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.
During Open-Air Autobus tours, docents culled by The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture profess ardent passion for the preservation of Buffalo's cityscape through detailed descriptions of noteworthy buildings and other histori-cultural sites. Thursday through Sunday, groups hop on a green drop-top bus and depart on one of five two-hour urban expeditions. The popular Whirlwind tour whizzes past Prairie-style structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Romanesque remixes by H.H. Richardson, and commercial monuments by Louis Sullivan in a Buffalo-centric, historical reenactment of the 1994 thriller Speed. The Historic Neighborhoods tour highlights architectural styles that boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the Atomic Age Suburb jaunt surveys the suburban explosion of the 1950s and the brief popularity of Cape Cod–style houses made out of actual cod.
Development of the Roycroft Campus began in 1897 by author, lecturer, and entrepreneur Elbert Hubbbard, who sought to create a utopian society of artisans in reaction to the mass production of the Industrial Age. Drawing on inspiration by leaders of the arts-and-crafts movement in the UK, Hubbard founded the Roycroft Press to produce monthly publications, books, and elaborate conspiracy theories. After gaining international recognition for an essay he wrote in 1899, Hubbard was able to further expand and promote the Roycroft community, erecting 13 additional buildings on the campus over the next decade.
In its prime, the community was home to 23 presses and more imported handmade paper than all American printing institutions combined. More than 500 resident artists worked in wood, stained glass, and copper, and Roycroft became a thriving mecca for craftsmen, authors, artists, and philosophers. In 1986, the campus was designated a national historic landmark. Today it is home to 9 of the original 14 structures, preserved and restored throughout the last 17 years by the Roycroft Campus Corporation and open for exploration during guided walking tours.
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.
On Tours of Niagara Falls' expeditions, participants can look down on the iconic waterfall from a helicopter or follow a footpath behind its massive curtain of water. Boat rides offer a perspective from calmer water, and the views from the observation deck are far preferable to the views from a surfboard.
However, the company's guided tours occasionally eschew the waterfall in favor of other local landmarks. To wit, a winery tour highlights local vintages, and a wintertime tour showcases holiday-lights festivals. Even those tours centered on the waterfall make stops at other scenic locales, such as a butterfly conservatory.
The dedicated guides of Niagara Fun Tours escort flocks of visitors around the Niagara region during scenic seasonal tours. Seasonal winery tours visit and taste at four wineries studding the Niagara Wine Belt, where settings range from mountain chalets to baroque and modern castle decor to rustic wood farmhouses. Visitors can also opt for a discovery tour to glimpse Niagara Falls. Guides often conclude their tours with stops at locales such as the fresh-fare-focused Kurtz Orchards marketplace or Chocolate FX, where chocolate artisans fashion often-unconventional taste combinations using traditional panning and moulding techniques. Oenophiles and sightseers embark on a new microbrewery and winery tour, a seasonal winery tour, or scenic tours of Niagara Falls. The five-hour winery-and-microbrewery bus tour makes stops at three nearby microbreweries along with two wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Participants enjoy tastings at each location, have a chance to grab some lunch at Harvest Barn Country Market, and receive a wine tasting at Rancourt Winery. Niagara Fun Tours also provides round-trip transportation for each tour, loading guests into large shuttles that accommodate up to 48 passengers or into vehicles that accommodate up to 24 giraffes.
The proprietors of Niagara Ghost Walks gamely lead guests on a historical journey through the most haunted locales in the fog-shrouded city. On treks through the city’s downtown, guides recount eerie tales while escorting groups to locales such as the spot where mob lieutenant Freddy Tedesco smoked his final cigar. Visitors also learn about the locally famous Old Stone Jug, a paranormally affected jail.