Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In   |   Join AFS
2018 Annual Meeting: Beyond Buffalo

The following is an excerpt from "Folklorist Finds: A Local Guide," the visitors' guide prepared by the 2018 Annual Meeting Planning Committee that will be released in full before the annual meeting. This portion includes excursions that will require a half or full day.

"Buffalove! I'm Staying an Extra Day!": Sights Worth Seeing in Western New York/Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

Contributions by Robert Baron, Karen Canning, Hannah Davis, Maria Kennedy, Kate Koperski, Ellen McHale, Ed Millar, Thomas Richardson, Dan Ward, and Christine Zinni

Western New York

The Niagara Frontier region provides many opportunities to enjoy historical sites and the natural environment within a couple of hours of Buffalo. The Erie Canal in this region offers a chance to walk, bike or boat along the historic waterway, with boat tours of the 1862 “flight of five” locks and caves in Lockport. It’s the greatest series of high-lift canal locks over the shortest distance in the US. Travel a bit further east to Medina and Albion to see distinctive vernacular architecture featuring Medina sandstone in historic downtowns, and the world’s largest collection of buildings constructed of cobblestone at the The Cobblestone Museum. Traveling along “The Ridge” (route 104) will take you to numerous fruit orchards and farm stands as well as wineries. Bird lovers will delight in the large flocks of Great Egrets on their annual Fall migration at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Several recommendations for classic Beef on Weck sandwiches can be discovered here; we also recommend Mariachi de Oro or Zambistro's in Medina. For a refreshing stop along the shores of Lake Ontario, try Golden Hill State Park or Lakeside State Park.

Letchworth State Park is absolutely worth the drive (about 1.5 hours) and a full day visit, living up to its claim of being “the Grand Canyon of the East.” Views along the Genesee River’s 600-ft gorge in the fall are stunning, with a collection of trails, spectacular foliage, historic pathways and buildings of stone and wood constructed in the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, local museum and Native American site, and three waterfalls. If you’re limited in time, go to the southern end to get a taste of everything the park has to offer. Just to the north is the Abbey of the Genesee noted for its Monks’ Bread (maple and raisin are standouts) and beautiful sanctuary. Food and lodging can be found in nearby Geneseo (notably, homemade Polish fare at the Euro Cafe and the best subs anywhere at Aunt Cookie's) and Mt Morris (all-homemade lasagna at Questa Lasagna).

Two unique communities can be found in the Chautauqua region of New York’s Southern Tier. The first is the Chautauqua Institution, located on the shores of Chautauqua Lake. It was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning, and broadened almost immediately beyond its original courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education. The main attraction for visits outside of the peak summer season are the 19th-century Victorian architecture of the cottages, hotels, and restored amphitheater. Come summertime it presents a 9-week season of lectures and performance featuring world class presenters in arts, science, religion and politics. Several miles away is Lily Dale Assembly, where the Spiritualist religion is still practiced. It was incorporated in 1879 as Cassadaga Lake Free Association, a camp and meeting place for Spiritualists and Freethinkers. Reflecting New York’s history as the birthplace of numerous religious movements in the 19th century, the community remains a center for the philosophy and religion of Spiritualism. See the website for details on planning off-season visits to the community. Traveling to the southeastern end of Chautauqua Lake brings you to Jamestown, well known for its Scandinavian American community and the Lucy Desi Museum, in honor of hometown-girl, Lucille Ball.

Just to the south of Buffalo the village of East Aurora can provide a full day of fun. Not to be missed is Vidler's 5 & 10, a truly wonderful, multiple level five and dime store owned and operated by the Vidler family for more than 80 years. Also notable is the Roycroft Campus, famed as the center of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement. It is the best preserved and most complete complex of buildings remaining in the United States of the craft guilds that evolved as centers of craftsmanship and philosophy during the late 19th century. And nearby is Knox Farm State Park, the former country estate of Buffalo’s renowned Knox family.

Over the Border: Niagara Region

Bring a passport and venture across the border for a day or two in Ontario. Or, if you’re traveling from afar, consider flying into Toronto and taking in the Niagara Region while en route to Buffalo (an easy two-hour trip by car or train). Niagara-on-the-Lake is a remarkably well-preserved center of early Ontario Upper Canada settlement. It’s a laid-back village, known for its wineries and early 19th-century downtown. The town hosts The Shaw Festival, top-notch live theater with shows running through October 28. For those interested in vernacular architecture: Grimsby has a neighborhood of fanciful “gingerbread house” cottages.

Travelling on the scenic Niagara Parkway alongside the roaring Niagara River, you’ll pass by the huge floral clock. It’s carpeted with 16,000 green and grey Santolina Sage in the fall months.

The Butterfly Conservatory is another fun stop between Buffalo and Niagara-on-the-Lake, especially for families.


Over the Border: Toronto

There’s plenty of fun to have in this young, diverse metropolis. The largest city in Canada, it has plenty of charming, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. Folklorists will appreciate the vibrant immigrant communities and public markets. Toronto also has a number of great museums, including a few that are unique in the world:

Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy
Research collection of over 72,000 items relating to science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, magic realism, experimental writing, parapsychology, UFOs, Atlantean legends, etc.

