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!

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!

Lumagination is Buffalo’s Most Instagrammable Location Right Now

The Buffalo Botanical Gardens are somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and just never made it to. The photos flooding my Instagram feed from Lumagination the last few weeks only added to how much I wanted to go!

During a few weeks each winter, the Botanical Gardens transforms at night into a multicolored light show that seems almost otherworldly. When Briana suggested to a couple of fellow bloggers that we should check it out, I immediately agreed.

We took about a million photos of each other surrounded by twinkle lights, laser beams and illuminated laterns. Each exhibit seemed like it would provide the most Instagrammable backdrop, until we walked through the door into the next room.

Take a peak at some of my favorite shots from the night:

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Lumagination 2018 | Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

3 Independent Bookstores in Buffalo Everyone Should Visit

If you happened to read my post on spending a morning in Hamburg, you met Julia. She’s a social media strategizing, vlogging, yoga-ing ball of energy. Earlier this fall, we met to collaborate again, this time checking out a few independent book stores around the city.

We decided on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of November, which did limit our bookstore selection some. Notably, Second Reader Book Shop doesn’t have Sunday hours.

After a few days of research and emails back and forth, we settled on Westside Stories Used Books, Rust Belt Books and Talking Leaves Books. All are located pretty close to each other, and we even walked to Rust Belt Books from Westside Stories.

Westside Stories Used Books

205 Grant Street
Our first stop was Westside Stories, which is conveniently located right across the street from Sweetness 7 Cafe. I can tell you from experience that a London Fog goes really well with sifting through used books.

This was probably my favorite out of the 3 shops we visited. The sunny exterior (thanks to a recent face lift by Casey William Milbrand) greets guests, along with a reading statue and well-worn rocking horse.

Independent_Bookstores_Buffalo_Westside_Stories_1

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

The piles of books inside look overwhelming, but they’re very well organized. I saw everything from gilded covers on classics to health and wellness guides to a very comprehensive collection of books on Buffalo’s history. I found a copy of The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I am very excited to read.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Rust Belt Books

415 Grant Street
You can walk from Westside Stories to Rust Belt Books, and the weather was nice enough to make the walk pretty enjoyable. This shop is home to a fat cat who loved on us while we browsed. If you love history, you’ll enjoy spending some time poking around the shelves here, as well as library card catalog drawers repurposed to hold knick knacks collected over the last 7 decades.

Independent_Bookstores_Buffalo_Rust_Belt_Books_1

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Rust Belt Books is home to a large room, which holds performances, readings and Tuesday morning meditation (you can find more details on this on the website, linked above). I’ve never found a place in Buffalo that felt more like Ithaca than this shop. I took home a (mostly) vegetarian cook book that has already proven delicious.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

Talking Leaves Books

951 Elmwood Avenue
Our last stop was Talking Leaves, which is the only new book store on this list. If you’re looking for the latest release or local gifts, this one is for you. It’s also on Elmwood, so it’s convenient to stop after brunch or some shopping. This was obvious from the number of people browsing on the Sunday afternoon we visited.

Here, I bought a guide to upstate NY road trips, which I paired with a NYS Parks pass for my parents’ Christmas gift.

Independent Books Stores | Buffalo, NY | Used Books

To hear more about our cozy day of bookstore hopping, check out Julia’s vlog!

Making the Most of Winter in Lockport

If you follow me (or Step Out Buffalo) on Instagram, you know that I took over the Step Out Buffalo Instagram and Snapchat accounts for a few hours last week to show off some of my favorite places in Lockport. The sun was shining and temperatures were just above freezing, so it was a great day to feature the best ways to make the most of a winter afternoon!

If you didn’t follow along or want more details on one of the places I visited, keep reading:

After showing off the flight of 5 locks (the reason for Lockport’s name) in downtown Lockport, I stopped in to Steamworks Coffee to fuel up for my adventures. I’m a regular at Steamworks because it’s a great space to write blog posts and work on freelance assignments. The coffee is delicious, the space is so welcoming and there are plenty of outlets!

