalo Pedal Tours Instagram

A couple years ago, Buffalo got a few pedal tours under its belt for bar crawls, food tours, and city views. From Buffalo Pedal Tours to the Consumer Craft, the Tiki Tour to CycleBoats…ya gotta really work it to get there!

Niagara Wine Trail

Rent a small bus and take the wine trail experience. Great way to see Niagara County, taste some wine, eat some chocolate, and hang out in the vineyards. A fun event for guests to take home some wine! Follow the trail…

Riverworks: Zipline/Rock Climb/Kayak/Roller Girls

Riverworks has something for everyone. Adventure, food and drink, views, and if you check the schedule…some badass chicks on wheels. You can definitely make a solid day of hanging out there. Everything at Riverworks

We’re About To Take a Huge Challenge This Month…

Life is nuts. Nuts! We all work long hours, squeeze in some workouts, run kids around to practices and events, and try to find some time for seeing friends and family. For us in the Riggs household, it feels even crazier with our lifestyle but now that we have little Chloe we are refocusing a little bit on spending time together in a different way.

We’ve been getting away from sitting down together and actually having dinner at the table. That’s a major reason why we have teamed up with TOPS Friendly Markets during September- which happens to be National Family Meals Month!

We all know how important it is for everyone to sit down and eat together. Why aren’t we incorporating it more in to our lives? School has begun and it’s the perfect time to join us this month in really committing to cooking and enjoying dinner all at once. TOPS makes it super easy to find recipes on their site and there are some great prepared meals to grab if you’re really on the go.

It’s going to be quite the month of us sticking to it! Think we can do it?? Think YOU can do it?? We bet you can. We’re aiming for as many nights during the week as we can fit in. Follow along here on the blog and over on our Instagram as we show you how we’re doing it, what recipes we turn out, and if Chloe is down for it all. (what is she going to eat?! stay tuned for baby tips…) Head on over to Instagram at @Buffalovebirds for details on this week’s giveaway and see how simple TOPS is making it for us!

Beau has put this on his recipe list this week. Psh, this is easy!:

TOPS Cornbread Fritters Recipe.PNG

TOPS Recipe: Cornbread Fritter Cakes

How To Step Up Your Sunflower Selfie Adventure

It’s a thing now. Heading out beyond the ‘burbs and in to *gasp* the country to take pics in the sunflower fields. Specifically in Sanborn, NY. We all are on year 2 for making this an annual end-of-summer trip…so why not check out the best of the best up north once you get that super perfect angle with a VSCO filter shot? We’ve got the deets for ya, guys.

So you’re in Sanborn…uhhh, now what?

All these selfies make me hungry. Here are some must-eat joints nearby:

Lewiston, 20 minutes from the sunflowers.

The Silo: on the water, kid friendly, ice cream, eat outside. More selfies.

Cask and Cow: burgers. The end. Kid friendly.

Brickyard Pub: BBQ and then a really good nap. In the village, so make sure you walk around the shops afterward. Yes to kids.

Water Street Landing: right on the river with a great view, drinks, eat outside, live music. Kids in the right condition.


Wilson, 15 minute drive.

Woodcock Brothers Brewery: beer, kid friendly. You’re happy now, I bet.

Sunset Grill: patio, drinks, good for kids. Tell Chad the bartender Lindsay sent you.

The Wilson House: so happy this is restored. Check out this 1844 home-turned-restaurant in the center of town.

Burt, NY nearby: Live Edge Brewing: the newer kid in town in a great space with fun food and kid friendly. Next to Schulze Winery, so there’s no failing here.


Lockport, 13 minute drive.

Steak, Stone, and Sushi: cook on a hot rock. You’ll be surprised. Kids can go- we took Chloe and she had a hoot.

Lock 34: a good ol’ staple and the same place Beau and I met (previous name and owner). Music, kid friendly.

Danny Sheehan’s: steak and potatoes. So good. Where everybody knows your name.

Aguacates: Mexican, baby.

Ennis’ West End Tavern: Seafood. Meat. Hearty plates. Cannot go wrong at all here.


