A Buffalo Girls’ Day Out

Brunch. Shopping. Coffee shops. Ice cream.

When Chessa of Vintage Lillies and I plan a girls’ day, we don’t mess around.

I first met Chessa in high school, where we were both in yearbook club and scholastic bowl like the nerds we are. We crossed paths a few times after graduating, but it wasn’t until we both ended up in the Buffalo Blogging Network that we really had a chance to catch up. What better way to reconnect than with a collaboration between our blogs, filled with all the best things Buffalo has to offer?

Whether you’re a Western New York native or taking a weekend trip, spending a day in the city with good company is always relaxing. Follow our footsteps for the perfect girls’ day out in Buffalo:

Stop 1: Brunch on the West Side

It’s basically impossible to have a girls’ day without brunch. Breadhive was our choice, and it was buzzing with friends and families. The decor is perfect, with a painted tin ceiling, stained glass and paneled walls. We ordered sandwiches (me from the breakfast menu and Chessa from the lunch menu), headed outside and chatted about what the rest of our day would look like.

Brunch spot perfect for: great sandwiches, cold brew + wall decor w/ humor

A post shared by Francesca Bond (@chessabond) on

While on Connecticut Street, stop by Burning Books for a beautifully curated and displayed collection on titles on feminism (this is a girls’ day after all), political activism, diversity and history.

Stop 2: Shopping on Elmwood Ave.

Elmwood Ave. is a treasure-trove of shops, with everything from secondhand scarves to upscale coasters. I’m not normally a thrift store shopper, most likely because my fashion sense is pretty basic. I’m way more comfortable upcycling furniture than repurposing clothes. Shopping with Chessa was eye-opening! We made stops at both Scoop Shop and Second Chic (which is seriously adorable).

Everything Elmwood, Fern + Arrow and Anna Grace were also stops on our shopping spree. So much for doing this girls’ day on a budget…

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Stop 3: Coffee in Allentown

There’s so many good coffee shops in Buffalo, but we settled on Grindhaus Cafe for a post-shopping pick-me-up. We went for lemonade instead of coffee, which was delivered to us in huge mason jars. This was exactly what we needed to carry on.

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

Stop 4: Ice Cream on Hertel Ave.

Carry on to ice cream, that is. I’ve mentioned before that Hertel Ave. is seriously the place to be for amazing ice cream. We tried Churn, and it was so darn good. I went for the De la Lloyd, a massive amount of chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, all on a waffle cone, which they make in house.

Buffalo Girls Day Out | Locals Guide | Succulents and Sunnies

In a small attempt to make ourselves feel better about eating ice cream for dinner, we walked down to Bunnie Reiss’s beautiful addition to the Buffalo public art scene at Joe’s Deli.

Our entire journey is mapped out for you here 👇

Make sure you check out Vintage Lillies for incredible street fashion, the best thrift shops, weekend getaways and groovy playlists. You can also follow Chessa on Instagram (and you definitely should!).

Tequila-Infused Coffee and a Milkshake for Dinner

Hertel Ave.’s growth into a destination of its own within Buffalo’s city limits continues to impress, and this summer 3 (yes, 3) new ice cream shops opened, among other great additions. These are among the reasons Hertel Ave. was my #1 bucket list priority this summer. So when my friend Melanie was in town last week, I suggested we head south to catch up over “dinner”:

Usually when I tweet, I expect my words to disappear into oblivion with zero recognition, so when other people clearly related, I wanted to share how amazing our meal really was. (Also, sorry for the typo. Twitter could introduce the ability to edit any time now…)

We met at Lloyd’s Taco Factory and headed straight to the bar, which had a pretty impressive list of amazing sounding cocktails (duh, what else would you expect?), along with wine and beer. Melanie went for a draft Lagunitas IPA and I chose the Gennaro’s COLDbrew, a delicious mix of cold brew coffee, tequila, cacao and Averna, topped with fresh cream and cinnamon. Cold drinks, a perfect summer night and the adorable puppy behind us on the patio made this first stop perfect.

Dinner on Hertel Ave | Buffalo | Succulents and Sunnies

With 3 new ice cream shops to choose from, heading across the street to Hertel Ave. Poutine and Cream was a difficult decision, but we’re glad that was our pick. (We’re from Lockport, so we’ve had Lake Effect since high school, and it didn’t seem fair to visit Churn after spending time at Lloyd’s. Gotta spread the love!)

Poutine and Cream has been filling my Instagram feed since opening this spring, so I had high expectations for our Freak Shake. Melanie and I split The Chocolate Mouse, described as “peanut butter-chocolate ice cream with crushed Reese’s Pieces & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ‘ears,’ drizzled with chocolate & caramel sauce.” So yeah. There’s that.

