Monday, July 22, 2013

Inexpensive Day Trips from Buffalo

If you want to get away without emptying your bank account, consider these days trips from Buffalo that are listed from shortest distance to farthest.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 

Park Shelter at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Although Niagara-on-the-Lake is known for its Shaw Festival, there's more to this 19th-century village than theater. Niagara-on-the-Lake is about a 45-minute drive from Buffalo.

Things to Do and See

  • Tour the Farmers Market at the Village on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop for breakfast or brunch and listen to live music.
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake is known for its wineries. Many offer tours for about $10. Click here for a tour schedule.
  • At Chocolate FX, you can watch artisan chocolate makers chocolate-coat almonds, hazelnuts, cranberries and more. Tours are $5 per couple; children are admitted free. Tours are every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • The Niagara Apothecary Museum is a restored 1869 pharmacy that's open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in July and August; admission is free.
  • Stop for a picnic lunch at Simcoe Park and cool off in the wading pool. There is also a playground for the kids.
  • Thursday - Sunday, the Niagara Historical Society Museum offers hour-long walking tours that touch on the people and events of the War of 1812. The walk is $5 and includes admission to the museum. 

Rochester, NY

Kodak Eastman House
A little over an hour's drive from Buffalo, Rochester is the third largest city in New York State and home to George Eastman, founder of Kodak (whose home is pictured above), and Susan B. Anthony.

Things to Do & See

  • If you can't wait for football season, visit the Buffalo Bills Training Camp at St. John Fisher College. Click here for the practice schedule.
  • The George Eastman House, home to the Kodak founder from 1905 to 1932, is an urban estate with farm land, formal gardens, greenhouses, and stables. The 35,000-square-foot Colonial Revival mansion displays photographic collections and tours are offered daily. Admission for adults is $12.
  • See the home base of the suffragist movement, The Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. You'll learn how Susan B. Anthony struggled to obtain the right for women to vote and displays artifacts related to her work and life. Admission is $10 for adults.
  • Cobbs Hill Park is well known for its view of the downtown skyline. Go for a run or walk, or make use of the basketball and tennis courts. 
  • The Stone-Tolan Historic Site takes you through life in a rural frontier from the 1790s to 1820. The house served as a home, farm and tavern and has never been moved since it was built in 1792. Admission is $5.
  • Catch a star show at the Strasenburgh Planetarium for $7. Stars not your thing? See the Coral Reef Adventure, where you'll see what life is like on a coral reef.

Canandaigua, NY 

Row of Boat Houses on the Lake

This small resort town in the Finger Lakes is 90 minutes from Buffalo and even has its own island. According to, Canandaigua's courthouse on Main Street was the site of Susan B. Anthony's trial and conviction, where she was found guilty of treason for voting in the 1872 election.

Things to Do & See

  • Sonneberg Gardens & Mansion Historic Park was built as a summer home in 1887 by a wealthy New York City banker. Its rose garden has over 4,000 bushes, and the Finger Lakes Wine Center, located on its grounds, has a tasting room with a rotating selection of wines. Tastings are available for a nominal fee. Admission is $12 for adults. Guided walking tours take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends.
  • The New York Wine & Culinary Center offers wine tastings for $2.50 per taste. All beers and wines are from the New York State region. Classes are also available.
  • Take a guided tour of the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum. Built in 1816 by Gideon Granger, postmaster general to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, it includes many of its original furnishings. Admission is $6 for adults.
  • To celebrate its centennial, Canandaigua is hosting 100 Days of Entertainment in the Park through September 2 in Commons Park. Click here for performance times.
  • On Saturday, August 3, take part in the Canandaigua Wine Walk, where you'll purchase a wine glass for $5 and sample wines from participating merchants along the way.
  • The Ring of Fire Celebration on August 31 at 9 p.m. is a yearly tradition that signifies the end of summer, with thousands of flares being lit around the Finger Lakes.

    Toronto, Ontario 

    Toronto Skyline

    Canada's largest city, Toronto is about a two-hour drive from Buffalo. If you don't feel comfortable driving into city traffic, park your car at Burlington and take the GO train. Round-trip tickets are about $18.

    Things to Do and See

    • Walk the trails at High Park, which stretches from Bloor Street to the Gardiner Expressway. The park has a petting zoo, an off-leash dog park, an outdoor pool and the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground, an adventure park for kids.
    • Visit the St. Lawrence Market on Saturdays to shop its Farmers Market and have lunch on the outdoor patio. Or postpone your visit until Sunday for its antique market.
    • The pedestrian-only Distillery District is the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial architecture in North America. Stop for lunch at its restaurants or cafes or browse the antique shops.
    • Need to cool off? Most public pools offer drop-in swimming for $2 for adults and $1 for kids.
    • Attend a free event, such as Movies in St. James Park on Thursdays or outdoor movies on Fridays. Click here for a complete listing of free events.
    • Smell the roses at Edwards Gardens, which is free to enter and is a favorite among brides. The garden includes perennials, rock gardens, a greenhouse, wooden arch bridges, a waterwheel, fountains, and walking trails.
    • Step into early 20th century farm life at Riverdale Farm, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Toronto. You'll see cows, horses, sheep, pigs and chickens, and can watch the staff go about the business of running a farm. Admission is free.
    • Boasting the largest drive-in screen in North America, Polson Pier offers discounted admission on Sundays, when you pay $25 per car (regular admission is $15 per adult).

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