Western New Yorkers take summer seriously. Winter is long. And cold. And too often miserable. Spring is wet. Fall is short and comes right before winter.
That leaves a lot of things to do this time of year and not a lot of time to do it. With that in mind, we thought it might be helpful to organize your effort.
From eating hot dogs at Mississippi Mudds to hiking the Niagara gorge and enjoying free summer concerts, there's no shortage of activities. Are you a warm-weather warrior who can scratch off more than half these items or do you have some work ahead of you?
Think of this as your summertime Buffalo Bucket List:
1. Burn your tongue on some Rocket Sauce while eating at Lloyd’s Taco Truck.
2. Walk around offering to take photos of tourists at Niagara Falls.
3. Go to a Thursdays at the Harbor free concert and spend the entire time debating whether it’s better than Thursdays at the Square.
4. Dodge roller-bladers and bike-riders while enjoying a Mississippi Mudds ice cream cone at Niawanda Park.
5. Train to climb Mount Everest by taking a shot at some of those expert-level hiking trails around the gorge in Whirlpool State Park.
6. Get up and dance with all the small children at the Kenmore Children’s Concert Series.
7. Go to the Taste of Buffalo and remind yourself there’s a lot more to eating here than chicken wings.
8. Try the clam bars at both Marotto’s and Manzella’s within a block of each other Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. Discuss.
9. Marvel at your skills staying upright on Waterbike Adventures in the canal.
10. Train your eagle eye at the water intakes on the Robert Moses where the bald birds have been sighted.
11. Eat too many hot dogs at a Niagara Power game at Sal Maglie Stadium.
12. Discover a new favorite tune at the Friday Labatt Canal Concert Series in Lockport.
13. Debate the merits and differences between the Elmwood and Allentown art festivals.
14. Find out when “Rocky Horror Picture Show” comes back to the Echo Club in the Falls and save up rice, toilet paper, toast and decks of cards to throw at the screen.
15. Sing about Sal while riding the Lockport Locks tour boat down the Erie Canal.
16. Watch the sails and join the party during the Youngstown Level Regatta.
17. Eat a hamburger as big as a dinner plate at the Overdose Cafe on Main Street in the Falls. Bring backups.
18. Hone your hacky sack skills in Bidwell Park.
19. Get grossed out at the Buffalo Museum of Science on the one day it’s too hot to be outside.
20. Bird watch at the old Lockport Mall site.
21. Get back to nature with the National Garden Festival series.
22. Remind tourists that one of four presidential assassinations happened in Buffalo, then debate the fourth assassination that no one can remember. (Hint: His initials are A.G.)
23. Search out Rick James in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
24. Or, head over to the Oakwood Cemtery in the Falls and have a chat with the spirit of daredevil Annie Edson Taylor.
25. Attempt to make an entire meal using only ingredients found at a nearby farmers market.
26. Feed the giraffes at the Buffalo Zoo.
27. Eat a Jim’s Steakout stinger at 4 a.m.
28. Share a white hot with sauce with the seagulls at Reid’s in Lockport.
29. Chat with people waiting in line for Bye‘s Popcorn in Olcott.
30. Lose a tooth filling with some taffy at the Niagara County Fair.
31. Peek over the Pine Street bridge in Lockport to see what everyone is looking at.
32. Heading to the Seneca Niagara Casino? Throw some coins into the Peace Fountain next door at St. Mary’s and remember that sharing might improve your luck.
33. Get lost on the Niagara Wine Trail.
34. Cast a line in Buffalo’s inner harbor and hope that the Cheerio smell attracts the fish as much as it does the fisherman.
35. Get soaked at Cave of the Winds.
36. Meet your neighbors over a coffee at Thee Barker Store.
37. Linger over a romantic sunset at Wilson Harbor.
38. Debate the rules of bocce (or horseshoes: are leaners worth two?) at the Outwater Park courts.
39. Play hooky from work, don’t mow the lawn, skip straight to a beer on the porch.
40. Discuss engineering principles with a complete stranger while watching the locks empty.
41. Gorge yourself on cannoli, pizza and the decidedly non-Italian fried dough at the Italian Festival on Pine Avenue in the Falls.
42. Do your best Ryan Miller impression in the Buffalo Sabres Street Hockey Fest on Aug. 19.
43. Wonder how you got that sunburn on the one overcast day you decided to do some gardening.
44. Hope you run into Eric Starchild so you can get some cool jewelry in the Elmwood Village.
45. Go on an airborne adventure helicopter ride over Niagara Falls.
46. Try to spy the legendary ghost that (allegedly) haunts the French Castle at Old Fort Niagara.
47. Come sail away on the Spirit of Buffalo sailboat.
48. Shop locally on the Elmwood strip.
49. Enjoy the bubbles from the Allentown Bubble Man.
50. Contemplate sneaking into the Richardson Complex to see if it’s really haunted, but never actually do it ... ‘cause that’s illegal.
