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.
In addition to outfitting aquatic adventurers with necessary equipment, Buffalo River Canoe and Kayak Outfitters sends groups of paddlers splashing downstream during guided explorations seven days a week. Headlining an assortment of trips, the Buffalo River Urban Trails tour unveils some of the city's historic waterfront sights, highlighted by industrial-area businesses and grain elevators that stand as towering links to an agrarian past or prophesies to an apocalyptic future where morsels of homogenized chicken byproduct no longer exist. The Outfitters' other point-to-point adventures—ranging from 2.5 to 6 miles apiece—also provide varying launch points, such as Red Jacket River Front Park and Seneca Bluffs.
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.
The dedicated teaching professionals at Village Glen Tennis Club oversee a wide variety of programs for adults and juniors of all skill levels, earning the club recognition as a Top 50 Tennis Welcome Center of 2007 from the U.S. Tennis Association. This honor followed on the heels of a major renovation of the club’s facilities in 2006 by a new management team, who modernized the six hard and eight clay courts and brought in new nets instead of pealing white picket fences. Today, players can take up the game through a series of classes that help them progress alongside players with similar abilities or hone specific strokes through drills designed to isolate and improve their technique. Players excited to show off a shiny new forehand or a pitch-perfect grunt can do so through the club’s adult leagues or socials.