Get Outside with these 5 Buffalo Destinations

I was recently asked to share my 5 favorite places to get outside in Western New York. It took a long time to narrow my list down to 5 beautiful spots that were all a little different from one another. If you’re looking for a new hike, picnic or ice cream spot, these destinations are worth the drive.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

This may seem like a long drive from downtown, but the almost 11,000 acres of ponds, forest and grasslands at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge are worth the trip. The “Alabama Swamps” are accessible year-round for hiking, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The visitor center is a beautiful building with well-maintained trails right behind it and additional trails are just a short drive away. Everything is pet-friendly and in-season hunting and fishing are allowed.

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

While You’re There

One of the best things about the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is that there isn’t much around besides herons and ponds. If you’re not ready to head back to the Thruway, check out the nearby town of Medina for cute shops and good Mexican food.

Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream

79 Canal Street, Lockport, NY 14094
1900 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214

Lake Effect first opened in Lockport and they recently expanded with a location in North Buffalo on Hertel Ave. The Lockport location is bigger; the Hertel Ave. location is more central. Both are home to the delicious homemade ice cream Lake Effect is now famous for.

Cody and I highly recommend salty caramel, extra cookies extra cream, peanut butter epiphany and revolution coffee. You’ll also find Buffalo-only flavors like Paula’s glazed donut and sponge candy.

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Lake Effect Ice Cream

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Lake Effect Ice Cream

While You’re There

Lockport: Lake Effect Ice Cream’s Canal Street scoop shop overlooks the historic Flight of Five on the Erie Canal. From here, you can walk to many of Lockport’s gems, including Steamworks, Flight of Five Winery, Stooges Stuffed Burger Bar (it’s as good as it sounds), Lockport Cave, Niagara Zipper (that would be a zipline over the canal) and the First Presbyterian Church’s Tiffany windows.

Hertel Ave.: Within walking distance, there are two more shops serving homemade ice cream, Buffalo favorite Lloyd Taco Factory, friendly bars and cute stores selling everything from home goods to motorcycle parts. Hertel Ave. is one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods for an after-dinner stroll.

Devil’s Hole State Park

Robert Moses Parkway, Niagara Falls, NY 14305

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Devil's Hole State Park

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Devil's Hole State Park

Devil’s Hole isn’t a huge state park, but it’s a great place to start a hike because its trails connect to Whirlpool State Park and Artpark State Park. You can also park here to catch the Robert Moses Recreation Trail. The gorge trail in Devil’s Hole follows the river and the rim trail offers great views, both of which are pretty cool.

While You’re There

Obviously Niagara Falls is just miles down the road, so if you haven’t been in a while you should probably stop by. Also nearby is the super cute town of Lewiston, which is home to Orange Cat Coffee Co., Brewed and Bottled, Artpark, and lots of antique shops and boutiques.

Glen Park

Glen Avenue, Williamsville, NY 14221

A pretty impressive waterfall, well-maintained gardens, beautiful willow trees and lots of green space make Glen Park a lovely picnic spot. Across Glen Street, Ellicott Creek continues into Amherst State Park, perfect for an easy afternoon hike.

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Glen Park

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Glen Park

While You’re There

One of my favorite things about Glen Park is that it’s nestled right into the village. Williamsville’s Main Street is packed with shops and restaurants, including Sweet Jenny’s Ice Cream, located on the edge of the park in the Williamsville Water Mill.

Bird Island Pier

1170 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14213

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Bird Island Pier

Walk along the Niagara River for amazing Peace Bridge and city skyline views. The pier starts at Broderick Park, which, for many, was the last stop on the Underground Railroad before entering Canada. The pier and park are always filled with locals and visitors alike.

Get Outside in Buffalo, NY | Peace Bridge from Bird Island Pier

While You’re There

Unity Island, which is home to Broderick Park, also boasts Unity Island Park. If you’re coming from the north, you’ll pass Community Beer Works, Bootleg Bucha and Resurgence Brewing Company on your way to Bird Island Pier. The Five Points neighborhood isn’t far either!