Winter in Lockport, NY | Step Out Buffalo Takeover

Next up was Julie Muscato Gifts, the cutest shop filled with a card and gift for every occasion. I could have easily bought one of everything…

Because this girl can only go 5 minutes without getting hungry, I stopped at Scripts Cafe for a tea and scone. I can highly recommend the London Fog scone; it was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up before heading to my next stop. I should also mention that the decor in here is amazing, as it was assembled by the aforementioned Julie Muscato.

On the way to the Lockport Nature Trail, I made a small pit stop to snap a picture of the frozen canal and hazy late-afternoon sun, which is the very first photo of this post. Lockport was sure looking pretty for my winter afternoon adventure.

At the Nature Trail, my favorite part is definitely the little waterfall, and it didn’t disappoint. The majority of the water was frozen, but you could hear the creek rushing below the ice thanks to warmer temperatures earlier in the day.

Making_the_Most_of_Winter_Lockport_1

Last, but certainly not least, was Tattered Tulip. Everything is so darn cute, and there is a set of throw pillows that I’m trying very hard not to think about… Anyway, this was the perfect spot to finish up my afternoon.

The order I visited each stop in worked out perfectly, but I highly recommend spending more time than I did exploring Lockport. I had a great time showing Buffalo around Lockport, and hope that if you watched my Stories you enjoyed them too!

Pre-Holiday Pizza at Hearth + Press

Making new friends is not my strong suit. Even as a kid, I’d wait for someone else to invite me over to play at their house instead of asking them. I never took the Myers-Briggs test because I know exactly what it’s going to say. I’m happy to spend Friday nights in and am perfectly content to explore new places solo.

This particular trait makes networking, both personally and professionally, one of the more exhausting tasks I’ve attempted since moving home. Because of this, I’m grateful for extroverts who take it upon themselves to follow up after I’ve awkwardly inserted myself into a group at an event.

Thanks to the initiative of other, braver, individuals, I recently found myself at dinner after work during the week before Christmas with a few fellow bloggers. We checked out Hearth + Press on Main Street downtown. Getting to know each other over thin crust pizza and drinks were just what we all needed to combat the stress of the holidays.

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

Hearth + Press | Buffalo, NY Pizza

And if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, we all recommend Hearth + Press. It’s a tad pricey (for us 20-somethings, at any rate), but the stone hearth pizza was fresh and crispy!

34 Buffalo-Made Gifts for Your Christmas List

Alpine Made
Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap – $8.94
Pretty and practical, pair this Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap with a soap dish or other cute bathroom accessories for grandma or aunts.

Aléthea’s Chocolates
Sponge Candy – $21.95
Choose light, dark or a mix of both. Does this need any more explanation?

Locally Made Baked Goods
Try Schwab’s, Becker Farms, Butter Block, Breadhive, Ohlson’s Bakery, or my personal favorite, The Bread Basket. Cookies, pies and cupcakes are always welcome at the holiday table!

Banky Girl Creations
Team Pizza and Wings Tee – $25.95
What Buffalo girl isn’t a fan of pizza and wings?

Blue Table Chocolates
4 Month, 12 Piece Subscription – $60
Every month, Blue Table Chocolates will send “a variety of flavors, including [the] special flavor of the month” to the chocolate-lovers on your list. Who won’t love this gift?!

Born in Buffalo
BFLO Beer Taps – $21.99
No Buffalo beer lover’s wardrobe is complete without one of these BFLO Beer Tap t-shirts.

Buffalo Beer Mug Co.
Growler Cleveland – $7.50
While you may not know too many history lovers who are also beer fanatics (or beer lovers who are also history fanatics), this is the gift for them.

Buffalo Canvas
Canvases and Custom Framing
Create an ultra-personalized gift with a oversize canvas or custom framed print. The folks at Buffalo Canvas can turn your images into pretty much anything you can imagine!

Buffalo Made Co.
Buffalo Made Flag Print – $10.00 to $24.00
This simple artwork is perfect for Buffalovers and it looks great with or without a frame!

Buffalo Outdoors
Button-Up Long Sleeve Textured Henley Shirt – $12.99
This classic Henley comes in 7 colors, perfect for the practical guys on your list.

