May the tours be with you! Explore Buffalo shares monthly highlights

Many walking and biking tours are on the Explore Buffalo schedule in May.

Tour season is finally here! Many walking and biking tours are on the Explore Buffalo schedule, so be sure to check out explorebuffalo.org on a frequent basis for updates and information.

SILO CITY TOURS

SILO CITY: VERTICAL
May 13, 26, 27 @ 10 a.m.; May 24 @ 6 p.m.; May 25 @ 1 p.m.
Meet: Silo City, 120 Silo City Row, Buffalo. Turn from Ohio Street onto Silo City Row and enter Silo City through the gate. Ahead on your right will be a small brick office building where the tour will assemble. Ample parking is available on site.
Cost: General $40, Student $35, Explorer Pass Holders $35

This tour is an experience unlike any other tour in the world! Silo City: Vertical will take you to the top of the American and Perot grain elevator complexes. Approximately two and half hours in length, you will experience all of the history and mechanics of the grain elevator, as well as the malt production process in the Perot malthouse on this in-depth tour. A look at some of the regenerative projects ongoing at Silo City is included. Please note that Silo City: Vertical is not recommended for those with a fear of heights. Participants on this tour must be physically able to go up approximately 100 feet (10 stories) of stairs and a short interior ladder to reach the top — and then come back down! The elevators have been out of commission for years, so stairs are the only way to go.

SILO CITY: GROUND
May 13, 26, 27 @ 11 a.m.; May 26 @ 1 p.m.; May 24, 25, 31 @ 10 a.m.
Meet: Silo City, 120 Silo City Row, Buffalo. Turn from Ohio Street onto Silo City Row and enter Silo City through the gate. Ahead on your right will be a small brick office building where the tour will assemble. Ample parking is available on site.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

At ground level, experience the monumental scale of the grain elevators constructed in Buffalo in the first half of the 20th century, and also see how they are now being repurposed. On this guided walk around the grounds of Silo City, you will enter the ground floor work areas of a flour mill, two grain elevators and a malthouse. 

BUS TOUR

CITY OF LIGHT BUS TOUR
May 26 @ 1 p.m.
Meet: Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway. Ample street parking for this tour is available along both sides of Bidwell Parkway.
Cost: General $40, Explorer Pass Holders $35

At the end of the 19th century, Buffalo was a major American city in the forefront of technological progress. It was a busy inland port and a railroad hub with heavy industry and state-of-the-art electricity — all of which brought great wealth to the city. These economic and technological developments culminated in 1901 when Buffalo hosted a spectacular world’s fair: The Pan-American Exposition. Experience Buffalo through the eyes of the narrator of Lauren Belfer’s historical novel, City of Light, which is set in Buffalo at the dawn of the 20th century.

WALKING TOURS

INSIDE ST. MARY’S SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF
Note: Last tour of St. Mary’s for the season! June 7 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: This tour meets at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main St., Buffalo. Enter the driveway from Main Street to use the parking lot which is behind the buildings; the main entrance faces the parking lot and is up a flight of stairs to the right of the bridge that the driveway goes underneath.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders $10. Tour admission fees are shared with the school to support their museum and archives.

St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, established in Buffalo in 1853 as the first academic school for the deaf in the country, was relocated from Edward Street to its current location on Main Street in 1898. This two-hour walking tour highlights the beautiful architecture of this historic building and offers fascinating information about the history and culture of deaf people in the Buffalo area. The tour also offers a glimpse into the current world of educating deaf and hard of hearing students in the 21st century.

Highlights of the tour include original woodwork from 1898, stained glass windows in the former chapel, the school’s cherished museum which houses a wealth of artifacts and photographs from throughout the decades at St. Mary’s, and a brief meet and greet with a few of the school’s residential students, which comprise approximately 30 percent of the current school population. Join us for a one-of-a-kind tour in one of Buffalo’s iconic buildings! This tour is approximately two hours in length. The tour is indoors (in good weather, a small amount of the tour may be outside). This tour is approximately two miles of indoor walking within the building. Stairs are typically used, but elevators are available if needed.

