"The most romantic things in life are free: Canalside, the Outer Harbor and more"

Love can be expensive, but some of the best dates in Buffalo don't cost a dime


A movie and dinner, wining and dining – the language of love demands you open up your wallet.

Sure, anyone would be impressed if you devised an expensive date. But with a little strategy and critical thinking – things we’re all supposed to be learning here at UB – you can take your lover out without spending a dime.


Canalside has become Buffalo’s center for major concerts, large artisan fairs and Shark Girl, a public sculpture that invites passersby to take a seat and make a friend.

Canalside began as a revitalization of the history of the Erie Canal but has evolved into much more. Colorful Adirondack chairs cover the grass, ships dock alongside the pier and grain silos rise into the sky off into the distance.

Whether you visit the historical site during the morning or evening, Canalside is romantic. Views of Lake Erie and the massive Naval ships docked at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, which extend off Canalside to the Observatory Tower alongside Lake Erie, create a romantic backdrop for you and your date.

If you walk across Canalside and cross the metro rail tracks, then you’ll see the absolutely adorable seating area behind the Marriott Hotel. At night, the trees that line the seating area illuminate with strings of twinkling lights and small water canals lead to a large water pool with jumping water fountains. Take a seat around the tiny, red tables-for-two, soak in the calm night and look deep into each other’s eyes.

The Outer Harbor

The Outer Harbor is slightly less developed than Canalside so it is perfect for nature lovers. Gallagher Pier has spectacular views of Buffalo’s grain silos as well as the massive windmills that dot the shoreline.

You could spend a few hours meandering through the bike path that connects the various parks that make up the Outer Harbor.

I particularly love Wilkeson’s Point. There’s not only a playground for children, but also fake boulders for the playful adult to climb on. The best part is the pathway winds up a hill to wind sculptures. The Point has a lovely view of Lake Erie, perfect for a wind-in-your-hair moment with your lover.

Free Fridays

Albright-Knox Art Gallery: 1285 Elmwood Ave.; free the first Friday of every month from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

First Friday: various galleries in Allentown free the first Friday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Burchfield Penney Art Center: 1300 Elmwood Ave.; free the second Friday of every month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Buffalo History Museum: One Museum Court; free the third Friday of every month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Buffalo on Foot: A self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Buffalo

Download the “Buffalo on Foot” self-guided walking tour brochure from Visit Buffalo Niagara’s website and you can spend a few hours exploring the city’s history with your sweetie. The brochure has nine self-guided tours with historical background, points of interest and routes mapped out. You can learn about the Michigan Avenue Heritage Corridor where the jazz scene blossomed in Buffalo, the historically significant architecture of Downtown or even take a drive to the quaint village of East Aurora.

If you want to really impress your new beau, then memorize the map and historical information and lead them on a tour given by the best tour guide around – you.

A picnic in the Olmstead Park and Parkway System

There are six major parks in the Olmstead Park and Parkway System throughout the city of Buffalo. Each one offers a different setting for picnics and handheld strolls. My personal favorite is Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo. It has enough trails along the water to please a nature lover and open spaces perfect for picnics. Make some sandwiches, buy some wine and spread a blanket on the ground for a romantic picnic in a historical, beautiful park.

email: emma.janicki@ubspectrum.com