Outdoor Recreation

by Matt Steinberg

The inaugural National Garden Festival is coming to town this summer, and it’s an event like no other in the country. It’s a five week celebration (June 18 to July 25) of our garden walks, talks, tours and events. The Festival will be like a great, green umbrella under which garden tours, the Japanese Garden, the Erie Basin Marina Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, the Rose Garden, the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmer’s Market, the Olmsted Parks, Garden Walk Buffalo, garden symposia, and new special events will be presented to garden lovers, gardening enthusiasts and culturally inclined travelers who revel in the kind of tree lined streets, Victorian architecture and locally owned shops and restaurants that are found in abundance throughout out the Buffalo region. For more information, check out its new video and website, NationalGardenFestival.com.

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by Kathy Benzel

I’m ever in search of fun things to do with my grandchildren, and because their ages range from seven to fifteen, it can sometimes be a challenge to find something we’ll all enjoy. Delaware Park has always fit the bill, and we find plenty to keep us busy!

One of Frederick Law Olmsted’s first three parks in Buffalo, Delaware Park serves as the focal point of the Olmsted system and today contains many of Buffalo’s cultural institutions. Simply named The Park by Olmsted, this 350-acre setting serves as Buffalo’s “Central Park.” Delaware Park is the crowned jewel of the Olmsted system, with 350 acres of meadow, forest and lake.

The first thing we usually do is to play in one of the three playgrounds. Elijah’s favorite is in Rumsey Woods which is on the Lincoln Parkway side of the park. Next to the playground is the Rose Garden, which is extraordinarily beautiful when the roses are in full bloom. Hoyt Lake is next – a great place to explore or just sit peacefully, with rental boats on the lake during July and August; $10 for 30 minutes and $15 for 60 minutes for up to 4 passengers. Then we’re off to explore the many trails throughout the park. This could take days, and there’s always something new we discover.

That’s only one small part of Delaware Park. The other side of the park borders Parkside Avenue, and there you’ll find a golf course, baseball and softball diamonds, football, soccer and rugby fields. There’s lawn bowling courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, a couple more playgrounds, with plenty of picnic tables and shelters. And don’t forget the Parkside Lodge which houses the new restaurant, The Lunch Box and a Golf Shop.

And if Grandma isn’t exhausted by this time, we’ve sometimes even built in a trip to the Buffalo Zoo! But that’s a topic for another day!

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by Susan Braun

Have you heard about the Buffalo Hiking Group? This is a fairly new group founded by Chuck Saia and Chris Henning. It includes people who live in the Western New York area who like outdoor sports such as hiking, backpacking, trekking, snowshoeing, and camping. Membership is free and all are welcome. The group, which hosted one “Historic Waterfront Hike” on each day of the Powder Keg Festival, February 27th and 28th, attracted about 70 participants on Saturday and another 30 or so on Sunday. We joined in the fun on Sunday when the sun was shining brilliantly and the temperature was a balmy 37°!! We met on the corner of Erie Street and Marine Drive, across the street from Erie Basin Marina and headed out on a 3+ mile hike that lasted about 3 hours and included stops at many historical sites such as the Commercial Slip, the DL & W Terminal, the Swannie House, the Edward Cotter Fireboat and Father Conway Park (formerly the Ohio Basin). At each stop, Chris and Chuck provided interesting facts about the history of each of the places. For many, the highlight of the hike was gaining access to the RiverWright (Lake & Rail) Grain Elevator along the Buffalo River. When we arrived at the elevator, we were met by Rick Smith who provided some background on the history of the elevator and allowed the hikers to enter the elevator for a quick look around. Great fun was had by all!!

According to Chuck, “We’re always excited to extol whatever we can about Buffalo and the surrounding area. We’re hoping to have another Urban Historical Hike over the summer. We also plan to become involved with the Old First Ward’s ‘River Fest’ on June 19th, hopefully providing a little hike of history around the area and guided tours of the grain elevators.”

The next scheduled hike is April 17th at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. They’ll be going on two different nature hikes led by Nature Guides. Chuck indicated that the group usually tries to do something once a month. So far it’s proven to be a great way to make new friends and get the word out about all the wonderful places to see and things to do in and around Buffalo! You can check out their events on Facebook (search for Buffalo Hiking Group), or on the web at www.buffalohiking.com.

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by Melissa Barrie

Buffalo has festivals and events almost all year long – except for that stretch between New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day. Now we have two events to fill in that gap and celebrate our winter weather – the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament and the Buffalo Powder Keg Festival. The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament started three years ago as a one day event of 16 teams competing on Lake Erie. Now in its third year, the tournament has expanded into a two-day event of 112 teams competing on eight different rinks. This year also marks the first ever Buffalo Powder Keg Festival. For those who are interested in additional winter activities besides hockey, the Buffalo Powder Keg Festival offers a variety of winter-themed events; there will even be a Seneca Street exit ramp tubing hill! The Powder Keg festival will take place from the One HSBC Tower Plaza to the Erie Basin Marina, where the Pond Hockey tournament will be located. Activities include kan-jam, broomball, bubble hockey, snowman-building competitions, Guinness Book Ice Maze, two ice-skating rinks, Pearl Street beer tent with live music, Kid’s tent, and many more! Both events take place February 27th-28th and are free, but some activities do require purchase or registration. Make sure you come out and take advantage of these winter activities before spring gets here!

