My Favorite Sunday Funday this Summer

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect summertime Sunday Funday. For some, it’s a wine tour, or an hours-long brunch, or enough time and energy to deep clean the kitchen. While I love all of those things, they aren’t my idea of the perfect Sunday.

This summer, my favorite Sunday caught me by surprise. Everything about it was last minute, which made it that much more special.

AHTC’s Summer Sizzler

Getting up at 5:30 am probably isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but I’m willing to wake up just about any time of day for horses. I just never outgrew the horse-crazy phase. On this particular Sunday, I arrived at a (super duper casual) horse show at 6:30 am with zero expectations.

I rode possibly the sweetest, prettiest paint, Trent, who I’ve come to love but didn’t really know all that well a few months ago. The weather was perfect, my parents stopped by to see us ride and our performance wasn’t too shabby either. It also doesn’t hurt that Trent receives a compliment about how cute he is approximately once every three minutes. I know they’re not talking about me, but positive energy is positive energy.

Trent at AHTC's Summer Sizzler

Buffalo Brewing Company

After the show, I headed home way earlier than I thought I would. Cody and I couldn’t let the rest of what had turned into a beautiful day get away from us. We’re slowly getting to every brewery in Buffalo and decided to check another off the list. This time, we opted for Buffalo Brewing Company.

Beer garden at Buffalo Brewing Company

1842 Vienna Lager at Buffalo Brewing Company

Their small tasting room and shaded outdoor space offered a lovely breeze that kept us comfortable. We ordered inside before claiming a spot in two of the beer garden’s Adirondack chairs. The tap room was out of the 1856 Cran-Raz Wheat, so I went with a pint of the 1842 Vienna Lager. Cody chose a couple of the brewery’s IPAs, as per usual. All were good! I loved how each beer’s name commemorated an event in Buffalo’s history, reminding me of how LyonSmith incorporates English history into their beers’ names.

Outer Harbor

Until this particular Sunday Funday, I had never been to the Outer Harbor. Terrible, I know. After a couple of beers, we hopped on the Skyway for a nice pre-dinner bike ride on the Wellness Trail. Because of construction, the trail is currently a little short, but there are plenty of ways to bike around the peninsula.

Bike ride on the Outer Harbor Wellness Trail

Wind sculpture at Wilkeson Pointe

The fresh air, the unexpected nature of the day and dinner on the grill when we got home made this, hands down, one of my favorite days this summer. It wasn’t super special, but it included so many of the things I love about Buffalo and life, all wrapped up under a cloudless blue sky.

Root & Bloom: Vegan Comfort Food in the Comfiest Space

I am by no means vegan or even vegetarian, especially when cooking for myself. I do love my Oh She Glows cookbook, but most of the time, I find vegan recipes more complicated and intimidating than their conventional counterparts.

However, if someone else is going to cook without animal products for me, I’m all in. While Paige was home last month I recruited her to go check out Root & Bloom, one of Buffalo’s newest restaurants and its first vegan-only eatery.

Good Vibes Only

Any business that uses “Gazebo” as part of their address probably knows a thing or two about creating a unique atmosphere. Walking off of Elmwood and into the hidden, tree-lined courtyard Root & Bloom calls home feels like stepping into a secret garden. I’m not sure there’s any way to truly capture the airy space in photographs, but I sure tried.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

I just couldn’t get over the layers of the space: macrame, linen and copper on wood, lace against bark, wrought iron over pavers and brick peaking through leaves. I have a feeling that each year will lead to a cozier feel. It just seems like the kind of place where beautiful knick knacks are accepted with open arms.

The staff was friendly and when we stopped in on a Thursday night, the dinner crowd was lingering, continuing to chat over their empty plates. There was absolutely no pressure to move along or order dessert, just conversation and an itty bitty kombucha-fueled buzz.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

The Dinner Menu

Root & Bloom serves both brunch and dinner. We thought about squeezing in Sunday brunch as a family, but a weeknight dinner gave Paige and me an opportunity to wander down Elmwood before and after dinner.

The dinner menu features vegan staples (cashew cheese, tofu and jackfruit) blended into dishes even the most committed carnivore would recognize: tacos, BBQ sliders, and mac and cheese. While everything looked delicious, we both chose the Ricardo: corn tortilla tacos filled with fried avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, pickled red onions, mango rice and a habanero lime cream drizzle. Paige chose to wash her tacos down with chia citrus water, while I went for Bootleg Bucha’s blueberry lavender variety.

Root & Bloom | Vegan Restaurant | Fried Avocado Tacos

Everything was absolutely delicious, and the serving size made us glad we had parked a few blocks away!

The restaurant’s indoor space will open this fall, so Buffalo can continue to enjoy the creative vegan menu during Buffalo’s colder months. I’ll definitely be going back for more for three reasons:

  1. Brunch (no further explanation needed).
  2. A robust weekend specials menu and the Saturday night Uprooted series.
  3. The gazebo’s Instagramable aesthetic means both 1 and 2 are constantly popping up in my social media feeds!

A Day on the Lake with Brookdog Fishing Co.

