The third-oldest zoo in the United States, the Buffalo Zoo was originally founded in 1875 as a deer park in the northwest corner of Delaware Park. Since then, it has grown into a 23.5-acre home for diverse species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, all under the care of the Zoological Society of Buffalo, an organization dedicated to advancing the conservation of the world’s exotic, endangered, and ordinary animals. Within its habitats, creatures ranging from Asian elephants to poison arrow frogs serve as ambassadors from far-off kingdoms, and at the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm’s 1800s-era barn, a collection of berkshire pigs, southdown sheep, and other farm animals represents the fauna that once commonly lived along the Erie Canal. To carry out its educational mission, the zoo regularly hosts programs such as behind-the-scenes workshops and Zoo Snooze, in which kids can stay over for the night and wake up alongside the lions roaring angrily at their rooster alarm clocks.
For almost 40 years, the instructors and staff of Dip 'N Dive have demystified the magic of breathing underwater. They instruct and outfit both scuba divers and snorkelers at their Buffalo location, and the facility's curriculum of PADI and NAUI courses help budding divers stay safe, maintain control of their equipment, and walk like Naomi Campbell while wearing fins. From beginning diving lessons to advanced instructor training, courses include classroom work, pool exercises, and real open-water-diving trips.
The brainchild of owner Dale Ali and chef Sergio Aquino, Epic Restaurant and Lounge captures diners’ interest with dishes that showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as the chef’s mastery of culinary techniques ranging from classic French to peasant, according to Buffalo Spree. The menu—which the Buffalo News called “ambitious” and “totally different from any other in the area”—comprises upscale dinner fare with unexpected twists: the grilled rib eye arrives with pomegranate jam, and the duck breast is flanked by a cilantro-nutmeg emulsion and rubber-ducky bodyguards.
The eatery also strives to be epic in its drink selection with a varnished wooden bar offering more than 25 imported or microbrewery beers as well as an extensive wine list. Diners can kick off the weekend with dinner, drinks, and jams every Friday night, with entertainment alternating between salsa and live bands.
Immersed in pictures of hockey stars, Center Ice Sports Bar & Grill unfurls a menu of savory American fare and a bevy of beverages. Treat your tablemates to an order of potato skins to see synchronized tongues climb aboard four starch-laden boats carrying gooey cheddar cheese and bacon bits ($7.50). Or, troll your own fork-motor through the grilled salmon entree, served with veggies, a choice of potato, and soup or salad ($14.95). Diners may sit at the bar, relax in one of the booths, or practice their head stands on the 12-ounce Certified Angus cushion of the Center Ice burger, stacked high with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and drizzled with thousand-island dressing ($7.95). The veggie wrap is a green thumb's delight, with a grilled tortilla enshrouding steamed broccoli, tomatoes, cherry peppers, and cheddar cheese ($7.50).
Despite spending most of their 125-plus-year history as a minor-league organization, the Bisons were a major-league club from 1879 to 1885. All told, nearly 3,000 players and managers have donned the Bisons uniform, including 20 who have been immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently, the Bisons compete every summer for an International League title, as well as the Thruway Cup—a regional and bragging-rights-based trophy chased by the Bisons, the Rochester Red Wings, and the Syracuse Chiefs. The Bisons have played half of their games since 1988 at Coca-Cola Field, which boasts the largest video board in the minors and an infield kept moist by hoses that spray water and not the soda that the field’s name would suggest.