Founded by the architectural adepts of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Buffalo Tours educates residents and visitors alike on the architectural heritage of the city and simultaneously raises funds for ongoing preservation efforts. More than 20 available walking tours, which vary seasonally, highlight such treasures as Buffalo’s most hallowed restaurants. The Parkside Neighborhood tour grants glimpses of an angular abode designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who often used 1:16 models of his old projects as straight edges when designing his new ones. A historical Crime & Scandal tour explores Prohibition-era haunts and old presidential philandery. Boat, bus, and bike tours, alternatively, give hooves a break while their owners cruise down the Buffalo River, visiting War of 1812 battlefields or four of Buffalo’s museums.
Tours operate year-round, exploring city hall and downtown by winter and other locales daily from May to October. Members gain access to members-only events, often at a discounted rate, as well as a regular newsletter, which bestows information about the area's history, updates from the organization, and detailed landscaping horoscopes.
Despite spending most of their 125-plus-year history as a minor-league organization, the Bisons began play as a major-league club from 1879–85. 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 done half of their competing 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 soda as the field’s name would suggest.
Perched at the bow of the pirate ship, the captain's parrot braces for stormy weather. But in the case of the pirate-ship inflatable at Pirates Plank, the feeling of choppy waves isn't generated by water below, but by the youngsters hopping on it. Kids can also jump around on a Pirates of the Caribbean–themed bounce house before navigating around the tranquil ponds decorating the 18-hole miniature-golf course.
Elsewhere, Pirates Plank hosts races on its go-kart track, gamers in its video arcade, and players in its batting cages aiming for homers or to hit balls back into the machine they came from. The snack bar keeps visitors reenergized with tasty treats, and birthday parties entice attendees with unlimited soda and popcorn, arcade tokens for each guest, and mini-golf passes for future visits.
Paintballs and BBs whiz through the air across Buffalo Battleground's 13,000-square-foot indoor area, where opponents snipe enemies from behind obstacles or engage them head-on with wide-open barrages. Although the action can get intense, the staff takes every precaution to keep guests safe. Before arming them with their choice of shotgun, pistol, or assault rifle, the staff outfits guests with full-face protection and limits the velocity of ammo to 351 feet-per-second.
Currently celebrating its 43rd 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.
Enveloped in cool lake winds and showers of sunlight, Bait Master Charters' boats have sailed the waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario since 1992. Each of the company's two fishing boats boasts cabins, private bathrooms, and decks, along with professional downriggers, outriggers, planer boards, and dipsy divers. Onboard, experienced fishermen guide customers on private fishing charters, scouring Lake Erie for walleye or combing Lake Ontario for salmon, steelhead, brown trout, lake trout, and gold coins. Upon the trip's closure, the staff cleans and packages all catches so that customers can bring them home to cook.