4 Email Newsletters I’m Using to Up My Cooking Game

If you’re anything like me, coming up with 5 or 6 meals on Sunday before heading to the grocery store is a little bit like pulling teeth. You can only eat spaghetti, tacos and burgers so many weeks in a row before you need new ideas. In an attempt to add some new options to our meal planning, I signed up for a few email newsletters that promised to send recipes straight to my inbox.

I’m pretty impressed with the results so far; we’re definitely upping our culinary game. These are 4 worth signing up for:

1. Bon Appétit Newsletter

While Bon Appétit is a well-known print publication, they also have a collection of recipes online and you can sign up for their email newsletter, which is exactly what I did. Now, I get an email or 2 a day filled with recipes and background knowledge about the ingredients they use, as well as restaurant news and food trends. My one complaint is their constant ads for both the magazine and kind of random kitchen products, but the newsletter and website are free, so I get it.

I haven’t made anything from Bon Appétit yet, but I’m looking forward to making this simplified Italian wedding soup.

2. Chelsea’s Messy Apron

I didn’t realize just how many of the recipes I have pinned on Pinterest are from Chelsea’s Messy Apron until I started browsing through her blog. After signing up for this newsletter, I got a welcome email right away with 20 easy weeknight dinner recipes, which was exactly what I was looking for! I also get an email when a new recipe is published on the blog and tonight I made Chelsea’s latest recipe, Bruschetta Chicken. I love that these recipes have simple, healthy ingredients and they’re so flavorful.

3. The New York Times Cooking

The New York Times cooking includes not only an email most days, but also a Pinterest-style “recipe box,” where you can save and organize recipes from not only The Times, but other websites as well. We tried the fettuccine with asparagus, which was simple and delicious.

The New York Times Cooking does charge $1.25 a week to use their online recipe collection after a free trial. My free trial just ended and I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay for the service. If this was free, it would be #1 on this list, hands down.

4. A Couple Cooks

I found A Couple Cooks on Instagram and later subscribed to their newsletter. They focus on vegetarian recipes, which I love for lunch meal prep. Each week, I receive an email with the links of the week, which are a collection of new recipes and other news about what Alex and Sonja are up to. They’re currently promoting a cookbook, so it’s also included in the weekly round up. I love that they invite other food bloggers to contribute recipes, so there’s a great mix of styles of cooking.

A Saturday Morning Coffee Date in Five Points

My favorite thing about the Buffalo Blogging Network is not meetups or opportunities for brand partnerships, although those are pretty great. My favorite part of the Network is meeting Buffalo bloggers who love exploring just as much as I do.

This is how I met Hailey. We’ve been trying to plan brunch for months and we finally met this weekend for coffee at Remedy House. Remedy opened last fall in a beautifully renovated building nestled into the intersection of Rhode Island, West Utica and Brayton Streets, better known as Five Points. This space is everything a blogger could ever want: latte art, marble tabletops, natural light, tiled floors, a bright green espresso machine, plants as wall art and hand-lettered signs.

Coffee Date at Five Point's Remedy House in Buffalo

We sat and talked about our new years’ resolutions, how much we love grocery shopping, Ithaca’s waterfalls, and the good and bad of living in the suburbs.

Five Points and the surrounding blocks are filled with amazing small businesses that are helping revitalize the West Side. After a pour over of Onyx Coffee Lab’s Peru Maria Rojas and an oat milk latte, we were ready for a little food. Lucky for us, this neighborhood is home to lots of options, including Remedy House itself.

We crossed the street to Five Points Bakery for toast. This beautiful building was painstakingly restored down to the gorgeous brick and thick wooden beams. Greenery growing both inside and out pairs perfectly with warm slices of cinnamon raisin toast with peanut butter and sliced apple.

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

Five Points Bakery in Buffalo's West Side

It wasn’t a grand adventure, but this Saturday morning coffee date with a creative soul was just what I needed after a week of snow in April. The next time I adventure to Five Points, I’ll also be stopping at Urban Roots, Paradise Wine, Pilates Art Studio or Evolution Yoga!