51. Get back to nature at the Botanical Gardens.
52. Catch a movie at one of the area’s cool, old theaters if only because there’s air conditioning.
53. Use paying that parking ticket you got as an excuse to go visit the observation deck at Buffalo’s City Hall.
54. Duck the deer (and the geese) while hitting 18 at Deerwood in North Tonawanda.
55. Cool off at a local pool or splash park.
56. See how many times you can ride the Viper at Darien Lake without getting sick. Talk about the first time you rode it (whether it was yesterday or 25 years ago.)
57. Watch a mock shoot-out at Fantasy Island. Pretend you got hit and give a death scene worthy of an Academy Award.
58. Get in touch with your spiritual side and walk around the beautiful Our Lady of Fatima Shrine.
59. Dig your spats out of the closet and take a “Mob Tour” of the Buffalo Niagara region from Naked Buffalo tours. Wear other clothes, too.
60. Go kayaking in the Buffalo Harbor.
61. Picnic on the back steps of the Albright Knox.
62. Pick your own fresh raspberries and blueberries at a you-pick farm and try your hand at a pie.
63. Marvel at how well the Tifft Nature Preserve flourishes so close to downtown Buffalo.
64. Head over to Tonawanda Island and play a game of Kan Jam at the official world headquarters.
65. Watch history come to life with the Marble Orchard re-enactors in Lewiston.
66. Drink some wine and nibble on cheese and grapes while pretending to understand what the actors are saying at Shakespeare in the Park.
67. Be a little obvious and watch a sunset at Sunset Bay.
68. Enjoy a cold margarita while people watching on the patio at Cozumel.
69. Sit Zazen. Cross the border to Niagara Falls, Ontario and sit in meditation with the buddhists at the giant temple across the river.
70. Try not to look too uncoordinated to passing motorists while playing tennis at the Delaware Park courts.
71. Try not to crash your car craning to watch the tennis players while driving on the Scajaquada past Delaware Park.
72. Count down the days until the Bills training camp, all the while telling everyone you’re done buying into the off season hype.
73. Greet the seals hanging around at the outside pool at the Aquarium of Niagara.
74. Say “Arrrr!” to a pirate at the Pirate Festival at Krull Park, Olcott.
75. Try to win one of those giant stuffed animals at the Niagara County fair. Give it to a random small child. Try again.
76. Lay back in the grass and watch the gorgeous kites at Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda.
77. Try good ol’ fashioned penny candy at Kelly's Country Store on Grand Island.
78. Decide which barbecue (and apple pie) is the best at the Smokin’ Eagles International Barbecue Festival in Tonawanda.
79. Pay your respects at the U.S.S. The Sullivans at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.
80. Revisit Buffalo’s glory days at the Pan Am house on Delaware.
81. Married couples fun! Dress up in your old wedding clothes, hold hands and stroll through downtown Niagara Falls, just to watch the reaction of the tourists.
82. Visit the world’s smallest amusement park. Sit on a bench for a half hour while your kids ride the two rides at the Falls Whistle Pig.
83. Go old school with Tuesday night classics at the Transit Drive-in.
84. Toss the golf clubs and go play with frisbies at the disc golf course at Joseph Davis State Park in Youngstown. Bigger targets equal less frustration.
85. Make a kid’s day by purchasing something from a young entrepreneur at the KidBiz marketplace during Canal Fest.
86. Visit the free Daredevil Museum at the Mini-Mart in Niagara Falls and get someone to take your picture sticking your head through the wirewalker poster boards.
87. See if you can find the reservoir at Reservoir State Park. It’s the only local fishing lake that you have to hike skyward to get to. Consider rolling down the manicured hills when you’re done.
88. Try not to get too messy while eating a peach shortcake at the Peach Festival in Lewiston.
89. Cheer on the cutest baby at the Canal Fest Diaper Derby.
90. Make a list of the near dozen Indian restaurants in the Niagara region and then try them all — tweeting as you go. Ditto for Italian and Thai.
91. Find your zen self while taking yoga in the gardens at the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Buffalo.
92. Go get some puppy kisses at the SPCA of Niagara. Consider fostering a furry friend.
93. Check out high schoolers’ chalking skills at the Lewiston Art Festival.
94. Look for blind albino fish on the Underground Cave tour in Lockport.
95. Stand around with the other owners at the dog park in Lewiston and talk about your pets as if they were children, like “My Rover plays really well with others!”
96. Rock your inner ghostbuster and spend the night at the reportedly haunted Light House at Golden Hill State Park.
97. Watch parts of classic rock bands perform at Artpark.
98. Find a friend who’s not from around here and mail them an unsolicited jar of Webers mustard for their next picnic.
99. Find a friend who was born here and moved away. Send them a whole case of Webers mustard.
100. If you’ve reached the end of this list, go buy a snow shovel and new car brush. And use the winter to get a head start on next summer’s list. It’s never too far away.