The third-oldest zoo in the United States, the Buffalo Zoo was originally founded in 1875 as a deer park in the northwest corner of Delaware Park. Since then, it has grown into a 23.5-acre home for diverse species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, all under the care of the Zoological Society of Buffalo, an organization dedicated to advancing the conservation of the world’s exotic, endangered, and ordinary animals. Within its habitats, creatures ranging from Asian elephants to poison arrow frogs serve as ambassadors from far-off kingdoms, and at the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm’s 1800s-era barn, a collection of berkshire pigs, southdown sheep, and other farm animals represents the fauna that once commonly lived along the Erie Canal. To carry out its educational mission, the zoo regularly hosts programs such as behind-the-scenes workshops and Zoo Snooze, in which kids can stay over for the night and wake up alongside the lions roaring angrily at their rooster alarm clocks.
For almost 40 years, the instructors and staff of Dip 'N Dive have demystified the magic of breathing underwater. They instruct and outfit both scuba divers and snorkelers at their Buffalo location, and the facility's curriculum of PADI and NAUI courses help budding divers stay safe, maintain control of their equipment, and walk like Naomi Campbell while wearing fins. From beginning diving lessons to advanced instructor training, courses include classroom work, pool exercises, and real open-water-diving trips.
Owner Deanna Giordano founded Studio Sophia as a means of maintaining her lifelong commitment to fitness and health. Inside the facility, Deanna has created a warm atmosphere—one free of mirrors and judgment and filled only with encouragement. Those inviting airs surround groups of exercisers during classes held six days per week, including Latin-infused Zumba sessions and multiple variants of yoga and Pilates.
The brainchild of owner Dale Ali and chef Sergio Aquino, Epic Restaurant and Lounge captures diners’ interest with dishes that showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as the chef’s mastery of culinary techniques ranging from classic French to peasant, according to Buffalo Spree. The menu—which the Buffalo News called “ambitious” and “totally different from any other in the area”—comprises upscale dinner fare with unexpected twists: the grilled rib eye arrives with pomegranate jam, and the duck breast is flanked by a cilantro-nutmeg emulsion and rubber-ducky bodyguards.
The eatery also strives to be epic in its drink selection with a varnished wooden bar offering more than 25 imported or microbrewery beers as well as an extensive wine list. Diners can kick off the weekend with dinner, drinks, and jams every Friday night, with entertainment alternating between salsa and live bands.
Many fitness professionals spend years studying exercises but ignore how those movements impact the physical makeup of the body. The instructors at Fitness360 stand out from the crowd of exercise experts by each holding four-year degrees in physiology in addition to their training certifications. The team shares its copious knowledge as it leads individuals and small groups through private workout sessions. Instructors use nontraditional training gear such as heavy ropes, weight sleds, tractor tires, sledgehammers, and cartoon anvils to target each muscle group and keep things interesting for their clients. Each of routine is designed with fluid movements to encourage muscle definition all over the body while simultaneously increasing cardiovascular health. In addition to regular classes, the 360 team also hosts specialty workshops for distance runners.
While they take advantage of Fitness360's facilities, guests can also stop by the juice bar for a protein rich shake before heading home.
Each year, the SPCA Serving Erie County gives more than 15,000 dogs, cats, and exotic pets a new lease on life. Founded in 1867—making it the second-oldest humane society in the country—the SPCA’s compassionate animal rescue, rehabilitation, foster care, and adoption services have earned Charity Navigator’s four-star rating for extraordinary accountability and transparency, the highest rating available in all three categories. In the adoption center, furry faces peer from comfortable, clean cages as staff and volunteers evaluate customers’ needs and introduce them to compatible pets, decreasing the chance of conflict when adopters' favorite shows compete with Animal Planet specials. Before becoming eligible for adoption, pets undergo thorough health, temperament, and behavioral evaluations, and those who need extra TLC receive additional obedience training.
In addition to matching people with loving pets, SPCA Serving Erie County’s staff investigates more than 200 animal-cruelty complaints per month, and provides emergency animal-rescue services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rescued animals receive state-of-the-art medical care in the facility’s onsite surgical suite, and rehabilitation programs prepare them to thrive in loving homes. A local, independent humane society, the donation-supported SPCA Serving Erie County is not associated with the ASPCA and receives no government funding.