Buffalovely
Trump Can Eff the Eff Off Mug – $14
For your friends who are having a hard time adjusting to the current administration.

C Designs
Home Sweet Home Card – $4.50
Frame literally any of C Designs’ cards for a cute collection of accents perfect for a kitchen or bathroom!

Christopher Hyzy
B is for Buffalo – $29.95 (hardcover)
Christopher Hyzy’s book of gorgeous aerial photography was available last Christmas, but if it’s not on the coffee table already, it should be.

Fern Croft
Small Arrangement – $55
Not every gift needs to last forever. Make your Christmas host’s day with a fresh flower arrangement that arrives just before guests.

In The Buff 716
Christmas Ornaments – $11.99
If your wrapping paper and ribbon is just as important to you as what’s inside, consider topping packages with these metal Buffalo ornaments.

Indie Twenty
Onyx Triangle Necklace – $23.00
This necklace is perfect for jazzing up basics throughout the rest of the winter, and everyone from coworkers to nieces will appreciate it.

Inspired Buffalo
Blue Whale Pillow by Michael Clarke – $29 to $43
This throw pillow is the perfect accent for a beachy living room or nautical lake house.

Jess C Jewelry
BUFFAL❄VE Necklace
You can find this necklace (and tons of other adorable Buffalo jewelry) at local shops, or contact jesscjewelry@gmail.com.

Keng Creations
Beam Candle Holder – $40
Add this candle holder to a mantle or centerpiece for a natural accent that isn’t too rustic.

Kitch Studios
Christmas Tea Towel – $11
Pair a cute tea towel with gourmet cookies, a bottle of wine or homemade jelly and you have an easy, affordable gift.

LaCott Fine Art
Elephant Print
Laura’s alcohol ink elephants are gorgeous and will make any animal lover smile. Find her at various maker fairs and festivals this season to pick out the perfect one.

Niagara County Produce
Hot Pepper Relish
Pair this unique condiment with a tea towel for the perfect office gift.

Nickel City String Art
Cactus String Art – $20
Do you have a friend who likes plants but can’t keep them alive? This is for them.

Oxford Pennant
Get Lost Pennant – $25
This wanderlust-inspiring pennant is at the top of my Christmas list. Literally any of Oxford Pennant’s wares make great gifts.

Papercraft Miracles
Blueberry Muffin Stationary Set – $5.00
Stuff stockings with this adorable stationary set or get a few for an easy Secret Santa gift.

Pencil Sketch Paper
Buffalo Stampede Wrapping Paper – $15
Wrap your gifts in this, and frame the extras for other Buffalo fans.

Pretty + Grit
Balance Double Ring – $45
This double ring from brand-new Pretty + Grit is simple, but not too simple.

Rise Collaborative
“You Belong” Sweatshirt – $34 to $48
When you buy this super cute sweatshirt (which also shares a really powerful message), you can choose to donate either a hat or a sweatshirt to Buffalo’s growing refugee population. These sweatshirts are preorder only, so head over to Rise’s website by 11/29.

Rosie Furniture & Lighting
Rosie Idea Box
Find the folks from Rosie at Yuletide in the Country on December 2nd and 3rd to shop their entire collection.

Sadler Garden Collections
Planter with Cameo Cutout – $35.99
These planters are an upgrade from the typical hanging basket that gardeners will put to good use come spring.

Silo City Art
Autumn On The Lake: Original Watercolor Painting by Jill Carere – $65.00
Add to an art aficionado’s collection without breaking the bank.

Three Stories Coffee
Burundi Single Origin 12 oz – $14
This new coffee roaster has tons of options to choose from, with every variety available in light or dark roast as well as whole bean or ground.

Wild Skin Cares
The Basic Box (includes Day Oil, Hydrating Cleanser and Facial Toner) – $61.20
Spoil your mom or your girlfriends with this luxurious skin care kit. All you have to do is pick the skin type of your recipient and Wild Skin Cares does the rest.

Wood by Bri
Buffalo Business Card Holder – $18
Know a recent college grad who loves Buffalo? Order them this cool wood business card holder.