December 2009


by Melissa Barrie

Looking for a convenient place to stay downtown? Check out the newly renovated Comfort Suites at 601 Main Street. It’s located along the free fare zone of the Metro Rail, and they also provide free shuttle service to the Buffalo Niagara Airport. All of the rooms in the hotel are suites, with a bedroom and a separate living area. Recently updated features include:

  • New décor in all rooms, hallways, and in the lobby
  • New appliances in all rooms including microwaves, refrigerators, and two flat screen TV
  • New fitness room with state of the art equipment
  • Newly renovated dining area – they also provide a free continental breakfast
  • New computer room off of the lobby, and free wireless high-speed internet access

If you’re going to be in Buffalo’s entertainment district this New Year’s Eve, there are still 20 rooms available. Several rooms provide an excellent view of the Buffalo ball drop at the Electric Tower.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

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by Carolyn Batt

Whether it’s ice skating and First Night for the family, the Ice Ball for the 21+, the ball drop at midnight, or the entertainment district for the partiers, downtown Buffalo has plenty of activities to ring in the New Year!

Start your day on New Year’s Eve with free outdoor skating at Buffalo Place’s Rotary Rink, located at Main and Chippewa Streets. The rink is offering extended holiday hours, and is open December 31st 11am-1am and January 1st 11am-9pm.

Head over to First Night Buffalo, which attracts more than 5000 people every year on New Year’s Eve at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Featuring a wide variety of visual and performing arts, music and dance, sports activities and children’s entertainment, First Night is a drug and alcohol free event that serves as a healthy holiday alternative to New Year’s Eve celebrations.

If you’re looking for an upscale full-night event, check out the Ice Ball, taking place at the historic Statler Towers. This 21+ event features an optional dinner, live music, dancing, an open bar, confetti white-out and champagne toast at midnight. Other highlights include seeing the 1st marriage proposal of 2010, a photobooth, magician and ice sculptures.

For those that prefer a more traditional New Year’s celebration, this year marks the 22nd annual ball drop from the Electric Tower in Roosevelt Square. Attracting more than 40,000 people a year, this is the biggest party of the year in Downtown Buffalo. With a close proximity to Buffalo’s Chippewa Entertainment District, downtown Buffalo’s after-party will bustle until last call at 4 a.m. (and many bars will also extend their hours to remain open well past 4 a.m. for this night).

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by Carolyn Batt

One of my favorite annual traditions growing up in Western New York was going to the Festival of Lights which used to take place in Niagara Falls. Now, Erie County has revived that tradition with the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights in Hamburg, a 20 minute drive south of Buffalo.

Taking place at the fairgrounds that thousands of flock to in August for the Erie County Fair, this festival is a combination of sights, sounds and experiences. There are plenty of indoor, outdoor and in-car activities.

You begin by entering a lighted winter wonderland pathway in your car. This one-mile stretch features unique light displays—everything from Santa on a surfboard to a canopy of lights over your car. At the end, you can park and enter the “North Pole” with Santa’s shops, a midway for children, lightshows, and reindeer sleigh rides.

While most of the activities are geared for children, there were a lot of young couples and adults there as well.

The Festival of Lights is open nightly through January 2nd (with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), from 5:30-9:30pm.

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By Michael Powers – Marketing Manager at the Buffalo Zoo

I’m not talking about muffins in this case, gentle reader. This is an ode to our humble city – Buffalo.

The Buffalo area is very unique in that everything is 20 minutes or so away. There are a few exceptions to that, of course. But tell a Los Angeles native how long it takes you to get to work and I guarantee that since you won’t use the word “hours” they will be snow white with envy. I grew up in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence and my folks still reside there. I moved into the city in 1988 and no more than a few months go by ever since that I hear somebody say the phrase “All the way from the City” or some variation on that theme, like you have to stop off in Cheektowaga to load up on provisions to complete your journey.

I want to advocate a little localized wanderlust. C’mon into the big city!

