Roadside Attractions Diary: Buffalo

BuffaloMost travellers I know want to come home after an adventure and tell tales of what unique things they saw.  With the internet, travel channels on television, and numerous travel guides for almost everywhere in the world, there are very few experiences a traveller can have without being one of thousands that have participated in the same encounter.  My last few trips, I’ve really started asking more of the locals in the destinations I visit where they would recommend going.  Even as a local in my own town, I love recommending my own personal favourite things to see.

BuffaloStatueMost travellers I know want to come home after an adventure and tell tales of what unique things they saw.  With the internet, travel channels on television, and numerous travel guides for almost everywhere in the world, there are very few experiences a traveller can have without being one of thousands that have participated in the same encounter.  My last few trips, I’ve really started asking more of the locals in the destinations I visit where they would recommend going.  Even as a local in my own town, I love recommending my own personal favourite things to see.

Last month, I went to TBEX, a travel bloggers conference hosted in my hometown Toronto, where I had a tremendous opportunity to meet travel lovers from all over the world.  One of the bloggers, from See Ash Run, told me about some cool stops they had on their drive up from New York City, all recommended by an app called Roadside America. Roadside America connects to where you are, and gives you a list of unique attractions close by…perfect for a roadtrip anywhere across most of North America.  Now equipped with Roadside America, and my love for chatting up locals, I’ve started a new quest to find the uncommon attractions that won’t be featured in any guide book.

I’ve started this on my recent trip (back) to Buffalo.  Drawn by the sweet lure of baseball and beer, I left a day open on my weekend away just to be used for exploration.  Opening up my Roadside America app, I found my first “attraction” less than 500m away from my hotel…Twin Statues of Liberty Atop An Office Building.BuffaloLibertyBankI’m actually slightly embarassed to say that I discovered that I could see one of these ladies of liberty from my hotel window room – I hadn’t even noticed it before.  Set on top of the Liberty Bank building in downtown Buffalo, these 30 ft statues were built in 1925.  One of the ladies faces west towards the harbour, and the other east towards the rail yards.  

Next up on my personal “must see” list was Monty the Therapy Dog, located in the plaza next to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  The sculpture was designed by Lena Toritch and is intended to honour all therapy dogs that have brought comfort to cancer patients and their families.BuffaloMolly

Cute, and worth a quick stop – the plaza is a peaceful place full of gardens, scuptures and benches to sit and enjoy the outdoors.  

A few minutes drive away, through both some beautiful residential areas and through some “economically challenged” neighbourhoods, we found ourselves staring curiously at the Large Victorian Head of a Woman.BuffaloVictorianHead Plastered at the entrance to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Museum, you enter the museum through the woman’s chest.  The head is a replica of one that was used at the entrance to the Pan Am Expo of 1901 where President McKinley was shot.  Sadly we didn’t have enough time to venture into the chest/museum  but I don’t doubt there are probably a lot of other unique things to see inside.

Our final stop in the Buffalo city limits was out front of the Albright Knox Art Museum.  There, piled on a pole, we found 60 canoes and a few rowboats all “artistically” arranged.BuffaloCanoes Nancy Rubins is the artist at work, and she apparently has a few similar public art pieces including Boats on a Pole in Las Vegas, and Airplane Parts on a Pole in Los Angeles.  

My journey of Roadside Attraction discovery has only just begun.  If you know of any “must see” attractions that have yet to be popularized by the main stream tourist forums, I hope you’ll pass any suggestions on to me, or onto my new favourite app (second to Angry Birds of course) Roadside America.

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