Us, 2017 in the Sanborn Sunflower field

Ugh, I’m exhausted from smiling so much. I need a coffee:

Lewiston: Orange Cat Coffee

Lockport/Pendleton: Craft Coffee House, Steamworks Coffee, Scripts Cafe

Wilson: Wilson Brew


Chelsea Victoria Photography, Sanborn Sunflowers

Well, I packed the kids up and now I guess I drive home? Nope:

Niagara Zipper– zipline along the Erie Canal! Located in Lockport

Ice Bumper Cars– Also in Lockport- you haven’t seenthese yet because this is the only place in WNY to do it!

Olcott Carousel– take a drive up to Olcott for their small but cute carousel and other kiddie rides. Get cash out to get Bye’s Popcorn for the way home. **Carousel park closes after Labor Day


@andreeaclairee, Sanborn Sunflowers

What other kind of fun things can we do?:

Wine Tours– figure out a plan to hit some of the local Niagara County Wine Trail spots- vineyard selfies are cool, too. (drive safely)

Stop at local farm stands! They’re everywhere up there!

Spa time at Niagara Crossing (formerly Barton Hill Spa)- check it out online to get a little spa time in Lewiston.

**check all sites for times of businesses before you drive somewhere!

Day Date: Shirt Factory Cafe

ICYMI, Beau and I hail from Niagara County. Yep. I grew up in Newfane and Beau in Lockport. Perhaps my roots a little more country than him and nonetheless, small-town life is what we know. So when there is a place ‘up north’ that is a must-see…we go!

How much for that baby in the window?

Shirt Factory Cafe is the latest place to be transformed and back on the map in Orleans County. New owners Scott and Alix (you may know them as @DCMinute) have taken over the former Robert H. Newell & Co. building and started its new evolution in to being a staple in Medina, NY. They invited us out to nosh on their soon-to-be revealed Toast Bar and we couldn’t pass it up!

The old Shirt Factory here was quite famous among celebrities around the globe

Medina is also going through a resurgence, like Buffalo just on a small town scale. Neighbors of the Shirt Factory Cafe include Mile 303, Zambistro, the vintage shop Ellen J Goods, and Mariachi de Oro. The Erie Canal flows through Medina and was once a popular stopover for trading. Now you can rent a hydrobike or kayak right in town at Pedal and Paddle Medina!

Scott and Alix’s introduction of a Toast Bar is so fun! They’re tweaking the toast now and we got a sneak peek invite to eat ALL OF IT.

Oh em gee.

I had to get a few bites in here and there before Beau ate them all. The cool thing about the ingredients is that Scott and Alix grow the beets and tomatoes in the garden at their beautiful farmhouse. They also source as many items as possible at local businesses like The Bread Basket in town for the toast.

Chloe approved!

The flight is really great for sharing and just one toast is enough to fill you up. Perfect for a to-go breakfast or lunch!

Their current menu boasts sandwiches, salads, coffee, and smoothies. Breakfast for those locals who need to pop in early and veggie options for those non-carnivorous eaters. We also shared an Avocado and White Bean wrap as well as a Bob Hope (turkey). I could eat the AWB ever day!

Scott and Alix are keeping a few old school Shirt Factory nostalgic items like photos and letters from early and mid 20th century shirt requests which is why we felt so proud to be inside their space. Keeping history with revitalized buildings is so important and they GET IT.

Medina is showing us glimmers of a new destination spot. With wineries nearby, water sports on the canal, and people like Scott and Alix (Medina boomerangs) determined to help shed its old skin there is no doubt you will be checking it out, too. Plans for the Shirt Factory Cafe are coming to fruition with ideas of an upgraded menu, Toast Bar, and eventually cocktails. In the same building, Hart Hotel is open and a boutique style place to stay. Medina is quickly becoming a great day trip or even staycation. Keep your eyes peeled on this one, guys. There’s a new town in…well…town. 😉

Where to Find the Flowers: Our WNY Guide to Nurseries & Greenhouses

Fun fact: I grew up on a horticultural farm. My grandfather, parents, Aunt Jillie, siblings, and Great Aunt grew chrysanthemums by the 1,000s in Wrights Corners, NY for years. The tens of acres at my grandparents’ house was magical, beautiful, and hard work. Besides the mums, we also grew vegetables and sunflowers and my Grandpa took much of his garden to the local Farmer’s Market in Lockport every week. My brother studied landscape architecture and my mother is a retired art teacher. So naturally, this whole gardening thing is of interest to me and I am diving in to everything that has to do with the outside of the house.Beau is, too.

