When it comes to New Year’s Eve – we’re all for playing it by the book. Drink champagne, eat shrimp cocktail, dance too much, kiss your SO at midnight, drink a bit too much champagne after the ball drops, dance on the nearest table you can find, grab late night food on the way home. It’s a perfect recipe.
We’re not so fond of sticking to the script when it comes to 2017 though, which is why we traded boring resolutions to eat healthier and work out more for these babies. This new year is a chance to try new things, step outside comfort zones, treat your taste buds in new ways and live life with bold energy. To help you live a bolder life in 2017, we’ve compiled the below list of 37 (20+17) ways to get out there and live exciting days ahead.
1. Hunt for the Best Chicken Wings in Buffalo
When I was younger and my mom and I would drive up to Buffalo, we’d sometimes go on chicken wing hunts. Rather than struggle with picking just one spot to enjoy delicious wings – we’d hit a few. We’d grab 10 wings somewhere, then watch a movie, grab another 10 somewhere else, do a bit of shopping and then grab a half dozen to close out the day. Next time you feel like chicken wings, follow our footsteps on your own wing scavenger hunt. You know the usual hot spots – Anchor Bar, Duff’s, Bar Bill Tavern, Mr. Goodbar, Gabriel’s Gate, Elmo’s.
2. Drink A Jam Session at Ballyhoo
Don’t let 2017 fly by without downing a Jam Session drink at Ballyhoo. One of the most unique drinks in one of the coolest bars in the city, a Jam Session can feature your favorite liquor mixed with an array of specialty English Jams. Staples on the menu include a hot pepper raspberry and tequila and/or a black berry Irish stout and rum. Try one because they’re unique. Try one because they’re delicious. Whatever you’re reason, just try one in 2017.
3. Get Soaked by a World Wonder
Many of us take Niagara Falls for granted. The Falls are so close by it’s easy to not consider them when the weekends come around. But it’s important to remember the Falls are one of the most incredible natural world wonders on the planet. It’s definitely worth an annual visit. This year, pick your favorite route or one you’ve never tried before – Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, etc – and enjoy.
4. Eat a Burger at Allen Burger Venture
Take a walk anywhere in Buffalo and it won’t take long before you find a delicious burger, but Allen Burger Venture (ABV) is building a reputation as a mecca for delectable burgers. The menu pops with burger choices like the #6 – a burger topped with BBQ pulled pork, Pepper jack cheese and a beer battered onion ring and the Chicken Chorizo Burger offering guacamole, Monterey jack cheese and lettuce on a brioche role.
5. Down a Beer at New York Beer Project
One of newer breweries in WNY, New York Beer Project in Lockport is quickly becoming revered for its delicious brews. Proud to be located at the epicenter where two counties, two major thoroughfares and three towns converge to signify the official entrance into Niagara County – NYBP exists to celebrate beer. They brew their own including the Train of Thought Red IPA (described as an experiment in controlled excess), a Coffee Milk Stout, and the Lockport Lager. If you haven’t already checked it out, we challenge you to do so in 2017.
6. Throw a Freaking Axe (Safely)
Buffalo’s first axe throwing club, Hatchets & Hops is proving itself a must-visit destination for groups of friends, colleagues, families, and more. The center offers you the chance to throw axes safely and competitively while enjoying quality time with those we love. For all the deets check out the feature we did a while back, but not in leu of experiencing it for yourself.
7. Go Big & Go to Food Truck Tuesdays
Food Truck Tuesdays in Larkinville won’t return until April, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about making your taste buds dance there this year. If you’re unfamiliar, every Tuesday from April to October Larkinville opens itself up to local food trucks and tons of them come down to sell delicious food, listen to live music, and enjoy the warmer weather. It’s the only time all week you’ll find the city’s best food trucks from Lloyd and The Black Market Food Truck to Amy’s Truck and The Whole Hog together for your stomach’s enjoyment.
8. Learn to Curl. Curl often.
Head downtown and you’ll find tons of opportunities to curl to your heart’s desire. The Canalside ice rink offers curling lanes as does Riverworks. In fact, Riverworks even offers a Buffalo Curling Club that provides lessons and equipment. It’s one of the most unique sports on the planet and it’s accessible to anyone eager to brave a bit of cold, brush ice, and shoot stones.
9. Take a Buffalo Bites Food Tour
Buffalo Bites, the first food tasting and cultural walking Tour Company in WNY, deserves a visit from you in 2017. The group strategically plans out a variety of local tours that keep you trying new food, learning new facts, and visiting cool locations in a fun, interactive environment. In the last month of 2016, the group held several tours in both East Aurora and the Elmwood Village. Visit their website for 2017 tours and sign up.*
10. Jump From a Plane and Land Safely
Thrill seekers across WNY dream of skydiving. Well, there’s no time like the new year to decide to experience something so extreme. Outfitters like WNY Skydiving in Albion and Frontier Skydivers can equip you with everything you need to jump from a plane and land safe and sound. If you’re one of those people who has ever etched skydiving on their bucket list, this may be the year to find out what it’s all about, and proudly cross it off your list.