239 College St., (416) 393-7748

Royal Ontario Museum
Canada’s largest museum. Exhibitions relating to art, culture, and natural history.

100 Queens Park, (416) 586-8000

BATA Shoe Museum
4,500 years of footwear-related history on display—everything from ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs to designer heels!

327 Bloor St. West, (416) 979-7799

Textile Museum of Canada
Collections include historical and contemporary fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments, carpets, and quilts.

55 Centre Ave., (416) 599-5321

Gardiner Museum of Ceramics
Canada’s national ceramics museum, featuring an international collection of history and contemporary work.

111 Queens Park, (416) 586-8080

Want a taste of ultra-hip Toronto?

Visit all the vintage shops, coffee, bars, and general coolness you can handle by walking westward on Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue.

If Victorian-era architecture and craft beers are your passion, spend your time in the Distillery District.

Fans of traditional music should check the listings at The Local, The Dakota Tavern, and Hugh's Room.

If you’re not afraid of heights, visit the CN Tower: ride the elevator up nearly 2000 feet, then walk out along the glass floor to look down and get a new perspective on Hogtown.

The covered public markets are something special. Grab something to eat at the 115 year old St. Lawrence Market in Old Town, or stop for 80¢ pineapple buns at nearby Hong Kong Island, Chinatown’s tastiest bakery. Peruse ethnic groceries and quirky shops in Kensington Market, in the heart of an historic immigrant neighborhood.

If your feet could use a rest, settle in for the evening at Snakes & Lattes, North America’s first board game café. There are three well-staffed locations—you’re bound to be near one!


Finger Lakes

Buffalo is less than three hours away from each of the eleven bodies of water that make up the Finger Lakes. This lush region is home to more than a hundred wineries, but drinking isn’t the only thing to do here!

Attendees approaching from the south might consider visiting the Corning Museum of Glass, home of the world’s best collection of art and historical glass, or visiting Mark Twain’s grave.

For travelers looking to stretch their legs: Watkins Glen State Park showcases a dramatic 400-foot-deep gorge and series of waterfalls. Just outside of Ithaca, about an hour east of Watkins Glen, Taughannock Falls State Park features the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Keen bird watchers already know that the nearby Cornell Lab of Ornithology is worth a stop. Consider fueling up afterwards at the Finger Lakes Cider House, hub of New York’s hard cider renaissance.

The world’s largest herd of all-white deer (no, they’re not albino) can be found at the Seneca Army Depot. Book a tour to see the herd and their unique surrounds up close, or try to spot one while driving northward on Route 96A.

Stop in Seneca Falls to take in Frank Capra’s inspiration for Bedford Falls, the fictional setting of It’s a Wonderful Life. The first Women’s Rights Convention took place in this very real town in July of 1848; learn more about the efforts of women’s rights leaders, abolitionists, and other reformers here at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

Rochester, the largest city in the Finger Lakes, is just an hour away from Buffalo. Try a garbage plate while you’re in town. Just trust us. Our favorite is at Dogtown. Folklorists who’d prefer to save their appetites might enjoy visiting these other local destinations:

Strong National Museum of Play
The only collections-based museum anywhere devoted solely to the study of play! Good for all-ages, but especially for visitors with children.

1 Manhattan Square Dr., (585) 263-2700

George Eastman Museum
The world’s oldest museum of photography and film, and the former home of George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. Collections include Alexander Gardner’s photographs of the Civil War.

900 East Ave., (585) 327-4800

Susan B. Anthony House
Home of the American civil rights leader, site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872, and one-time headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

17 Madison St., (585) 235-6124

Rochester Museum and Science Center
Noted Seneca Collection, which includes 19th-century items and WPA Arts Project-era objects created on Tonawanda and Cattaraugus nations. Also good interactive exhibits for families.

657 East, Ave., (585) 271-4320

Mt. Hope Cemetery
Famous interments include Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Lewis Henry Morgan.

1133 Mt. Hope Ave., (585) 428-7999

Public Market District
An exceptionally good year-round city market accompanied by high-quality restaurants (we recommend Fiorella) and storefront specialty shops.

280 N. Union St., (585) 428-6907

Ganondagan State Historic Site
A National Historic Landmark, Ganondagan is the only New York State Historic Site dedicated to a Native American theme and the only Seneca town developed and interpreted in the United States. Of particular interest are the replica of a traditional longhouse, the recently built Seneca Art and Culture Center, and the Iroquois White Corn Project.

The Jell-O Gallery Museum
Located in LeRoy NY, the birthplace of Jell-O, the museum chronicles the history of "America’s Most Famous Dessert" through original advertising artwork, memorabilia, fascinating facts (lime jello, when connected to an EKG machine, gives off signals very similar to the human brain!), and a visitor’s log of favorite Jell-O memories. A fun visit just southwest of Rochester. 

Career Center
| Open Forums
| Online Store
| Renew
| Member Search
| Privacy Policy
| Donate

American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
Classroom-Office Building, Indiana University, 800 East Third Street, Bloomington IN 47405 USA

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal