How to Perfectly Embrace the Holiday Season in Buffalo

  • 01 of 14

    There's no Better Place Than Buffalo During the Holidays

    GraphicaArtis / Getty

    Buffalo gets way too much flack for its extreme winters with feet of snow and frigidly cold days. In my opinion it’s also one of the best places to celebrate the holiday season. The city has found ways to capitalize on their wintery persona by focusing their efforts on winter-related activities like ice skating, sledding, and hosting winter markets, leaving their tundra persona behind.

    While some people would argue that they aren't built for the cold, they clearly haven't been to Buffalo. There's literally something for everyone whether it eating, shopping or outdoor activities. So, the next time you start planning a winter getaway with the intention of embracing the season instead of running from it make a point to stop by Buffalo, after all it is the city of good neighbors.

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  • 02 of 14

    Go Ice Skating Downtown


    If you consider yourself an ice skating fan then Buffalo is perfect for you. The city offers two different skating rinks, both downtown, that are perfect to put you in the holiday spirit.

    There’s rotary rink in the theatre district that is anchored by a massive decorated Christmas tree, but that’s not the best part. For those of you who find yourself strapped this season after buying gifts for all of your loved ones you’ll be delighted to hear that Rotary Rink is free to the public.

    The second, and newer addition to the holiday scene is the skating rink at Canalside. At nearly three times the size of the rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City you’re guaranteed to have plenty of space to yourself.

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  • 03 of 14

    Take a Ride on the Only Ice Bikes in the Country

    Ice Bikes
    Courtesy of Canalside Buffalo

    If you’re not into ice skating but you still want to take in the fresh air, don’t worry. Buffalo is home to the first Ice Bike that is exclusively available at the rink at Canalside. For those who might be concerned about balance there’s no need to worry. The bike is designed to keep you steady throughout the ride with a blade in the front and a wheel in the back with a frame that keeps that bike in place.

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  • 04 of 14

    Go Sledding on Rose Hill

    Kaveh Kazemi / Getty

    This is more of a do-it-yourself activity as there’s no organization behind it, but sledding at Rose Hill in Delaware Park is a past time that every Buffalonian has experienced. I used to go with my family every year and it quickly became a holiday tradition. It’s secluded enough where there won't be too many people, and it’s right in the middle of the city so you don’t have to worry about a long drive to get there. My only suggestion is that when you are parking that you pay particular attention to the parking signs as it can get tricky that time of year, and they aren't hesitant to give you a ticket. Before you head out to hit the show, remember that since there’s no supervision to make sure that you bring your own sled and be safe, always go with a friend.

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  • 05 of 14

    Stop by The Place for a Classic Tom and Jerry

    Stephan Rosger / Flickr

    The future of The Place and their iconic Tom and Jerry’s caused quite the stir only last year when longtime owner decided to sell the neighborhood favorite that had been in the same family since 1941. Locals worried that it would either sit empty and abandoned for the next few years or that a completely new restaurant would pop up in its place. Thankfully, the new owner realized the importance of the restaurant and opened it back up after a renovation that brought it up to date.

    Every holiday season The Place serves up their famous Tom and Jerry’s, a warm rum-infused cocktail that’s synonymous with Christmas, in a collection of assorted mugs.  While they may not be the only restaurant in town to offer the drink they’re definitely the most popular. Their recipe has been around for generations and it’s a true Buffalo holiday season staple. You can grab a seat by the window and watch the shoppers stroll up and down Elmwood Avenue as the snow falls. It’s the perfect spot for a date, or a meeting with a bunch of your friends. 

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  • 06 of 14

    Grab a Hot Chocolate at SPoT Coffee

    renee_mcgurk / Flickr

    If hard liquor isn’t your style there’s no need to worry. SPoT Coffee has some of the best hot chocolates in town and there’s multiple destinations to choose from. Whether you choose to head to their downtown location, their Elmwood spot or their newer Hertel Avenue shop, there’s no better place in town to curl up by a window and watch the people go by. They were the original coffee house to start the craze in Buffalo with their downtown location and they slowly opened new locations over the years. Since their first opening, the city has seen a boom in local shops spread throughout the city.

