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Old Mar 27, 12, 1:47 pm   #1
 
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Buffalo - worth visiting?

Is there anything worth doing in the city of Buffalo? I've heard that it has some phenomenal early 20th century architecture, but no one I know has ever been there. I'm a big architecture fan, and I tend to like cities that don't have a lot of attitude and hype, so I've long been intrigued by Buffalo.

Would it be enjoyable to take a weekend there from NYC? Is there any kind of cool, youngish nightlife scene that would be fun/welcoming to outsiders? And how is it in terms of urban blight - are we talking Detroit, or (heaven forbid) Springfield, Mass, or maybe something closer to Milwaukee?

Thanks to all for any advice!
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Old Mar 28, 12, 12:31 pm   #2
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I say go for it, as long as you're talking mid-April to mid-October. I've found Buffalo to be a clean, nice city with decent public transportation and decent nightlife/culture/activities. I can't speak to the architecture. The downtown area has plenty of decent nightlife and the NHL Sabres and AAA-baseball Bisons have very nice facilities that are quite accessible. And, of course, the wings, hot dog, and custard stands are worth checking out.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 12:34 pm   #3
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I think the upstate NY cities like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are all kind of fun and cool. You get the impression that they've seen better times (and they have in most cases), but they can still be lively and very friendly.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 12:51 pm   #4
 
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Go after April for a Thursday to Sunday trip if you can. There is a Thursday evening event called Thursday in the Square or T.I.T.S. as my friends and I called it in college. It's a free concert with beer and food carts and after you stumble to the many bars and restaurants. Take a friend if you can as it will help. Buffalo has many Colleges and Universities beyond its own native population so younger crowds are easy to find. I had a great time there in college and still do when I visit friends. Architecturally they have a huge range. From massive Pierce Arrow Auto building & Museum to Frank Lloyd Wright houses and more. Food...yeah they've got a lot of it and it's all unhealthy and delicious. The area is actually not what you imagine fiscally. The city isn't doing as well as the suburbs but the Buffalo Metro Area is doing well thanks to Health/Science/Pharmaceutical companies being there.

If you do choose to go PM me and I can give you a list of local spots you should try not to miss.

Last edited by armattheus; Mar 28, 12 at 12:56 pm.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 3:59 pm   #5
 
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And it's an easy day trip from there to Niagara Falls, which is definitely worth it.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 6:06 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by armattheus View Post
Go after April for a Thursday to Sunday trip if you can. There is a Thursday evening event called Thursday in the Square or T.I.T.S. as my friends and I called it in college. It's a free concert with beer and food carts and after you stumble to the many bars and restaurants. Take a friend if you can as it will help. Buffalo has many Colleges and Universities beyond its own native population so younger crowds are easy to find. I had a great time there in college and still do when I visit friends. Architecturally they have a huge range. From massive Pierce Arrow Auto building & Museum to Frank Lloyd Wright houses and more. Food...yeah they've got a lot of it and it's all unhealthy and delicious. The area is actually not what you imagine fiscally. The city isn't doing as well as the suburbs but the Buffalo Metro Area is doing well thanks to Health/Science/Pharmaceutical companies being there.

If you do choose to go PM me and I can give you a list of local spots you should try not to miss.
Thanks for the tips! I'd probably go up Friday afternoon and leave Sunday evening, most likely late May, as far as I can tell. I'd just like to do something different, and Buffalo certainly seems different. I suppose if it turns out to be really lame, I can always take a bus across the border and check out Fort Erie, no?

From what I've heard, the architecture is simply stunning. Only in America could we build cities into absolute gems and then just let them collapse out of indifference and avarice... but anyway.

It seems like there are some decent walking tours of the historical buildings - do you know of any that are particularly good?
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Old Mar 28, 12, 8:14 pm   #7
 
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I did a walking tour as part of the University (UB) as they used to own one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses but I'd just Google and see if one has positive remarks. Will you have a car? The "Trolley" which is what I like to call their subway only runs along Main Street which helps getting to some areas but beyond that you have to use buses which is a zone system vs what we have with our 1 rate for access to it all.
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Arrive by Car/Bus/Train/Plane?

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Thanks for the tips! I'd probably go up Friday afternoon and leave Sunday evening, most likely late May, as far as I can tell. I'd just like to do something different, and Buffalo certainly seems different. I suppose if it turns out to be really lame, I can always take a bus across the border and check out Fort Erie, no?

From what I've heard, the architecture is simply stunning. Only in America could we build cities into absolute gems and then just let them collapse out of indifference and avarice... but anyway.

It seems like there are some decent walking tours of the historical buildings - do you know of any that are particularly good?
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Old Mar 30, 12, 2:20 am   #8
 
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Yes, the city does pride itself on its architecture. I think you can tour the Frank Lloyd House. Frederick Law Olmsted designed Delaware Park. Downtown city hall has some architectural significance too, I forget what. The UB South Campus and Canisius College has some nice old buildings, but if you want to see (ugly) 1970s architecture, go to the UB North Campus where the Elliott Complex dorms were built to be riot-proof. There are some "cool" areas along Elmwood Avenue - we went to a newish place called "The Blue Monk" last fall. There is always the strip of bars along Chippewa if it's going to be a 4 am kind of night.

