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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

A Fall Staycation at Hart House Hotel

Spending a little time away from home, no matter how far you actually go, is always a nice break from day-to-day life. Cody and I had the opportunity to spend a night at Hart House Hotel in Medina and jumped at the chance – despite the fact that Cody lives exactly .5 miles from the hotel. Hart House is a beautifully restored factory with tons of tiny details that make it so welcoming.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

When I was in elementary school, my favorite family trip was our annual long weekend in Rochester. Not Cape Cod, not Disney World, but a hotel with a pool an hour east on the Thruway. We used to visit the museum, planetarium, mall and bagel shop. These trips didn’t have a long car ride or the stress of not knowing where you were.

The same was true about our stay at Hart House. We knew what we wanted for dinner and where we were heading for drinks afterwards. We had time to stop in all the shops we’re always saying we should go into. I couldn’t even forget my leftovers in the hotel fridge because we stopped at Cody’s house between dinner and heading to the hotel.

We started our staycation with dinner at Mariachi de Oro, which is always a good choice for authentic fajitas and enchiladas, plus 60 ounce margaritas, if that’s your thing. We walked from Hart House to Fitzgibbons for drinks. Fitz has a great selection of Irish and local beer, plus gorgeous woodwork and servers in kilts.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

We woke up at Hart House to a sun drenched morning, perfect for iced coffee and Roberts’ cider from Shirt Factory Cafe. The weather felt more like June than September, perfect for walking to shops on Main Street. Our first stop was to The Bread Basket for peanut butter chocolate chip and cookies and cream scones (disclaimer: Cody’s mom owns The Bread Basket 😉).

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

After wandering through the farmers’ market, the rest of our day included stops at Creekside Floral (for our Ale in Autumn tickets!), Ellen J. Goods and Filomena’s Favorites. Medina is ready for fall, with chrysanthemums and rustic decor in every direction. I even did a little Christmas shopping…

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

On my way home I stopped at Roberts’ Farm Market for cider and to wander through their mums, pumpkins and u-pick orchards.

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

Staycationing at Hart House Hotel | Medina, NY

If Hart House is a little further than a 15 minute drive, there’s lots to do between Medina and Buffalo. Spend the weekend and check out Alternative Grounds or Steamworks for coffee, hike at the Royalton Ravine or spend some time at Bear Bottom Wholesale!

Public Kold Brew + Productivity at The Grange

As a blogger, I’m constantly trying new breweries and coffee shops, photographing weekend trips and exploring Buffalo’s neighborhoods. Cody and my family are great sports about this, but they definitely appreciate it when I finally put down the camera and actually eat what I ordered.

For this post though, I collaborated with fellow blogger (and vlogger!) Julia. Instead of shooting me an eye roll while I took a good 10 photos of my empty plate, she videoed me doing it.

Meet Julia Jornsay-Silverberg

I’ve talked about Julia before. Last summer I started doing a bit of freelance social media work for her. The majority of our communication is over email, but we make sure to meet up every once in a while over coffee or smoothies to talk social media, blogging, clients and Buffalo.

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Julia Jornsay-Silverberg

This coffee date/work sesh was special; we wanted to do a collaboration somewhere different, with me photographing and her taking footage for her YouTube channel. The Grange Community Kitchen is a newer restaurant (they opened in the summer of 2016) that shows up on local bloggers’ Instagrams almost daily. Neither of us had visited yet, so it was the perfect place to sip Public Kold Brew and be productive together.

Hamburg’s Farmers’ Market

Hamburg is definitely a bit of a drive from other WNY towns, including mine, so I wanted to make my trip worth it. I got to Main Street a little before Julia (shoutout to Hamburg law enforcement for not enforcing that 2 hour parking…) and wandered towards the farmers’ market.

As an Ithaca College graduate, I have very high expectations for a farmers’ market (the Ithaca one is stunning – like people get married there it’s so pretty). I have to say that Hamburg does a pretty good job. There were dozens of vendors with a good mix of produce, meat and baked goods, and well over 100 people, including families and so many adorable dogs!

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

From there, I headed down Buffalo Street, aiming to check out Nickel City Designs. I didn’t make it that far, but I’ll just have to visit again soon!

The Grange Community Kitchen

Now, for the main attraction: The Grange Community Kitchen. Let’s just start with the space, which is stunning. All the minimalist, Instagramable, exposed brick, gold-accent vibes had us swooning as soon as we walked in the door. It helps that you’re greeted by a custom tiled entryway. Julia just happened to be taking a picture of her feet with that tile while I ordered, which gave me the chance to ask the barista if just about everyone does that. She said that yes, she watches people do that all day long.

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The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

I ordered an iced coffee (from Public, of course) and an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. It turned out to be probably the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. There are no photos of it, just of my empty plate and Julia’s iced chai after I finished inhaling my sandwich.

The Grange also serves lunch and dinner with a full bar and wood-fired pizza. Like their brunch menu, lunch and dinner “are inspired by what’s in season and reflect [the restaurant’s] commitment to utilize goods obtained from local farmers and producers.” Don’t worry, I’ll report back on that ASAP. 😜

The Grange Community Kitchen | Hamburg NY | Succulents and Sunnies

After eating, we moved outside to take more photos (duh) and get some work done. The Grange has pretty reliable WiFi and you can ask any of the staff for the password. Even on a busy Saturday afternoon, we didn’t get any funny looks for taking up a table with just our drinks left.

I can 100% say that The Grange (and the adorable town of Hamburg) are worth the drive, and should definitely be added to your summer to do list!

Julia’s Take on The Grange

While I prefer to write about my experiences, Julia takes video footage. For her take on our beautiful day in Hamburg, plus more details on the farmers’ market and The Grange, check out her latest YouTube video:

Want to get to know Julia?

You can check out Julia’s YouTube channel for both lifestyle and social media tips. Her blog is packed with social media and online branding how-tos. To learn more about her everyday life, check out her *very cohesive* Instagram feed.