When it comes to history, Buffalo pretty much has it all: architecture, Presidential assassination, ethnic diversity, wartime burnings, manmade waterways carved into the earth, and an economic boom and bust that pretty much writes the story of our inevitable reemergence. In spite of all of that, let’s face it, sometimes history needs a little help. If you think historic tours are only about sitting on sweaty buses listening to boring guides, think again. Below is a short list of the many different ways to get around Buffalo and learn a little bit along the way. All of these tours are locally owned and operated, and appear in no particular or preferred order.
Segway into something out of the ordinary
Buffalo Touring Company
As an unconventional mode of transportation, the Segway never really caught on as a city mainstay. Nevertheless, traveling at 12.5 mph and balancing your weight on five gyroscopes is a pretty cool way to experience Buffalo’s history. Roll past Hoyt Lake, through Delaware Park, and take a spin by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House for good measure. When you are done, make use of your free admission to the Buffalo History Museum included in the cost of the tour.
>> Safe Segway training is part of your two and a half hours of fun and excitement. Private couples and custom tours are available upon request.
Cruise the river and ride the waves
Buffalo River History Tours
If you want to see what was once the pride and livelihood of the Queen City’s working class, hop on a boat and enjoy a beautiful day on the water. Get up close and personal with Buffalo’s signature landmark grain elevators. Listen to great stories about the Buffalo Harbor and the Erie Canal while sitting on Stella Blue’s open deck and bow. When the tour ends, feel free to get off and spend some time enjoying River Fest Park. Don’t worry, the boat will be back to pick you up later.
>> Departs from Central Wharf seven times daily at Canalside. Tours typically last ninety minutes. Call for reservations.
Get on the bus and have some fun.
Forgotten Buffalo Tours
What do you get when you combine history, comedy, and a bus? According to Forgotten Buffalo Tours, “ . . . you get more fun than you’ve ever had with your clothes on.” These tours are interactive and meant to get people involved in Buffalo’s ethnically rich and cultured history. If you are looking for just another boring bus ride, forget about it. With tour names such as, The Repeal of Prohibition, Oktoberfest, and Places to Go to Not Be Seen — well — use your imagination.
>> Prizes, giveaways, and a meal are included in these four to five hour tours, so plan on a full day of eating, drinking and laughing your way through local history. You must be 21 years of age to participate.
Have a beer and stay the night.
Buffalo History Tours LLC
Maybe you don’t feel like traveling at all. If that’s the case, then rent a room in the Hotel Lafayette and head downstairs to soak up some history, or take the shortest walk of your life around the corner to the Pan-Am Grill for a brewery tour. Either way, Chief Fun Officer and full-time tour guide Joel Dumbrowski promises to show you why Buffalo is emerging as a destination. You can’t go wrong with these tours that are conveniently set right in the heart of Downtown Buffalo.
>> Hotel Lafayette tours are scheduled on the first Sunday of every month, and reservations are required to tour the Pan Am Grill. All tours are held year round. Check the website for registration forms.
Ride the trolley into the City of Light
Buffalo Tours/Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Co-sponsored by Forest Lawn Cemetery, the City of Light Trolley Tour takes you inside Lauren Belfer’s local work of historical fiction. There is no reading required on this tour, but lovers of Belfer’s novel will get a taste of what Buffalo was like during the Pan American Exposition in 1901. Trolley along and bear witness to a time when Buffalo competed with New York City to be our State’s most vibrant and diverse metropolis. Didn’t read the book? Don’t worry, thoroughly trained expert tour guides will make you want to run to the nearest book store.
>> These three hour tours sell out quick. Make your reservations early and check the website often for updates.
Take a walk with the ghosts of Buffalo’s past.
Forest Lawn Cemetery
From our nation’s 13th President, Millard Fillmore to the original “Super Freak” Rick James, Forest Lawn Cemetery is packed with the beauty of nature and the history of Buffalo’s most famous residents. A number of different walking tours are available, and a daytime stroll in the sun will give you a chance to enjoy the cemetery’s 3500 trees that cater to 240 unique types of birds. On a hot day, opt for their Twilight Walking Tour shortly after dinner.
>> No reservations are required for these hour and a half tours. Just show up when it is time to go. Details are on their website.
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