When I moved back to Buffalo in 2018, I felt like I was learning my city all over again. Not only was I showing my California-born and raised husband the 716 ropes, but a lot had also changed while I was away. Add the fact that we’ve upgraded from a family of two to four, we had a lot of catching up to do!
Here a few of my favorite spots, old and new.
Restaurants for Date Night
When my husband and I took a tour of Millard Fillmore Suburban in preparation for Charlie’s birth, we first filled our bellies at Neat on Transit Rd. Our favorite meals are ones where the table is filled with small plates to sample and share, so we were really thrilled with the selection on the menu. The atmosphere was dark and warm, plus we were seated in a giant booth that felt intimate — even though we agreed that next time we could comfortably bring the kids too.
Best items on the menu: Burrata, Hot Pepper Arancini, Wood Fired French Onion, Bourbon-Soaked Cheesecake
Mother’s is perfect for the quintessential date night. The vibe is just right. Whether you’re there for a special occasion or just celebrating a night to date your spouse sans kids, this restaurant is the spot you want to go to experience the magic all over again.
Best items on the menu: Southwestern Shrimp Fritters, Sausage Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms, Dijon Peppercorn Tournadoes, Meatloaf
Places to Visit
City Hall Observation Deck
Whenever friends come in from out of town this is the first stop we make. City Hall makes it easy to point out all the landmarks of Buffalo to better acclimate guests and residents alike with breathtaking 360 degree views. With the surrounding area being so walkable, there’s plenty to do and see nearby so don’t be afraid to get a little bit lost!
Don’t miss: the beautiful stained glass skylight in the Common Council Chambers on the 13th floor
Buffalo History Museum
The collections at the Buffalo History Museum are impressive to say the least. There are over 100,000 physical objects, 200,000 photographs, and 20,000 books within their historic walls. Don’t miss the Food Truck Rodeo on July 3 and August 7 or pack up a picnic to enjoy on the lake since this museum is on the Delaware Park grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Don’t miss: the gift shop where you can find items rich with WNY history or opt for a New Era snapback made for the Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports exhibit
Tifft Nature Preserve
I’ve been going to Tifft since I was a Girl Scout. There’s nothing like being completely surrounded by nature and this is the ideal spot to get fully immersed. With 264 acres of restored habitat and five miles of trails and boardwalks, this preserve on the Outer Harbor is relaxation at it’s best. I dare you to leave your phone at home to completely unplug!
When to go: check their event calendar to find yourself a Wellness Walk, Little Tykes Mini Nature Camp, or Science After Hours: Tifft at Twilight
Sunflowers of Sanborn
Our family experienced the Sunflowers of Sanborn for the first time last year right before a controversial time for the fields that left Buffalonians worried about future visits. This year they’re back and ready to go with food trucks, farmers markets, and craft shows. Last year Fox really enjoyed being able to pick his own sunflowers and mine for gemstones, so we’re excited to see what’s in store for summer 2019.
When to go: opening day — be there or be square on August 1
Rust Belt Love
Located in the historic Market Arcade building in the Theater District, Rust Belt Love is a stationary design boutique that sells hand-designed items such as greeting cards, invitations, and illustrated prints. Their work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings and on Brides.com, but don’t write them off as a wedding-only shop — I recently purchased a print for my stepdad on Father’s Day!
Favorite item: original illustrations that have been turned into framed digital prints, perfect for your home or office
Nigh Road Farmhouse
Everything in this 1820s farmhouse is for sale and staged so that customers can visualize how to style before buying, creating a unique shopping experience for anyone who steps foot inside. If that’s not enough to send you running for your car keys, check out their event page where you can sign up to learn how to rehab your old kitchen cabinets or properly paint furniture.
Favorite item: this “Eat Up” mango wood cutting board would make a striking addition to any table; use code “FEBFOX10” for 10% off your entire first order!
Erie County Fair
It’s not a Buffalo summer without the Erie County Fair! Whether you’re watching entertainment from the grandstand, checking out the prize-winning animals, or perhaps even performing (maybe you caught my middle school dance recital back in the ’90s?), there’s so much to see and do at the fair. I’ll be making an effort this year to experience the buildings and the history behind them more than I have in the past.
Pro tip: load up on food options to eat while your kids ride hop because fair food = life and no, I don’t want to share
Not to throw shade on California, but we used to try fruit picking and for the most part it was kind of sad. Think 100 degrees and dust everywhere and you’re getting a good picture of what we were used to dealing with. Greg’s U-Pick carries a completely different experience where you can pick berries during the summer (Strawberries in June, Blueberries in July, Raspberries in August) or visit during the fall harvest when things really get lively — aka a corn maze, fresh apple cider, and pumpkin picking.
Pro tip: it’s strawberry season, so put your sunscreen on and get to pickin’… or you can just pick up a fresh strawberry pie and call it a day!
What are your favorite spots to visit in Buffalo?