Alas, we long for the days of our youth, when we lounged around eating frozen pizzas during summer vacation.
But adulthood does have advantages. We can at least enjoy a cocktail when we go outside to play.
In preparation for patio season, Gusto checked out the local scene. Since we couldn’t include all the great spaces (yes, we know about Resurgence Brewing, Hydraulic Hearth, Mickey Rats and Sunset Bay), we focused on places that go beyond drinks to offer fun, games and even a little quirkiness. Here are a few spots that are loaded with activities you can add to your summer repertoire.
The Angry Buffalo at The Rose Garden
2753 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville
Patio: A big backyard attached to a restaurant.
Drinks and food: Happy hour is Thursday through Saturday with $2.50 domestic bottles, $3 well drinks. PBR pints are $3 all day and night. Excellent craft beers on tap (11 outside, 16 inside). Half-priced burgers Mondays, 60-cent wings on Tuesdays. Patio closes for private events.
The scene: AB’s patio is open mainly Thursdays through Saturdays, but other nights you could grab a drink inside or order food and head outside. They won’t mind. Volleyball runs Monday through Thursday evenings. Bean bag league (aka cornhole) Thursdays. A coed flag football league resumes after Labor Day. The totally relaxed vibe will make you feel like you are in your own backyard.
Extra fun: Live music from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. See if the Rex Ryan “reserved parking” sign is for real.
More: ATM. Digital jukebox.
359 Ganson St.
Patio: Gorgeous, industrial feel with beautiful flowers.
Drinks and food: Craft and domestic beer cans. No specialty drinks, but bartenders can whip up whatever you want. The food menu sticks to the basics.
The scene: As BRW grows, so do its outdoor options, starting with open pickleball from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays.
Rent kayaks (single and double), paddle boards and water bikes by the hour or day ($20-$65). Backyard games begin on Fridays in July, 4 to 11 p.m. Play cornhole (bean bag toss), KanJam, washer toss, ladder ball and our current favorite, giant beer pong. Floor hockey, inline hockey, dodge ball, kickball, ultimate Frisbee and indoor soccer leagues begin mid-July.
For those who don’t want to exert themselves, BRW has you covered with RiverWorks River Cruises on Tuesdays and Thursdays (via Buffalo History Tours) at 5:30 and 7 p.m.
Extra fun: Buffalo Pedal Tours parks itself here. Book a ride at buffalopedaltours.com. Live music is from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, with Country Music Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. The interactive “Grain Mill Murder Mystery” by Buffalo History Tours is at 6 p.m. every Saturday (the $55 price includes a buffet dinner) and silo tours are at 4 p.m. Saturdays. ($15).
More: Docks for boaters. Sunday boaters’ brunch.
Flattery’s Irish Pub
1130 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca
Patio: The worn flip flop of the patio scene. Think “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name, or will by the time you leave.
Drinks and food: Happy hour is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with $2.50 well drinks and domestic drafts and bottles. Local craft beers rotate in the taps. Food specials like the $6.95 beef on weck Mondays, $6.95 two taco Tuesdays, $6.95 single wings Wednesdays.
The scene: Flattery’s takes you as you are, no questions asked. Volleyball leagues play Monday through Friday, with sand soccer on Sundays. Saturdays feature cornhole. There are horseshoe pits, too. In business for 36 years, Flattery’s goal is for everyone to leave satisfied. And most do.
Extra fun: Try watching the old-school TV on the patio.
More: ATM on site. Digital jukebox.
Holidays Sports Bar & Volleyball
935 Harlem Road, West Seneca
Patio: Beach volleyball without the water.
Drinks and food: Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with $2.50 domestic beers and well drinks, $3 call drinks and $2 Bud drafts. Lots of local craft beers. Weekly food specials include $2 off burgers. Nice wing selections like Carolina Gold Barbecue, Root Beer Barbecue, Chiavetta’s. Free popcorn.
