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In Buffalo, explore the handsome, 350-acre Delaware Park, one of three city parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (of NYC Central Park and Prospect Park fame). Aside from its resurfaced 1.8-mile ring road, you’ll find a golf course; a handful of sports fields; tennis, basketball, and bocce courts; summertime rowboat rentals; and lots of pristine grass on which to throw a Frisbee. (You can also do the 1.25-mile loop around Hoyt Lake on the other side of the expressway that unfortunately bisects the park in half.) While at Delaware Park, detour a few blocks east off Jewett Parkway to check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous area design, the Prairie-style Darwin D. Martin House complex (125 Jewett Parkway, map).
If you head down to the suburb of East Aurora (20 minutes or so from central Buffalo) to try the excellent wings and beef on weck at Bar Bill (and you really should), you can walk it off on the trails of nearby Chestnut Ridge State Park. We liked the 1.3-mile Eternal Flame Falls hike, a quickie with an impressive reward: an actual flame (sometimes it must be lit), caused by a natural gas leak in a fissure between layers of shale, that burns like a beacon behind a small but pretty waterfall. To reach the trailhead, drive past the main entrance to the park and (heading south) turn right onto Seufert Road. Follow the blue markers down into the deep gorge, where you’ll find the burbling creek that leads you to the falls.
Don’t forget the hikes around Niagara Falls! While we do recommend the famous Maid of the Mist ($17 for adults) boat ride—it’s a great, cheap way to really feel (read: get soaked by) the falls’ power—exploring the area’s natural wonders by foot offers a quieter, more personal experience. On the American side, stroll around the peaceful paths of the Three Sisters islands, accessed by a footbridge from Goat Island, for close-up views of the Niagara River’s rapids before they descend Canada’s Horseshoe Falls, or check out the Niagara Gorge Trail System, where hikes range from easy (the Rim Trail) to steep/more difficult (Whirlpool Rapids Trail).
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, if you have the time, we recommend you rent a bike to explore the area’s wineries, gorgeously situated along the Niagara River and quiet country roads. Get your wheels and a wine-route map from Niagara Getaway Wine Tours ($15 for two hours, $25 full day; 32 Queen St., map)—call ahead to confirm, as they sometimes sell out of their bikes on busy Saturdays. The company also offers a more organized (but still self-guided) six-hour bike-and-wine tour with lunch ($99 per person).
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