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According to Bloggers: Boredom-curing activities in WNY

Question: What do kayaking around Canalside, the City Hall observation deck and a live taping of local TV show "Polka Buzz" all have in common?

Answer: Being beloved by local bloggers.

As a part of our "According to Bloggers" series, we've asked local bloggers and Instagrammers about their favorites. Where can you find Buffalo's best brunch? Shopping? Best photo spots?

This time, we inquired about activities. If chicken wings and beer aren't enough to cure your boredom, surely something in this guide will.


44 Prime St.

Recommended by: Lindsay Robson, blogger at Nickel City Pretty and founder of the Buffalo Blogging Network and Caralyn Mirand Koch, plus model and content creator.

"I try to take full advantage of Buffalo's warm weather, so you'll find me doing everything from hiking to walking around Canalside to dining outside on a patio to spending time on the beach... Buffalo summers are the absolute best!" Robson said.

"Kayaking near Canalside in the summer, Bills game or apple picking in the fall, shoveling in the winter... just kidding on that last one," Koch said.

There's no denying Canalside is fun during the summer. From weekly concerts to frequent festivals, goat yoga to kayak rentals, the decade-old boardwalk keeps Buffalonians busy.

But summer doesn't get to have all the fun.

The Ice at Canalside is so much more than just a place to lace up skates and exercise during the winter. Each season, Canalside adds something. At some point, they added ice bicycles, for those more comfortable on two wheels than two blades. Then there's the curling rink, making one of the Winter Olympics' most random sports a new Buffalo pastime. This year, Canalside added ice bumper cars to its repertoire. It's a bona fide winter amusement park in downtown Buffalo, with Sharkgirl as its unofficial mascot.

One can get beautiful views of the Buffalo from the observation deck of City Hall. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

City Hall Observation Deck

65 Niagara Square

Recommended by: Katharine Phillips, travel blogger and photographer at The Roaming Buffalo.

"If I was only allowed to recommend one thing to all visitors and locals alike to do here in Buffalo, it's to go do the tour of City Hall. Please, I beg of you! If you're a fan of art deco architecture, learning about the vibrant history of Buffalo or taking photos of the best view of the city from the rooftop then this absolutely free tour is for you. It takes place every Monday through Friday at noon, so if you want I'm more than willing to call your boss and pretend to be your doctor so you can play hooky for a day," Phillips said.

Larger cities than ours charge a lot of money for this kind of thing.

Now, I'm not saying it's on exactly the same level as the Empire State Building, but an elevator ride to the top of Buffalo's City Hall will cost you $60 less. A walk around an observation deck is the kind of recommendation you would give a tourist, but it's almost more fun as a local. A tourist can appreciate beautiful water -- or if you go now, ice -- and city architecture that melts into suburban homes. But only a true local can point out buildings by name, give a brief history of said buildings, and note the different neighborhood starting and end points. Finish the trip with a jaunt down to an iconic chicken wing spot, to fully assume your tourist role.

[Related: 100 Things Every Western New Yorker Should Do: The City Hall Observation Deck]

Chestnut Ridge Park

6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park

Recommended by: Beau and Lindsay Riggs, bloggers who write about things to do for couples and families at Buffalovebirds.

"Biking and running the trails at Chestnut Ridge. You can take in the gorgeous fall colors, hike to the Eternal Flame, escape the sound of cars, swing on playsets with kids and run trails alongside trickling waterscapes," Beau and Lindsay said.

Chestnut Ridge is home to the Eternal Flame, or world's most natural candle, and a tobogganing ramp. The Eternal Flame burns a few inches tall, in a small cavern shielded from a waterfall. Natural gas emits from the shale around it, enabling the flame. The hike to the waterfall is a little more than a mile long and mildly hilly, ending at the waterfall.

Accessing the toboggan ramp takes a lot less hiking... until you slide down on a sled and have to trek back uphill. The park's toboggan ramps aren't state-of-the-art. They're modest and secure, launching toboggan riders down narrow paths at intimidatingly fast speeds.

Devil's Hole State Park

Niagara Scenic Parkway, Niagara Falls

Recommended by: Caitie Newman, photographer and Instagrammer.

"One of my favorite places to hike. The views are absolutely stunning, especially in the fall," Newman said.

Another hiking destination, the Niagara Falls path isn't an ideal winter choice. Its steep declines and rocky, narrow paths make it an ill-advised hike during icy months, but in warmer weather, the park flaunts scenic sights of the raging Niagara River.

Farmers Markets

Recommended by: Naa Quaye "Nkay," fashion designer at NKM Styling and blogger at The Boss Diary and Tom Przybylak and Donnie Burtless, bloggers at local food and dining website Buffalo Eats.

"Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers' Market. Nothing makes me happier than fresh fruits and vegetables," NKay said.

"We love farmers market season. Most Saturdays we head out to East Aurora and grab whatever seasonal produce, local dairy, and proteins we can find. Our kids have gotten to know a lot of the farmers by name. The family that sells flowers puts together the most gorgeous bouquets," Przybylak said.

"I love visiting farms whenever I can. Over the 9+ years of writing about food, the moments that really struck a chord with me are always meeting the people who grow and raise our food. It gives you a real appreciation for what hard work really looks like, especially to those who work even harder to do it right," Burtless said.

Western New York, and all of its fertile countryside, is home to a number of farmers markets. The News' Scott Scanlon compiled a comprehensive guide to Western New York farmers markets last summer. You'll have to wait until it gets warmer to purchase produce directly from a farmer at one of these markets. As the weather turns, acoustic musicians will grace a shady space near a Bidwell Park tree and shoppers will meander the Elmwood Market for fresh flowers, pastries and produce, bordered on all sides by vendors.

Who needs Anderson Cooper's approval, anyway? (Derek Gee/News file photo)


Recommended by: Nabila Ismail, travel blogger at Dose of Travel

"To be honest, I love all of the festivals in Buffalo. Who wouldn't want to be surrounded by great food, good brews, music and your favorite people? Festivals are the best way to try new places and sample different foods," Ismail said.

For Ismail, Ellicottville Fall Festival and Taste of Buffalo top Western New York's festival lineup. Those are some of the most popular, side by side with the Allentown Art Festival, Porchfest and Wingfest.

Niagara Wine Trail

Recommended by: Scott Robinson and Alix Gilman, bloggers at In a DC Minute and owners of The Shirt Factory in Medina.

"We love wine tasting. You can incorporate apple cider donuts, apple picking, and more during this trip. The Niagara Wine Trail and all the wineries are doing a wonderful job," Scott and Alix said.

The ride through Niagara County, visiting wineries along the lake and in small inland towns, pleases wine lovers during all four seasons. Beer fans, don't worry, sprinkled throughout the area, you'll find breweries, a meadery and a cidery. If you're going to make a day of it, or perhaps several weekends, a winter wine pass might be worth it. A $25 pass includes three tastings for two people each, at around 15 wineries along the trail.

"Polka Buzz"

Recommended by: Billy and Pat Sandora-Nastyn, YouTube content creators at Billy & Pat.

"Local TV station WBBZ tapes a regular series featuring local bands and dancers cutting a rug to polka favorites. Whether you come to dance or just eat and drink it's a hoot!" Billy and Pat said.

It's not every day that you get to join in on a live TV show taping, especially not while dancing polka. But in Buffalo, you can. It's the kind of activity created out of pure joy, and love of polka. What's even more fun than watching people dance to polka on television? Dancing to polka in real life and watching it back on television. For taping information, follow their Facebook page.

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