Dinner_Hertel_Ave_1

Both shops are in perfect people-watching spots with plenty of outdoor seating for breezy summer nights. There were so many people and puppies out which highlighted how inviting this neighborhood really is. I’m crossing off this item from my summer bucket list, but I’ll definitely be back!

Cheers to the Weekend at 12 Gates Brewing Company

I’m not going to lie, when Google Maps told Cody and I we had arrived at 12 Gates Brewing Company, I thought Google was experiencing a glitch. That was the only reason I could think of that would explain why we were looking at the entrance of an industrial complex just minutes from the Buffalo Airport. After double checking the address with the brewery website, we turned into the parking lot and followed the signs to the back of the complex, where the brewery did in fact await us.

Cody and I were looking for a new brewery to try without driving to the Southtowns on a Friday afternoon (we still need to check out Hamburg and 42 North, but this wasn’t the day). 12 Gates fit the bill. It’s in Williamsville and serves a good variety of bar snacks that would tide us over until dinner with Cody’s family.

12 Gates Brewing Company | Succulents and Sunnies

After getting over our initial shock about the location and passing the door to a machine shop on our way to the tap room, we settled in with a flight and nachos inside. The bar was packed with a Friday afternoon happy hour crowd from surrounding businesses and everyone was happy to be there.

I tried the coffee porter, which was good in flight form but would likely get overwhelming in a pint. Instead, I went for the seasonal wheat, which was still the spring apricot variety. After polishing off our nachos we moved outside to enjoy the sunny day. The patio might just be a collection of picnic benches on a corner of the parking lot, but the tall wooden planters filled with hops and bright flowers help you forget that fact. There’s also corn hole and we saw four little bunnies hopping around behind the asphalt.

Because of the proximity the the airport, a plane approaches the runway every 15 minutes or so almost directly overhead. I rather enjoyed this added entertainment, but I can see it being a little bit anxiety-inducing for some.

The atmosphere, outdoor space and very nice bartender more than made up for the initial shock about the location. We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to 12 Gates and we’ll definitely be back!

The Ultimate WNY Summer Bucket List

I love summer in New York and making a bucket list every summer helps me make the most of it! There are a few things on my list every year, as well as some new adventures I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to try. This year, I want to focus on exploring Western New York, instead of trying to plan a plethora of weekend trips. Buffalo is an incredible city in the summer and with more friends moving to Rochester, it makes sense to take advantage of all the (585) has to offer too!

This Summer in Buffalo:

  1. Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square
  2. Hertel Ave (Must-dos: Lake Effect’s new scoop shop, Poutine and Cream, and Lloyd’s)
  3. Silo City
  4. Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck
  5. Wilkeson Pointe
  6. Tifft Nature Preserve
  7. Erie County Botanical Gardens
  8. The Victory Gardens at Oxford Pennant (open from May 20th to July 3rd!)
  9. WNY Book Arts Center

In Rochester I Want To:

  1. Visit Rochester’s breweries
  2. Public Market
  3. Fuego Coffee
  4. Glen Edith Coffee
  5. Upper Falls
  6. Rochester Subway and Broad St Aqueduct
  7. Chimney Bluffs
  8. George Eastman Museum
  9. Highland Park

The Stuff in Between:

  1. Kayak in Oak Orchard Creek
  2. Go fishing
  3. Spring Lake Winery
  4. Chestnut Ridge Park
  5. Bike rides (although I’m going to need a bike for this 🤔)
  6. Lockport Caves
  7. Spruce Lake at Holiday Valley
  8. Go on a picnic

I’ll be documenting my bucket list progress on Instagram and would love it if you followed along! What new places are looking forward to exploring this summer? Let me know what you think I should add to my summer plans ☀️

Quick Trip: Ellicottville, NY

Cody and I took a quick trip to Ellicottville this weekend to visit Ellicottville Brewing Company and wander through a few of the small town’s shops. It was a perfect spring weekend – a little grey, but warm – perfect for a getaway to this cozy ski resort town.

Our first stop was the brewery tour at EBC. The old building is beautiful and the tour did a great job of not only explaining this history of beer and the Brewing Company, but also the building. The taproom’s bar is from the 1983 World Fair and is the second oldest bar in the area, which I found so interesting. Cody really enjoyed how knowledgeable our tour guide Kevin was on beer history and the making of beer.

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

The tastings at the end of the tour were delicious: Blueberry Wheat (already one of my favorites), Juicy Juice, Mosaic Sunrise and 1/2 Baked Porter. The tasting room is part of the brewery’s addition, framed by giant wooden beams and overlooking stainless steel beer tanks. We stayed for lunch and a flight, to try the beers on tap but not in the tasting room.

