Located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River, Buffalo's lifeblood has always centered on the water. The city began as a trading center on Buffalo Creek, but quickly skyrocketed to a position as a transportation and industrial mecca upon the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. The advent of steel manufacturing further strengthened the economy. In fact, Buffalo was home to one of the largest steel-making operations in the world.
The city's accessibility and prosperous economy attracted immigrants in droves, helping it to become the 8th largest city in the country by 1900. Today large populations of Irish, Polish, German, Italian, Greek, Arab, African and Indian residents inhabit the city's 32 distinct neighborhoods. Guests can immerse themselves in Irish pride at the annual St. Patrick's Day parade held in the predominantly Irish American South Buffalo. Visitors to North Buffalo's Little Italy can fill up at Italian restaurants and authentic bakeries or celebrate the annual Italian Heritage Festival, one of the five largest street festivals in the United States.
Guests find it easy to traverse these eclectic communities thanks to the city's radial street and grid system that branches out from downtown like bicycle spokes. Buffalo's more than 20 parks offer plenty of green space throughout. In fact, three-fourths of the city's parks are part of the Olmsted Park and Parkway system, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The system was Olmsted's first attempt in America to craft a coordinated system of parks and parkways. Pack a picnic or take a walk at Riverside Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park or one of the several others included in this system.
Visitors can find many other ways to explore the majestic outdoors in Buffalo. Perhaps the most popular attraction is the world-famous Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest such park in the United States. Guests can enjoy this awe-inspiring wonder at the overlooks at Terrapin Park, or get up close to the rushing waters on the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Back on land, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens feature a 156-acre park with displays such as the All-American Annuals Flower Garden and the Shrub Garden.
Aside from its natural beauty, Buffalo's man-made attractions include more Frank Lloyd Wright buildings than any other city except Chicago. Visit the Darwin D. Martin House, a great example of Wright's Prairie House style and one of his six residential designs in the city. The renowned Buffalo City Hall is a 32-story Art Deco masterpiece featuring beautiful lobby murals, skylights and sculptures. Guests can climb up the building's Observation Tower to catch breathtaking views of city below.
Visitors love to end a day of sightseeing in Buffalo with a meal of local favorites. Thanks to its diverse population, the city's fine restaurants offer everything from Polish specialties to American favorites. From grabbing a slice of pizza (a unique blend of New York City thin crust and Chicago deep dish styles) to enjoying an elegant meal of Atlantic salmon at trendy Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant, guests can certainly find something to suit their tastes in Buffalo.
Of course no trip is complete without sampling the city's eponymous Buffalo wings. Internationally renowned, Anchor Bar was the first to serve this now-popular snack in 1964. Order a plate of mild, medium or spicy wings, served with celery and blue cheese, to indulge in this city trademark. Whether breaking a sweat on one of the famous hot wing sauces or cooling off under the mist of the Niagara Falls, guests are sure to be happily surprised at the treasures waiting in this gorgeous city.