Episode Guide – Buffalo

For Fringe Benefits: Buffalo Katie and the crew have a chance to experience the Queen City in two seasons – the fall and winter. Both are beautiful, and present opportunities for exploration in and around the city.

Buffalo waterfront
Buffalo waterfront

Buffalo was a 19th century boomtown, thanks, in part, to the Erie Canal and shipping traffic at the city’s Lake Erie port. At one time, the city was home to more millionaires than any other city in the United States! And, the beautiful architecture found throughout the region is a testament to this wealth and grandeur.  Following years of decline and population loss, Buffalo is again poised for greatness, thanks to waterfront development, new parks and public spaces, and tech and medical industries booming.

Our explorations begin downtown, including Niagara Square with a great view of the Art Deco Buffalo City Hall. Katie also visits Delaware Park, deigned by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.  At the waterfront, we climb a lookout tower for great views of the city, Lake Erie, and the Buffalo Naval Park – home to the USS Little Rock, USS Croaker, and the USS The Sullivans.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff

For more historic architecture, Katie heads to Graycliff, a waterfront home and estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built between 1926 and 1931, the home is known as the “Jewel of the Lake.” The home was constructed from local stone for Buffalo businessman Darwin Martin and his wife Isabelle. Features like front-to-back windows, an upstairs deck, and an open floor plan take advantage of lake views and breezes.  We learn about the history of the home, from the time of the Martins to its use as a motherhouse by Catholic Priests. Its recently undergone an extensive renovation.

About an hour from Buffalo, we experience history and architecture from an earlier time at Genesee Country Village & Museum. This 19th century “village” is a collection of homes, businesses and churches, moved to the property from the Genesee Valley region of New York State.  The living history museum covers 600 acres, and includes 68 historic building, expansive gardens, a historic base ball park, and an art gallery. Here, we meet Brian Nagel, a 19th-centruy expert, to learn about the museum’s brewery, and the process of making beer in the 1800s.

Silver Ball at Genesee Country Village & Museum
Silver Ball at Genesee Country Village & Museum

Continuing our autumn explorations, Katie heads to the village of Elliocttville, about an hour south of Buffalo. On a beautiful sunny fall day we stroll the shops and visit the Elicottville Brewing Company in the quaint ski town. Also, we spend some time at the Griffis Sculpture Park. Here, art and landscape meet as large outdoor sculptures by more than 100 artists mingle with the rolling hills, ponds and trees. It’s a beautiful place for a hike and relaxing afternoon.

Winter arrives, and we transition back to Ellicottville – when the town really comes to life! Holiday Valley Ski Resort is the anchor of the town, and thousands of skiers decent upon the village every winter to enjoy their 58 slopes and trails. Katie – a beginner skier – gathers some tips from Jane Eshbaugh of Holiday Valley, and explores the mountain.

Back towards Buffalo, we spend another sunny winter day to visit East Aurora and The Roycroft Campus. One of the town’s claims to fame is Vidler’s – a true surviving 5 & 10 store that is operated by the same family that opened up shop in 1930. You can find just about anything here, including historic candy and toys. Up the street at the Roycroft Campus, Katie meets working artists and students at this artists’ guild – which recently underwent a major restoration. Writer and social activist Elbert Hubbard created the community in 1895 as a place to share the philosophy and art of the Arts & Crafts movement. On the campus, artists lived and worked, creating signature Roycroft-style furniture, prints, and other goods. At its height in 1910, more than 500 artists called Roycroft home. Today, you can take an art class, see the printing press in action, and stay at the well-restored Roycroft Inn.

Katie and Jane on the slopes at Holiday Valley
Katie and Jane on the slopes at Holiday Valley

To get a sense of the tropics during a very snowy Buffalo winter, Katie visits the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, just south of downtown in Lackawanna, NY. The giant three-domed conservatory houses everything from desert plants to a scene right out of the Florida Everglades. It’s a beautiful sight, especially in winter!

Our Buffalo episodes emphasizes all there is to see and do in the Buffalo region, anytime of year.

For more information on Buffalo area lodging, dining and attractions, visit the Destination Guide.

For more photos from our visit to Buffalo, visit the Gallery. And to learn about other cities featured on Fringe Benefits, visit the Episode Guide.