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.
Sculpted into the sprawling meadows of the Frederick Law Olmsted Parks, the nine-hole South Park Olmsted Golf Course rises and falls across 2,876 yards of immaculate greenery. The fairway chain wreathes South Park lake, which comes into play on four holes, including a forced-carry tee shot on hole four, which could prove perilous for any golf ball without an unrequited love for marine biology. Delaware Park Olmsted Golf Course's 5,359 yards features open fairways and very few hazards throughout the relatively short layout. Medium-size greens await players at the end of each short-grass corridor, challenging golfers with small target areas and tricky breaking putts.
Before each round, players can warm up their short game at the practice green, which facilitates practice for chipping, putting, and Maypole dancing around flagsticks. An onsite pro shop keeps clubbers equipped with the latest in fairway fashions and gear, and a golf house fuels powerful drives with course-side eats and refreshments.
Currently celebrating its 45th season, the U.S. Sailing Association?accredited Seven Seas Sailing School of Buffalo offers landlubbers a taste of the aquatic life aboard sailboats manned by U.S. Coast Guard?certified captains. The team regularly exercises budding sailors' sea legs with certification courses and a seven-part Basic Sail program, and has also instructed students with multiple sclerosis and worked with the Sea Scouts to construct the world's first brick sailboat as part of a mission to take down rogue lighthouses. Seven Seas' headquarters on the Buffalo Ship Canal, complete with on-shore barbecues, a gazebo, and dockside gardens, hosts regular Friday-night family Sailabration events that combine food and fireworks with lively cruises and contests. When not sailing through their own programs, Seven Seas' captains and boats have been featured as crews in The Sullivans and Bruce Almighty.
Since opening its star-dappled doors in 1964, the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium has delighted sky-gazing enthusiasts through effulgent re-creations of the night sky and educational journeys through the solar system with its 24-foot-diameter dome, capable of illuminating 4,000 stars. Celestial explorations have included shows such as Uranus and Neptune: Planets of the Telescope Age, which explores the planets and their improbable journey from drifting stardust to two of the solar system's gas giants. Attractions such as Shorter Nights: Passage Into Spring reveal the dazzling sights visible in the local Buffalo sky in the buildup to the equinox, and Pluto and the Other Dwarfs: Smaller Objects of the Solar System guide sojourners on a quest to view the celestial orb as it hides, weeping over its stripped status as a planet, behind Saturn's rings.
A massive glass dome reminiscent of the Victorian Crystal Palace and verdant plant life stretching their green leaves toward the sun attract visitors to the Buffalo Botanical Gardens. The gardens span 11 acres and include three glass domes and nine greenhouses full of re-created tropical and subtropical climates. In the Fern House and tropical rainforest, banana trees surround a 30-foot waterfall as large dinosaur topiaries roam across a backdrop of hanging ferns.
Called a living museum, the botanical gardens is dedicated to enriching lives with nature and teaching guests to appreciate the natural systems and diverse plant life the earth sustains. Visitors can soak up Mother Nature?s splendor in addition to manmade wonders such as the 67-foot-tall Palm Dome.
Like the best detectives, Naked Buffalo Tours roots out the hidden facts shoved between cobblestones and floorboards to reveal the truth behind the city's underground activities. Author, owner, and guide Michael F. Rizzo first developed a love of historical research after purchasing an 1893 home on Buffalo’s west side. Now he investigates the city’s architectural and social backstory to inject forgotten tales into his tours, as well as in books. His six walking tours travel through different neighborhoods to illuminate sites and stories of past mob activity. Patrons wander near gangsters’ homes, historic Erie Canal brothels, and renowned sites, such as the Magaddino Memorial Chapel and city hall.