The scene: Holidays has two patios, a large one with umbrellas and Adirondack chairs, and a smaller offshoot. Both oversee the action on the sand courts. Picnic tables straddle the nets. There’s a set of bleachers that remind us of high school. So, in a way, we really can relive our youth.
Extra fun: Check out league standings and “fill-in player” phone numbers written on beverage napkins posted on the wall.
More: ATM. Digital jukebox.
Patio: Think Indiana Jones visits a South America-themed resort. Soft seating is first-come, first-serve – just like in the jungle, it’s survival of the fittest.
Drinks and food: Lots of crazy drinks like the Mongoose Mai Tai, Cheetah Rita and Green Python. Southern Tier IPA and Rusty Chain on tap. Enjoy Lava Nachos or a Sparkling Volcano chocolate dessert.
The lowdown: The Rainforest Cafe revamped its patio to include fire pits and comfy seating. Garage doors marry the patio with the “wild” indoor theme (like the snake hanging in a tree). Take a picture with the gorilla, parrot, giant crocodile or one of the Rainforest workers dressed as a safari guide. Watch the free fireworks over Niagara Falls at 10 p.m. every Friday.
Rainforest’s patio opens to Old Falls Street, itself one big patio. At the “Middle Block,” play foosball, pingpong, hopscotch and large-scale games (Jenga, Connect Four, chess, checkers). Free “Flicks on Old Falls” run at 9 p.m. Thursdays (preshow party at 7:30 p.m.). On Friday nights enjoy a free Legends Bar & Grill Live Concert Series starting at 5 p.m., with a featured food truck. Free family Saturdays are noon to 5 p.m. starting July 9, with events like giant inflatables.
The scene: Four fire pits at Rainforest. Bike rentals on Old Falls Street.
More: Free rides to Niagara Falls State Park on the Rainforest eight-passenger electric golf cart.
Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill
7800 Transit Road, Williamsville
Patio: A beautiful oasis on Transit Road. Separate cigar and bourbon patio.
Drinks and food: Santora’s drink menu includes the hot category of “beer cocktails.” Think upscale boilermakers like the Buccaneer, which mixes Corona with Bacardi Limon Rum.
There are lots of specialty drinks and craft beers, too. Everyday happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. with $1 off 16 oz. craft beers, well drinks, house wines or martinis; $2.50 domestic beers. Late-night specials include $8 appetizers and drink specials from 9 p.m. to close.
The scene: Santora’s is everything a patio should be, with sun and shade opportunities. Play cornhole. When you get sweaty, stand by the fountain to catch some mist. The outdoor bar is shaded with televisions tuned to sports. The nearby pool table is indoors, but close to outside action, including a separate cigar and bourbon patio. Guests can rock around the clock (or rather the fire pit) on rocking chairs. Mini lounge chair groupings are more private. It’s all good.
Extra Fun: 97 Rock Cruise Night 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. Live music Wednesday through Saturday. Plastic patio cups have an indented lip to stop you from dribbling all over yourself.
More: Valet parking Thursday through Saturday.
Woodlawn Beach & Tiki Bar
3580 Lakeshore Road (Route 5), Blasdell
Patio: Hang out at one of two areas – the shady patio bar near the main building or down on the beach at the Tiki Bar.
Drinks and food: Full bar including frozen drinks, domestic beers. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Grab food at the main bar or from “Sailor Jerry” at the Stranded Waterside camper on the beach.
The scene: Fun in the sand and sun await at the bars of Woodlawn Beach. The views of the lake and downtown Buffalo are spectacular. With a tin roof, the tiki bar is as rustic as it should be. There are plenty of beach lounge chairs to soak in the rays. Play cornhole, KanJam and volleyball. When it gets too hot, head into the water or up to the shady main bar. The best part is that this can all be done in a bathing suit.
Extra fun: Giant fire pit on the beach. Visit Facebook for live music and DJs.
More: Cabana rentals. ATMs.