Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free Things to Do With Your Out-of-Town Guests

A friend of mine is having a house guest for the holidays and asked for some tips on where to take her during her visit.

I've put together an itinerary, mostly concentrating on Buffalo and the Southtowns, since I've lived in both and know them the best.

Day 1: Downtown Buffalo and Allentown

Start your day at city hall, one of the largest in America. Free tours are offered on weekdays at noon and usually include the Council Chambers, Mayor's Office and the Observation Deck, where you can snap photos overlooking downtown (website).

Drive a short distance to the newly developed waterfront to see Canalside (website), where you'll see the naval park's WWII ships, fully restored facets of the Erie Canal Harbor and outdoor exhibits that tell the history of Canalside.

Take shelter indoors at the Market Arcade Building, which houses a visitor's center and the CEPA Art Gallery, a free photography gallery that offers free admission (website). You can also browse the Market Arcade's shops or catch a movie.

Recharge with lunch at Towne Restaurant (website) on the corner of Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue. Then walk across the street to Rustbelt Books (website) to check out their used book selection.

Don't leave Allentown without a trip to one of the Karpeles Manuscript Museums (website), which have two locations in Buffalo. Portal Hall is hosting an exhibit of Charles Dickens' manuscripts, contracts, illustrations and original printing plates for illustrations of his stories. The North Street location takes a look at the first long-distance telephone line, displaying documents relating to its creation and use.

Day 2: Elmwood Village

Try my walking tour of the Elmwood Village

The Elmwood Village is my favorite place to go with guests. It's walkable, has a diverse selection of shops and is always bustling, putting to rest those myths that  Buffalo is a ghost town.

If you're stopping for lunch, try The Globe Market's fresh sandwiches and soups (website).

End your evening with a driving tour of Christmas lights. Bring some hot chocolate to get into the Christmas spirit, and to see Buffalo's mansions decked out for the holidays, take a drive near the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo History Museum.

Day 3: Niagara Falls

No visit to Buffalo is complete without seeing the falls, a sight that Western New Yorkers often take for granted. Niagara Falls State Park (website) is free to visit and parking can sometimes be found along city streets. While attractions like Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist are closed for the season, exploring the park is entertainment in itself.

If your visitor is interested in shopping, don't miss the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls (website).

Day 4: Orchard Park and East Aurora

Get away from the city and venture into the southtowns for lunch at Two Sisters Cafe (website) in Orchard Park, NY. Then burn off those calories with a hike to the eternal flame (website) at Chestnut Ridge Park.

Or, skip the afternoon workout and visit the Orchard Park Antique Mall (website), which sells jewelry, antiques and collectibles.

Take a short drive to East Aurora to browse Vidlers 5 & 10 (website), a local landmark that opened in 1930 and offers everything from cookware to fabric and dollhouse furniture. Although it's closed for the season, stop by the Millard Fillmore House (website) to see where the 13th president of the United States lived when he began his political career. And don't forget to visit the Roycroft Campus (website), a National Historic Landmark District built in the late 19th century.


Are there any attractions that I've missed that you would recommend?

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