Chilling in the cold: A guide to fun in the Buffalo winters


For many of us, the first thing you hear when announcing your decision to come to Buffalo is the terrible snow. Whether you’ve been up here for years or you’re finishing off your first semester, you’ll probably agree with them for the most part.

What these people neglect to bring up is how much Buffalo has to offer for the colder season. Here’s a list of things to do when the temperature drops below freezing.

Sledding at Chestnut Ridge Park

Known for its hike to the eternal flame, Chestnut Ridge is also a great place to sled and practice winter sports for people of all ages.

The main hill used for sledding measures at more than 600 feet in length, giving sledders a little bit of a thrill. The toboggan chutes on the main hill are a great winter activity to take advantage of.

There are also alternate hills that can be used for snowboarding and skiing, and long stretches of land for cross-country skiing.

Ice Skating Downtown

Downtown Buffalo offers the feel of a little NYC in Western New York, and just like skating in Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center, Buffalo has scenic rinks as well.

Canalside is probably the best known. It offers a scenic view of the waterfront on a large, spacious rink, almost four times the size of Rockefeller Center’s. Admission is only $6 not including rentals, so it won’t be hurting your wallet either.

There is also a free ice rink at Fountain Plaza downtown. Despite being much smaller than Canalside, this rink lets people enjoy the buildings and architecture of downtown Buffalo throughout the winter season.

Visit Niagara Falls

Many people enjoy visiting the falls in warmer weather, but that’s not to say they aren’t just as beautiful in the cold.

The wintertime ice and snow coat the falls, giving winter visitors a completely new view to gaze out upon. The laser light shows are extra enjoyable during the winter months and are one spectacle that many would recommend.

The Fairgrounds Festival of Lights

As the Christmas season approaches and the temperature drops, the Hamburg Fairgrounds hosts a festival dedicated to all of the nice things of the winter season. Those who choose to attend can walk the illuminated streets and explore the different buildings to see what each has to offer.

Visitors can also wander through the Christmas tree forest where nearly 100 trees are lit with twinkling lights, perfect for a photo op, or travel to the North Pole and visit Santa and Mrs. Claus on their front porch.

The festival runs nearly every weekend until the end of December and is definitely not one to miss out on.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery

While many of us might want to appreciate the snow and the outdoors, others have a certain distaste for the cold and the weather that comes with it.

A visit to the Albright-Knox Gallery is great for the winter homebodies. The gallery is entirely indoors, and no doubt heated, and will still allow visitors to enjoy themselves and even become a little more cultured.

The gallery is also currently hosting an exhibit for the works of Picasso until the end of February, which is definitely a treat for all of the art lovers of Buffalo.

The Aquarium of Niagara

In the dead of winter with three feet of snow on the ground, there is no better place to escape to than an aquarium.

Consider it a vacation to the tropics for the day, to appreciate all the sea life. This destination serves for the whole Western New York area, boasting over 40 exhibits, and 128 different species, including mammals, fish, birds and reptiles.

Admission for the day is $13, which isn’t too bad considering how much the aquarium has to offer its visitors.

The Great Wolf Lodge

If traveling over the border isn’t a problem and you’re looking for a weekend away, the Great Wolf Lodge is a perfect getaway.

The resort offers an entire indoor water park, giving its guests the feel of the summer without jetting off to somewhere warmer. There is also a bar on the property allowing for those of us who are of age to have fun and enjoy the night without ever leaving the comfort of the lodge.

Lindsay Gilder is a staff writer and can be reached at