The Cutest Eateries on Anna Maria Island

Last week, I traveled to beautiful Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast for a long weekend of lazy days on the beach. Along with a few friends, I laid on the beach, bodysurfed in the waves, drank mimosas with breakfast every morning and ate a LOT of food.

We made good use of our rental home’s kitchen, but it’s not vacation without a few meals out. We didn’t have a chance to try everywhere we wanted to. Our bigger group kept us from trying smaller restaurants, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the food we did try, we had a few favorites!

For After Dinner Drinks: The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | The Ugly Grouper

Local beers on draft, tropical mixed drinks and frozen cocktails kept everyone happy at The Ugly Grouper. The bar gets its cool vibe from the completely open-air setting and a giant mixed media grouper statue. We had fun playing the Bimini ring game, cornhole and giant Jenga.

The Ugly Grouper has a full menu and tons of live music, but we didn’t have the chance to experience either.

For Ice Cream: Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery

In typical Florida fashion, we spent one afternoon waiting for pouring rain to pass. We bundled up and headed for Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery. The gelato was amazing and so was the decor. I had a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of Irish cream in a waffle cone, which I highly recommend. Their coffee was delicious as well!

For Tacos and Margs: Wicked Cantina

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Wicked Cantina

No warm-weather vacation is complete without tacos and fresh margaritas. Lucky for us, Wicked Cantina‘s tacos are amazing and the margaritas come in goblet-sized glasses. The chips and salsa were truly bottomless, and both the salsa and queso were a satisfying amount of spicy.

For Fresh-Caught Grouper: Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

Best Anna Maria Island Restaurants | Star Fish Company

While not technically on the island, this seafood shack is definitely worth mentioning. After a foggy morning on the boat, we headed toward Star Fish Company‘s dock as the sun began to shine. This market/restaurant combination is located on one of the last working fishing docks in Florida. The fish is fresh, the fries are crispy and everyone there is as happy to be there as I was.

Perry’s Celebrates 100 Years with Retro Flavors and the Cutest Cartons

As I’ve mentioned before, I really love ice cream. This week, after a quick trip to Florida and springtime sunshine streaming through the windows back in Buffalo, I’m so ready to dig into a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

It just so happens that this week Perry’s, one of my favorite Buffalo ice cream brands, released 4 classic flavors to celebrate their anniversary. It’s not just any anniversary – Perry’s is celebrating 100 years as a family-owned ice cream company. The flavors are packaged in the cutest vintage ice cream parlor style cartons that really stand out on the shelf!

These retro flavors are limited-edition releases of past favorites from the 1950s to the 1990s. I know you’re wondering what they taste like, but don’t worry. Cody and I sacrificed an evening this week to let you know if any of these flavors are worth giving up your usual Panda Paws or Bittersweet Sinphony.

Parkerhouse, circa 1950s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Parkerhouse circa 1950s

If you grew up in Buffalo, you know the thrill of stopping for Perry’s at a roadside stand. The classic sign pointing you towards one of these stands is actually a cone filled with the Parkerhouse flavor!

This ice cream has a classic amaretto base with maraschino cherries. Considering I don’t like either of these flavors, Parkerhouse was actually pretty good.

Heavenly Hash, circa 1970s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Heavenly Hash circa 1970s

Chocolate ice cream and marshmallow swirls with Swiss chips and roasted almonds. What more could you possibly need in life? I may or may not be almost done with this carton already… It’s definitely my favorite of the retro collection.

Butterscotch Sundae, circa 1980s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Butterscotch Sundae circa 1980s

So. Much. Butterscotch. Not only is the base ice cream a rich butterscotch, there are salty butterscotch swirls throughout with peanuts for a nice crunch. A small scoop was so good, but this ice cream is way too rich for any more than that!

Malt Shoppe, circa 1990s

Perry's Ice Cream Celebrates 100 Years | Malt Shoppe circa 1990s

If there was an ice cream Cody and I remembered from its original release, it would have been Malt Shoppee. The flavor didn’t ring any bells, but that didn’t stop us from loving it! This one is disappearing from our freezer as quickly as the Heavenly Hash.