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  • 07 of 14

    Shop Local on Elmwood or Hertel Avenues

    Francis Dean / Getty

    While there are plenty of shopping malls and plazas that you can grab your holiday gifts at, the real deals are on Elmwood and Hertel Avenues. These strips are loaded with local shops run by artisans and craftsmen, offering truly one-of-a-kind gifts. It’s easy to get all of your shopping done in one trip and you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone. Lining both avenues you’ll find antiques, paintings, clothes, shoes, decorations and an assortment of other hand-made goods. It’s a great activity for an afternoon and it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking to find a Buffalo-specific souvenir.

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  • 08 of 14

    Visit the Artisan Winter Markets

    Waring Abbott / Getty

    If there weren’t already enough places to shop in Buffalo during the holiday season now there’s an overflow. Right before the holiday season a number of locations throughout the city offer pop up spots for local vendors to sell their goods. Throughout downtown, Elmwood, Kenmore and North Buffalo, you’ll find dozens of places that are perfect if you’re looking for a specific Buffalonian souvenir.

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  • 09 of 14

    See the Holiday Lights as you Stroll Down Main Street

    Courtesy of Youtube

    When the old AM&As Department Store closed their doors in 1995 their annual celebration of decorated Christmas windows went with it. For nearly 20 years the windows sat vacant and bare and a favorite Buffalo tradition became a past time memory. Thankfully, last year the Theatre District Association of Western New York brought the decorations back to Main Street with dozens of original displays that were used by the department store. This year, the decorations are set to hit Main Street again and will run through the entire month of December.

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  • 10 of 14

    Go Cross Country skiing in Delaware Park

    cross country skiing
    Courtesy of Wikipedia

    You might think that being in the middle of a city like Buffalo that your choices for a cross country skiing expedition would be pretty limited, but thankfully Delaware Park is perfect for just that. Situated right in the heart of the city Delaware Park offers acres of open space interspersed with large pine trees making is a great spot to ‘hit the trail.’

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  • 11 of 14

    Take in a Performance by the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus

    Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus
    Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus

    While great music in Buffalo is as common as a chicken wing, the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus is in a league all their own. Each December they perform a unique show that is the perfect start to the holiday season. This year, their show “Sing the Spirit” is only three days long, running from December second through the fourth. If you haven’t purchased your tickets now I wouldn’t hold out much longer. 

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  • 12 of 14

    Visit the Botanical Gardens for their Annual Poinsettia Show

    Matej Divizna / Flickr

    Thankfully, not all of the activities on this list are outside because we all know that you need a break from the cold. The annual poinsettia show at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens is your perfect opportunity to soak up the holiday season while in a room that feels like the tropics.  The interior is decked out with festive ornaments and thousands of poinsettias making it a great stop for families with children.

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  • 13 of 14

    Stop by Parkside Candy for Their Famous Chocolate

    Courtesy of Parkside Candy Co.

    Regardless of time of year, Parkside Candy is one of my favorite spots in the city. The place has been serving some of the best chocolates in Buffalo since 1927 and the interior has garnered it international attention with appearances in a handful of movies (namely “The Natural” starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close.)

    When you walk through the front doors you’ll feel as though you’ve been brought back in time. The mahogany cases hold over a hundred different kinds of chocolate and the entire place is decorated impeccably for the holiday season. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to grab the alcove seat in the back for a more intimate experience.

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  • 14 of 14

    Take in a Play at the Alleyway Theatre

    Courtesy of Alleyway Theatre

    One of my favorite things to do during the holidays in Buffalo is to catch a show at the Alleyway Theatre. Their classic rendition of “A Christmas Story”, going on its 34th year, is one of the hottest tickets in town so it’s important not to procrastinate. If you’re lucky you might be able to grab a last minute matinee, but I wouldn’t hold out too long. It’s one of the best shows in town and it’s perfect for those who are looking for refuge from the frigid Buffalo winter.