Discovering More Secrets in My Hometown of Buffalo

Lion at the Niagara Square Fountain in Front of Buffalo's City Hall, Aug. 2014
Lion at the Niagara Square Fountain in Front of Buffalo’s City Hall, Aug. 2014

Buffalo is one saucy vixen. When I fled so many years ago I had no idea how many secrets the Queen City held. It’s only decades later, now that I’m a seasoned adult, are her secrets revealed to me one layer at a time. During my December trip I discovered the Botanical Gardens and this past summer I was pleasantly surprised by discovering more treasures.

Perhaps these jewels were just juvenile junk when I left but I must say, the Queen City has certainly grown up to be hip, trendy and likeable by the cool kids.

Free Architecture Tours with Buffalo Tours
Case in point, my friend AH from school, who still lives in Western New York, and I decided to explore the great city and joined a tour with Buffalo Tours. The hour-long, free tour of Buffalo City Hall highlighted the nifty Art Deco features which makes this building an architectural and cultural treasure.

In addition to sitting in the city council chambers – I guarantee you’ll be in awe of the stunning stained glass – we visited the mayor’s office where he made a brief appearance. I was actually more excited seeing the seats from the old Memorial Auditorium sitting in the waiting area.

I learned all sorts of interesting information about Buffalo’s history which helped me understand city dynamics. I realize history can be dry and boring but with a good storyteller, such as the Buffalo Tours guide, it really can be fascinating!

View of Buffalo from the Floor of City's Hall's Observation Desk, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 2014
View of Buffalo from the Floor of City’s Hall’s Observation Desk, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 2014

These tours are made possible through Preservation Buffalo Niagarawhich raises awareness and preserves the area’s history. Our guide quoted an article from either the New York Times or Wall Street Journal stating the reason Buffalo has so many Art Deco buildings and accents is because the city was too poor in the ’70s to knock them down and rebuild newer buildings. What’s old is certainly classy and desirable.

Meow! Lunch.
Lunch out at “Cat Island” followed – okay, it’s not officially called that, it’s Tonawanda Island, but nicknamed by the locals because the cats seem to outnumber the residents and it recently made international news because of this. Now, being out there, I could see how half a dozen cats could outnumber the residents because I didn’t see many homes. And, I only saw one cat and I was a little disappointed. It didn’t live up to the hype.

The Shores, located on the shores of Lake Erie, served up a tasty lunch which included deep-fried, cheese filled banana peppers and a tropical adult beverage. Hey, don’t judge, I was on vacation and it was o’drink-thirty.

Isn't This Ceiling in Buffalo's City Hall's Chambers Incredible? Aug. 2014
Isn’t This Ceiling in Buffalo’s City Hall’s Chambers Incredible? Aug. 2014

Round And Round, Almost
Unsure what to do next, AH and I headed back to my parent’s house where we swung by the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda where we arrived a couple minutes prior to the 4 p.m. closing time. This is where wood carousels were manufactured in the early 1900s. If you can’t get into the museum, you can peek your head inside a working carousel.

Spiked Milkshakes? Yes Please!
Our day of exploration ended on a happy note. “I wish there was a place that served beer floats.”

“Well, there is,” my friend replied. She was referring to a gourmet burger restaurant called My Burger Barwhere they also serve about 60 types of “spiked milkshakes” including flavors of “Bananas Foster,” “Mudslide” and “Glazed Donut” as well as “spiked floats” such as ice cream with Coke and Captain Morgan. Oh yeah, delish! And, the perfect way to end a day of adventure in Buffalo.

There’s More to Discover?
After returning to my hot and humid Florida home – where my hair behaves extra badly during summer months – I learned about the natural eternal flame at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park. Whaaattt?

Oh yes Buffalo, I’ll be back sooner than later to discover other secrets you’ve been keeping.

Note: Many of these activities aren’t technically in the Buffalo city limits but nearby in the Greater Buffalo region.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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