For more information about these sweet flavors or if you want to try them for yourself, check out Perry’s website dedicated to their anniversary.

I received each of these retro flavors for free in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

4 Accessories You Need for Your Next Beach Day

There is something so satisfying about escaping to warmer weather when it’s still below freezing in Buffalo. This week, we packed our bags and traveled to Anna Maria Island, Florida where we were greeted by sun and sand.

While I packed plenty of sundresses and even jeans for chilly nights, the most important beach accessories didn’t take up much room in my luggage. Last summer, I shared 9 beach day must haves. I still stand by those favorites 100%; I’m adding a few more from this week’s trip to the Gulf Coast.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | A New Day Sunglasses | Floppy Sun Hat

1. A Hat

A hat is an essential beach day accessory that keeps your scalp from burning and shields your eyes from the sun. The weather and our plans for the day dictated what hat I wore. I love this floppy sun hat with a pretty bow for lounging on the sand on clear, calm days. For a morning out on the boat or windy weather, my favorite UT baseball hat was a better fit.

2. A New Day Clubmaster Sunglasses

A New Day is a recently launched Target-exclusive brand with lots of cute accessories. These were a complete impulse buy just days before we left for Anna Maria Island. I love that they’re a classic shape with just enough details that they’re not boring. They also fit my smaller face really well.

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

3. Pura Vida Bracelets Silver Wave Ring

This dainty accessory adds just a touch of nautical sparkle to my beach day ensemble. The ring was a Christmas gift from Shannon, along with an Anna Maria Island sticker and coozie. This gift had me daydreaming of the beach for the past 3 months!

Must Have Accessories for Beach Day | Anna Maria Island, Florida | Cool Gear Tumbler

4. Cool Gear Tumbler

Keeping drinks cold is a very real beach day struggle. I love this tumbler because it has a wide mouth for ice cubes. The double walls keep it from sweating, so sand is way less likely to stick and end up in my bag or the cooler.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

I’m constantly looking for snacks I can make Sunday to play double duty for me during the week. Some days, I need something quick before I go to the gym in the morning. Others, I eat breakfast at home but then need a snack at work.

A handful of almonds and craisins are an easy solution, but I like to add a little variety every few weeks. Last month, I made Oh She Glow’s Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (which last two weeks if I freeze half the batch). This week, I was searching Pinterest for something similar.

Oatmeal-based energy bites caught my eye. All had similar base ingredients: oatmeal, nut butter and honey. Most also included protein powder, soaked dates and chocolate chips, which seemed a little too complicated for Sunday night meal prep.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

Instead, I mixed up these cinnamon raisin oatmeal bites, and they’re pretty good! I posted a picture on my Instagram story and asked if you’d be interested in seeing a recipe. The majority of you said yes, so here it is!

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites

These are super quick to make. I ended up mixing them together on Monday morning before work. The recipe makes about 15 bites. That was perfect for me, because I had 3 for each day. And yes, there are really 6 ingredients, but I don’t think the cinnamon counts!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 oz box raisins

Directions

  1. Add the oats, flaxseed, honey, peanut butter and cinnamon to a food processor and mix. The ingredients will come together into a texture similar to a pie crust.
  2. After everything is mixed, add the raisins and process for just a few more seconds.
  3. Take the rough dough and shape into 15 bite-sized balls. Place the bites onto a cookie sheet.
  4. Cover the bites on the cookie sheet with a dish towel and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. After they set, you can transfer them to a container and keep them in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Texture

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites Directions

A serving of three bites has about 11 grams of sugar, which seems high until you consider that about 1 gram is from the peanuts in peanut butter, 4 are from the natural sugar in grapes and the remaining 6 are from the honey. If you’re worried about the amount of sugar, decrease the amount of honey and add a touch more peanut butter!

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bites | Honey

You can easily add in protein powder, chocolate chips or other dried fruit to make these to your taste. Cody has already said he’s going to make them without honey and see how it goes.

Do you have a snack that’s both breakfast and desk appropriate that you love? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments below!