NIAGARA STREET INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE
May 12, 19, 27 @ 10 a.m.
Meet: Meet in the parking lot outside of Resurgence Brewing Co. at 1250 Niagara St., Buffalo. Parking is available in the Resurgence Brewing parking lot or street parking is available on Niagara Street.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Niagara Street was for many years one of Buffalo’s major industrial corridors. Factories located along Niagara Street produced everything from automobiles to skincare products. One of Joseph Ellicott’s original radial streets, Niagara Street runs parallel to the Niagara River, railroad tracks, and the former Erie Canal route (now the I-190 expressway) and connected the early villages of Buffalo and Black Rock. Today, many of the factories and warehouses are being converted into apartments featuring Niagara River views. On this walking tour, learn about the street’s industrial past while seeing the dramatic transformation of many of Niagara Street’s historic buildings.

BUFFALO SPORTS HISTORY TOUR
May 12, 26 @ 10:30 a.m.
Meet: Meet at the corner of Main and Perry streets, outside of the Sabres Store at KeyBank Center.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Buffalo is well known as a city passionate about its local sports teams. This downtown walking tour will trace the history of local sports teams, stadiums and players, including both major and minor league teams and college sports. As we walk through downtown, enjoy some local sports trivia that will keep even the most fervent local fans guessing. Join us to learn about past sports history and gain appreciation of the enthusiasm that Buffalo sports fans have for the city’s current teams.

BLACK ROCK
May 20 @ 1 p.m.
Meet: Meet at Market Square Park, at the corner of Niagara and Amherst streets. Street parking is available on the surrounding streets.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

One of the earliest villages established on the Niagara Frontier, Black Rock has a history all its own including its role in the War of 1812, the competition to be the terminus of the Erie Canal, site of one of the first railroad lines and spring-fed public water systems, and home to a variety of immigrant groups. Our tour includes walking across the International Railroad Bridge to see the Black Rock Lock and a stroll through the area’s residential streets to view some of the oldest housing stock in the city.

LAFAYETTE SQUARE
May 24, 31 @ 12 p.m. • A short one-hour lunchtime tour
Meet: Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St., Buffalo, corner of Washington and Mohawk streets. Two-hour parking is available on surrounding streets, and the Mohawk Parking Ramp is on the opposite corner. The Lafayette Square Station of the Metro Rail is around the corner on Main Street.
Cost: General $10, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

At the heart of downtown Buffalo, Lafayette Square is filled with history. Centered on the impressive Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Lafayette Square has been the setting for many historic moments in Buffalo history. The buildings that surround Lafayette Square are representative of different eras of Buffalo history in the 19th and 20th centuries. On this one-hour walking tour, learn about the history of the Square and of the buildings that surround it, including the Hotel Lafayette, Rand Building, Brisbane Building and Liberty Building.

Reservations for walking tours are encouraged but not required. All credit card payments must be made in advance. Advance reservations with a credit card can be made online until the tour starting time. Cash or checks are accepted at the start of the tour. If you make an advance reservation, please print your confirmation email or be prepared to show it on your phone. Most tours are between 90 minutes and two hours in length. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather!

BIKE TOURS

LANDMARKS & LANDSCAPES BY BIKE
May 13 @ 10 a.m.
Meet: Outside the Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park at 84 Parkside Ave., Buffalo.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

On this overview bike tour of Buffalo’s Museum District, see works by some of America’s greatest architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson, set within a park and parkway system designed by celebrated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Many of Buffalo’s landmark cultural attractions, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo History Museum, call the Olmsted landscapes home. Along the way, admire a diverse collection of public sculpture that has been incorporated into Olmsted’s system. This tour is approximately six miles in length with frequent stops, with much of the tour along designated bike paths.

Helmets are required for all tour participants. Each tour participant must have a bicycle in good working condition; participants are also required to sign a waiver before the tour. The minimum age for this tour is 14 years old. This tour is approximately two hours in length. In the event of heavy rain or other severe weather, this tour will be canceled. Sponsored by Handlebars Cycle Company and a proud Reddy Bikeshare partner.

