When it was suggested Buffalo as a weekend getaway destination, I initially thought to myself, “But why Buffalo?”.
Growing up I heard of Buffalo as the quick and accessible spot for outlet malls and cheap alcohol. Really, that was the entirety of what Buffalo meant to me. That was, of course, when the dollar was on par. Many Canadians slightly north of the border grew up knowing Buffalo as a destination for bargain hunting and a falls getaway. After visiting this city in upstate New York a few weekends ago, I was immensely impressed with its quaint, charming and charismatic vibe. There is a real culture there, friendly hospitality, and a wealth of history.
While driving through the beautiful grounds of Buffalo State College campus, I could see the majestic Hotel Henry making himself known from a distance. The Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center is a newly renovated historic castle-like structure situated on 42 acres of land and is located in the museum district and only 4 miles from Buffalo’s downtown.
When I walked through the doors I was truly impressed. The wide hallways, tall ceilings, modern finishings, local artwork, and sleek decor make this classic structure a trendy oasis. This striking space has 88 guest rooms, an in-house restaurant, cocktail bar, stylish club lounge, fitness room, and complimentary parking.
Five Points Bakery
After a restful sleep, we took breakfast at Five Points Bakery and Toast Café on Buffalo’s West side. This warm neighbourhood gem specializes in meals served on toast and sources its wheat from local farms. This cute nook promotes growth as a people and community and is a cheerful place to grab a quick bite of sweet or savoury baked goods. I recommend going here to immerse like a local with some reading material and ease into your day.
Stuffed and satisfied from a delicious breakfast, we ventured on to take a private tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, constructed between 1903 and 1905 as the home of Darwin and Isabelle Martin. This was one of Frank’s most genius residential works. The tour can take one to two hours, depending on your preference, and tickets can be purchased ahead of time online.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House
If you’re thinking this may not be your cup of tea because you’re not an architect fanatic, no worries. I for one am not versed in this world, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this tour and could appreciate all the work and creativity that went into this fine piece of art. Frank created the home with the idea of a peaceful place for the American family to live. There is so much detail to see and experience while touring the home, most notably his continued attribution to nature. This could be seen through the multi rooms in open space, wisteria stained glass, and bedroom views giving sense to waking up in the treetops.
Read more about Martin House here
Swan Street Diner
After we finished exploring the Martin House, we hit up the super hip Swan Street Diner. A fully restored 1937 diner car, Swan Street Diner serves both breakfast and lunch. The diner features traditional American food items such as corn beef hash, pancakes, and omelets. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t your average run of the mill diner! You’ll also find a ton of unique culinary offerings like the tempeh BLT, jerk avocado, and Reuben poutine (my favourite). You will definitely not leave hungry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a few of their house-made mini donuts before you jet to your next site.
Duende Bar, Silo City
For chill afternoon drinks in a unique surrounding, you’ll have to visit Duende bar and event space in Silo City. Make sure you ask for Jim “Swannie” Watkins while you’re there. Jim will be happy to give you a warm welcome and show you around the old granary grounds, and perhaps even take you inside the old silos themselves. A photographer’s haven, this area is a unique landmark paying homage to the industrial heritage of Buffalo. Today, it is re-purposed as a spot to enjoy craft beer, hear literary readings, enjoy musical events and explore flea markets.
Dining Well at Dapper Goose
To cap the day of activities, we dined at Dapper Goose. A highly recommended destination by several locals, Dapper Goose stood up to its reputation for its posh menu and classy experience. Chef Keith took good care of us like we were old friends; proof that Buffalo really hosts its visitors with open arms. Dapper Goose had that warm feeling of home with an upscale twist. During your visit, I would suggest ordering the ricotta toast, tarragon yogurt carrots, and Cajun bbq shrimp with corn cake and end with the pot de crème. Typically small plates range between 8 to 16 dollars and large plates between 16 to 35 dollars. Also worth mentioning is the extensive cheese and wine list which is nothing short of fabulous. I hope to return someday soon.
This great American manufacturing city has so much to offer now in the way of food, art, and culture. Next time you decide to head south of the border for a quick trip, you really must give Buffalo a try. Check out my suggestions above, take a day to explore the famous Albright-Knox Art Gallery, meander around the tree-lined street of Elmwood Village for shopping, and sleep like a baby at the Henry.
Buffalo’s people are incredibly hospitable and the city oozes with charm. You’ll feel a great sense of welcome through your entire stay, leaving excited to tell others, just as I have now.
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Getting to Buffalo
You can get to Buffalo from Toronto in just under two hours by car. Alternatively, you could fly, take a bus or go by train through Amtrak Maple Leaf. Whichever way you choose, after your journey, you won’t have to spend a ton of time in your car or Uber. Everything to go see and do is within a 10 to 15-minute drive around the city.
For more information Visit Buffalo Niagara Tourism website.
Photo credits: Jennifer Steele Photography and Kim Smith for Interior Hotel Henry photos.
Note: I was a guest of Visit Buffalo Niagara but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.