I used to love fishing with my dad and sister from the dock on Keuka Lake or sitting on the bank of the Erie Canal waiting patiently to catch little sunfish. We never caught more than a couple of little guys; it didn’t matter, I liked being outside, hanging out with Paige and Dad waiting for a nibble. There was one time that I caught a (slightly) bigger fish, but in our battle over the bait, the fish won and my pole went sailing into the Canal.

In the last few years, we haven’t fished nearly as often as we used to, so Paige and I thought a fishing charter might be an awesome way to spend an afternoon together with Dad. Brookdog Fishing Co. graciously hosted our novice group (well, Dad knows what he’s doing but Paige and I were a little rusty) for an afternoon on Lake Erie with guide Ryan.

We had low expectations, primed by our years on the Canal, but even if we had way higher expectations, Ryan would have beat them. I was excited about being in the water in the middle of a rare string of 90° days in Buffalo; catching a fish or two would have been icing on the cake.

That, simply, is not Ryan’s style. He’s all about putting his clients where the fish are and making sure we have everything necessary to catch them. We launched into the Niagara River, but crowded waters made the River un-fishable. Instead, we took a quick ride into Lake Erie and fished a few different spots, starting further out in the water and then moving towards the harbor as boaters headed in for the evening.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog takes care of everything: poles, bait, baiting, unhooking, photos and bottles of water on ice. While we opted for a half-day trip on Lake Erie, Brookdog offers a ton of options, from year-round walk and wade fly fishing to multi-day charters in the region’s bigger bodies of water. Ryan’s boat is gorgeous and a really comfortable place to spend the day.

As we headed out towards the Lake, Ryan let us know what the game plan was. First, we’d find a good spot, and then we’d start fishing and shooting the shit (his words, not mine). This made me a little nervous, because he was talking to three people who are very good at sitting in silence with each other. Mom takes care of all our family’s small talk.

It turns out I was worried for nothing, because Ryan can talk about anything with anyone and he knows so much about fishing, running a small business, doing what you love and the Buffalo Niagara region that he’s willing to share. He’s fished in Buffalo forever, traveled around the world catching fish and is currently on a mission to fly fish every state in the US before turning 50.

Brookdog’s guides (Ryan, as well as his friend and business partner Nate) focus on native species, and the fish we caught in Lake Erie (smallmouth bass and freshwater drum or sheepshead) have been here for thousands of years. We caught a pretty even mix of the two using live bait, and Paige got a gorgeous white bass as well.

We didn’t look as cool as Ryan and Nate do summer fly fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Erie, but we can pretend. Also, what’s a girl gotta do to get one of those Brookdog shirts?

In our five or so hours on the water, Dad won the prize for the most fish, as well as the smallest fish. I took home the prize of the biggest fish. Paige may have only gotten two, but her patience paid off, because they were the two prettiest fish of the day.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

I went to bed feeling like I was still bobbing up and down with the lake, and woke up the next morning a little sunburned and sore (those fish are serious fighters), but that’s just the sign of a really good day on the water.

If you’re feeling like booking a trip of your own with Brookdog Fishing Co., and you should, you can do that here: https://www.brookdogfishing.com/book-fishing-trip/.

Ryan guides Buffalonians and tourists of all fishing abilities year-round, so don’t worry if your summer is already packed. He assured us that catching salmon in the fall is also pretty cool.

I received a complimentary trip with Brookdog Fishing Co. in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

Visit UB’s Anderson Gallery for Cool Collections and Interesting Spaces

I don’t take advantage of Buffalo’s amazing art and architecture nearly as often as I should. When the Buffalo Bloggers met at UB’s Anderson Gallery last month, it seemed like a good way to add a little culture to my week. It was, in fact, the perfect mix of unique art and interesting space for a Tuesday after work.

The gallery is on the smaller size and you won’t find the same well-known artists that call the Burchfield Penney Art Center and Albright–Knox Art Gallery home, but this is a cool collection of lesser-known, but no less interesting, artists’ works. Plus, it’s completely free to visit!

BRACHA: Pietà – Eurydice – Medus

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

I loved how this collection looked as a whole. The groupings of pieces within the gallery’s curved walls were lovely. These works of art represent “themes of loss, love and trauma within the context of the atrocities of war and traces of memory of the tragedy of the Holocaust.” You can feel the darkness of this exhibit, which is a stark contrast to the much lighter, brighter spaces on the second floor of the gallery.

Claire Falkenstein: Time Elements

UB Anderson Gallery | Claire Falkenstein

I enjoyed this exhibit most, not only for the interesting shapes within the art, but for how well it fit the sun-soaked second floor space it filled. The “work fundamentally expresses movement in space through a specific vocabulary,” which made this exhibit the perfect place for casual conversation and snacks.

Also on display are Cravens Collection, Team Razor Wire’s Electric Avenue [In Blue] and virocode: No Plan for the Future. I highly recommend spending a blissfully cultured (and air conditioned) hour at the Gallery this summer. Its North Buffalo location is close to Delaware Park and Hertel Ave., so you can easily make a stop on your way to dinner or drinks from the Northtowns!

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