There are only 2 seasons in Buffalo, Grey and Summer. May would fall barely at the start of summer so you should be ok. You mentioned taking the bus to Fort Erie - if you are going to tour around Buffalo, you absolutely need a car. From NYC, Friday to Sunday will be more than enough time to cover Buffalo and probably even squeeze in a side trip to Niagara Falls (25 minutes away). Have yourself some chicken wings and a chicken finger sub and you can consider yourself a local for the weekend.
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Old Mar 30, 12, 8:56 am   #9
 
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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts! I just got some brochures from the extremely efficient people at the Buffalo tourist office, and the package included very detailed maps for several self-guided walking tours. It really does look like the city is a gem.

If I do go up, I'll probably fly up sometime around the end of May. I expect I'd want to stay somewhere downtown. I'd plan to not rent a car (I'm a city boy - the thought of renting a car in a city just seems so bizarre to me...) and just spend my time walking around, or perhaps taking a bus/train if need be. The fact that Buffalo has a subway, as limited as it may be, is pretty cool to me.

One thing I was surprised by is the cost of a flight up there. It looks like the cost to fly from NYC to Buffalo is about if not more than the cost of flying to SFO. Very surprising.
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Old Mar 30, 12, 9:12 am   #10
 
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May is still early in the season and UA has been running $160 rt e-fare specials for Sat-Mon but that is a risk as they're only available the week of. I am going up in 2 weeks now for a birthday party but will be driving as I have access to a car. There are a few ZipCar locations at the North and South UB campuses so that could be an option for an explore day instead of having a car for the entire trip. Megabus and Amtrak take about 8 hours each way but have departures that could allow you to sleep and arrive refreshed for under $100 rt.

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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts! I just got some brochures from the extremely efficient people at the Buffalo tourist office, and the package included very detailed maps for several self-guided walking tours. It really does look like the city is a gem.

If I do go up, I'll probably fly up sometime around the end of May. I expect I'd want to stay somewhere downtown. I'd plan to not rent a car (I'm a city boy - the thought of renting a car in a city just seems so bizarre to me...) and just spend my time walking around, or perhaps taking a bus/train if need be. The fact that Buffalo has a subway, as limited as it may be, is pretty cool to me.

One thing I was surprised by is the cost of a flight up there. It looks like the cost to fly from NYC to Buffalo is about if not more than the cost of flying to SFO. Very surprising.
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Old Mar 30, 12, 9:21 am   #11
 
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Flew up to Buffalo for a couple nights last fall. It's definitely a great city. There's a lot of architecture, particularly from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century when the city was an economic powerhouse. Wright, Richardson, and Olmsted projects can still be found throughout the city.

It's a fascinating town, but has been set back by the migration of industry south and overseas. Still, plan on eating well (wings!)

Don't forget your passport, since Niagara Falls is less than 40 minutes away. Going to the Canadian side of the Falls gives you the best views, but you need your passport nowadays.
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Old Mar 30, 12, 5:43 pm   #12
 
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If I do go up, I'll probably fly up sometime around the end of May. I expect I'd want to stay somewhere downtown. I'd plan to not rent a car (I'm a city boy - the thought of renting a car in a city just seems so bizarre to me...) and just spend my time walking around, or perhaps taking a bus/train if need be. The fact that Buffalo has a subway, as limited as it may be, is pretty cool to me.
Get a car, even if it's a zip car. Otherwise you'll spend your whole day waiting for the bus. Buffalo is not NYC. If you "walk around" you won't be able to cover very much ground. The subway goes only up and down Main Street. That's right, it's just one line. You can cover the distance the subway travels by car in 15 minutes, even if you hit all the traffic lights. The amount you will pay for a cab from the Airport to downtown (also a 15 minute ride) will probably be enough to pay for at least 1 night of a car. And it will leave you the option of driving over to Niagara Falls. If you have a passport, go to the Canadian side.

I've met many people who have been to Niagara Falls and never realized that Buffalo was 30 minutes away. I've never met anyone who has been strictly to Buffalo for a leisure trip and didn't work a side trip to Niagara Falls.
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Old Mar 31, 12, 1:41 pm   #13
 
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There is a under $3 bus that takes you from the airport to the downtown bus station if you want to save money. It isn't all that bad. I just pricelined for $50 a night and got the Hyatt. Used to get it for under $20 but those days are gone.

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Get a car, even if it's a zip car. Otherwise you'll spend your whole day waiting for the bus. Buffalo is not NYC. If you "walk around" you won't be able to cover very much ground. The subway goes only up and down Main Street. That's right, it's just one line. You can cover the distance the subway travels by car in 15 minutes, even if you hit all the traffic lights. The amount you will pay for a cab from the Airport to downtown (also a 15 minute ride) will probably be enough to pay for at least 1 night of a car. And it will leave you the option of driving over to Niagara Falls. If you have a passport, go to the Canadian side.

I've met many people who have been to Niagara Falls and never realized that Buffalo was 30 minutes away. I've never met anyone who has been strictly to Buffalo for a leisure trip and didn't work a side trip to Niagara Falls.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 5:14 pm   #14
 
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I spent 3 or 4 days in Buffalo a couple of autumns ago, ahead of a conference I had to attend in Toronto. I enjoyed it and will be returning.

There's a nice wildlife sanctuary/nature preserve near the river that I enjoyed, and the architecture is great. A day trip up to Fort Niagara is also worthwhile and not very far.

On the Canadian side are the better views of Niagara Falls, plus gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Be sure to try real buffalo wings... two of the best places in the world to have them are in Buffalo.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 8:44 pm   #15
 
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Currently at the Buffalo Hyatt and if you do stay here make sure you have your Hyatt Passport number on your reservation (of course an FlyerTalker would do so) as it gives you free internet and beverage just for being even a basic member.
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