Three years ago, I wrote this Huff Po piece about Buffalo NY, then on the verge of re-creation from an industrial center to a collegial, fun, and livable city. At the time, Buffalo was just beginning to realize the benefits of its notable architecture – buildings that stood through the Urban-Renewal craze of the ‘60’s – heralded as some of the best examples of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and other Starchitects of the day.
Now, there are Architectural Tours of all kinds, and Buffalo continues to add fantastic restaurants and innovative public spaces from once-decaying factories and institutions. Brand new this year (2017); two boutique hotels - Hotel Henry and Curtiss Hotel; Riverworks - grain-silos turned brewery and adult playground; and additions to Canalside. Buffalo NY is on such an upward swing, in fact, it’s inspired the website BuffaloRising.com, which says it all. Check out GetawayMavens.com for more information about Buffalo and other “Offbeat Escapes in the Northeast.”
The following list provides 10 more Great Reasons to Return to Buffalo Now (and is just the start);
1. You can stay “cool” at the recently opened boutique Hotel Henry. The spanking new boutique hotel in was once the H.H. Richardson designed Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. Built in 1872 as a compassionate, sunlit residence for several hundred mentally disturbed patients, it became overcrowded and, well, less sunny and compassionate over the years. The psychiatric hospital closed in the 1970’s, leaving the building vacant for decades until the Richardson Center Corp., completing Phase One of a several phase project, transformed it into a stunning, bright, modern, and eminently hospitable 88-room hotel. Billed as an “Urban Resort,” Hotel Henry has no golf courses, pools, spa services (for now), or anything to indicate the type of “resort” that most travelers expect. Instead, the surrounding city of Buffalo - its cultural institutions, its architecture, its adult playgrounds - are the treasures to be enjoyed. The “resort” in other words, is the design-rich city of Buffalo itself.
2. You can stay “hot” at the new Curtiss Hotel. Opened within a few months of Hotel Henry, Curtiss is South Beach wild to Henry’s New York cool. Even before you walk through the front door, you can peek into the hotel’s “all weather urban hot springs,” – a very public, but small heated indoor outdoor pool in a partially enclosed patio space. The interior swirls with Rococo-crazy moldings and designs. Buffalo’s old revolving bar, Chez Ami, has been recreated here. And yes, it rotates.
3. You can sample fresh-brewed beer in gardens planted amidst the rubble of the old Wheeler-GLF grain silos at Riverworks - a new twist on the ho hum “Beer Garden.” Or – get out on the river on a floating Tiki Bar or Party Cycle Boat – both primed for old-fashioned merriment.
4. Climb up inside or on the exterior at the above mentioned abandoned grain silos at Riverworks. Rent climbing gear – or a kayak or water cycle – from a shipping container shack right beneath the silos.
5. Take a selfie or gather for photo op with friends at the Shark Girl installation at Canalside. This inanimate piece of art soaks up more attention than a live Kardashian, so you might have to stand in line.
6. Canalside is now alluring in all seasons: of course in Spring, Summer, and Fall. But now, Frozen Sports enthusiasts take heart. In the famous Buffalo winter months, the canal turns into a Hans-And-His-Silver-Skates-esque ribbon of ice for both ice-skating and Ice-Bikes (for rent there).
7. Reddy Bikes make cruising around the city a snap, even if you don’t own your own wheels. These bright red bikes are ready for use (haha) as Buffalo’s new bike share. If you didn’t bring your own, just grab one from a rack situated around town.
8. New restaurants, like Toutant, are turning this city into a culinary destination. Named for the fish camp Chef/owner James Robert’s granddaddy had in his native Louisiana, Toutant is a revelation, and Roberts a culinary genius. Every Creole dish that emerges from the kitchen is a brilliant – and brilliantly plated – twist on the traditional, from Shrimp and Grits ($24) to Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($20) to the in-house smoked Jambalaya Smoked Chicken ($19).
9. Other bars, breweries and restaurants are hitting high notes as well: Five Points Bakery – an innovative “Toast Café,” Allen Burger Venture – for innovative, quirky burgers, Buffalo Proper – a posh cocktail bar, Ballyhoo near the GM plant – a cool new craft drink spot in the former workmen’s watering hole that was Malamute, Ru’s Pierogi – the best of Grandma’s pierogi dough recipe with a modern twist, and Thin Man Brewing Co. named for the Crash Test Dummy that was invented in Buffalo.
10. In the “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old” Department – one of Buffalo’s oldest institutions still draws a crowd: The Colored Musicians Club, this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Colored Musician’s Union. Jazz musicians have been playing here after other local performances since 1917. Davis, Coltrane, Gillespie – all the jazz greats have jammed here after hours. Musicians are invited to join in on Sunday night jam sessions. It’s an intimate way to listen to live jazz, and you never know who’s going to show up.