When most people think about adventure, they imagine far off places with exotic names and expensive travel costs. Believe it or not, Buffalo and Western New York have more to offer when it comes to outdoor excitement than any number of places in America. Don’t break the bank flying half way across the country; stay in the Queen City and stimulate your senses farther than you ever have before. Whether you are looking to fly through the air or jump in the water, we have an adventure sure to thrill everyone.
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In the Air
1. WNY Skydiving
Pinehill Airport, 4906 Pine Hill Road, Albion, NY 14411 / wnyskydiving.com
Before it became a popular item on bucket lists across the country, skydiving was considered one of the craziest things a person could do. Now, it almost seems silly if you don’t jump out of a plane flying two miles above the earth’s surface. Right? All kidding aside, WNY Skydiving takes your safety seriously, and their instructors each boast an average of about 7000 jumps. Let them pack your chute and guide you through your first tandem dive. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t try it at least once.
You must be 18 or older to skydive. Jumping takes place in all temperatures, but should it be unreasonably windy or rainy, the jump will be rescheduled. Plan on half a day from training to landing.
2. Balloons Over Letchworth
Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427 / balloonsoverletchworth.com
Take a daytrip out to one of New York State’s most picturesque parks and gaze over its charming landscape of lush forest and flowing waterfalls. Let Captain Sean Quigley’s passion for ballooning be your benefit in fun and adventure. Spend an hour or more at 2000 feet over the heads of people just wishing they could be in your shoes. When it’s all over, carry on over 200 years of tradition by celebrating your ride with a champagne toast. Don’t forget your camera on this ride that’s one of a kind.
Balloons Over Letchworth is the only company allowed to fly over and in Letchworth State Park, so do not be fooled by imitators. Dates fill up fast from May to October. Book your trip soon and don’t miss out.
3. Sky High Aerial Adventure Park
6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, NY 14731 / holidayvalley.com
Unfortunately, we aren’t always blessed with mounds of time to climb mountains. For an adventure on a less mountain-y scale that the whole family can enjoy, get to Holiday Valley in Ellicottville and mount some man-made obstacles instead. Sky High’s 13 courses of platforms, bridges and ziplines will have you sweating and smiling in no time. For even more fun in the trees, strap on a headlamp and get nocturnal in a Night-Crawler climb. Day or night, no one is going to bed unhappy, we promise.
Anyone over 7 years old will be able to enjoy the Sky High Aerial Adventures. Dress appropriately for weather and climbing. The Sky High Climbing Forest and Mountain Coaster are also notable Holiday Valley attractions. Check out their website for dates, hours, and specific prices.
4. Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours
454 Main St, Niagara Falls, NY 14301 / rainbowairinc.com
Looking for a birds-eye view of Niagara Falls. Book a tour with Rainbow Air Helicopter to see the falls like never before! Tours include a view of the Rainbow Bridge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Goat Island, Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Queen Victoria Park, Clifton Hill, and the American Observation Tower.
On the Water
5. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
115 S Water St, Lewiston, NY 14092 / whirlpooljet.com
Take the white-knuckled ride of your life on the Niagara River’s class five rapids while cutting through its 15-20 foot waves. This round trip journey promises to excite and electrify as you travel through the Niagara Gorge, into the whirlpool, and back to dry land. Bring an extra set of clothes and some old shoes, because one thing is for certain: You and about 40 other people are going to get wet — very wet. Splash into something truly unique and different this summer.
Anyone 16 and under will need to be accompanied by an adult. Sweaters, jumpers, and wet suit booties are provided, but they are more for comfort than anything.
6. Zoar Valley Canoe & Rafting Company
11 South Water St, Gowanda, NY 14070 / zoarvalleyrafting.com
Challenge yourself this year by riding roughshod on the rapids of Cattaraugus Creek in the majestic Zoar Valley. Promising, “ . . . the finest white water west of the Adirondacks,” the Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company will take you places inaccessible by land. Drift downstream with a state licensed guide and keep your eyes peeled for a bald eagle. Enjoy the pristine condition of an environment almost untouched by human hands.
Did one of these places close? Send us a note!
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.