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Erie Basin Marina
February 27th & 28th

Buffalo Powder Keg Festival
In and around the southern end of downtown Buffalo, including the plaza surrounding HSBC Tower, multiple levels of the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, and neighboring parking lots
February 27th 8am-Midnight
February 28th 8am-6pm

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by Erin Collins, Special Events Coordinator
at the Buffalo Museum of Science

The Christmas decorations have been taken down and St. Patrick’s Day is still two months away. For Buffalonians, that means winter. It’s easy to fall into a weekend pattern of food, couch, sleep, repeat during these cold post-holiday weeks. Don’t let it happen! Take advantage of Western New York’s many outdoor activities that are perfect for this time of year.

Kissing Bridge in Colden, N.Y. is a great place to prevent cabin fever. A short, scenic drive from Buffalo, skiers, snowboarders and even those less adventurous will find something to do there. I ventured down with friends and family last weekend to take advantage of KB’s “2 for 40 on Route 240” promotion. From 4 until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, two night passes are only $40 when purchased together. For $20 each, you and a friend can hit the slopes and enjoy a night of winter fun.

While some of my companions that night were avid skiers, I am not. In between tumbles and trying not to break a leg, it really was fun to get out of the house and breathe in some fresh, crisp air. (Or gasp below-freezing air while trying to catch my breath on a ten-degree night). In all seriousness though, nothing beats the view from the ski lift at KB. Looking down on lush, beautiful pine trees covered in sparkly, white snow as puffy flakes fall down around you makes the challenge of skiing totally worth it.

Even if you’re like me and skiing involves more time picking yourself up than gliding down the trail, you can still relax at one of KB’s four bars and restaurants when you’ve had enough snow up your back. From gourmet pizza and fish fries to fireside fine dining, there are many options to choose from when you need to take a rest. If you’re not a skier but don’t want to miss out on the fun, weekends at KB feature live music by local bands. So take a drive down to enjoy the atmosphere and spend some time at one of Western New York’s most scenic places.

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by Melissa Barrie

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hibernate – enjoy one of the many winter activities that Buffalo has to offer. My top ten include:

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Held on the last weekend in February, this tournament (pictured at left) has expanded into 112 teams battling for bragging rights on the icy shores of Lake Erie at the Erie Basin Marina. This year the event also coincides with the brand new Buffalo Powder Keg Festival – a list of possible events include snow volleyball, a chili cook-off, curling, and snow soccer.

Sledding in Delaware Park
Take your sled and enjoy the winter wonderland at Delaware Park.

Ice skating at Rotary Rink
Bring your own skates and skate for free at Fountain Plaza downtown, or rent skates at $2 for children and $3 for adults.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge
Get your wooden toboggans out and head to Chestnut Ridge Park, one of the only parks in the country with toboggan runs. They’re finally open this year after a four-year hiatus.

Tubing at Colden Tubing Company
Western New York’s largest downhill tubing park. Enjoy unlimited night tubing on Fridays 5-9pm for $15!
Hours: Friday 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturdays 10:00am – 9:00pm
Sundays 10:00am – 6:00pm

With so many great ski resorts in this area to choose from, how will you make up your mind? Start here.

Enjoy the winter weather while taking a snow shoe hike. Snowshoe rentals are available during the winter at Tifft Nature Preserve and the Beaver Meadow Audobon Center.

Attend a Buffalo Sabres Game
Or a Buffalo Bandits game, or support your local college team for that matter. There are plenty to choose from – search here . Don’t forget about the NCAA Basketball Tournament here March 18th-21st!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Celebrate the last Sunday of winter with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Delaware Avenue. This year it falls on March 14th – more information can be found here.

If you’re not in the mood to brave the cold weather, take in a performance at one of our many local theaters.

What would your Top Ten things to do in Buffalo during the winter include?

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by Denise Drews

Are you looking for something fun to do this winter? How about checking out Rotary Rink in downtown Buffalo?

Recently I brought my two nieces that live in the suburbs into downtown to have them experience a world outside of their cul-de-sac and show them where their aunt works. My youngest niece could not take her eyes off the ice skaters and asked if we could “please, please” go ice skating. It reminded her of that “place in New York City”…just on a smaller scale. Since we had no restrictions on time I said heck, why not?

We walked up to the counter and asked to rent skates. The price was right at $3 for adults and $2 for children. We also were told that if we have our own skates we can skate for free. After this trip, I know we’ll be back with skates in hand!

We skated for about an hour and had a blast. There were only a few falls, nothing major. We were getting a bit cold so we ventured inside the heated concession area. They had a few different snack items for sale but we went with the toastiest of options ~ hot chocolate. We sat, drank and continued to watch our fellow skaters having such a nice time. After we warmed up, we returned our rentals and ventured back to the car.

I’d recommend placing Rotary Rink on your list of things to do in winter – in Buffalo.

Open now till March 14th, weather dependent, Rotary Rink is downtown Buffalo’s only outdoor ice-skating rink. It is managed & operated by Buffalo Place and partnered with the City of Buffalo since 1998.

Hours of operation are:
Tuesday- Friday 11AM-2PM & 5PM-9PM
Saturday 11AM-10PM
Sunday 11AM-6PM
Closed Mondays

Contact information: Rotary Rink @ Fountain Plaza. 716.854.RINK (7465)
Main Street (Between W.Chippewa & W.Huron Streets)

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