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.
A 1968 photograph of Joel Dombrowski shows him as a small boy, peering over a guardrail at Niagara Falls. Awestruck by the crashing waters, he looks as if he's trying to taste the mist. Exciting that sense of wonder in others would later become his profession. Today, Joel escorts first-timers through Niagara Falls State Park as a popular tour guide. He draws upon his training in journalism, experience as a standup comedian, and a lifetime obsession with history to share the story of the park with wit and elegance. For more than 10 years, his approach⎯merging stray historical facts with compelling anecdotes and comical accounts of waterfall lore⎯has made experiencing the Niagara landscape doubly memorable for his tour companions.
Imagine winding through a state park atop a bicycle, coasting down tree-lined trails and past gentle Lake Erie waves as they lap against the shore. Now imagine that the bicycle holds 14 people and a professional driver. This is what Presque Isle Pedal Power Tours offers: a new way to explore the surroundings, get fresh air, and socialize. On the tours, groups power the contraption, which comes equipped with a stereo system and a backup motor for if the motors inside your legs break down. A tour guide narrates the leisurely jaunt, sharing the history of the 3,112-acre park and pointing out notable sites such as the lighthouse, the marina, and the 13 sandy beaches.
Tarsitano's Artisan Winery used to be a dairy farm. "But I would rather squeeze grapes than cows, so I started a winery," Ken Tarsitano says. This isn't the only reason Ken turned his 17 acres—which has been in his family for five generations—into a vineyard. His grandfather, Michael Tarsitano, "always had something bubbling away in his cellar," and it was Grandpa's ability to transform elderberries, apples, and even dandelions into wine that inspired Ken.
Today, Ken is the owner, vineyard manager, and winemaker at his eponymous winery and vineyard, whose 25 grape varieties have been organic since its 1998 inception. Wine isn't the only thing visitors dine on here: winery goers savor flatbreads and cheese plates. Tarsitano's Artisan Winery even hosts events, such as moon-viewing parties, where guests gather to launch sky lanterns in the light of a waxing moon.
Old Firehouse Winery ferments more than 20 full-flavored vinos along the glistening shores of Lake Erie. Diners can admire the dining room with its shelves of glossy wine bottles to the gently lapping lake. Visitors can opt to purchase sweet and dry wine tastings ($1 for two tasting trays), which each include 10 samples of single-grape and blended varietals. After sampling the full range of sweet and juicy concords to dry and full-bodied chambourcins, duos can imagine how each exquisite vintage would look inside their souvenir wine glasses and how advantageous the imprinted corkscrews would be during a close-range jousting match. In the warmer months, patrons can swill, sniff, and sip from a romantic lakeside overlook on the outdoor tasting patio and supplement the winery outing with a ride on a historic ferris wheel.