Waterfalls, striking state parks, and an eternal flame – I’ll bet the house that New York would be the last state you’d look to find gems like these. Sure, I’m used to hearing the cliches of people assuming New York State is a continuation of The Big Apple – one gigantic metropolis. Well, dear reader, I introduce you to Buffalo, New York, and the Western New York region. No, no, NO! It’s not Upstate New York. Wikipedia is lying to you. Don’t get me started.
Let’s go for a walk – or a scroll down this webpage – and discover why New York is so great to look at.
1. Niagara Falls
You may have heard of this one. Wedged between New York and Ontario, this North American natural wonder is truly special to behold. Locals will tell you it’s nothing more than falling water that is over-advertised to draw tourist revenue. And while that’s partially true, the Falls must be seen to be believed. Millions of gallons of water plummet at its base every minute, and can be witnessed from various vantage points. The Maid of the Mist tour takes visitors for a close-in look, while the perspective from the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side supplies a perfect panoramic view of the sensation. Niagara Falls State Park – the oldest state park in the country – makes the trip even more worthwhile.
2. Eternal Flame Falls
One of the more quirky attractions to visit is the Eternal Flame Falls, a 30-foot waterfall with a small grotto at its base that emits natural gas. Use your lighter or old-school match to ignite the flame, and get out your marshmallows and sticks (note sarcasm). The flame is small, but this natural phenomenon is so uncommon it has drawn an exponential amount of visitors in recent years. The hikes to and from the flame are also fun, and will take about an hour.
3. Erie Basin Marina
I know, I know. At this point you’re wondering why Western New Yorkers like watching water so much. It’s the lovechild of hydrogen and oxygen, so what’s the big deal? The Erie Basin Marina is a waterfront that locals are proud to live by. Rent a boat and navigate Lake Erie, or pick a bench and savor the view. Many eateries flood the immediate area for local grub, drinks or ice cream. For the best possible view, visit the observation deck to soak it all in.
4. Sled Hill in Chestnut Ridge Park
Also home to the Eternal Flame, Chestnut Ridge Park is a popular sledding destination during the winter. The infamous sled hill offers great views of the park from its summit, and on clear days offers great views of the Buffalo skyline and Lake Erie. Countless hiking trails surround the area for before, during and after your sledding session, and are more reasons to embrace the sometimes arctic atmosphere of Western New York winters.
5. Glen Falls Park
Hey, guess what? New York has a lot of waterfalls. Who knew? Hidden in the depths of Williamsville, New York, roughly 20 minutes from the Buffalo city center, Glen Falls Park is a miniature slice of natural beauty surrounded by suburban life. It offers minimal walking distances, yet the views are so striking it shouldn’t be overlooked. What was once inhabited by mills and factories now presides as a quaint park with interlocking, paved walkways that lead to a 27-foot waterfall. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet to escape to near the city, Glen Falls Park is what you want.
6. Hoyt Lake/Delaware Park
After visiting the likes of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo History Museum, take a stroll alongside Hoyt Lake, one of Buffalo’s unsung wonders. Found within the confines of Delaware Park, Hoyt Lake offers photogenic scenery near the city center. Delaware Park itself is a highlight of Buffalo; it’s home to Shakespeare in the Park – an annual summer festival that has been tradition since the 1970’s. Also nearby are the Buffalo Zoo, a golf course, several baseball diamonds and tennis courts, and a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
7. Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge, opened in 1927, is an international bridge connecting Buffalo, New York to the neighboring Fort Erie, Canada. Its name derives from the United States and Canada reaching 100 years of peace (now almost 200). Its color scheme is radiant and spills onto Lake Erie to complete the picture. The Peace Bridge is one of the lesser talked about bridges in the country, but is one of the most vital when it comes to international trade and transportation. The EZ Pass station on the Canadian side was the first to be opened outside of the Unites States. If you’re traveling to or from Canada, the Peace Bridge is the most recommended route.
This is Buffalo’s Time Square. With endless views, activities and events, and Lake Erie dominating the backdrop, locals suggest that Canalside is the heart of the city. It contains a little of everything for everyone: the newly named Keybank Center hosts Buffalo’s beloved Sabres, the Erie Canal is mesmerizing, and the prevailing HarborCenter is the glue that holds it all together. The best views of this area can be experienced when the outdoor ice rink is open. One of the most Buffalonian experiences is lacing it up and skating alongside the residents of the City of Good Neighbors.
9. Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park
A main fixture in the Canalside district is the stunning Naval and Military Park, which consists of several decommissioned US Naval vessels. The main attractions are the three ships: The cruiser USS Little Rock, the destroyer USS The Sullivans, and the submarine USS Croaker. Harboring on the shore of Lake Erie, visitors can board and tour the vessels. These massive structures are a must-see when touring the Queen City, despite being tourist bait.
10. Inspiration Point Overlook
This one requires some intermediate hiking abilities, but is arguably the best view in Western New York. Located in Letchworth State Park – over an hour outside of Buffalo – the Inspiration Point Overlook is the best vantage point of Letchworth Gorge and the Genesee River. The scene is highlighted by the Middle Falls, with water descending 107 feet. Two other major waterfalls and a train trestle can be seen further upstream. Letchworth is also home to some of the best hiking trails in the state, and has amazing cliffs that rise up to 550 feet. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the park, mark the Inspiration Point Overlook as a can’t-miss.
What other views in Western New York shouldn’t be overlooked? Let us know in the comments!