SILO SPIN: GRAIN ELEVATORS BY BIKE
May 16 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: Riverfest Park, 249 Ohio St., Buffalo. Street parking is available along Ohio Street.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Following the invention of the grain elevator in 1842 by local merchant Joseph Dart, Buffalo quickly became one of the largest grain ports in the world. Towering grain elevators and silos were built lining the Buffalo River for the storage and transfer of grain. Many of these grain elevators still stand, and Buffalo today remains home to the largest collection of grain elevators in the world. On this guided cycling tour, you will see many of Buffalo’s grain elevators from a variety of vantage points and learn about their history. Be sure to bring your camera!

Helmets are required for all tour participants. Each tour participant must have a bicycle in good working condition; participants are also required to sign a waiver before the tour. The minimum age for this tour is 14 years old. Advance reservations are encouraged but not required for this tour. This tour is approximately two hours in length. Please wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather. In the event of heavy rain or other severe weather, this tour will be canceled. Sponsored by Handlebars Cycle Company and a proud Reddy Bikeshare partner.

LEADING LADIES: WOMEN’S HISTORY BY BIKE
May 25 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: In front of First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Join us for a bike tour of the history of many of Buffalo’s prominent women! From Buffalo’s earliest days, women have played a prominent role in shaping the community, including establishing many of our community institutions. Buffalo has been the home of many well-known actresses, authors and artists, as well as the first woman in America to be a professional architect. This guided bicycle tour will visit the homes and workplaces of many of these women who were important to both Buffalo and the nation.

Helmets are required for all tour participants. Each tour participant must have a bicycle in good working condition; participants are also required to sign a waiver before the tour. The minimum age for this tour is 14 years old. Advance reservations are encouraged but not required for this tour. This tour is approximately two hours in length. Please wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather. In the event of heavy rain or other severe weather, this tour will be canceled. Sponsored by Handlebars Cycle Company and a proud Reddy Bikeshare partner.

POCKET PARKS & GREEN SPACES BY BIKE
May 30 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: In front of First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

This bicycle tour offers great views of a variety of Buffalo sights, as we ride through the verdant streets and small parks that make the streets around Allentown and the West Side of Buffalo attractive places to live, work and play. You’ll see exquisite Victorian residences with great curb appeal, churches, gardens, the Medical Campus and more. There’ll be a few stories of rich and influential Buffalonians and the green legacies they left behind for our enjoyment.

Helmets are required for all tour participants. Each tour participant must have a bicycle in good working condition; participants are also required to sign a waiver before the tour. The minimum age for this tour is 14 years old. Advance reservations are encouraged but not required for this tour. This tour is approximately two hours in length. Please wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather. In the event of heavy rain or other severe weather, this tour will be canceled. Sponsored by Handlebars Cycle Company and a proud Reddy Bikeshare partner.

BEYOND BUFFALO

WILLIAMSVILLE
May 16, 23, 30 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: Meet at the bridge at the entrance to Island Park, 5565 Main St., Williamsville, located behind Amherst Town Hall and the Williamsville Library. Free parking is available in the Town Hall parking lot, accessible from Main Street or South Cayuga Street.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Join us on this walking tour of history-rich Williamsville! Originally established as William’s Mills, this tour includes one of the oldest buildings still standing in Erie County, the 1811 Williamsville Water Mill built by Jonas Williams. Today, the heart of the village is benefiting from recent pedestrian enhancements. Also featured in the tour is the village’s role in the War of 1812.

DOWNTOWN LOCKPORT
May 18 @ 1 p.m.
Meet: Flight of Five Winery in Old City Hall, 2 Pine St., Lockport. Parking is available on the street or in the adjacent parking lot.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Lockport is a canal town unlike any other on the Erie Canal. Growing out of a need to scale the Niagara Escarpment, the Flight of Five is an engineering feat that has long attracted visitors to this area. While Lockport is well known for its important role in the success of the Erie Canal, there is more to Lockport than just the Locks. This tour will explore the development of Lockport from the early 1800s to modern times, including the humble Quakers who founded the town, inventors who brought about economic and cultural development, beautiful architecture and even a stop on the Underground Railroad.