Ellicottville Brewing Company was the biggest reason we chose Ellicottville for our trip, and it turned out to be a good decision. We left educated and full, which was a nice combination.

We checked into our hotel and spent the next few hours watching HGTV (Fixer Upper marathon for the win!) and getting hungry enough to walk to our next meal, dinner at Villaggio. This is another place with a great atmosphere, full of rustic-eclectic decor, string lights and laughter. The Sabres game (which we actually won!) was on the big screen as we ate. There were definitely groups in Ellicottville for a Saturday night out, so I’m sure it would have been fun to stay out and visit a few of the town’s bars, but Cody and I headed back to our hotel to take advantage of the pool and hot tub.

Ellicottville, NY | Quick Trip | Succulents and Sunnies

Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and walked back down Washington Street. We poked around in ski shops, home goods stores and Watson’s Chocolates before heading home. And how can you not stop and pet the dogs at Adventure Bound every time you walk by?

While our trip was short, Ellicottville was a perfect weekend escape. With the ski slopes still covered in snow but temperatures warming, wandering around the village was a great way to spend a day!

A Winter Wonderland

Winter finally arrived in Western New York today. Here in Niagara County, snow totals are fast approaching 18 inches and the snow is showing no signs of stopping. We haven’t had this much snow in a long time, so of course the first thing I did when I got home was cover my camera in a plastic bag and throw on the Bean Boots for a little trek around the yard.

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

9 Essentials for Surviving an Upstate Winter

Winter in Western New York can be unforgiving, to say the least. Weeks upon weeks of scraping ice off your car, wearing so many layers you’re mistaken for a snowman and being almost certain you’ll never feel your toes again. It’s slightly ironic to be writing this now, because it’s been 55° for two days in a row. But trust me, it was snowing four days ago.

Because winter is harsh, both physically and mentally, people here in colder climates have tricks to make it through. I want to share some of my favorite winter pick-me-ups that helped me through the season this year:

  1. A new loose leaf tea infuser and the amazing salted caramel pumpkin tea from Wegmans. My sister gifted me with the infuser and a wonderful collection of loose leaf tea that I’ve been savoring all winter. I never would have gotten this for myself, but I love it! Also, Wegmans for the win (as per usual), because this tea is just as delicious as the expensive specialty stores.
  2. Anyone who knows me knows that I wear my plaid Joy Susan blanket scarf daily from October to March. This thing is so cozy and makes me looked pulled together with minimal effort. And when the heat at work is making less effort than would be ideal, this scarf really is blanket-sized.
  3. My new Warby Parker glasses are cute, affordable and come with better customer service than my local eye doctor. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the company, both via email and in person. In the dead of winter, a positive experience (especially when it has the potential to be not so great) is a wonderful thing.
  4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is an inspiring read, even when you only have time for a chapter. I actually read a few excerpts for a class my last semester at Ithaca, which prompted me to add the book to my Christmas list this year. I’m not done yet, but I’ve been pairing a few pages with my eggs every morning, and I highly recommend it.
  5. For anyone who lives in the cold and doesn’t want to spend every weekend skating or skiing, getting out of the cold is a must. This is why my passport is a winter essential. This year Cody and I escaped to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, which I highly recommend. If you haven’t already, check out my travel diary of the trip!
  6. I almost never buy candles for myself, but my friend held a Yankee Candle fundraiser this fall so I splurged and bought “Autumn Wreath,” which smells exactly like you might imagine. Fall is my favorite season, so bringing the scent of apple, green leaf and cinnamon into the winter months makes me happy.
  7. My skin does not like the dry air of a Buffalo winter, so any product that makes it a little happier is a good investment. This year, I’m loving Lush’s Aqua Marina face and body cleanser. It’s a clay-based product that soothes skin with aloe, seaweed and calamine. One note of caution – the seaweed gets EVERYWHERE, so you might be washing your shower curtain more often than usual.
  8. Also from Lush is the alcohol-free Breath of Fresh Air toner, which includes sea water, aloe vera gel and rose absolute. It’s a great follow up to an exfoliating face wash and I feel like it gets that extra layer of grime off while also refreshing my wind-whipped face.
  9. Cody got me a subscription to Magnolia Journal for Christmas, which is further fueling my love for the work of Joanna Gaines. Politics aside, I think she is an incredibly talented designer who creates beautiful homes, businesses and publications. Plus, it’s already spring in Texas, and the latest issue is packed full of warm-weather plants, clothes, design and more.