My parent’s home in Newfane, NY was meticulously landscaped and they spent every hour they could once the weather broke until the snow fell outside working on their flower beds. It was so stunning that people would drive down our road very slowly to check out the land and ask my Dad questions about what things were. (lol!) I spent ALOT of time in nurseries and greenhouses as a kid and have started to visit many of them now as an adult and getting my own things.

We have some stunning places in WNY and each nursery and greenhouse has a certain personality. Some are fierce flower joints, others focus on shrubs. Some have hearty plants and several are uniquely their own. This list is our personal guide to places we love that you should definitely be hittin’ up this Spring:

Our Top Greenhouses and Nurseries:

Russell’s Tree & Shrub Farm: The best place for trees, bushes, grasses, and shrubs. You can find small to large sizes for your budget and talk about delivery to your place. Transit Rd., East Amherst

Hi-Way Garden Center: A well-maintained and beautiful greenhouse filled with hearty and colorful perennials and annuals. We love getting our coleus, hens and chicks, and vegetables here. (yes, like the veggies you can grow yourself) Tonawanda Creek Rd., Amherst

Lockwood’s: A new discovery for us now that are Southtowners! This place has some stunning houseplants, beautiful spikes, and really hard-to-find annuals. Clark St., Hamburg

Seasonal Nursery: The place to look in to for landscaping design ideas and beautiful hanging baskets. We like to get spikes, sweet potato vines, and impatients here. Bullis Rd., Elma

Angle Acres Greenhouse: Here’s your hidden gem, guys. Angle Acres has 4 greenhouses filled with houseplants and unique varying sizes of succulents. Best place for a photo shoot. ***CASH ONLY. If you forget it’s okay- there is a gas station nearby with an ATM. Angle Rd., Orchard Park

Our original go-to spots also in Niagara County:

Zehr’s, West Lake Rd., Burt

La Roses, Ridge Rd, Lockport

Heimiller Greenhouses, Ewings Rd., Newfane

Northtowns:

Spoth’s, Transit Rd., East Amherst

Badding Brothers, Transit Rd., Amherst

Adam’s Nursery, Genesee St., Lancaster

Curated Buffalo Boxes: buffBOX

It was one of those serendipitous meetings while strolling along Hertel Ave. last fall. The cutest pop-up caught our eye inside a popular local shop and we hit it off talking about Buffalo, Instagram, and the love of WNY artisans. It was buffBOX– a newly launched curated Buffalo box design that was the hit of all that walked by. 

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Heidie, the creator of buffBOX at the Mod/Nos pop-up shop

We were so impressed by this unique business that we caught up with owner Heidie Buffomante (I mean, c’mon, even her name is totally Buffalo!). Check out the inspiration behind the boxes and how you can get one, too:

Okay, we gotta start with the basics like…what is buffBOX and who are you?!

H: buffBOXes are curated collections that offer style, function, and feature items from small businesses. Each is thoughtfully created with a lot of love.

My husband, Adam, and I live in Williamsville with our sweet pup Daisy. I work as an Assistant Principal at a Middle School (which was also my favorite grade level to teach).

People in life matter, a ton. Gifting a custom buffBOX evokes feelings of importance and connection. Your gift recipient will feel like they have just received something extra special as they notice the unexpected details such as the elevated packaging or the handwritten note on linen paper. buffBOXes also support Buffalo’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. When purchasing, you are building into the resurgence of our city. It is my hope that the quality and uniqueness of your buffBOX items will get you right back into that small business to buy more and of course, connect with the owner/creator/artisan/entrepreneur.

This is new to the scene! How did it all begin and what was your inspiration behind it all? Everyone has a story about their creations!

H: After a brain injury in August 2014 I spent a significant amount of time at home recovering. It brought me immense joy to remix items throughout our home to optimize their function while also creating something beautiful. I needed to be in a space that elicited feelings of comfort and coziness as Adam and Daisy spent many evenings and weekends tucked inside with me. I evolved into styling spaces for my mom, sister and friends. All the while, I would have consistent FaceTime sessions with my dear friend Aubrey in California where we would dream about this turning into a business. Most recently in October 2017 I decided to share my curated pairings of home goods more fbroadly, did a big shop, came up with 30 variations, and had a “First Look” with family and friends a week later. Very shortly after that Adam picked me up from work on an afternoon we planned to hit up the small businesses on Hertel. It was a very rainy day and we considered just going home. Instead, we braved the Buffalo weather, had a conversation with a few local entrepreneurs about this passion project, and weeks later we were popped-up inside their store. This launched buffBOXes being featured in local blogs, a segment on Channel 7 news, collaborations with local entrepreneurs, and most importantly Adam and I met a lot of new people in our city of Buffalo. We are forever grateful to Bri at Modern Nostalgia, Matt with Scout & Cedar, and Katie creator of BKindCity for believing in buffBOXes and embracing us on that rainy night.

