Grand Island Fun Center is an 18-hole mini-golf course, but it's also a go-kart track. It's a place to practice baseball and softball fundamentals, but it's also an arcade. Many of these activities could stand on their own, but Grand Island's sprawling facilities give visitors myriad playtime choices, from cooling off with water-balloon battles to hopping around a bounce house. Guests parched from lining up putts or trying to power go-karts by foot can refuel at Nutty Nellies, an on-site snack shop serving nachos, burgers, and drinks.
Beaver Island State Park stretches out over 950 acres at the southern end of Grand Island, on the shores of the upper Niagara River. The park's sandy half-mile beach welcomes swimmers and boaters. Nearby, an 80-slip marina with a boat launch lets mariners set sail in boats, kayaks, canoes, or origami yachts made from newspaper. Landlubbers swing clubs at an 18-hole championship golf course, venture down biking and hiking trails, and unpack picnic baskets on the park's scenic grounds. Guests seeking a break from the sun can visit a nature center with interactive exhibits on local flora and fauna. Guests also can drop by the River Lea house and museum, home to the Grand Island Historical Society and constructed by Grover Cleveland's cousin. In the winter, the park hosts snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers willing to brave the frigid air and rabid snowmen.
Course at a Glance:
The 18-hole Audubon Golf Course stretches along the southeastern edge of the University at Buffalo's North Campus. The quiet pop of clubs against golf balls has drifted across the green fields since the town of Amherst opened them to players in 1942. The 6,635-yard test is characterized by slim fairways and dry, punishing waste areas that work to keep golfers from shooting the par of 71. Though course designer William Harries did not make water hazards a prominent feature, two holes do force players to fly their golf balls over Ellicott Creek.
Course at a Glance:
For more than 40 years, golfers of all stripes have swung golf balls through the arboreal alleyways of Fort Erie Golf Club’s 18-hole par 57 course. Stately oak and willow trees frame the emerald fairways and provide shade over interspersed ponds and shallow bunkers placed greenside on multiple holes. The front nine finishes on a peanut-shaped green characterized by dramatic breaks, a treacherous sand trap, and a flagstick with dreams of becoming an Olympic javelin. The driving range and putting green invite swingers to hone their form, and the clubhouse’s patio invites guests to relax with a beverage from Parskey’s Pub as they count the dimples in each of their golf balls and discard any with frown lines.
The intermittent whooshes of practice swings and the piercing din of a well-struck drive soundtrack guests' visits to Airport Driving Range, where golfers can prepare for their next day at the links. The range boasts ample space for players to unsheathe their driver, as well as grass hitting areas for those who prefer a natural feel and artificial hitting mats for golfers with a debilitating fear of earthworms. Golfers can hone their swings under sunny skies or during inclement weather, as Airport Driving Range is open rain or shine and many of its hitting mats are protected from the elements by a yellow canopy.
A 27-hole golf complex, Royal Niagara Golf Club comprises a trio of nine-hole, par 36 courses that share the water-laden landscape and showcase scenic views of an ancient canal, a tree-lined trail, and the steep elevation changes of an escarpment. Each nine-hole course—The Escarpment Course, The Iron Bridge Course, and The Old Canal Course—extends more than 3,500 yards from the back tees and bears a title that reflects its most notable feature, just like at the world-famous courses Pebble Beach and Neighbour’s Windshield. On The Escarpment Course, for example, players travel up and back down the Niagara Escarpment, and The Old Canal Course leads them past the 120-year-old Welland Canal and four large ponds.