Getting The Most Out Of Our Buffasnow!

Santa may have been confused about our green (brown) Christmas. Photo from boyecreativegroup.com

Santa may have been confused about our green (brown) Christmas. Photo from boyecreativegroup.com

Miss Winter 2014/2015 has been one of the most fickle mistresses Buffalo has ever known. She buried us with her snowy affection in November, so we gleefully met her face to face, and began shoveling out from the sky-fallen avalanche. Six days later, the novelty was gone, and we returned to business as usual. Perhaps she felt spurned, and so Winter did not call upon us much for the month of December; around Christmas time, we began to miss her snowy caresses, and calling for her to return. Finally, as the New Year broke, Miss Winter has come back to us. The regions is covered in a gentle blanket of freshly falling snow, and while Buffalo summer was an amazing experience last year, this is what Buffalonians live for. But what do we do now? How do we best experience Western New York’s most (in)famous characteristic – its winter? There are endless possibilities, and the list may be daunting, so I thought I’d take a minute to recommend some of my favorite.

1.) SLEDDING! There are exercises students do where they are asked who in history they’d like to have lunch with. For me, I’d like to dine with the first person to perch atop a hill, seated on a plank or an animal skin – whatever the first ‘sled’ may

Here's to you, Mr. Sled inventor.  Photo from mix96buffalo.com

Here’s to you, Mr. Sled inventor. Photo from mix96buffalo.com

have been – and pushed off toward the snowy bottom. I’d like to shake their hand and thank them for the endless hours of fun; both as a child, and as an adult. Little equipment is required – a broken down cardboard box works just as well as the plastic or wooden or vinyl counterparts available at retailers everywhere. The peaks and valleys that comprise the Western New York landscape provide countless locations to enjoy the age-old activity. Grab your warmly wrapped kids, some sleds, cram them into the mini-van and go find a hill. You won’t regret it. Unless you forget the thermos of hot chocolate.

2.) Hockey Heaven! We are the self-proclaimed hockey heaven for several reasons. There are a handful of players in the NHL that have come from our fair city and its suburbs, so obviously our youth programs are excellent. There are over a dozen places in and around the city now where one can take advantage of open skate-and-shoots, or league play, with skill levels ranging from the very beginner to semi-pro. Of course, we have the Buffalo Sabres, but we’ve also got our local university teams that offer yourself and your family the opportunity to be a spectator. Our newly-erected Harbor Center played host to the 2015 IIHF Women’s U18 tournament – from which our USA team emerged with the gold! If you’re looking for a night out, almost every bar or restaurant on nearly every corner has games on the big screens. Get out and play, get out and cheer, or get out and watch! It’s a great way to battle cabin fever.

The first batch of beer brewed in-house at Hydraulic Hearth.  Photo from visitbuffaloniagara.org

The first batch of beer brewed in-house at Hydraulic Hearth. Photo from visitbuffaloniagara.org

3.) Did I mention the food? Buffalo is probably best known for the amount of snow that falls here, but a close second is probably the food, and more recently, the beer. We are very lucky in that our local restaurants and our local breweries are coming together in a most glorious union of everything amazing about our city. Restaurants all over the region are featuring local craft brews – even the chain restaurants carry some local selections. The Hydraulic Hearth, which features fire grilled pizzas, has joined forces with nano-pioneers Community Beer Works, and CBW will be brewing in-house for the Hearth. If game is your game, The Archer features their Friday Night Price Fixe. For $25, you’ll get an amazing four-course meal, with entrees selected from a specialized menu. Watch our site for our upcoming write-up on The Lodge. Writer Michael Chelus is tasked with describing something so incredible that I don’t have the words for it. New and innovative eateries are popping up throughout the region, and nearly every taste is represented. From specialized hot dogs, sausages, and burgers, to elaborate fine dining Buffalo has become home to some pretty amazing chefs, so take advantage of their delectable expertise!

4.) Outdoor fun. It’s no secret that the southern tier hosts some amazing ski resorts – places that attract international skiers in droves. There are now several outdoor skating rinks that provide the on-the-pond experience that we are seemingly so fond of. Downtown’s Rotary Rinks offers free skating if you’ve got your own skates. Canalside and RiverWorks are offering Learn to Curl classes!

Yeah, that's right.  Ice bikes.  Photo from wgrz.com

Yeah, that’s right. Ice bikes. Photo from wgrz.com

And don’t forget Canalside’s Ice Bikes! Parks throughout the region also offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. While the city boasts all of the hustle and bustle that one person could handle, sometimes one just needs to get away, and we are very lucky to be surrounded by bountiful, beautiful hills and wooded areas that offer the peaceful escape that feeds the soul. A quick drive through some back roads, and you’ll find yourself at a campground full of cabins for warmth, snow for fun, and acres upon acres of our planet’s most breathtaking scenery. A weekend at these snowy escapes promises to provide a family with a lifetime of memories.

5.) The Arts. While Buffalo slumbered over the last few decades, thriving beneath the surface was an amazing arts movement. Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Kleinhans Music Hall are two of the bigger names in performing arts, however, smaller theatres such as Alleyway Theatre and Irish Classical Theatre Company have continually produced perfect performances on shoestring budgets. Theatre of Youth’s annual seasons promote a love of the arts for all ages. Beyond performing arts, we are lucky enough to be home to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, but to several smaller galleries largely featuring local artists. The Buffalo Museum of Science is a unique meeting of arts and science – while one can explore remains of ancient creatures, one can also take part in hands-on experiences and visually stunning exhibits that every age group can enjoy. Buffalo’s music scene is one of the best in the country, with a seemingly endless fountain of original music, as well as great cover bands that blanket all styles and eras. With arts programs suffering in schools, it falls on us as a society to immerse future generations in the arts. We have the incredible fortune of hosting one of the richest arts cultures in the nation, so be sure to take full advantage.

Theatre of Youth offers performances for all ages.  Photo from theatreofyouth.org

Theatre of Youth offers performances for all ages. Photo from theatreofyouth.org

As I said, the list of possibilities is endless, and sometimes, it’s just necessary for a family to not do anything – so stay at home in pajamas all day, playing board games or watching movies, and Buffalo winters are a great time to do that as well. I personally am very thankful that when the four walls of my home seem to be closing in on me, our great region has such limitless opportunities for my family to carry on a past tradition, experience something new…maybe even creating a new one.

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