 

It’s nice to have a creative-type put these gifts together as a gift! Where do you frequent to find pieces for the boxes?

H: I create buffBOXes with functional and unique items I find on our travels around Buffalo and day trips on the weekend. This ensures there is a small business feature in each box. This is important to me and part of why I enjoy curating buffBOXes because each has its own authentic story that is shared on the personalized stationery packaged inside. I also have my stores I frequent often like Hobby Lobby and Marshall’s. I can always find supporting pieces to the anchor item in each box.

buffbox2

 

What are some good uses for a buffBOX? What kind of gifts could it be for?

H: Reason- (birthday, baby shower, housewarming, new job, just ‘cause, treat yo’ self)

Season- (spring tablescape, essential summer decor, fall vignette, hot cocoa station for a winter wonderland)

Holiday- (Valentine/Galentine, Mother’s & Father’s Day, Halloween, Christmas

In each custom buffBOX there is a handwritten note sharing the small business feature, where the items have traveled from, or how it will compliment their lifestyle based on the information the gift-giver provides on my custom order form.

 

What are the ranges of buffBOXes if readers are looking to send a gift?

H: Custom buffBOXes come two ways: Regular $69, and BIG buffBOX for $99

For Pop-Ups at local businesses prices range from $4 to $45 for the Build-Your-Own buffBOX option. You can pick and choose which items you want with attractive price points.

 

How do the gifts get to the people?

H: Free pickup, $10 delivery within 20 miles of Williamsville. Shipping adds on a cost of the flat rate box.

 

Where can people see the buffBOXes? 

H: Instagram @buffboxes is the platform I use to share what’s available for purchase, dates/locations for pop-ups, completed custom orders (with permission from the gift-giver), and information on how to order your own.

My personal Instagram @heidiebuff is a place to checkout how I style our home through the seasons and behind the scenes footage of my creation stages of buffBOXes in the Instagram Story. I just saved our adventure to Rochester to find some new goodies in the Highlight section.

 

What visually inspires you?

H: Casual simplicity of Skeem Design, color palettes of Kate Spade NY for spring, craftsmanship of Mariposa, timeless pieces in Mackenzie Childs courtly check, lush blankets in neutral color tones by Barefoot Dreams.

 

You recently had your home featured in Buffalo News! Yay!! How do you envision certain rooms and looks? What is the style you aim to achieve?

H: I am committed to creating our home spaces that are functional and truly evoke feelings of comfort and coziness. To do this, I start with an anchor item and monochromatic color palette. This helps guide my purchasing of other complementing pieces. For example, our oversized coffee table in white washed wood drove the tone of the wooden tabletop tray stacked with books and the hammered metal coaster set. Our hobbies are also sprinkled throughout the home, like Adam’s fondness of sports and collector items and our board game collection. See more pics here!

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Heidie, Adam, and Daisy from their Buffalo News photoshoot // pic: The Buffalo News

 

So you guys are in the Northtowns- what is your go-to place to eat? Any good date night suggestions?

H: Sandwiches and salads at D’Avolio or Japanese at Kumo for lunch. Roccos, San Marco Restaurant, Share, and Sinatra’s for dinner. The best date nights always involve an activity like bowling, games like Spot It, or popping in to play with our nephew Little Rick.

How can people get a buffBOX for someone??

H: Follow @buffBOXes on Instagram! If you are not a user, email me at heidie.buff@gmail.com

Working on a new custom order form that will be available soon!

 

Check out buffBOXes in person and meet Heidie! Pop on over to the Ellicott Square Building for the City of Buffalo Artists Market on Saturday 5/12/2018 from 11am-3pm. And remember- Mother’s Day is coming up on 5/13/18 so you’re going to want to send Mom a super fun buffBOX. 🙂