Water You Wanna Do Today?
by Jessica Kelly
The things you can do in a city by a lake
The Horizons Waterfront Commission began pondering Buffalo’s downtown waterfront in the late 1980s and for the next twenty years not much happened other than a lot of jokes comparing Buffalo’s waterfront development to “wide right” and “no goal.”
That changed after 2006 when congressman Brian Higgins arm-wrestled the New York Power Authority (NYPA) into committing $300 million to Buffalo when NYPA needed to renew their license to run the Niagara Power Plant. A good portion of the NYPA money was budgeted for waterfront development. With money in hand, waterfront plans started turning into reality and with each passing year activity around canalside, the inner harbor and outer harbor continues to grow. There’s a lot more to do on Buffalo’s waterfront now than stare across Lake Erie to Canada. Here are few activities to consider beyond getting a hot dog at the Hatch or seeing a Rocks the Harbor concert. (Not all are at the Buffalo waterfront)
With summer weather arriving try exploring “water toy” rentals and spend the day soaking up the sun while being active. It beats lying on a towel in the sand.
The BFLO Harbor Kayak
1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo
BFLO Harbor Kayak is open from 9-6 daily. Spend an hour or two paddling past the Naval Ships or head out towards the break wall (probably not a good idea to beyond the break wall). You may find yourself paddling past a concert and you can get a new perspective for people watching folks on the boardwalk. You’re likely to see artisan markets and yoga classes as you paddle by. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boards cost $15 per hour. The scenic route past the ships, with the lighthouse in the distance, makes for a relaxing afternoon.
BFLO Harbor Kayak offers tours on the weekends for $25 per person. The Silo City Paddle Tour runs on Saturday and Sunday from 9-11am. The tour departs from Canalside where you will move down the Buffalo River to explore Silo City (and smell the Cheerios). Discover the history of Buffalo beginning with the opening of the Erie Canal. Other tour options include the Silo City Sunrise Tour, which departs at 6am on the last Friday of every month and the Sunset River Tour that departs at 6:30pm on the first and third Friday of every month.
Hoyt Lake boat rentals
198 & Lincoln Parkway
If you don’t want to go the waterfront but still want a Buffalo water experience, go for a stroll around Delaware Park then head over and rent a boat at Hoyt Lake. Bring a picnic basket or a fresh salad from the Lexington Co-op and paddle out to the middle of the lake to for a romantic picnic on the water. You might consider staying for a performance at Shakespeare in the Park, too.
Water Bikes of Buffalo
Directly to the side of BFLO Harbor Kayak is Water Bikes of Buffalo. The Hydrobikes are a good way to spend time on the water without getting soaked. There are no wheels, of course, but water bikes are outfitted with everything else you’ll find a standard bicycle, handlebars, bicycle seat, pedals, etc. Pedal power becomes propeller power and the bikes can glide across the water at up to seven mph.
Bicyclists have the option of riding solo on a single rider bike or in pairs on a tandem bike–which makes chatting easier. The single rider bike costs $15 an hour, the double rider $25. Under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Spirit of Buffalo
1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, NY 14202
The Spirit of Buffalo offers charters for all ages. Dinner at Pearl St. Brewery and a sail are a compelling combination offered for only $49 ($27 children under). You can enjoy this in any order you choose, dine and have a relaxing sail or sail and have a relaxing dinner and some of Pearl St. original brews.
Public cruises for 2 hours sails on the Spirit of Buffalo cost $28 for adults and $18 for the children.
Saturday mornings 11am-12:30 pm, kids 10 and under come together for The Pirate Sail! The children get face painted, pirate hats, a pirate name, and learn “pirate lingo.” Crew-members, also dressed as pirates, are “asleep” on the boat. The kids have to wake up the sleeping pirates, take over the boat, raise their pirate flag, and then they’re off for the afternoon. The Pirate sail is $23 for adults and $19 for children. Call for details or to make a reservation.
Wine in the Winds begins on Wednesday, June 4th and goes through October. They set sail Wednesday nights at either 6-8pm or 8:30-10:30pm. For $38 you receive wine tastings from local vineyards, first drink from the cash bar, cheese and crackers. It’s the perfect outing for a girl’s night, a romantic evening, or a larger event.
Sail Under the Moon commences on June 13th. This sail includes affordable drink specials, costume contests, and La Nova Pizza for $38. Call the Spirit of Buffalo to order your passes over the phone and visit their website for more details.
The Queen City Ferry
1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, NY 14202
Buffalo’s Water Taxi, The Queen City Ferry offers a water ferry service between Buffalo’s inner and outer harbor. Board the Queen City Ferry at the Central Wharf. The Ferry travels to Wilkeson Pointe on the Outer Harbor, and along the Buffalo River to Riverfest Park in Buffalo’s old First Ward district. Operations are daily from 12-8pm mid May through September. Round trip takes approximately one hour. Tickets are priced at $8 for adults, $6 for children.
You can also board their new boat the River Queen for a 90-minute narrated tour of the Buffalo River and Buffalo’s Waterfront or take a 2-hour journey by water and foot to the Perot Malting Plant and Grain Elevators.
Waikiki Watercraft Jet Ski Rentals
101 Whitehaven Rd, Grand Island, NY 14072 (In the River Oaks Marina beside Holiday Inn Grand Island Resort)
Feel the wind in your hair while flying down the Niagara River on one of these zippy Yamaha Waverunners. They’re open from 11-6pm on Wednesday through Sunday. For the month of June, the price per hour to rent the Jet Ski is $65 per hour or $40 per half an hour on Wednesdays only. There is a $10 charge for each passenger, which covers fuel, life jacket rental and a training video.
2 Templeton Terrace
One of the most well known waterfront attractions, the Moondance Cat has been prowling the harbor for years. At 56ft by 31ft there’s room for a load of people. If you have a graduation party, a work outing or a bachelorette party to plain, this 65-passenger sailboat is the perfect venue for your party! They offer a delicious menu and cocktail menu along with beer and wine. Individuals are charged $23 per person for 2-hour buffalo harbor tour, groups rates are also available. The Moondance Catamaran sails every day.
Waterbike and Boat Adventures
11 Young St. (Gateway Harbor in Tonawanda)
(716) 316 - 3905
At the Waterbike and Boat Adventures tent near the bridge, they provide Hydrobike, kayak, and stand-up paddle board rides for $6 for a half an hour and $10 for an hour. That price is unbeatable, especially if you want to turn this summer activity into a reoccurring workout. Double Kayaks are offered for $15 an hour, an electric boat that seats nine is $40 per hour, and there’s an electric pontoon boat for $55 per hour are also available to rent. Nothing says summer like packing up a cooler and spending the day on a party boat!
Seven Seas Sailing Center
284 Fuhrmann Blvd, Buffalo, NY 14203
Seven Seas Sailing School is one of the oldest and largest sailing schools in America. Fully accredited by the U.S. Sailing Assoc. and U.S. Coast Guard certified Offering beginner to advanced classes, you can learn everything you need to know here, from tying knots, hoisting sails, navigating and what to do in an emergency. Or you can just go out for leisurely sail. Those who graduate become Seven Seas Sailing club members and can rent any of the numerous boats available to take out on their own. Full day, half-day or unlimited season rentals are available.
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