11. WOD All The Time – Take Up Crossfit
You hear some of your friends talking about their Workouts of the Day (WODs). You see the Crossfit Games on TV. You’d love to pursue your fitness goals via crossfit, but maybe it looks a bit too intense. Well, in 2017, it’s time to realize that crossfit is intense and effective, but it’s also scalable and achievable for everyone. Crossfit coaches are skilled to help people at any fitness level learn to crossfit and then ease into the workouts at their own pace. And they do it in a way that leads to results. Don’t let fear get in the way, check out some of the city’s best crossfit gyms like Crossfit Buffalo, Nickel City Crossfit, Lumber City Crossfit and Harborside Crossfit – all great places to start doing pull ups, headstand pushups, squat cleans, and more.
12. What Soup with You? Get Yourself to Soup Fest
You know when it’s cold outside and all you want to do is get together with your friends and taste 75 different kinds of hot, delicious soup? Course you do. Buffalo Soup-Fest is where you need to be. Now five years strong, Buffalo Soup-Fest is a must-visit event each year at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center that brings together 30 restaurants to offer samples of more than 75 different kinds and flavors of soup. This year’s event takes place Saturday, Jan. 28 and tickets are $5 to get in and then soup “tastings” can be purchased with Soup Bucks ($1 each). Mark your calendar and bring your spoons (JK you don’t actually have to BYOS).
13. Take the Lotus Position – Become a Yogi
Whether you can bend your foot behind your head or you can’t even touch your toes – yoga could be good for you in 2017. Research and studies reveal that yoga helps increase flexibility, improve breathing, protect people from injury, maintain metabolism and improve overall athletic performance. Translated, yoga is pure awesome for your body and health. Give it a try in 2017 at some of the best studios in the city like Power Yoga Buffalo, Evolation Yoga Buffalo or East Meets West Yoga. Namaste.
14. Sashimi. Temaki. Maguro. Learn to Love (and Speak) Sushi
If sushi is an acquired taste, then 2017 is the year for you to start acquiring. WNY is packed full of great sushi restaurants like Seabar (go with the seafood tacos as an app and then be bold and try the Chef’s Sashimi Tasting for the main course), Sun Restaurant (check out their black rice specialties) and Kuni’s (they focus on selling sushi by the piece and in awesome combo deals). We encourage you to make a reservation at one of these restaurants ASAP. Thank us later.
15. Eat a Walking Taco at Deep South Taco
If your list of New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t include, “Eat The Walking Taco at Deep South on it,” then we demand a rewrite. Yes, Deep South Taco has tons to love on their menu – carnitas, fish tacos, nachos (ahhh the nachos), margs, and more – but The Walking Taco has earned a special place in our hearts and stomachs. If you’ve never had one, the Walking Taco packs corn chips, spicy pinto bean dip, tamazula sauce, cheese, onion, cilantro, and a meat of your choice together in one bag for the most awesome mobile taco of your life.
16. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Learn Something New
Forgive the cliché quote and oh-so-clever SOB pun, but you know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them. Like, if you want to learn to play the guitar, then sign up for lessons with the Amherst School of Guitar. Or, if you want to take up golf, call Bill Lindner’s Golf Service & Lessons today and make it happen. It’s time to chase your dreams and make them your reality.
17. Learn the Science of Beer at Beerology 2017.
Lots of people claim beer makes you smarter, and Beerology at the Buffalo Museum of Science is one event where that just might be true. The annual event invites beer lovers to learn about the science of beer and sample some of the best brews from local breweries in the area. It’s also a great event to learn about home brewing and more. The event takes place March 4 and tickets are available for $45 online now.
18. Take A Hike – To the Eternal Flame
Eternal Flame Falls in Orchard Park are simply incredible. The falls themselves aren’t large or overpowering, but thanks to the wonder of nature, they emit a small bit of natural gas at their base that produces a small flame visible year round. The flame is truly unique and amazing to see in person. It’s worth a drive and then a hike to be wowed by the incredible awesomeness of nature. Learn more on our hiking guide.
19. Zip Line’s and More – Visit Sky High Adventure Park
Thanks to Sky High Adventure Park at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville there’s so much fun to be had amidst the tree tops. The park, the largest zip line and aerial center in New York State, offers 13 different courses for all levels of skill and adventurous souls. Everyone wears a harness with a special locking lanyard – so it’s safe and you’ll never fall. Moreover, Holiday Valley keeps adding more new fun features like a Climbing Forest – think of a climbing wall built into the trees.