EAST AURORA
May 25 @ 10 a.m.
Meet: Outside the Roycroft Power House, 39 South Grove St., East Aurora (across the street from the Roycroft Inn). Parking is available on site.
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Join us for a walking tour of the charming Village of East Aurora to discover its rich history and many connections to the Arts & Crafts movement! Elbert Hubbard, one-time partner of John Larkin of Buffalo’s Larkin Soap Company, was one of the chief promoters of the Arts & Crafts style in architecture, furniture, stained glass, wallpaper and other hand crafts in the United States. The base of Hubbard’s operations was the Roycroft Campus in the Village of East Aurora, where this tour begins and ends. The tour will include interior visits to the Hubbard Museum, featuring an engaging variety of hand crafted antiques, as well as the Baker Memorial Church, featuring a complete set of color-rich stained-glass windows by the Tiffany Company. At the end of the tour, the Roycroft Inn is the perfect place for an optional lunch (not included in the tour price). 

VILLAGE OF HAMBURG
May 27 @ 10 a.m.
Meet: Main Street Ice Cream, 35 Main St., Hamburg
Cost: General $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Holders Free

Join us for a walking tour of one of the most charming villages in Erie County. There is much more to Hamburg than the Erie County Fair and snow! This tour will explore Hamburg’s Main Street, which is a National Historic District consisting of 62 contributing buildings, most of which date back to the 1800s. Along the 1.5-mile route, participants will enjoy the beautiful architecture, churches, parks and gardens while learning some of the history of the “Town That Friendship Built.”

KAYAK TOURS

ELEVATOR ALLEY KAYAK
May 26, 27 @ 9 a.m.; May 30 @ 6 p.m.
Meet: Elevator Alley Kayak at The Barrel Factory, 65 Vandalia St., Buffalo, at the corner of Hamburg and Republic streets across from Gene McCarthy’s. The tour will launch from Mutual Riverfront Park, a one-block walk from The Barrel Factory. Parking is available at the Barrel Factory (parking lot on Vandalia Street, or street parking on surrounding streets).
Cost: General $45, Student $40, Explorer Pass Holders $40

The best way to appreciate Buffalo’s many grain elevators is from the water! From a kayaking perspective, the massive scale of the grain elevators and silos will be even more awe-inspiring. Join us for a kayak tour of the Buffalo River and its grain elevators in partnership with Elevator Alley Kayak, who will provide the kayaks for this urban adventure tour. Learn about the history of the grain elevators in Buffalo and have many terrific photo opportunities on this guided kayak tour!

Reservations are required for this tour; a limited number of kayaks are available. The minimum age for this tour is 14 years old. Please arrive at least 20 minutes before the tour begins. The tour departs promptly at the starting time, and we are unable to accommodate late arrivals. 

For check-in at the beginning of the tour, please print your reservation confirmation email or be prepared to show it on your phone. 

This tour is approximately two and a half hours in length, including time at the beginning of the tour to review basic kayaking technique and launch the kayaks. Tour participants must be able to kayak approximately four miles, from Mutual Riverfront Park to Canalside and back.

Kayak rental is included in the tour price. All kayaks used on this tour must be from Elevator Alley Kayak; bringing your own kayak is not permitted.

In the event of strong winds (generally, over 15 MPH), heavy rain, lightning or other serious weather, the tour will be cancelled. The tour will proceed with light rain. In the event of a tour cancellation, you will be notified by email and/or phone call. You will have the option to transfer your reservation to another tour date or have your payment refunded.

What to wear and bring. Footwear: Sandals and water shoes that fasten securely are your best option. Cotton socks are not recommended. Clothing: You will get splashed on this tour — cotton and other absorbent fabrics are not recommended. Hats & sunglasses: There’s very little shade on the Buffalo River! You’ll want a hat and/or sunglass to shield you from the sun and reduce the glare. Sunscreen: You will be in the sun on this entire tour, so sunscreen is essential. Waterproof sunscreen is best. Dry bag: A dry bag to protect your valuables from getting wet is highly recommended. A zip lock style bag works well as an inexpensive option. Water: Bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated on the tour as there are no stops along the way. Cameras: Photos are encouraged on this tour, but please note there is a good chance your camera may get wet.

For more information, please visit explorebuffalo.org or phone (716) 245-3032.

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