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.
The Chautauqua Belle brings the Industrial Revolution's innovation and muscle back to life with cruises held aboard the historic open-air steamboat. The eponymous vessel glides across the calm surface of Chautauqua Lake as guides educate guests of all ages on the lake's colorful history. Guests can enjoy snacks and libations from the full-service bar as they glimpse picturesque beaches and lush forests during dinner, fireworks, and private charters or narrated history tours.
Helmed by parapsychologist and expert raconteur Captain Bob Gossman, Eerie Erie’s array of supernatural safaris usher intrepid guests through the city’s haunted environs. Assemble up to 30 close-knit confreres for a private tour, or bond with stouthearted strangers over startled leaps into each other’s arms. Spine-chilling tales of uncanny events on and around Dobbins Landing are recounted en route during the two-hour, one-mile Eerie Bayfront ghost walk, where maritime materializations have been known to scare the pants off humans and dungaree-clad fish alike. Glimpse affluent apparitions along the path of Eerie Millionaire’s Row ghost walk, a two-hour, one-mile jaunt through lost cemeteries, a mysterious convent, and haunted apartment buildings where monocled phantoms partake in genteel parlor games. Groupon holders opting for the nonprivate tour can also partake in the New Moon, Full Moon, or Summer Solstice ghost walks. Check Eerie Erie’s website for tour dates and departure times.
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.
For over four decades, Buffalo Harbor Cruises ships have plied the waters of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and the Black Rock Lock and Canal, inviting tourists and locals alike to take in the rich history of Buffalo's scenic waterways. Party boats ferry revelers past the city skyline with open bars and pumping music, and chartered cruises and tours send guests sailing on a relaxing lake trip on a double-decker ship.
Open-Air Autobus tours, guided by the members of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, are anchored in affection for the preservation of Buffalo's architecture, landscapes, and other histori-cultural sites. The 100 Years of Bungalows and 'Foursquares' Tour highlights the architectural styles that boomed in the early 20th century, while The Whirlwind Tour, Open-Air Autobus's most popular excursion, provides a fast-paced look at Buffalo's masterworks by Frank Lloyd Wright, H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, and more. Tours focusing specifically on Wright and delving into prime historic-neighborhood pockets are also offered; click here to see complete tour descriptions.