20. Live Deliciously – Go to The Grange in Hamburg
One of our favorite new restaurants from 2016 deserves your attention in the year ahead. The Grange Community Kitchen is all celebrating local food. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days, The Grange always offers cheese, oysters, charcuterie, and fire-roasted pizzas along with constantly changing menu items like Roasted Half Chicken, Braised Beef Short Rib, and a Reuben. Even more, their crispy potatoes are melt-in-your-mouth amazing and they can pair any food item with craft beers, wine, or housemade soda. If you visit once this year, we’ll be amazed if you aren’t then counting the days (sometimes hours) until your next visit.
21. Irish I Could Run – Sign Up for the Shamrock Run
Death, taxes, and Buffalo’s Shamrock Run – these things are certain. If you’ve never run the Shamrock Run, this is the year to start. Hosted by the Old First Ward Community Association in South Buffalo, the Shamrock Run is in its 38th year and one of the most delightful events of the year. Runners, joggers, and walkers flock to the event to enjoy the five-mile course through the city and then celebrate their Irish heritage (or appreciation for it) with a pint or two. This year’s race takes place Saturday, March 4. Be there or….well, just be there and have an awesome time!
22. Brunch Time at Left Bank
There’s nothing quite like a perfectly prepared brunch on a peaceful Sunday morning. One place you can always find a brunch that leaves you satisfied is Left Bank Restaurant in the City. Offering staples like Eggs Benedict and Waffles with caramel or berry sauce, Left Bank also keeps it deliciously interesting with their grilled chicken, spicy shrimp and jalapeno jack quesadilla or their Huevos Rancheros – a crispy tortilla shell filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo and beans. Make a Sunday stop soon and down a Bloody Mary with your favorite menu item for fun.
23. Team Up. Play Kickball, Soccer, Football – You Decide.
Team sports are not just for kids, silly. In fact, Buffalo offers one of the most diverse and awesome adult sports recreation scenes in the country. Outfits like MILE Sports and GameOn Sports offer year-round leagues in kickball, softball, soccer, volleyball, football and more. Not only are these leagues great ways to get in shape and pursue your passions, they also help you meet friends and have fun. Reach out to your friends and coworkers to assemble a team in 2017 or reach out to the leagues as a single and they can help find you a team.
24. Pay Your Respects at the Irish Classical Theater Wake
The Irish Classical Theater’s (ICTC) Irish Wake Party is one to die for, and you better not miss it in 2017. Each year, the ICTC invites everyone to come pay their respects to a fictional character who has left us too soon. While that sounds somber, it’s actually a fantastic party with awesome food, beer, wine, live entertainment, Irish Dancers, and actors in character that will ask you how you knew the deceased and more. This year’s event takes place Friday, Feb. 24 at The Atrium at Rich’s. Don your best outfit and be sure to join in on the fun.
25. Ice Cream Lovers – Drive South to Frosty Treat
If you drive too fast down Route 20 in Irving, NY you might miss Frosty Treat, but you sure as heck should do everything in your power not to. A somewhat hidden gem of ice cream awesomeness open during summer months only, Frosty Treat offers an incredibly diverse menu of cones, floats, Blizzards and sundaes, oh the sundaes.
For example, they recently unveiled their 2017 specialty sundae of the year: The Yabba Dabba Doo, vanilla soft serve topped with fruity pebbles, marshmallow and strawberry topping. They also have staples like their Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (black raspberry soft serve and topping mixed with hot peanut butter, vanilla wafers and PB&J garnish) or The Grouch (Pistachio soft serve with hot fudge, oreo garnish and crushed oreos). Those who know about Frosty Treat and love ice cream speak about it with reverence – here’s hoping more and more people head there this year. Be sure to bring cash.
26. Eat A Hertel Alley at Joe’s Deli
Joe’s Deli is celebrated city wide for its amazing specialty sandwiches. And, in this writer’s opinion, nothing should be celebrated more than Hertel Alley which combines ham, pork loin, Swiss, and American cheese topped with fries, coleslaw and honey mustard on seedless rye bread. It’s just WOW. Even if Hertel Alley doesn’t make your taste buds scream with excitement, Joe’s is worth visiting for other famous sandwiches like the 534 Elmwood – brisket with jalapeno slaw, cheddar, BBQ and tobacco onions or the famous Muffaletta.
27. Experience the Niagara Rapids in a Jet Boat
If you don’t have Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour on your bucket list, forgive us if we write it on there for you. There’s no more incredible way to experience the class 5 whitewater rapids of the Niagara River. Jet boaters get soaked and slammed with waves as they spin through some of the most intense water on the planet. Those interested (and everyone should be interested) can book tickets online and take off from Waterstreet Landing in Lewiston.