Buffalo offers a great variety of restaurants, events, festivals and natural beauty. Many places around Buffalo have yet to be discovered by many, and are located right in the heart of the city. Below are a few examples of Buffalo’s hidden gems that I have found:

  • Santasiero’s on Niagara Street has a spaghetti parm that is just as good as Chef’s without the hype, the wait or the care that there is something at the Arena that night.
  • LaSalle Park hosted a concert series a bunch of years ago that brought Tito Puente (how cool was that), America, Dixie Chicks, Natalie Cole, and Ramsay Lewis in one summer. How insanely cool is that?
  • Ted’s makes a pretty good burger, but the Sterling Place Tavern fed my soul with theirs a few weeks ago, and they will again.
  • You won’t beat the crowds at Betty’s for Sunday brunch, but you will join the Buffalo insiders that know about this local hotspot tucked away on Virginia Street
  • K. Gallagher’s is a great place to get a drink on Allen Street or even catch a peek at Robby Takac from the Goo-Goo Dolls (Robby has said this is his favorite ‘hidden’ gem).

Discovery is a joyful thing, even on a primal level. There are good things everywhere, sometimes you just have to want to look.

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by Karen Huefner

I’m always looking for new ways to experience Christmas year after year. Between the shopping, decorating and cookie-baking I feel like there’s little time for anything else! Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative I watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and the Holiday Pops concert with the BPO is a must but I always crave something different. This year I found it. I took a ride north of Buffalo to Youngstown, NY, home to Old Fort Niagara. For two weekends in December the Fort comes to life for their annual Colonial Christmas by Candlelight event.

Having been to the Fort numerous times when I was younger, I was familiar with the grounds. However with the chance to experience the Fort in the evening, that was a whole new ballgame. I arrived at the park around 8pm, sun already set, snow on the ground and a crisp breezing blowing in off Lake Ontario. Ladies, leave your heels at home for this…boots are a must.

I stayed at the Fort about an hour and a half watching (and partially covering my ears for) the firing of the Christmas guns, mixing and mingling with the soldiers, sampling some holiday cooking and clapping along to the music. It’s about as close as one can get to experiencing an 18th century Christmas.

This is the last weekend for Christmas by Candlelight. Make this a new holiday tradition with your family. Oh, and bring your flashlight!

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by Denise Drews

I had the chance to have some cocktails and appetizers with some fellow hospitality industry members at the 31 Club in downtown Buffalo.
I have to say this place is impressive.

From the stylish bar, to the intimate dining rooms. The classic name made famous in the 1940’s returns to its original, rightful home with a fresh, fashionable face.

We all had a chance to meet with Anthony Caggiano the owner, who was a very gracious host.

I learned a few things I’d like to share about this place that would be helpful for people to know:

  • They are open 7 days a week for dinner. Menu offers delicacies from the land and sea and an extensive wine list.
  • Going to the theatre, concert, or sporting event downtown? They offer a delicious Prix Fix dinner and complimentary shuttle service to Kleinhans, Shea’s and HSBC Arena. You can leave your car in one of their parking lots and you won’t have to worry about additional parking at the venue.
  • They offer a Late Night Happy hour at their bar every Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Sample their late night menu and receive 20% off all food and drink
  • Private dining rooms for small groups and banquet rooms for up to 120 people are available.

I encourage you to make plans to have dinner and drinks at one of the newer establishments in the Buffalo area. They are located on the corner of South Elmwood and North Johnson Park. Contact telephone number is 716-332-3131. You can also view the menu by visiting www.the31club.com

It will be worth your time and I’m sure you will make it one of your favorite places to dine.

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by Susan Braun

Buffalo Niagara Visitor CenterLooking for an unusual place to do some last minute holiday shopping? The Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center is the perfect place find that ideal “Buffalo” gift for the holiday season! You’ll find etched wine glasses, 2010 calendars with scenes of Buffalo, two different style aprons and Frozen Assets, the latest book of photographs by Mark Donnelly. Copies of Mr. Donnelly’s previous book, The Fine Art of Capturing Buffalo are also available. Stop in to watch Buffalo Stories in the Star Theatre. This series of short films cover everything from Architecture to Chicken Wings! Most are no more than 8 to 15 minutes in length and best of all, there is no charge to see them! For a limited time, mention that you read this blog post on http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com and receive 15% off a sale of $7.00 or more! The Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center is located in the Market Arcade Building at 617 Main Street and for more information call 716/852-2356 or go to www.visitbuffaloniagara.com.

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