5 Outdoor Activities Worth Braving Buffalo’s Summer Heat
I’m a winter girl who hates summer and the heat that comes with it. Most days, I prefer to hole up inside with the AC cranked up so high that I consider breaking out my ski jacket. But since I also don’t enjoy being a shut-in, I’ve tried to find things to do outside that make the 90-degree days bearable. They might not be as cool as the slopes after seven feet of snow drops on Buffalo, but I’m sure the sweat will be worth it.
This past weekend, I was down at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf bright and early with friends -- a first for me, as I never go to the harbor unless it’s for free summer music. And I was pleasantly surprised by how busy the area was, despite the fact that I was up before noon on a weekend. Between looking at all the men running and riding bikes, I noticed plenty of kayaks and people paddling surfboards (it’s really called stand-up paddleboarding; it’s a Hawaiian sport). It’s safe to say I became an extreme annoyance to my friends because I haven’t stopped talking about it since. After some research, I found out you can rent these kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from BFLO Harbor Kayak and even take lessons, if you’re as clumsy as me.
If beaches are your thing, Western New York has plenty of them, but with so many choices, it’s hard to know which is the best one. You can never tell which has rocky sand or which will leave your feet tangled in seaweed with two steps into the water. But if you ask me, Bennett Beach in Derby is your best bet. There’s a beautiful wooden footbridge leading you to the sandy shores and even a natural sandbar to explore. And no seaweed in sight.
As a child, I mostly went to Chestnut Ridge Park just to sled down the enormous hill during wintertime. But during Girl Scout camp one summer, we took a hike to the Eternal Flame. It’s an easy beginner’s hike along the Shale Creek Preserve, and the Flame is located behind a waterfall, lit by natural methane gas that escapes from beneath the shale layers. It’s pretty cool, to say the least, and you don’t need to be an expert trailblazer to reach it.
I like to think that I’m a little bit artsy and a little kid at heart. Mix those two things together, and Griffis Sculpture Park is my heaven. It’s a bit of a drive (located in Cattaraugus County), but it's worth it. The park is home to the late Larry Griffis’ many monumental sculptures, and it was actually the first outdoor sculpture park in the United States. There are no rules; visitors can climb on the art as if it’s their own personal playground. There are over 250 works by more than 100 artists and 10 miles of trails just waiting for hikers. Just make sure you go on a day with no rain because the grounds tend to get swampy.
For some reason, summer always makes me want to eat healthier -- maybe I just really want that beach body. And when I’m trying to eat healthy, I prefer to buy locally grown fruits and veggies -- like from the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market. It’s a producer-only market, meaning that all foods are grown by the seller and the seller only. You’re not only buying fresh foods, but you have the satisfaction of supporting your neighbors.