28. Tapas. Tapas Everywhere.
There aren’t many places to find authentic Spanish food in Buffalo, NY but that doesn’t diminish that fact that Aro Bar De Tapas is the real deal. Having earned multiple awards since opening just a year ago, Aro’s menu breaks food into hams, cheeses, seafood, and various other small plates. Check out El Camino del Conejo – seared rabbit with oles farm carrots and mustard seeds, rabbit croquetas with almond-paprika sauce, or Setas del Bosque – flast oyster and shiitake mushrooms. Just as cool, the restaurant has embedded America’s first gintoneria – a bar specializing in Spanish-style gin & tonics, craft cocktails and wines right into the dining area.
29. Put the Allentown Art Festival on Your Calendar
The Allentown Art Festival enters its 59th year (!!) in 2017 and if you’ve haven’t found time to visit during the past six decades…this is your year. Bringing together some of the best artists and artisans from Western New York and across the country, it’s the perfect place to find unique gifts, ideas for your home, paintings, portraits, and more. This year the Festival takes place June 10 and 11 right in downtown Buffalo and they’re expecting more than 400 different exhibitors to be on hand.
30. Spin to Win Across the City.
Spin classes are one of the best ways to get in shape in the year ahead. Usually 60 minutes of intense cardio cycling, spin classes know how to get your heart racing. The city offers some awesome spots to get your spin on like BikeOrBar, Saddle Cycling and Revolution Indoor Cycling. What’s really neat is several of these places are starting to mix spinning with other fitness pursuits like crossfit and TRX to keep it interesting and even better for your health.
31. It’s Jambalaya Time at Toutant
Originating from Louisiana, jambalaya is one of the finest dishes anyone can eat IMHO. And, Toutant is making its case for offering the best jambalaya dish in the City. The Traditional Creole Jambalaya features an incredible flavorful long grain rice stew that can be mixed with smoked chicken, house sausage, gulf shrimp or lump crab. It’s the perfect dish to spice up the New Year. If you’re not up for the spice, Toutant also offers a BBQ dish of the week, Buttermilk Fried ½ chicken, and Fried Shrimp Poboys that never disappoint.
32. Go Cocktail Crazy at Billy Club
Billy Club is a new (this year) downtown cocktail bar that leaves no detail unturned, mastering the art of the craft cocktail. The service is friendly, the space minimalist and inviting, and the food outstanding. Head to the Allentown gem and saddle up to their bar sooner than later.*
33. Stand Up on the Waves with Longboards
One of the coolest new ways to get fit and have fun while doing it is standup paddle boarding with Longboard Paddle Company. The company started in Hamburg and now has five different locations across the region. They offer lessons, classes, and rentals for those eager to learn how to use stand up paddle boards for fitness or exploring nearby lakes. They’re also now offering signature events like the Buffalo Paddle, Bike, Run Race on July 30. If you’ve driven by the water and seen folks having a blast standing on the waves, maybe this is the year to join them.
34. Solve the Riverworks Murder Mystery
Every Saturday evening during the summer months, Riverworks serves as the backdrop for a murder mystery that needs your solving. Based on real life events that tore Buffalo apart in 1899, the mystery focuses on a violent murder connected to downtrodden Irish grain scoopers who went on a protracted and violent strike. While that may sound grim, this mystery won’t take more than 2 hours to solve and comes with dinner, drinks, and the chance to see inside the GLF silo – a grain elevator that hasn’t been open to the public in 70 years. Learn more and book your reservation online.
35. Lent or Not – Eat a Fish Fry
If you want to start an argument in a bar, just ask a few folks who serves the best fish fry in Buffalo. You’ll get more than a few different opinions and fists may even fly over fish debates. Here’s the truth – there’s more awesome fish frys in Western New York than anybody can count, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to taste them all. Last year we compiled a list of 26 awesome fish fry spots in WNY and as we head into 2017, it’s required reading. Find a few that make your stomach scream “Yes, Let’s Eat That,” and get on it this year.
36. Live, Love, Farmer’s Market.
Alright, maybe Farmer’s Market isn’t its own verb, but it sure should be. During the warmer months across Buffalo and Western New York you can find truly outstanding Farmer’s Markets with locally grown produce, flowers, treats, and more. Some that stand out are the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, North Tonawanda Farmers Market, Clarence Hollow Farmers Market, East Aurora Farmers Market – the list is long. Research about all the local farmer markets online and then make a list of all those you plan to his this spring, summer and fall. See how many you can get to – you won’t regret it! Look for our annual guide this spring for more info.
37. Head to the Albright Knox
True story – some of the best art in the world is located in Buffalo, NY at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and you’d be crazy to let next year go by without checking it out. A celebrated, storied gallery, the Albright-Knox always features stunning and thought-provoking art pieces. Now, they also offer art classes for adults, special lectures, and occasional music shows. Currently, the Albright-Knox is featuring Picasso: The Artist and His Models” through mid-February. If you love art, visit often, if you’ve never been – this is the year to celebrate Albright-Knox art.