Ahh, winter in the wonderful world of Western New York. Well – technically it’s still autumn, as winter doesn’t begin for another month, on December 21, but you get the idea. The snow has officially begun falling in Buffalo and the surrounding areas, temperatures have hit below freezing for long periods of time, and it feels more like winter than fall out there.
But have no fear. Even though the snowflakes are falling and temperatures dropping, there’s still plenty to do in the Buffalo area. I’ve compiled this list for those of us who are looking to shake out of that cabin fever, maybe try something new, or revisit an old adventure.
Either way, there’s no excuse for staying home throughout the winter in the 716 — plenty to do and plenty to see…. provided there’s no travel ban, that is. If that’s the case, please stay home and obey the laws, of course. But provided the streets are clear and you’ve got the green light, get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland of Western New York.
- Check out the rinks – and much more – at the new HARBORcenter facilities. There are always games, practices or sessions going on at the rinks, pretty much from morning until night. Whether it’s the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, Canisius College, an Academy of Hockey session, a HARBORcenter Tournament or other on-ice activities, it’s a hoppin’ place. While you’re there, be sure to check out the new restaurant (716) Food and Sport, where the food, atmosphere and service are all top-notch, and the Tim Hortons located at the corner of Main & Scott streets. Most of the activities at the rinks are free to watch, so take a spin around. My favorite part: the wooden ceiling in Rink 1.
- If you’re up for a little drive, head up to the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. I’ve never been, but it sounds pretty incredible and I’m looking forward to checking it out this year. It’s recommended that you drive through the area rather than walk, as it’s pretty lengthy – over three miles. Best part is, it’s free. You can always park and walk over to specific areas if that’s your speed. Either way, dress warm and enjoy – the lights are on until January 12 daily from 5 p.m. until midnight. The Falls are also illuminated.
- Catch some theatre at Shea’s, 710 Main Theatre, or the Irish Classical Theatre, all located in the heart of downtown Buffalo. Don’t get me wrong, these are great activities year-round, but if you’re looking for a little bit of culture, why not dress up (if you wish) and catch a live performance? Whether it’s Lombardi, Neglia Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Cinderella, or any of the other shows being performed – I’m sure they’re all spectacular.
- Visit Tifft Nature Preserve. Even in the winter, Tifft is up and running — and they even have snowshoes available for the rental when the snow is at least six inches deep. It costs $5/pair for adults and $3/pair for children 3-6. Museum of Science members get a discount. Dress warm and look for deer, birds and any other animals you may spot.
- Enjoy the snow – for a while, at least. Hey, the snow outside is plentiful…. you might as well make the best of it. Suit up in your warmest clothes – layers, people, layers! – and go out and have some fun. I don’t care how old you are, enjoy it. Make a snowman, have a snowball fight, go sledding – safely, of course – and make the best of it.
- Take a stroll through any of the local villages. Whether it’s trekking through Main Street in East Aurora, walking through Lancaster, or any of the other numerous villages in the area — there’s often a lot of cute little shops and restaurants/cafes here. Christmas decor will soon be coming, too, if it hasn’t already. Grab a cup of something hot (apple cider or hot cocoa, perhaps) and take a stroll with your loved ones, friends or family, support local vendors and artists and enjoy a breath of fresh air.
- Get a taste of local history. If it’s too cold outside, step inside and step back in time by visiting any of the local historical attractions. From the Darwin Martin House to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site and anywhere in between, why not take some time to appreciate the great and storied history of Buffalo? Then head for a meal to somewhere like the Pan-American Grill, where the decor is all likened to the Pan-American Exposition that was once held in our fair city?
- Find another fun indoor activity. If the cold outside is too much to handle, there’s still plenty of other activities you can do. Visit the aquarium, go bowling or mini-golfing (indoors, of course), visit a library or do something different like paint your own pottery (there’s several places in the area to do so.)
Winter is no time to be bored! Have some fun and enjoy it, because goodness knows we get a lot of winter here in the Western New York area.